12 July 2009
Eureka could be the most affable, good-natured, thoroughly and consistently enjoyable shows to ever grace the face of basic cable. ASs SyFy’s biggest hit, and second only to BSG in mainstream recognition, Eureka has had three pretty damn great seasons of science fictiony weirdness without the requisite darkness or satire. Don’t get me wrong; there’s a big place in this world for darkness and satire, but (a lot like NBC’s Chuck) the beauty of Eureka is that it’s just plain fun. It’s dorky science experiments and awesome characters doing dorky things and being witty. And the plots move along at a respectable, enjoyable pace, the character’s relationships are always believable and intriguing, and Sheriff Carter (Colin Ferguson) is probably one of the most engaging, likable men in the history of the world.
In fact, I could probably write a Homer-ic ode to the character of Eureka. Although the plots are often cute and fun, and occasionally even sly and inventive, the thing that sets Eureka apart from other science fiction shows is just how damn well-crafted each and every character. I mean, this is a show that took the lead’s girlfriend’s ex-husband, with his scowly brow and gruff demeanor, and refused to let him stay as slimy antagonist, and instead transformed him into a doomed, tragic, and surprisingly endearing hero. The female characters, not to harp on the old feminist point, are also some of the best in the business. Allison, who could easily be the underwritten pretty lady, is actually an incredibly tough, smart, resourceful, honorable woman who does the tough things for herself and her son, who weathers the challenges of being the head of a huge, insane corporation like GD, losing the love of her life, and an unexpected pregnancy all with the same air of competent and awesomeness. One of the show’s biggest strengths I don’t love every character, but every character is likable.
None more so than Sheriff Carter, who smiles even while he watches the woman he loves marry another man (over and over again) because he sees the good in the world and he wants to protect it. Although he’s also a deeply layered protagonist, his affable relative “stupidity” (the conceit of Eureka being that only above-average intelligenced Jack Carter protects a town full of super geniuses) often a cover for turbulence just beneath the surface, he never “goes dark” or falls so completely prey to his own ego that he fails to get the job done. In other words, he’s unique, like a smiling, cop snowflake.
In the series’ Season Three Premier, Sheriff Carter is turned back into Jack Carter, regular dude. The head honcho at GD, in fallout from last season’s finale, has fired Jack, and hired a robot (oh yeah, that’s always a good call). His faithful deputy Jo, after getting cruelly passed over for the sheriff job, quits. Allison’s looking mighty preggers, as is Sheriff Carter’s sister, whose zero-g crib turns out to be a major plot point. Aside from that, not much has changed.
Carter quickly gets a job with Homeland Security, because he’s awesome, but the job would uproot his loving daughter, Zoe, and force Jack to leave Allison and the rest of Eureka’s miscreants right when they need him most. Inevitably, the robocop fails in the line of duty (although the show gets lots of plots for making him a stand-up synthetic dude, if not quite as good as our main sheriff man) and Mayor Henry Deacon finds a loophole in the town charter to allow him to reinstate Sheriff Carter. All’s back to normal, and the episode ends with the set up for Season Three’s season long mystery… aliens?
Not much info for the overall arch, but as long as the stand alone episodes are as much (sorry, but it really is the best word to describe this show) affable fun as this one, I’m not worried.
*Addition to our recent father’s day post: The second best television Dad, behind Keith Mars, is Jack Carter. Zoe and him have real issues (divorce, boys, curfews, rapid-aging processes), but their legitimate love and respect for each other is ultimately the back bone of this show.