The Premise: If you put all the geniuses in one town they can invent anything.
Wacky small towns are a popular theme among Hollywood writers. You've seen it a million times before: big city character, stressed and confused by life, wanders into a small town of warm eccentrics and never leaves. It's such an unlikely scenario that when it comes right down to it the sci-fi series Eureka is actually no less likely than Northern Exposure.
In Eureka, the big city character is U.S. Marshall Jack Carter (Colin Ferguson), who discovers a place called Eureka where the government has been squirreling away all the geniuses they can find to work on super secret technology. It's a cute premise, providing a nice setting for talking houses, scientists who can erase memories and mysterious artifacts.
The stories are generally entertaining, but the show is more interesting around its edges than at its center. Ferguson is pleasantly bland and with the exception of Joe Morton as a wry inventor the rest of the main characters feel rather generic. The characters that most attract your attention have the least air time, ranging from Erica Cerra as the amusingly gung ho deputy Jo, who has a fairly big supporting role, to the brilliant Matt Frewer who shows up for a few seconds now and again as a nutty dogcatcher.
The end result is a show that falls somewhere between the original SciFi Channel shows I find dull like Stargate SG-1 and Battlestar Galactica and the series I enjoy like Farscape and, uh, well ... okay, like Farscape.
So far, Eureka keeps me watching but never gets me caring. Will Carter hook up with the sexy government liason who will she go back to that prickly science guy? Don't care. Will the show ever tell us what's going on with that innkeeper shrink? I guess, but so what. What is that big glowy thing in Section 5? Or was it Section 4? Whatever.
Still, it's more interesting than a lot of those small-town series. I couldn't watch more than the first episode of Nothern Exposure, but this one's been stringing me along for a while now.
My Final Analysis: I guess as long as they keep showing this I'll probably keep watching it, but if they cancel it tomorrow I'll have forgotten it existed two weeks later.
Eureka can be seen on the Sci-Fi Channel, Fridays at 7 pm.