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HTF Review: Eureka Season One

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#1 of 6 OFFLINE   Neil Middlemiss

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Posted July 13 2007 - 02:04 PM

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Eureka Season One




Studio: Universal Studios
Year: 2006
US Rating: Not Rated
Film Length: 9 Hours 18 Minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
Audio: English 5.1 Dolby Plus
Subtitles: Optional English SDH




US Release Date: July 3, 2007

The Show - Posted ImagePosted ImagePosted ImagePosted Image out of Posted ImagePosted ImagePosted ImagePosted ImagePosted Image

"I hate to interrupt, but we have bigger issues at hand. Time is unraveling. The laws of physics are breaking down. Correct me if I'm wrong but that's the kind of thing that's not gonna stop at the city limits, is it?”

US Marshal Jack Carter stumbles across the small town of Eureka while he is transporting his delinquent daughter home. After an accident strands Jack and his daughter in the strange little IQ oasis, he assists the local law enforcement with an investigation. When the town’s long-time sheriff (Maury Chaykin) decides it is time to retire, he selects the fish-out-of-water Carter as his replacement.

Carter’s straight shooter sensibility’s and humorous stiffness make him stand out like a sore thumb with his badge and a gun among the mostly scientifically inclined, brainiac community. As the new Sheriff, Carter learns to ebb and flow with the idiosyncratic novelties of a town filled with many of the smartest, innovative and logically minded people on the planet, he is called upon to investigate abnormal occurrences that challenge the laws of time, space, physics, life and death.

The majority of the town’s incredible experiments take place at a highly secure facility with those for the military happening under a guarded shroud of secrecy in ‘Section 5’. Given the incredibly sensitive and important work taking place behind the misleading serenity of the town, the American Government has a firm hand in the pot and has stationed someone from the Department of Defense, Agent Allison Blake, to keep a watchful eye.

Eureka is an enormous bundle of fun on the Sci-Fi channel. Mixing a chemically perfect blend of science, special effects, laughs and some genuinely dramatic elements, it succeeds in being some good old fashioned B-grade sci-fi. Much of the show’s strength comes from the solid stories and undercurrent of conspiracy that, while not at the same intensity or level of the X-Files, is reminiscent enough to be an intriguing thread through the shows strong freshman season.

Another strength of this show is the thoroughly well conceived set of characters and their excellent casting. While Sheriff Jack Carter, played by the affable and slyly witted Colin Ferguson may be the ‘main’ character, this is truly and ensemble show, and as such, works exceedingly well. The Sheriff’s daughter Zoe is played by the young Jordan Hinson, with a nice blend of rebellious teen and humanistic counter-balance to her father’s hard working, letter of the law nature.

Joe Morton (Terminator 2) plays Henry Deacon, the town’s ex-NASA engineer/mechanic. A likeable, relatable portrayal by Morton that, along with the first-rate buddy relationship he develops with the Sheriff, provides for some great dialogue and drama. The sinister conspiracy element of the show is services mainly by the Beverly Barlow character, played by Debrah Farentino. This is a wonderful character, underused for the most part in the first season, but Farentino is really very good and manages the balance of ‘is she good, is she evil’ nicely.

Three fun characters, Deputy Jo Lupo (Erica Cerra), a militaristic and tough deputy, Fargo (Neil Grayston), the nerdy scientific understudy and Taggert (Matt Frewer) the slightly off-kilter Eurekan version of Steve Irwin provide enough lightness and quirky levity to make you grin when they are onscreen.

The pseudo-romantic element of the show comes from the relationship between Carter and DOD agent Blake played by Salli Richardson. Beautiful and strong, she is mother to a brilliant but challenge young son and estranged wife to Nathan Stark (Ed Quinn), the head of the experiments facility. The Stark character in many ways plays the antagonist although the majority of the antagonistic fuel comes courtesy of the sci-fi plot for the week. Whether it is fighting the unraveling of space/time, a cold-war era doomsday machine run amok or a computer-run home (S.A.R.A.H) that decides to eliminate the threat from within (houseguests), Eureka delivers some great action, a lighthearted sense of fun and even the occasional intellect stroking story.


