EUREKA’s Season Four premiere, Founder’s Day, was a pleasant surprise for me.
During the second and third years, I found myself less interested in the SyFy series, feeling it had become predictable and repetitive.
Never having been a faithful viewer of the generally amiable show, I pretty much just stopped watching, catching maybe two or three episodes last season.
Intrigued by the coming attractions, I tuned in to see the arrival of new recurring character Dr. Trevor Grant, played by BATTLESTAR GALACTICA’s Baltar, James Callis. It’s handled in a interesting way, as Founder’s Day turns out to be a time travel story.
Sheriff Jack Carter (Colin Ferguson) isn’t in the mood for a 60th Anniversary Founder’s Day celebration, as he’s dealing with his daughter Zoe (Jordan Hinson) going off to college, and discovering via ‘Dear John’ hologram that his third season scientist love interest Tess Fontana (Jaime Ray Newman) has left for a job in Australia. Both character were seemingly written out of the series—or at least, that was the impression that was given.
Trying to jog off his blues, Carter gets a phone call, and suddenly, the trees around him suddenly appear to shrink.
Thinking this is just another of the weird things that happen in the town, and with no cell reception, he flags down a man driving the period car he saw astrophysicist/mechanic/mayor Henry Deacon (Joe Morton) working on earlier in his day. This guy’s got the period clothes an manner down to a tee, and there’s even a period Jackie Robinson Brooklyn Dodgers game on the radio.
Only it turns out that it’s live, not a recording, and that he’s just met Dr. Grant, a confidant to Einstein and future founder of the town. It’s 1947, and Camp Eureka is still a secret Army base.
In short order he’s arrested, and discovers that his unrequited (unasked?) love interest Dr. Alison Blake (Salli Richardson-Whitfield), HenryDeacon, Deputy Jo Lupo (Erica Cerra, and techo-nerd Douglas Fargo (Neil Grayston) have all been transported back in time, due to an activity the were all enganed in at the time.
The base commander believes them to be spies, and only Dr. Grant will consider there might be some truth to the story, due in part to the existence of an experimental device he and Albert Einstein could never get to work, one which was being used as a display in 2010, being tinkered with by Dr. Blake’s gifted but autistic son (Meshach Peters).
Eventually, the regulars do get back to the present, with one hitch: Dr. Grant was transported as well, and the timeline has been changed. And as it turns out, very personally for all them.
The acting was uniformly good (never a problem with this series), the writing clever, the sense of period pretty good — although we’re asked to accept some fairly progressive social attitudes and swallow a real whopper of an scientific anachronism for the sake of the story.
Perhaps most impressive are the risks taken with the characters and storylines. The writer/producer Jaime Paglia has set up a high-stakes situation that makes one fairly certain there’s a re-set button in the future.
But pressing it or not pressing it is going to cost some characters dearly. I’ll be tuning in to find out how it all plays, as this is an arc that will strech over several episodes. I might even get back into the habit of watching EUREKA regualrly.
The episode was directed by Matt Hastings.
EUREKA airs Fridays at 9 PM (8 Central) on SyFy.