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Domo Arigato, Mr. Sheriff Roboto: An Advance Review of the Return of Syfy's "Eureka"

Throughout its run, Eureka, which returns tonight to Syfy with the first of its back ten episodes of Season Three, has more or less offered a safe haven on television: a rather cozy yarn about a quirky town of scientists whose inventions often improve--as much as threaten--the lives of the populace of this idyllic berg.

That very relaxed, homey feel that so many of Eureka's fans gravitate towards often results in a decided lack of tension in the plots. And, you know what, that's okay. Not every series needs to be as mercilessly bleak as, say, The Shield. There's a place for a more homespun series that offers a winsome charm and snugness like Eureka.

Season 3.5 of Eureka picks up right where we last saw Jack Carter (Colin Ferguson) and the other assorted denizens of Eureka, with Jack cast out of his role as town sheriff, Jack's star-crossed would-be lover Allison (Salli Richardson-Whitfield) pregnant with her dead husband's child, and a surprised Henry (Joe Morton) taking over as mayor of Eureka.

I had the opportunity last week to watch the first two episodes of Season 3.5 or Eureka ("Welcome Back Carter" and "Your Face or Mine") and was struck by the way that the series continues to go its own way, refusing to conform to expectations about serialized plotting or losing its inherent optimism and aw-chucks allure.

This is a series that really shouldn't work and yet it does, even when it introduces some blatantly obvious solutions to the procedural mystery of the week (always involving some random scientist) or puts its lead through a physical and mental test of endurance that's jettisons him from the overarching plot. Even when Carter's not on screen, Colin Ferguson's presence is felt, an after-effect of his overwhelming charisma. Hell, even the introduction of a new sheriff in town--Men in Trees' Ty Olsson as robotic Sheriff Andy--does nothing to diminish Ferguson's hold on the viewers.

I have to say that I loved Olsson's turn as Andy here. He gives the robotic small town cop the appeal of a grinning copper straight out of Mayberry, only more impervious to destruction. That his first case would coincide with Carter's decision to leave for Eureka for good is the icing on the cake. Just when Carter thinks he's out... Despite being stripped of his clearance, Carter and Jo (Erica Cerra), who quits her gig when she's passed over for promotion in favor of a robot in a box, investigate the cause of the strange gravity wells popping up all over Eureka, a fact that Sheriff Andy doesn't seem too bothered about. (I do have to say that I was surprised by the reveal of the just who is behind the mystery.)

And Cerra herself gets a chance to shine when she holds down the season's second episode ("Your Face or Mine"), which is directed with skill by Ferguson himself. The Jo-centric episode features DNA-modification, virtual karaoke, a torch song from a smoking-hot Cerra, and some rather unexpected twists involving both Zane (Niall Matter) and Fargo (Neil Grayston).

All in all, Eureka isn't groundbreaking television but it does offer something that's definitely lacking in an era of gritty drama: an opportunity to escape to a happy, simpler time where small towns weren't filled with seedy underbellies of depravity and crime and where robots patrol the streets, fighting crime with a warm smile and a firm handshake. Or something like that, anyway.



Eureka kicks off Season 3.5 tonight at 9 pm ET/PT on Syfy.

Comments

Bella Spruce said…
Eureka is definitely like a mug of warm milk. There's nothing wrong with it and it is oddly comforting, but, ultimately, bland.
Mimi C said…
Eureka is one of the few shows that I can watch with my 7 yo and it keeps both our intrest.
Tempest said…
"That very relaxed, homey feel that so many of Eureka's fans gravitate towards often results in a decided lack of tension in the plots. And, you know what, that's okay. Not every series needs to be as mercilessly bleak as, say, The Shield. There's a place for a more homespun series that offers a winsome charm and snugness like Eureka."

Exactly. Eureka's a fun, charming show. Kick back, grab the popcorn, and enjoy.
artdeptgirl said…
Allison's wedding to Nathan didn't happen, on accounta him dying to save the world and stuff. ;)

And interestingly, this is the second or third place that I've seen the error so I'm wondering if that particular bit was a copy/paste from Skiffy.

That said, spot on summation, and it's exactly what I love about the show. Nicely done.
Jace Lacob said…
artdeptgirl,

I would have said "ex-husband/dead fiance," but, honestly, that's way too confusing for non-viewers. So husband it was (and, yes, Syfy identified Nathan that way in press materials).
Harleypeyton said…
Some shows just know who and what they are. And as a result, it's a pleasure to spend time with them. Eureka's like that.
excentric said…
Life can be harsh, and tv has been reflecting that for years. It is a great thing to be able to escape a bit with a delightful series that always has a satisfying ending, likable people, and really fun and bizarre science. It is one of my favorite shows, and definitely a must-see.
Dani In NC said…
I watch TV as an escape from real life, so I enjoy the warm fuzziness and happy endings of Eureka. I'm not saying that all TV shows should be this way, but I would appreciate more of a balance.

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