The Episodes
Disc One -
1: Pilot
2: Many Happy Returns
3: Before I Forget


Disc Two
4: Alienated
5: Invincible
6: Dr Nobel
7: Blink
8: Right as Raynes


Disc Three
9: Primal
10: Purple Haze
11: H.O.U.S.E Rules
12: Once In A Lifetime



The Video - Posted ImagePosted ImagePosted ImagePosted Image out of Posted ImagePosted ImagePosted ImagePosted ImagePosted Image
Eureka is presented in the original 1.78:1 aspect ratio of its broadcast on the Sci-Fi Channel and is enhanced for widescreen TVs. The clean image does suffer from a little softness and a few scenes appear a tad too dark, particularly from the ‘Pilot’ episode. Interestingly, the darkness of some scenes is referenced in the commentaries provided, including the network’s request for the shows lighting to be ‘upped’. Still, certain interior ‘location shoot’ scenes seem a little murky/dark as a result.

Don’t get me wrong, this is still a good looking transfer with which I was pleased. Nowhere near as crisp as shows like Kyle XY, but it definitely looks nice. The many special effects scenes look nice and crisp in this transfer.



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Universal has provided a nice Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack for this release. Surrounds are used nicely throughout the season and the subwoofer has some kick to it. The dialogue, localized in the center channel is presented at a good level and is crisp. The effects scenes, which have many low-hum bass and directional effects (especially when an experiment goes wrong), are good. Overall this is a solid audio.


The Extra’s - Posted ImagePosted ImagePosted ImagePosted ImagePosted Image out of Posted ImagePosted ImagePosted ImagePosted ImagePosted Image

Pilot episode with Audio commentary by show creators Andrew Cosby, Jaime Paglia and actor Colin Ferguson – This is a fun, energetic and quite playful commentary by the show’s creators and the wonderful actor that portrays the town’s new sheriff. They provide a lot of useful and interesting background information and anecdotes on location shoots, lighting choices and directorial and writing decisions.

The ‘talk stick’ moment of the commentary is particularly good.


Pilot episode with Audio commentary Actor Colin Ferguson - The commentary with the actor by himself is quieter and more subdued. He echoes a number of notes from the group commentary of this episode. There are some silent gaps and while the group commentary is more entertaining, he still manages to impart a lot of information with real passion.


Deleted Scenes with Audio Commentary by show creators Andrew Cosby, Jaime Paglia and actor Colin Ferguson - There are 16 deleted scenes that run almost 18 minutes. They are available both with and without commentary and represent a nice collection of scenes. Some were trimmed down from scenes that remain in the final versions of episodes, but some were cut entirely. A number of them were cut or trimmed to accommodate the broadcasting of the season out of production order, a decision by the network to front-load the season with what were deemed ‘stronger’ episodes.

Here you will find two deleted scenes from the Pilot, five from Many Happy Returns, three from Blink, two from H.O.U.S.E Rules and one each from Alienated, Purple Haze, Primal and the well done season finale Once in a Lifetime.

Outtakes from the Pilot and Season Finale Once in a Lifetime with Audio Commentary by show creators Andrew Cosby, Jaime Paglia and actor Colin Ferguson - The outtake from the pilot episode will make you jump and the outtake from the season finale is fun, as we get to see Matt Frewer chew up the camera long after the scene has come to an end.

Webisodes - This collection of webisodes consists of 8 brief clips shown on the Sci-Fi website. They run approximately 2 minutes each, were mostly shot using a handheld and tell a quick little ‘monster’ tale about an escaped ‘project’. They are a good way to quickly get to know many of the characters. They are an entertaining distraction, a little disjointed but they definitely have the flavor of the show. The sound is a little off and the story, called Hide & Seek lacks a satisfying payoff but it is still worth checking out. There is no ‘play all’ feature for these but that is only a minor quibble. Curiously, however, some appear to be 1:78.1 while others 4:3. Not 16:9 enhanced either.

