When a good series lasts a little too long and goes down
hill, it is said to have 'jumped the shark,' but is there a term that
the opposite? What about a series that
has outlived its welcome that suddenly, against all expectations,
improves? If there isn't a term for that,
"pulling a Eureka"
because that's what this show managed with the first half of season 4,
available on DVD. After a fairly dismal
third season they came back with a very strong set of shows that really
improved the series.
The show is set in the small town of Eureka, a government created city
after WWII where the best and the brightest scientists in the country
and create. Think of it as a permanent
Manhattan Project. Into this town of
geniuses stumbles Federal Marshal Jack Carter (Colin Ferguson) who
car while transporting a prisoner back to L.A. After
solving a few mysteries in Eureka
the locals take a
shine to him and the next thing he knows he's being transferred. He's Eureka's
sheriff but instead of dealing with the town drunk and the occasional
vandalism, he has to handle killer robots, freak climate changes, a new
that pops up in the sky, and many other end-of-the-world disasters.
I've never been a huge fan of Eureka. It's
okay, and I enjoy watching it, but the
scientific problems that pop up in every episode are more what I would
on a Saturday morning kids show or a 50's B-movie (an intelligent
a superhero who can walk through walls, someone stealing another
appearance etc.). That doesn't mean it's
a bad show, just not top shelf SF.
While the second season was an improvement on the first, by
the time season three rolled around (especially the second half) the
to feel a bit too familiar and took on a disaster-of-the-week aspect
them all meld together. Before I popped
in season four the only things I could remember about the previous
episodes was that Carter's daughter, Zoe, had gone away to college. Consequently, I wasn't expecting much when
this set arrived in the mail. Much to my
surprise however, the show started a episode-spanning plot that was
entertaining and interesting.
As the season opens, Eureka
is getting ready for Founder's Day, the anniversary of the founding of
town. People are dressing in the style
of the late 1940's, there are games, and people are digging up old
the town's past and displaying them.
One of these relics goes wonky however, and transports
Carter, his deputy Jo Lupo (Erica Cerra), Global Dynamics head Allison
Richardson-Whitfield), all around genius Dr. Henry Deacon (Joe Morton),
accident prone comic relief Fargo (Neil Grayston) back in time to 1947. At that time the city was nothing more than
an Army camp (and all of these scenes are nicely sepia-tinted, and
(especially Fargo who shows up nude) are not welcome at all. With the help of one of Einstein's colleague
Dr. Trevor Grant (James Callis) Decon is able to patch together a
will get them all back to 2010, which works with only one slight hitch: Dr. Grant steals Carter's device and manages
to travel back with the rest of the group.
This changes things in 2010 subtly but significantly.
Allison's son is no longer autistic; he's a regular, bright
kid. Lupo in now the head of security at
GD, but she never started dating her boyfriend from the original time
he's pretty much a jerk in this one. Fargo is the
head of GD,
much to his delight, and Henry discovers that he has a wife, someone he
met for a minute prior to the time travel.
Carter's girlfriend, the one who moved to Australia
at the end of the past season is back in Eureka,
which is awkward since he and Allison just started getting close. Oh yeah, and they can't tell anyone about
what happened. The military has a
protocol for anyone who has traveled in time (aside from the usual
one-day-at-a-time method one presumes) and it involves permanent
Henry and Trevor start to figure out a way to set everything
back to the way it was, but not everyone wants that.
Allison is ecstatic that her son is normal
very happy being the head honcho. But then there's Dr. Grant. Carter doesn't trust him, and could he have a
plan of his own?
This story line gives the series a much needed kick
start. It's interesting seeing the
characters in their familiar setting but with everything just slightly
askew. There's internal tension between
the time traveler about what the right course of action is, and some
awkward moments with the 'new' Eureka
population. (I particularly liked the
problems Henry had with his wife.) The
writers were able to make the major characters more interesting as well
creating a season (well, half season) long arc that was very engaging.
This two disc set inlcudes the first 10 episodes of season four.
This series comes with a DD 5.1 soundtrack that sounds
good. Being mainly a dialog-based show
the rears aren't used as much as they could be but during the action
the sound is fairly enveloping. Being a
recent program, the dialog is clear and clean with no distortion or
noise. Overall this is a nice sounding
The 1.78:1 anamorphically enhanced image looks pretty good
too. The level of detail is fine, the
colors are strong, and the blacks are solid.
In the few dark scenes the details are still clear.
There is some digital noise here and there,
but nothing major. This is a show that
This set comes with several deleted scenes, most of which
are pretty minor, a gag reel, and a commentary to the season premier
with the director, writer, and executive producers.
There's also a nice 5 minute
behind-the-scenes featurette, In the Beginning:
Eureka 1947. This looks at the designing of the WWII era
camp that became the town of Eureka. They did a great job creating that set, and
it was nice seeing how they did it.
This season there was a little bit of cross over with
another SyFy channel program Warehouse 13... a single character from each
made an appearance in the sister program.
Happily, the episode of Warehouse 13 where Fargo goes to install a new computer
is included. It's an extra on the last
disc, but you should watch it before Crossing
Over, the episode where Claudia visits Eureka.
Things will make more sense.
If you were thinking of giving up on Eureka after season three, you should
definitely give this season a try. The
10-episode long story arc breathes new life into the show and arguably
it more interesting than it ever was.
A great effort that comes recommended.