Thursday, September 14, 2006

Eureka: Surprisingly Likeable

Intrigued by the premise, I tuned into the pilot episode of The Sci Fi Channel's Eureka expecting to find a cheesy, contrived mess. I mean, let's face it, Sci Fi has a pretty mixed record where original material is concerned, and the whole "secret town populated by geniuses" concept, while interesting, has the potential to get pretty stale pretty fast.

Two months later, I'm still watching. In fact, when I tuned into channel 62 the other night at nine and found a college football documentary instead of Eureka, I totally panicked, flipping channels manically (and cursing Comcast) until I found Sci Fi on 51 (goodbye, Style Network!). I'm clearly hooked.

But why? The show can be heavy-handed, with ominous music of doom and cheesy dialogue. The main character quite often comes across as somewhat dim-witted. And as much as the writers try to force them together (uh-oh, they have to kiss to get her ex-husband angry in order to save the town!), Colin Ferguson and Salli Richardson don't have enough chemistry to light up a light bulb, let alone the deepest recesses of my admittedly tiny, shriveled heart.

And yet, somehow, it works. I'm a great lover of "quirky," which Eureka provides in spades. The plots are marvelously absurd (did anyone else fall in love with the show all over again when an army of angry Starks marched down the street in the last episode?), and while the town is largely full of oddballs, they aren't just empty stereotypes there to provide a cheap laugh when necessary (although they certainly sometimes do that, too).

Colin Ferguson as Sheriff Jack Carter is the truly essential ingredient. He manages to be insanely likeable, even when he's given goofy dialogue or stupid plotlines. I may kind of love him, despite the fact that he sometimes seems like the quintessential embarrassing dad, which I actually really, really love about his character.

I guess what it all boils down to is that not every show needs to be highbrow, intellectual entertainment. Some are just meant to be enjoyed, and you can't examine those shows for every little flaw. You just have to sit back and enjoy the ride. (Note to Men in Trees fans: The preceding does not apply to you! That show is legitimately bad.)


RandomAbductee said...

Hey!!! :D I came over from the link you left on my blog, TVMakesYouStupid. Much to my surprise, I too love Eureka. I love the way that it manages to avoid being "whimsical." It's truly geeky and eccentric with little dashes of macabre. I adore Joe Morton and am happy to see him week after week (and I love the bizarre Lupe/Taggart relationship developing) but the best character for me is definitely Nathan Stark. He is fiendishly deadpan. It makes me so happy. :) BTW I've added your blog to my blog roll, hope that was okay!!

Liz said...

Hi there! Ha, I was actually gonna add you to my links list tomorrow when I update it, so now it'll be mutual :)

Stark is definitely awesome, and getting consistently better with each new episode (much like the show in general). I also really like the Carter/Zoe relationship--they give her enough depth to keep it from being cliche, I think. Which is really what's great about the whole show--it does choose depth over whimsy, but manages to still be really fun to watch.