Podcasts for -
Many Happy Returns with Actor Colin Ferguson
Before I Forgetwith show creators Andrew Cosby, Jaime Paglia, actor Colin Ferguson, episode writer John Rogers and staff writer Johanna Stokes
Alienated with show creators Andrew Cosby, Jaime Paglia and actor Colin Ferguson
Invincible with actor Colin Ferguson
Dr. Nobel with actor Colin Ferguson and director Jeff Woolnough
Blink with show creators Andrew Cosby, Jaime Paglia and staff writer Johanna Stokes
Right as Raynes with show creators Andrew Cosby, Jaime Paglia, actor Ed Quinn and staff writer Johanna Stokes
Primal with actors Colin Ferguson and Ed Quinn and co-creator Jaime Paglia
Purple Haze with actor Colin Ferguson
Purple Haze with co-creator Jaime Paglia, actors Colin Ferguson, Ed Quinn and Jordan Hinson.
H.O.U.S.E Rules with actor Colin Ferguson
‘H.O.U.S.E Rules with co-creator Jaime Paglia and actors Colin Ferguson, Jordan Hinson and Salli Richardson-Whitfield.
Once In A Lifetime with show creators Andrew Cosby, Jaime Paglia and actor Colin Ferguson

While the podcasts are a little rough around the edges and have a ‘fly by the seat of your pants’ flair, they are entertaining. Occasionally too many people try to talk at the same time making it a little hard to understand everything being said. But the intent is good and comes from the desire to share as much good information about the show as possible making this issue easily forgivable.

Made In Eureka Mock Infomercials – ‘The Cryo-Kennel’ and ‘The Micro-Mitt’. A couple of cute nicely produced mock infomercials for products ‘Made In Eureka’. They are brief but cute.



Final Thoughts
Eureka is exactly the kind of show that I thoroughly enjoy watching. Good characters, good acting, good special effects and good stories filled with a heavy dose of science-fiction and quirky laughs.

Universal has provided a packed set of extras that are fun, informative and well worth your time. This is good television so I recommend picking it up and dropping in on the little town of Eureka.


Note: The packaging for season one at first glance is a little odd, but as the note in the slipcover indicates, it is 100% recyclable and made from 80% post consumer content. The DVD trays are 100% biodegradable and made from a combination of starch, cellulose and water (commonly known as potatoes).


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Neil Middlemiss
Kernersville, NC
"Equipped with his five senses, man explores the universe around him and calls the adventure Science" – Edwin Hubble
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#2 of 6 OFFLINE   Doug Wallen

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Posted July 14 2007 - 12:07 PM

Picked this up on release date and introduced it to my son and we watched it over two days of marathon viewing. I caught the original run and he is now anticipating each new episode since the premiere Tuesday.

Thanks for a great review.
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#3 of 6 OFFLINE   Bill>Moore

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Posted July 15 2007 - 01:27 AM

Watched it when it first aired last year and I've been trying to decide if I'm going to pick up the DVDs of the series. Good to hear that the set seems to be good.

#4 of 6 OFFLINE   Firebee

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Posted July 15 2007 - 10:32 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Doug Wallen
Picked this up on release date and introduced it to my son and we watched it over two days of marathon viewing. I caught the original run and he is now anticipating each new episode since the premiere Tuesday.

Thanks for a great review.

The set is great. Have watched every ep so far except for the last one, the season finale. I have to say that I have one quibble with this set, the post-consumer recycled styrofoam. The discs NEVER stay on the spindles, which I find a bit annoying. That be the one thing I'd change...make better spindles out of the styrofoam. Otherwise, great set and definitely was great in enabling me to quickly catch up after watching the S2 premiere last week. Posted Image
Real name: Dan Hart, Big Time TV Fan.

I also have not enough time to watch all of these DVDS:

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#5 of 6 OFFLINE   RogerH

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Posted July 18 2007 - 05:44 AM

I saw the first season when it was on SPACE up here in Canada and really enjoyed it. Sadly Season 2 isn't available here yet (looks likely in the fall) but I'll be picking up Season 1 next week.

#6 of 6 OFFLINE   Doug Wallen

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Posted July 18 2007 - 03:14 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Firebee
... I have to say that I have one quibble with this set, the post-consumer recycled styrofoam. The discs NEVER stay on the spindles, which I find a bit annoying. That be the one thing I'd change...make better spindles out of the styrofoam.

Amen to that. Hate the "recycled" spindles. Great gimmick, lousy execution.
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