July 17, 2012


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Written by: Mitch Salem
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EUREKA, while never a breakout hit, was a sturdy performer for 5 years on Syfy–and one of the increasingly small number of shows on its air that was actually science-fiction, as opposed to superhero fantasy, horror, reality, paranormal thriller, or whatever else the network is trying to use to broaden its brand (while actually watering it down) these days.  The show didn’t get a full victory lap of a final season, but was told shortly before the end of production that it wouldn’t be coming back, so only tonight’s last episode had the chance to really serve as a conclusion.

Most episodes of Eureka followed the same format.  The show was set in its namesake town, a rustic and top-secret home for the world’s greatest (if somewhat mad) scientists, run by a mix of the government and a company called General Dynamics (not to be confused with Fringe‘s Massive Dynamics).  Early in the hour, there’d be a passing reference to some wonderful new invention being worked on by one of the scientists, like the show’s romantic lead Allison Blake (Salli Richardson-Whitfield), who’d been the head of GD but then entered a different timeline (long story), or the current head of GD, Douglas Fargo (Neil Grayston), or the supposed garage-owner who was actually a genius, Henry Deacon (Joe Morton), or resident bad-boy scientist (until recently) Zane Donovan (Niall Matter), or one of the many guest stars and recurring characters–in any case, it would be a useful invention that could change the weather, or increase fuel consumption, or teleport people, etc.  A few minutes later, something terrible would start happening in town, like inexplicable storms, or a proliferation of evil twins, or the disintegration of all matter.  Inevitably, it would fall to the town’s sheriff and resident hero, Jack Carter (Colin Ferguson) to apply his common-sense to the town’s wacky genius, and he, along with his robot deputy Andy (Kavan Smith) and the head of Security at GD, Jo Lupo (Erica Cerra), who also used to be his deputy, would solve the problem, saving the town and, usually, all humanity.

As the title of tonight’s finale, “Just Another Day,” implies, the last episode followed the show’s template.  Written by series co-creator Jaime Paglia (from a story by Paglia and Executive Producer Bruce Miller), and directed by Matt Hastings, this time it was Henry and Zane’s interruption of a data flow that Henry needed in order to save his wife, who wasn’t his wife in the original timeline (another long story) from going to jail for treason, which somehow was causing wormholes to tear apart the subatomic fabric of the town.  But no worries, Jack jumped into a wormhole while wearing another Eureka invention, and after flying through a montage of the show’s big moments, he saved everyone one more time.

There were some nods to the series coming to an end.  The framework of the episode was that Eureka itself was going to be shut down, and this provided an excuse for a number of fan favorite characters to return:  Jack’s daughter Zoe (Jordan Hinson), creature-catcher Taggart (Matt Frewer), archvillainess (who finally did the right thing) Beverly Barlowe (Debrah Farentino), and in a surprise deus ex machina visit, Trevor Grant (James Callis), who saved the town after all.  And of course the threat of the town going away allowed the character to ruminate on how happy they’d been there, sentiments that applied as well to the series.

That unapologetic sentimentality was the not-so-secret of Eureka‘s charm.  For all its geek appeal, the show was as much a romantic comedy as anything else, and tonight’s episode featured a marriage proposal, a couple getting together (well, back together, but that was before she’d died in a computer matrix and had to be restored to synthetic life… another long story) and a pregnancy.  Also, while individual episodes of the series tended to have a familiar structure, the show was rather good at its season-long arcs, which involved such stories as that timeline shift, the evil matrix and various upheavals in the town’s leadership.  Since the show’s concept required new special effects every week, it ran up against the limits of a cable TV budget, and often one had to allow for only semi-convincing CG, but decent writing and resourcefulness helped make up for that.

Eureka was an amiable, reliably enjoyable show, and while its absence won’t create a rift in TV’s space-time continuum, it’ll be missed.   On a network like Syfy that suffers from lack of focus and inconsistency, it may not be so easy to replace.

About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."