by Andrew Cosby (Producer, Writer)
Review by Ernest Lilley
Sci-Fi Channel Media ISBN/ITEM#: Eureka-SFC
Date: July 2006 / Show Official Info /
If everyone in town is a scientist and if it's a town where the psychologist is as important as the sheriff...then Mad Scientist would be pretty much the norm. Then if you added in a guy who passes for normal in the outside world then he'd be kind of unusual by comparison. Right? That’s the way things are in Eureka.
Though it started life in Executive Producer Andrew Cosby's mind as an animated series (he's written a number of books Dark Horse Comics) with a genius kid dragging his mundane dad into a town full of Einsteins and Oppenheimers, it wound up as a sort of Mayberry RFD meets The X-Files. And Federal Marshall Jack Carter (Colin Ferguson) is about to become the next Andy Griffith.
In a cluttered basement lab Walter Perkins (Rob LaBelle) is messing with the fabric of time when things get out of hand and a little ripple spreads out from the lab. Meanwhile, not far away, it's a dark and stormy night and Jack is transporting a fugitive back to L.A. Suddenly...out of nowhere...another car passes them going the other way. With them in it. The fugitive, Zoe Carter (Jordan Hinson) notices, but Jack is manfully oblivious to the impossible. A trait which Eureka will sorely test. After running off the road to avoid a dog, who turns out to be a recurring character, described variously as "a local hazard" and "the devil" they hike into town for help.
Since the car is well and truly broke, Jack and Zoe (zoh-ee) are stuck in town for a few days while the sheriff and his gung-ho deputy try to deal with the security breach that their presence creates. Taggert, the dog-catcher (animal containment expert) played by Matt Frewer, wants to put him out of his misery. Allison (Salli Richardson-Whitfield) the polit-bureau, er, DOD liaison for the town wants to bring Jack in...because the temporal troubles are getting worse around town, and Jack's shows a talent for finding things that the local talent lacks. "He's smarter than he looks."
From there, the pilot takes on a guided tour of the town, meeting folks and touring top secret research facilities. When I was a kid, we'd anxiously look forward to new SF shows for the pilot episode, where we'd ooh and ah over beauty shots of a new spaceship. If you've seen a small town, you've seen Eureka, though they went to Canada to find a typically American town, and Jack, by the way was raised in Hong Kong. Zoe, at least is a girl from the good ol' USA, Texas to be exact. The cast is varied and carefully multicultural...though a reality check for anyone who actually does science comes in the form of exclusively American scientists. Well, it's our town, so maybe they're the only ones allowed to move in. The first episode really boils down to a collection of character sketches, the equivalent of our old spaceship shots. The action revolves around finding the source of the anomaly, watching Jack spar with Allison, and Zoe bond with "Joe" the Rambo-gal deputy. Did I mention that Zoe is Jack's daughter? We get to watch them spar too.
In the end, Jack proves that he can think outside the box better than the residents of Eureka, discovers hidden overlooked talents in the locals, and finds himself assigned there permanently for his troubles. Hey. It's a promotion. Of sorts.
OK, it's a bit slow out of the gate. The plot isn't really there, but it's got heart. What it needs is some time to mature. I like the weird folks of Eureka, though I'm afraid Andrew Cosby, executive producer, needs to get out among my genuine mad scientist friends. Reality trumps fiction every time.
I'll be watching the rest of the season to see what comes up. This could be a great town, but the gimmick won’t sustain the show. It's going to be up to the characters to do that, and they've got their work cut out for them.