Judge Jim Thomas was once trapped in a Matrix; damned subcompact cars!
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 4.0 (published July 5th, 2011), and Eureka: Season 4.5 (published April 16th, 2012) are also available.
The Final Season
For the past several years, Eureka has been something of a fixture in the Thomas household, whether it was watching the current episode, or having an impromptu marathon. Very simply, it has always been a fun show, with genuinely likable characters and clever dialogue. This court criticized previous seasons as being a bit too silly for its own good, but I'm happy to report its fifth season regained some of the edge that made the first two so compelling, by using the Season Four cliffhanger as a springboard for genuine suspense, intrigue, tragedy, and the show's trademark whimsy.
Sadly, none of that pays the bills. As filming was winding down on Season Five, Comcast-Universal (Syfy's parent company) canceled the show; though in a surprising move, they greenly one additional episode to serve as a series finale. Which brings us to Eureka: Season 5—12 regular season episodes, the series finale, and the Christmas special. I'll forgo the usual episode descriptions—in large part, because trying to keep things straight will make my head explode—and break things down more broadly.
"Do You See What I See"—Like last year's Christmas Special, this is an absolute delight from beginning to end. A freak accident (is there any other kind in Eureka?) has the town rendered in various forms of animation, from CGI and Claymation to anime. A highlight is Carter's jeep—whose name we learn is Carl (voiced by Jim Parsons, The Big Bang Theory)—being pissed that he gets destroyed almost every other episode. In fact, one of the extras is "Ode to Carl", a supercut of the various indignities visited on the Jeep, up to and including being put in orbit.
The Abduction of the Astreus—An interesting idea which was executed fairly well, if somewhat rushed. This brought back a sense of real danger lacking the past several seasons. A particularly nice touch is having one of the justifications for the abduction actually make sense—having the scientists work in a virtual reality greatly reduces the chance of them blowing up the planet. The whole Beverly/Senator Wen/Consortium thing is a little muddled. What exactly was the original plan to return the crew? The project had to have been a relatively short-term thing, else Beverly (Debrah Farantino) would not have been so troubled by the actions of Senator Wen (Ming Na, Mulan). This reflects a recurring problem throughout the series: good ideas aren't completely thought through. Despite these issues, the storyline gave several of the regulars a chance to play against type, with Joe Morton (Terminator 2: Judgment Day) particularly chilling as virtual Henry.
The Immediate Aftermath—The middle half of Season Five sees several familiar "experiment threatens to destroy town/region/planet" crises that typified the show. However, they're combined with well-considered depictions of the Astreus crew dealing with their experiences. And of course, we have Carter (Colin Ferguson, The Opposite of Sex) and Alison (Salli Richardson-Whitfield, I Am Legend) taking their relationship to the next level. Really, for all the explosions and imminent disasters, the middle part of the season was all about rebuilding relationships—Carter and Alison, Henry and Grace, Fargo (Douglas Grayston) and Holly (Felicia Day, Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog), and Jo (Erica Cerra) and Zane (Niall Matter).
The Final Conflict—A *brilliant* riff on Invasion of the Body Snatchers, as well as a great bookend to the season. However, cramming it into three episodes resulted in a ridiculously rushed story. One or two of the middle episodes could have easily been sacrificed to let the idea breathe a little more. Still, the production team has to be given props, for this final season is more of a coherent whole than the previous few.
The Finale—Since approval to make this episode came at the same time as the cancellation, they had almost no time to write the episode, let alone shoot it. So while this is more than a bit haphazard, you have to cut everyone involved some slack, considering they had 43 minutes to resolve a number of plots intended to be the foundation of Season Six. That said, it's a sweet and tender farewell to the show, with lots of callbacks to previous episodes, coming full circle to Carter's arrival in Eureka. Trivia Note: Grant Imahara of Mythbusters has a cameo.
Presented in standard definition 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen with a Dolby 5.1 Surround mix, Eureka: Season 5 is on par with previous season sets; pretty good, but not exceptional. Bonus features are somewhat light. There are some deleted/extended scenes and a spliced-together series of farewells/thank-yous from the cast. As an additional shout out to the fans, the cover art has the cast around a sign reading "Thank you for visiting Eureka." In addition to the aforementioned "Ode to Carl," there's also a 9-minute featurette on the making-of "Jack of All Trades," in which Jack switches bodies with half the cast. It's a lot of fun, not only because of the look at the problems the actors had in trying to emulate one another, but also because the episode was the directorial debut of series creator Jamie Paglia. Finaly, there's a single commentary track for the finale from Paglia and executive producers Bruce Miller and Todd Sharp. Fun and affectionate, it provides insight into the episode and the series as a whole.
Eureka was an intriguing concept that never reached its potential. The show often suffered from sloppy writing, but the actors sold everything they were given as charming and endearing (which reminds me of Chuck in that respect). It may not have been a great show, but it sure as hell was a lot of fun to watch. And dammit, that Christmas episode is frakking awesome.
"Wow, that didn't even leave a bad taste in my mouth."
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