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such a nasty woman | by maryann johanson

‘Eureka’ returns and reels me in


I’m not sure why I never really watched Eureka last summer, particularly after everyone started raving about it. I still haven’t quite caught up, even with the first season now on DVD, and with the Sci Fi Channel’s multiple marathon catchups. But I figured I might as well dive right in with the new season and muddle along as best I could.
Last night’s second-season premiere, “Phoenix Rising,” kicked off with a quick recap of last summer’s batch of 13 episodes, so I didn’t feel too at sea. I’d seen bits of episodes here and there last summer, so I knew the basic premise and the major characters: not-so-sleepy little town where all the greatest brains on the planet work on weird and often dangerous new technology in secrecy and seclusion; the new sheriff in town, Jack Carter, serves as our outsider, nongenius perspective. Most importantly: last season obviously ended with a temporal reset, with Jack and scientist Henry Deacon the only two of the town’s citizens who remember a four-year stretch from 2006 through 2010 that was erased when Henry was forced to, apparently, travel back in time and let the woman he loves die in a freaky, X-Files-esque accident with something superbizarre called “the Artifact.”

At first I thought I hadn’t missed much by missing the first season, because it all got erased — that’s always a danger when you’re playing with mad scientists and weird splinters of a previous universe, as we’re told the Artifact is. But no: only the season finale was erased. But still: interesting idea. Not that it hasn’t been done a gazillion times before — gazillion being a scientific term, of course — but it appears that Henry has been transformed into something of a villain by the end of “Phoenix Rising.” I can’t say for sure, not having seen much of Season 1, but the way that that final scene is structured leads me to think this is gonna be an important thread of underlying menace running through these new episodes. Henry convinces Jack to erase his memories of the “next” four years, but Henry hangs onto his … and hangs onto, it seems, the animosity he developed for Jack. (Geez, I guess I should at least go back and watch that season finale.) And, you know, Joe Morton, who plays Henry, is such a phenomenal actor that he along could make this new season a must-see. We’ll see.

Colin Ferguson, too, as Jack, is pretty darn charming, and two intriguing characters in a goofy science fiction town sounds like more than enough to at least get me back for a few more episodes. I’m not hugely inspired or moved by Eureka — the best I can do is nod along with the general consensus that this is a nice combination of Northern Exposure and The X-Files, and that that’s not at all something to be sneezed at.

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