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HTF DVD Review: Eureka Season Two



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#1 of 6 Neil Middlemiss

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Posted July 13 2008 - 11:00 AM

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Eureka Season Two




Studio: Universal Studios
Year: 2007
US Rating: Not Rated
Film Length: 9 Hours 24 Minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
Audio: English 5.1 Dolby Digital
Subtitles: Optional English SDH




US Release Date: July 15, 2008

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

Stark
"Good job Carter. Wow that didn't even leave a bad taste in my mouth."

Carter
"Give it a second."

Stark
"Oh there it is.”


Welcome back to Eureka! The Sci-Fi channels exciting show that, along with some other surprisingly good original shows in its line up (Dr. Who, Battlestar Galactica), solidifies its relevance in the television landscape. The playfulness of the shows premise is underscored by a dramatic intelligence and thoughtful dialogue that allows the show to shift gears with perfect ease between serious and oddball. Combine that with uniformly great performances, intriguing plots and wonderful special effects and you get a brilliant show and one of the best on television.

So what is the show about? US Marshal Jack Carter stumbled across the small town of Eureka in the series pilot 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 retires, he picks the fish-out-of-water Carter as his replacement.

Carter’s straight shooter sensibilities and humorous stiffness make him stand out like a sore thumb with his badge and gun among the mostly scientifically inclined, brainiac community filled with more doctorate holding characters than E.R, Chicago Hope and HOUSE combined. As the new Sheriff, Carter learns to ebb and flow with the idiosyncratic novelties of a town filled with the smartest, most innovative and logically minded people on the planet who all seem to work for the science facilities at Global Dynamics, a bastion of highly top secret and incredible devices, dabblings and secrets. He is routinely required to investigate abnormal occurrences that challenge the laws of time, space, physics, life and death – and his everyman standing more often than not reveals the culprit or solution.

The majority of the town’s incredible experiments take place at a highly secure facility under a guarded shroud of secrecy in ‘Section 5’within Global Dynamics. It is here that a mysterious artifact confounds explanation and all attempts to understand it.

Some of the science can be a little shaky and there are reliable plot conveniences that bend the already stretched plausibility, but all of it, every last spilling of technobabble and lining up of story elements to make the science fit is charming, funny and exceedingly entertaining.

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 show.

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 very 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.

The pseudo-romantic element of the show in season one between Carter and the now head of the Global Dynamic facility Allison Blake played by Salli Richardson, is enriched in the shows sophomore season by the complications of Blake’s ex-husband (and former head of Global Dynamics) Nathan Stark. The Allison Blake character is explored much more depth in these 13 episodes and gives Richardson a much more layered role.

Joe Morton (T2) 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. His character enjoyed some of the best development through the second season and Morton handles it well. The conspiracy theme takes interesting turns in the second season, without betraying the original mystery. Much ground was made into that shadowy aspect, answering questions and creating new ones, like all great conspiracy threads in shows do.

And finally, there are 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 Episodes

Disc One
1: Phoenix Rising
2: Try, Try Again
3: Unpredictable
4: Games People Play

Disc Two
5: Duck Duck Goose
6: Noche de Sueños
7: Family Reunion
8: E=MC…?
9: Sight Unseen

Disc Three
10: God Is In The Details
11: Maneater
12: A Night at Global Dynamics



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. As with season one, image is clean and the bright colors come across well. The balance of light and dark is more consistent in this season and overall, this is just fine.




The Sound - Posted ImagePosted ImagePosted ImagePosted Image out of Posted ImagePosted ImagePosted ImagePosted ImagePosted Image

Universal has provided a nice Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack for this release. This season is exactly like the first with a good use of surround effects and a generous use of the subwoofer. 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 Image out of Posted ImagePosted ImagePosted ImagePosted ImagePosted Image

There is a nice mix of special features spread across the three discs. Many episodes have deleted scenes that add little character moments here and there. The show does very well in developing its people while setting up, explaining and solving the scientific mysteries that many of these scenes were rightfully cut. The podcasts are uniformly entertaining and many times, revealing.

Disc One Special Features
Phoenix Rising
- 4 deleted scenes running 2 minutes 54 seconds.

Try, Try Again
- One deleted scene with Fargo and Lupo.
- 2 Podcast Commentaries, one with series stars Colin Feguson and Neil Grayston and a second with executive producer/showrunner Charlie Craig and executive producer Thania St. John.

Unpredictable
- 3 deleted scenes running 2 minutes and 41 seconds

Games People Play
- 1 deleted scene running 1 minute and 10 seconds


Disc Two Special Features
Family Reunion
- 1 deleted scenes running 29 seconds.

