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Reviewed by Will Harris
ant proof that SyFy’s “Eureka” is a series that flies under the radar? You’ll note that this is described as Season 3.5, but if you scour Bullz-Eye’s TV-DVD archives, you’ll find neither hide nor hair of our review of the Season 3.0 set. That’s because Universal didn’t send out review copies. Or, at least, that’s what we were told when we made a point of requesting one, so that we could do our best to promote this oft-forgotten gem of a sci-fi series. As such, I’ll be the first to admit that I walked into this set with only the knowledge of what had gone on in Season Two, which meant that I had to do some Googling to get caught up.
If you haven’t been following the show at all, though, here’s your obligatory nutshell description: former U.S. Marshal Jack Carter (Colin Ferguson) is the sheriff of Eureka, Oregon, a high-tech community filled with some of the world’s greatest minds and run by the Global Dynamics corporation under the watchful eye of the U.S. Department of Defense.
The early episodes of Season Three, I have now learned, leaned heavily on a corporate fixer coming to Eureka to perform as much cost-cutting as possible, with other major plot developments including the death of Nathan Stark (Ed Quinn) on the day of his wedding to Global Dynamics director Allison Blake (Salli Richardson-Whitfield), the election of Henry Deacon (Joe Morton) as mayor, and the removal of Jack as sheriff. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Season 3.5 kicked off with Jack finding himself reinstated, though not before having to deal with the small matter of his robotic replacement. Alison, meanwhile, is pregnant with Nathan’s child, and Jack has been asked to serve as her birthing coach. In addition to Alison’s impending motherhood, there’s an ongoing concern about a signal that’s coming from space and is aimed right at Eureka. The mystery of the signal’s source is revealed in “If You Build It…” in somewhat surprising fashion – sure, it’s a ship, but wait ‘til you find out where it’s from and who’s inside it.
As usual, “Eureka” manages to blend sci-fi, comedy, mystery, and drama into a highly enjoyable concoction. “It’s Not Easy Being Green” offers a hilarious look into the annual bowling tournament between the scientists in Eureka and their rivals from Area 51, and while the title of “Your Face Or Mine?” refers to Deputy Jo (Erica Cerra) suffering from an identity crisis of sorts, the subplot finds Jack dealing with Eureka’s unique recertification process for its law enforcement figures. The most solid thrillers of the set are “Have An Ice Day,” where the possibility of a new Ice Age looms dangerously close, and “Shower the People,” which finds some of the town’s residents drowning under mysterious circumstances – like, say, in a parked car. The season finale, “What Goes Around Comes Around,” offers a nice close to the season, one which could’ve served as a conclusion to the series had it come to that. (Thankfully, it didn’t.)
Arguably the most surprising thing about the Season 3.5 set is that even the obligatory clip episode, “You Don’t Know Jack,” ends up feeling worthwhile. It would’ve seemed forced on any other series, but on a show like “Eureka,” they can create a device that plumbs one’s memories for purposes of creating a time capsule, use it as excuse to show highlights from the previous seasons, and get away with it. Mind you, it helps that they surround it with both humor (the townsfolk begin to lose their memory) and danger (the lives of Jack and Allison are threatened by, of all things, a high-tech cleaning service).
Be sure to be there when Season Four of “Eureka” kicks off on July 9th. And Universal, when you get around to releasing it on DVD, don’t you dare do it in two parts again.
Special Features: As usual, the cast and crew of “Eureka” have been unafraid to get their hands dirty and contribute bonus material. In addition to deleted scenes, there are audio commentaries, podcast commentaries, and a featurette called “Finishing Touch: The Visual Effects in ‘Eureka,’” which offers a nice behind-the-scenes look into the process of bringing the town’s various scientific breakthroughs and mishaps to life.