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film criticism by maryann johanson | since 1997

‘Eureka’ Season 3 begins tonight

Sweet is not often a word you can apply to science fiction, but it’s a good word for Eureka. Nice is another one. (I’ve used gentle before, too, to describe the show, and that’s a good one as well.) And it’s all still true in the Season 3 premiere episode “Bad to the Drone,” debuting tonight at 9pm on Sci Fi.
This is not a show that’s been developing a deeply complex backstory over its first two years, so you can jump right in now if you want to get started. The premise is simple: Imagine if Mayberry were located someplace halfway between Los Alamos and Area 51. A bunch of genius scientists are tucked away here working on their teleporters and invisibility cloaks and antigravity machines and such. Sheriff Jack Carter (Colin Ferguson) keeps an eye on everything — our point-of-view eye, in fact: he stumbled into the town accidentally a few years back with his teenaged daughter Zoe (Jordan Hinson), and it was sort of “you could leave, but then we’d have to kill you.” Sort of. So he stayed, and is constantly frustrated by the fact that everyone around him — including his daughter — has 50 IQ points on him. Not that Jack is as dumb as he thinks he is. Just almost. He makes up for it by being snarky, which is what we love about him.

I love the show because the scientists aren’t bad guys and are never told they shouldn’t be meddling with things with which man was not meant to meddle. The whole point here is to meddle, and to have fun while doing it, and if you discover a cure for the common cold, well, that’ll probably get shelved as impractical or too expensive or too threatening to the status quo. The villain here, if there is one, is bureaucracy and conformity and corporate pressure, even at Global Dynamics, the government organization most of the people in town work for.

So what’s up in the Season 3 premiere? Well, it looks like there’s a new personification of the overall villainy in France Fisher’s “fixer,” a corporate consultant brought in by the government to repair what is ailing Global and Eureka, which is that top-secret superpowerful stuff is constantly running amuck and threatening the world (not to mention Jack’s poise and self-confidence). The fixer has the power to write reports, and she’s not afraid to use it.

There’s more: We learn the secret of Cafe Diem. We witness a Battlestar Galactica reference and a marriage proposal. Jack is disconcerted to discover that his little girl is growing up. Oh, and there’s an AI war machine with adolescent angst running, you know, amuck, but that’ll be taken care of by episode’s end. It’s all the other stuff that’s not so fixable, and will surely take up much of our attention over the course of the upcoming season.

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