E=MC…? Rising
- 2 deleted scenes running 3 minutes 54 seconds.

Sight Unseen
- 1 deleted scenes running 1 minute 46 seconds

- Podcast Commentary with Executive Showrunner Charlie Craig

Happenings Around Town, The Second Season - (11:38)
This extra features interviews with the cast discussing the show and how it found its footing in this second season. A bit of a fluff piece (the actors are asked what invention they would want to be real) – but everyone is so likeable and enjoy the show so much, that it really sells how great the show is.

Scifi.Com Webcasts - (12:45)
More or less an extension of the ‘Happening Around Town…” these feature the cast talk more about the show in these three webcasts shown on the SciFi channels online site.

”Live Smart, Eureka” PSA’s - (2:38)
7 fake public service announcements featuring the major characters from the show advising the Eureka townsfolk to tell an adult of someone they know is creating a black hole or reminding them of how important it is to follow the directions when building a robot to avoid it becoming an unstoppable killing machine. Good fun.


Disc Three Special Features
God Is In The Detail
- 1 deleted scenes running 55 seconds.
- Podcats Commentary wirh Executive Producer Jaime Paglia and Staff Writer Eric Wallace

Maneater
- Podcast Commentary with Executive Producer/Showrunner Charles Craig and Co-Executive Producer Bruce Miller

Gag Reel Rising - (5:49)
Very funny gag reel plus some odd and funny moments from the second season

Inside The Writer’s Room - (14:34)
Show co-creator Jaime Paglia introduces the writer’s room environment for season three. We meet the writers discussing working as a group, the writers strike and the intensive process of coming up with the episodes. The process of breaking the story, discussing characters and where they want them to go is interesting here. What is revealing and great about this group is the diversity represented, not a lot, but it is there in a way that you don’t really hear about on shows these days (the shameful color and gender vacuum on screen is usually worse behind the scenes). Some of the ideas and new elements that will go into this upcoming season are revealed here.

Excitingly, Eureka Season 3 will get a total of 20 episodes! It’s going to be a great year on Sci-Fi.




Final Thoughts

The second season of Eureka continued in strength, with stories following confident arcs and darker elements showing up in the light heartedness of the show. It maintained its humor and added more complex character stories and even more impressive visual effects. The stories are a blast, the characters enjoyable, the cast perfect and the quality extremely high. This 3-disc set has a healthy dose of special features and more than adequate visual and audio quality. This is easily one of my favourite shows and I highly recommend it.

Note: Once again the eco-friendly packaging is 100% recyclable and made from a combination of 55% post consumer and 45% post-industrial paper fiber. This season is an improvement as the discs easily stay in their trays and the entire package is less bulky. Congratulations Universal on doing your bit to save the world!



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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 Doug Wallen

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Posted July 13 2008 - 11:42 AM

Thanks for the review. Looking forward to picking this up Tuesday.

Doug
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#3 of 6 Will_C

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Posted July 15 2008 - 05:42 AM

I love this show! I just wish the new season weren't starting so late in July. It's a summer show to me, and the end of July is too late to be starting. Grateful to be getting it though. I don't remember which episode it was in S2, but the episode where they have shared dreams and Lupo's hidden crush on a certain character and the setting she dreams them in is seen by a large group of townspeople was absolutely hilarious! Posted Image
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#4 of 6 Neil Middlemiss

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Posted July 15 2008 - 05:46 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Will_C
I don't remember which episode it was in S2, but the episode where they have shared dreams and Lupo's hidden crush on a certain character and the setting she dreams them in is seen by a large group of townspeople was absolutely hilarious! Posted Image

That would be Noche de Sueños - very funny!
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#5 of 6 Keith I

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Posted July 17 2008 - 06:22 PM

Season 1's packaging (specifically the spindles) were horrible. Two of my discs refuse to stay in place anymore and one of those two spindles cracked because they were so soft.

Universal Home Video: Is there any way you can offer us a replacement case?

Anyway, I'm glad that Season 2's disc holders are plastic again. (Environmentally conscious? Those recycled water bottles mentioned on the outer sleeve?) Although when I opened my set, Disc 3 was off its spindle; no scratches though.

#6 of 6 Neil Middlemiss

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Posted July 24 2008 - 01:42 PM

Season three will premiere on the Sci-Fi channel on Tuesday July 29th. Given the evolving storylines, I would recommend catching up on season two before you get your Eureka geek on Posted Image I'm glad that I did.
"Equipped with his five senses, man explores the universe around him and calls the adventure Science" – Edwin Hubble
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