Last summer, Judge Jim Thomas time-traveled back to 1947. We don't recognize him anymore.
Our reviews of Eureka: Season 1 (published August 22nd, 2007), Eureka: Season 2 (published July 15th, 2008), Eureka: Season 3.5 (published June 29th, 2010), Eureka: Season 4.5 (published April 16th, 2012), and Eureka: Season 5 (published July 17th, 2012) are also available.
The equation has changed.
For a variety of reasons, Eureka's third season never quite gelled. The producers decided that a shakeup was needed, and these days, that can only mean one thing: REBOOT!! Fortunately, the show's concept made that a relatively easy proposition—nothing like time travel to give people a new perspective. The dynamics of the show were changed just enough to give Eureka: Season 4.0 a great vibe, one that the writers exploited well; unfortunately, a couple of serious missteps at the end of the season close things out on a sour note.
The set gives you the ten episodes of the season, along with a crossover episode of Warehouse 13 on two discs (some spoilers ahead)…
• "Founder's Day"—A freak occurrence (in Eureka, is there any other kind?), sends Carter, Jo, Alison, Henry, and Fargo back to 1947, when Eureka had just been founded. Everyone struggles to avoid the MPs while Henry tries to get everyone home. They find an unlikely ally in Dr. Trevor Grant (James Callis, Battlestar Galactica), an associate of Einstein. When they return home, they discover that the timeline has been slightly altered:
- Carter (Colin Ferguson), finally ready to admit his feelings for Alison arrives home only to discover that Tess (Jaime Ray Newman), his ex-girlfriend, no longer has the "ex" in front of her title.
- Henry (Joe Morton, American Gangster) is married to someone he barely knows.
- Alison (Salli Richardson-Whitfield, I Am Legend) returns home to discover that her son Kevin is no longer autistic.
The set includes an extended version of the episode, including an optional commentary track with co-creator/writer/executive producer Jamie Paglia, executive producer Bruce Miller, and director Matt Hastings.
• "A New World"—While everyone adjusts to their new situation, they have to deal with an all-too-familiar one—a Global Dynamics experiment gone horribly wrong.
• "All the Rage"—An experimental weapon generates uncontrollable rage throughout Global Dynamics. Guest starring Wil Wheaton (Star Trek: The Next Generation). And yes, it's all his fault.
• "The Story of O2"—Space Week has everyone caught up in a rocket race to the moon and back, but when the town somehow becomes over-oxygenated (and very combustible), the returning rockets could blow up Eureka.
• "Crossing Over"—In this Warehouse 13 crossover, Claudia Donovan (Allison Scagliotti, Warehouse 13, of course) arrives in Eureka to see all the coolest new technology. Instead, she finds that objects are randomly appearing in the town, leaving her and Fargo trapped in a minefield.
• "Momstrosity"—Carter and Grant try to prove their worth to Alison by taking Kevin on a camping trip, but their rivalry gets put on hold when they are attacked by a rogue Titan rover. Meanwhile, Henry reveals the truth about the altered timeline to Grace.
• "Stoned"—Zoe returns for a visit but the fun is cut short when people start to turn into stone. The secret of Grant's past is jeopardized when the identity Fargo constructed for him draws attention from the IRS.
• "The Ex-Files"—Carter freaks out when he returns to his office find Nathan Stark (Ed Quinn), Alison's ex-husband, waiting for him. Stark's presence is particularly remarkable, given that Stark died two years ago. Meanwhile, Dr. Grant gets involved with a mysterious faction.
• "I'll Be Seeing You"—Dr. Grant's attempt to return to 1947 has tragic consequences.
The season opener is stellar, combining a fast-paced, suspense-filled episode with a phenomenal recreation of 1947. The detailed set design, coupled with vintage vehicles and costumes, completely sells the time travel idea. The surprise at the end—the discovery that some things have indeed changed, catches you flat-footed and leaves you hungry for more. It's easily one of the best episodes of the entire series.
The changes are relatively minor, yet still have far reaching consequences, particularly for Alison, who suddenly finds herself facing a (relatively) normal teenager; her sense of wonder as she tries to learn everything about this new iteration of her son is one of the more charming things about the season. The struggle to regain some sense of equilibrium is in the background of almost every episode. Sadly, things unravel a bit beginning with the penultimate episode, "The Ex-Files." The concept is strong, and the way that the hallucinations move the plot forward is well-thought out. The problem is the moment Ed Quinn appears on-screen, you are reminded of what a hole Quinn's departure left in the show.
The season finale is a more difficult problem. The basic plot is sound, and acts as an appropriate bookend with the opener; however, there's too much going on to handle in 42 minutes. It's fast-paced, just like the season opener, but it takes place in the shadow of tragedy and that aspect is hardly developed, leaving the episode bereft of the needed emotional weight. The episode should have been a showcase for Colin Ferguson, but he barely gets a chance to breathe. When you listen to the commentary track for "Founder's Day," you get a sense for how things played out the way they did, but the fact is that the episode really needed to be a two-parter.
The presence of James Callis is something of a mixed bag. On the plus side, the air of mystery surrounding him sets up the final few episodes nicely. On the downside, there is little or no chemistry between Grant and Alison, so it's hard to take him seriously as Carter's rival for her affections.
Universal knows how to do good tech, and it's on desplay here. The video is a tad soft at times, but not enough to distract. The 5.1 surround sound is exceptionally good—one episode has Carter chasing an invisible cat, and the cat's meows drove my poor dog Luke to distraction as he tried to find the feline interloper. Extras are relatively light. The extended version of "Founder's Day" features a great commentary track from series creator Jamie Paglia, A way too brief (five-minute) featurette looks at the construction of Camp Eureka. There are some deleted scenes for every episode and a gag reel. The crossover episode from Warehouse 13 is also included. The crossover itself is little more than a stunt, and a poorly executed one, considering that it asks us to believe that Fargo, the director of Global Dynamics, would go to Warehouse 13 to upgrade a computer system.
Eureka's fourth season is enjoyable, but the writers need to work harder to get outside their comfort zone. For all the changes in this season, the basic plots were still the same, with too many resolutions dependent more on technology rather than quick thinking or heroism. Still, the characters are still engaging,
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