There are a lot of advantages when you don’t have Cable TV — especially when you’re as cynical, jaded, and cheap as I am. For one thing, you don’t have to suffer through crappy Reality shows, biased news broadcasts, and infomercials. You also save a few bucks every month. However, I have discovered that there are disadvantages to not having Cable TV — an inconvenience that is almost unforgivable by some people’s standards — being that you can’t keep up with a fun show like SyFy’s Eureka. Fortunately, though, you can keep up with it on DVD, just like I’ve done with Universal’s release of Eureka: Season 4.5.
For sci-fi nerds, there’s nothing better than seeing science-fiction comedy programming that has been penned exclusively by other nerds. And Eureka is just that. Created by Andrew Cosby and Jaime Paglia, the SyFy series follows the humorous exploits that frequently occur in Eureka, Oregon — a town that is inhabited almost entirely by great brains and scientists of every equation who work on all kinds of hush-hush government stuff at a facility known as Global Dynamics. The only “normal” mind out of the entire community appears to be Sheriff Jack Carter (Colin Ferguson, who also acts as a producer in this season), whose down-to-Earth, non-overly-analytical way of thinking often solves more problems than the resident genii inadvertently create.
Eureka: Season 4.5 starts off with a bang. Actually, it’s more of a blast: as Global Dynamics’ head whiz kid Fargo (Neil Grayston) accidentally launches himself into space — along with unruly hacker Zane (Niall Matter) — in a vintage NASA space capsule. From there, things only get wackier — as the unintentional journey into the stars results in the folks at GD mastering a faster-than-light drive that they intend to use to send a manned expedition to Titan. And so, a venerable flood of scientific nerds, geeks, and dorks flock in to try and get on the action. Meanwhile, Sheriff Carter has to contend with a digital virus that causes people to live up to the lyrics of the songs they hear, a literal “bank robbery,” and even a toxic snowstorm.
Joining regulars (old and new alike) Salli Richardson-Whitfield, Joe Morton, Erica Cerra, Kavan Smith, and Tembi Locke for this enjoyable entry in the series are the talents of Wil Wheaton (who, in the words of Sir Mix-a-Lot, “got back”) and the oh-so-doable Felicia Day as visiting scientists. Additional guest stars include Wallace Shawn (no, he doesn’t say “inconceivable”), Ming-Na, Dave Foley, and Matt Frewer. There’s also a cameo by Stan Lee. The season set consists of the ten episodes that aired during 2011, with the notable exclusion of the 2011 Christmas special (which is a standalone episode). Strangely enough, the 2010 Christmas special is included instead — as is a bonus crossover episode of the series Warehouse 13, where Neil Grayston guest stars as Dr. Fargo.
Now, for those of you who want to complain about half-season sets, please note that Eureka’s third and fourth seasons (which consisted of 18 and 21 episodes, respectively) were each broadcast over two years. Were it any other series, Seasons Three and Four would have been split into two whole seasons apiece, albeit with fewer episodes than normal. Technically, Season 4.5 should be Season 6, but that’s just my overly-analytical nerdy brain at work here.
Presented in their original 1.78:1 widescreen aspect ratio, Eureka: Season 4.5 is spread out over three discs, and the video quality is quite nice for Standard-Def DVD (if they ever put out a Blu-ray set of the whole series, though, I’m there), as is the English Dolby Digital 5.1 sound. Optional (SDH) subtitles are included, and — in addition to the aforementioned bonus episodes — bonus materials feature audio commentaries with cast and crew on select episodes, deleted scenes, a gag reel, behind-the-scenes featurette “The Mythology of Eureka,” and an extended version of the episode “Of Mites and Men.” Note: if you choose the “Play All” option on these discs, the latter episode will play directly after the shorter, as-originally-broadcast version — making you wonder what the heck’s going on.
Oh, well, it’s good enough to watch over — as is the whole season.