Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Eureka

It's a town that doesn't exist. It doesn't appear on any maps, and no-one ever talks about it outside of the white picket fences and idilic homes that make up this cosy little hide-away. At first glance it may look perfectly normal, but look closer.

Small town. Big secret.

Eureka is Sci-Fi Channels newest offering for the fall line-up, though it started last week, so perhaps that's a "late summer line-up". The channel that brought us the all-new BattleStar Galactica, StarGate SG-1 and... um ECW (?!?) brings us a new take on sci-fi in the form of a quirky drama.

Set in the town of Eureka the series follows Jack Carter, a US Marshal who accidentally ends up there after taking a wrong turn one dark and stormy night. Turns out the entire town in populated by genius' of various degrees (ba-dum pish!). Even a few of the kids are super smart, one can do theoretical physics in his head, so long as it's in chalk and on a horizonal surface. And the local garage mechanic is revealed to be an ex-Nasa shuttle engineer, a certified coroner and practicing preacher, all while working on an anti-gravity generator in his shed. Oh, and he's Miles Dyson from Terminator 2. No seriously. See for yourself.

Having seen the pilot and the second episode, I have high hopes for this series. It's hilariously funnny, without being silly. Jack, the Marshal-turned-town-sheriff has a moody house. Portable fission reactors are stored under the bed. The greatest animal to ever be hunted is a dog ("a local hazard"). The character reactions to situations are more than believable, especially Jacks reactions to all the crazy stuff that others take are the daily norm. You know the writers are on the mark when you listen to an explaination of something, think to yourself "Yeah, right. Like he's gonna believe that" only to hear Jack turn and say "Yeah, right. You expect be to believe that?"

The stories so far have been far less about sci-fi and more about the characters. Tech merely supports the location, and reinforces how this town is far from normal, but the core of the pilot and second episode lies in the interactions of the characters rather than any special effect plot device. Though the tech is definately present. There are better ways of identifying someone than DNA checks, and there is a form for "undeadening someone", because, you know... it happens that often in this town.

Speaking of forms, the show does a great job of creating a believable lived-in, super-secret town, and it's the little things that make this special. Jack has to sign forms to guarantee his silence once the others trust him enough to let him in on more of Eureka. In the pilot, the local diner is taking bets on where the next "anomaly" will hit. It's the little things that count.

Not so little is the additional advertising going into the series. Made In Eureka is a website showcasing some of the more important advances created in the town. Almost like viral advertising, but I always got the impression that viral adverts should be very subtle as to what they are actually for. This is linked from the Sci-Fi website. Not very viral, but still cool.

Also on the Sci-Fi.com website are some made-for-the-net webisodes. Interesting extra stories that show a care and desire to ensure the success of the series outside of just how well it does on tv.

I'm enjoying this show, and hope to see it continue for some time. Great acting, great writing, great effects when needed.

Oh, and you think I spoiled anything by telling you the town is full of super-genius'? Hehehe. Anyone can enter the small town of Eureka. The big secret goes deeper.

3 comments:

Jp said...

Viral advertising doesn't have to be subtle. It just as to get the audience to spread the word for the product. Most of them try to be cryptic so people will pass it along asking their friends "What do you think this is about?".

But a blatantly obvious one where friends pass it along simply because it's funny or odd or whatever would be just as good an example. The whole gimmick is that you just set the ball rolling and the fans or potential customers or whatever take it from there.

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