Case Number 23679: Small Claims Court


Universal // 2011 // 439 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Jim Thomas // April 16th, 2012

The Charge

Senator Wen: Dr. Fargo, You have quite a history of making, shall we say, "questionable decisions" -- the most recent being worm-holing Dr. Martin.
Fargo: No, no, no, I swear we've only just kissed.

The Case

U.S. Marshall Jack Carter (Colin Ferguson, The Opposite of Sex) is the sheriff of Eureka, a town whose genius inhabitants work at Global Dynamics, a (supposedly) secret government research facility. After three-and-a-half seasons of pining, he has finally hooked up with the lovely Dr. Alison Blake (Salli Richardson-Whitfield, I Am Legend), and life is good -- or it would be, if only the locals would stop trying to burn, freeze, disintegrate, shrink, electrify, or otherwise destroy everything in sight. During the midseason break, Henry (Joe Morton, Speed) and Fargo (Neil Grayston, Wonderfalls), using the Einstein-Grant bridge that sent Our Gang back in time, have developed a faster-than-light (FTL) drive, which will power the Astreus, a ship intended to go to Titan, the largest of Saturn's moons. Preparations for that mission form the backdrop for this half of Season Four.

You get a total of twelve episodes in Eureka: Season 4.5:

* "Liftoff" -- Zane (Niall Matter, Stargate Atlantis) and Fargo manage to launch themselves into space, leaving everyone rushing to figure out how to get them back. The romance between Deputy Andy (Kavan Smith, Stargate Atlantis) and Carter's smart house, S.A.R.A.H...Just go with it.

* "Reprise" -- After Dr. Holly Martin (Felicia Day, Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog) arrives, a digital virus infects Eureka's music system, causing people to act out song lyrics -- and a Bob Marley song spells big trouble for Sheriff Carter.

* "Glimpse" -- Competition for the Astraeus mission gets cutthroat. Jo and Carter try out a new system that predicts potential security breaches -- and the system flags Allison as a risk.

* "Up in the Air" -- Carter investigates a Eureka-style bank robbery.

* "Omega Girls" -- Beverly Barlow (Debrah Farantino, NYPD Blue) manages to infiltrate GD, and all that stands in her way is Jo and Zoe (Jordan Hinson, A Very Harold and Kumar Christmas). Directed by series star Salli Richardson-Whitfield.

* "Of Mites and Men" -- Several mission candidates -- Zane, Fargo, Jo (Erica Serra, Battlestar Galactica), Holly Martin, and Dr. Parrish (Wil Wheaton, The Big Bang Theory) -- undergo psychological stress testing, but the underground test site is being consumed by rampaging construction mites. An extended version of the episode is also included.

* "Clash of the Titans" -- A exploration rover returns from Titan, bringing samples of the atmosphere and surface. Allison and Carter's relationship comes under scrutiny by a Department of Defense auditor (Wallace Shawn, Vanya on 42nd Street).

* "This One Time at Space Camp..." -- The Astraeus candidates go through their final interviews while Carter and Allison appeal their relationship audit.

* "One Small Step" -- The FTL drive accidentally activates, sending Deputy Andy to Titan. Meanwhile, could a spate of meltings all across Eureka be related to Taggart's return?

* "One Giant Leap" -- The Astreus launch -- not to mention Eureka itself -- is endangered by micro black holes that are threatening to consolidate and destroy the town.

Those of you whose math skills haven't been destroyed by No Child Left Behind might have noticed that's only ten episodes. Well, you also get:

* "O Little Town" (Holiday Special) -- Taggart's "Santa-ology" technology threatening to shrink the entire town out of existence.

* "Don't Blame the Player" -- This is a crossover episode from Warehouse 13; Fargo is trapped in a virtual video game that has been ramped up by exposure to an artifact.

I feel a little guilty bagging on Eureka -- it is a fun, entertaining show, after all. The thing is, I still remember how good the first few seasons were. When it began, played a nifty high-wire act of balancing imminent catastrophe and drama alongside slapstick antics and nerd jokes. The balance was crucial -- there was real danger, there were real villains, and there were (occasionally) real consequences. That balance slowly tipped towards the silly during the first three seasons, leading to a substantial reboot in the first half of Season Four. Sadly, history is repeating itself, and the show is trending silly again, with the writers falling into an all-too-predictable pattern:

1. Technology goes haywire.
2. Chaos ensures.
3. Colin Ferguson demonstrates his prowess for physical comedy.
4. Technology saves the day.

While the episodes are enjoyable -- largely due to the solid character interactions -- there's no real tension, because there's never a sense that anything really bad will happen, and no one will ever get into trouble. Even when Beverly Barlow -- a character who was a charming yet ruthless killer in Season One -- turns up, there's not really a pronounced sense of danger.

For all that, the series retains its goofy charm. The actors are the biggest reason -- there are a lot of seasoned professionals here, and their easy chemistry with one another let them elevate the relatively weak material. There are nice little bits throughout -- for instance, it's nice to see Fargo growing into his role as head of GD, and everything about Carter and Alison's relationship is borderline adorable. The addition of fanboy goddess Felicia Day is a somewhat forced -- her character is little more than a walking cliché, and the romance between Holly and Fargo seems forced.

While the season as a whole is a little too silly for this judge's tastes, it must be noted that the holiday episode -- which exists outside of regular continuity -- is sweet, glorious, and, yes, silly, fun.

The set looks and sounds great. The image is a little soft, but I suspect that's an effect of me watching more and more Blu-rays. There's a nice set of extras -- commentaries on multiple episodes, extended deleted scenes, a gag reel. There's a nice featurette on the mythology of Eureka, interesting partly because it explains some of the problems caused by the network forcing them to reorder the first few episodes, and partly because some of the footage was taken from the last few days of filming on the series. Most intriguing of the extras, though, is a teaser for Season Five -- in fact, what appears to be the teaser for the Season Five premiere. Unlike the previous seasons, there is a real sense of danger and menace, in large part because of Bear McCreary's score -- a percussion-heavy cue that might remind you of a recent, um, battle-worthy series.

The Verdict

Eureka: Season 4.5 is fun, albeit brainless fun, but I can't shake the feeling that it could have been so much more. Not guilty.

Review content copyright © 2012 Jim Thomas; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2016 HipClick Designs LLC

Scales of Justice
Judgment: 78

Perp Profile
Studio: Universal
Video Formats:
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic

Audio Formats:
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)

* English (SDH)

Running Time: 439 Minutes
Release Year: 2011
MPAA Rating: Not Rated

Distinguishing Marks
* Commentaries
* Bonus Episode
* Extended Episode
* Deleted Scenes
* Featurettes
* Gag Reel
* Sneak Peek

* IMDb

* Official Site