Tiffany Vogt

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Review of ‘Eureka’ – O Little Town

In * By Tiffany Vogt, Eureka on December 8, 2010 at 5:36 pm

Celebrating the holiday season with Secret Santas, Santa-ology and holographic reindeer

When last seen at the end of summer, “Eureka” was saying good-bye to the delightful Dr. Charles Grant (James Callis) and wiggling its way back through the worm-hole. Now permanently stuck in the alternate timeline where Fargo (Neil Grayston) is in charge at Global Dynamics, Jo (Erica Cerra) is chief of security, and Jack (Colin Ferguson) and Allison (Salli Richardson-Whitfield) have decided to pursue a relationship, things are a little different in Eureka. So it came as no surprise that, just as Jack and Zoe (Jordan Hinson) were attempting to escape to spend the holidays with relatives, the world needed rescuing once again.

In a funny approach to reinventing the story of Santa Claus, “Eureka” did it with a bit of panache and style. Taggart (Matt Frewer) was back with a flying red sleigh and holographic reindeer – and a ray gun which miniaturizes gifts so that their mass is temporarily transferred into an alternate dimension and then can be brought back to full-size once delivered; and Jo pretended to be Scrooge to hide the fact that she was playing Secret Santa so that she could deliver the perfect Christmas gift to each of her friends.

It was with a bit tongue-and-check and a gleeful spirit that “Eureka” poked fun at some of the holiday traditions. Taggart, in hopes of catching the elusive Saint Nick, had become a Santa-ologist – studying all things Christmas in order to prove that all the mythology could be scientifically explained. However, with a sly appearance by Saint Nick posing as a condensed matter physicist, Dr. Noah Drummer (Chris Parnell), made it all feel that it was done with a twinkling spirit.

Who knew that a tiny “ornament” sized ball of cystallized hydrogen that posed such a monumental problem would become the Eureka “night star”?

What Worked

While Jack should surely know better, it was still priceless watching him get zapped as he tried to walk through the malfunctioning electro-magnetic shield that protects Eureka from prying eyes. Colin Ferguson’s gift with physical comedy makes such moments a lot funnier than they would normally be.

Also delightful was Erica Cerra’s nuanced performance as the dual-Scrooge/Secret Santa. We fully believed that she would be grumpy about this particular Christmas since she and Zane (Niall Matter) are no longer a couple due to an unfortunate wrinkle in the alternate timeline. Thus, finding out that she was the one delivering the perfect gifts was beautiful; her carefully hidden Christmas Angel shone ever so brightly when no one was looking. Also fun was her snarky comment to Fargo, “It’s the time you geeks let your freak flags fly every year,” and his quip, “No, that’s Comic-Con.” It was a nice shout-out to one of the biggest geek-fests of the year.

Another well-done moment of levity was the scene with the giant red bow blowing through town followed by the giant red ornament rolling down Main Street. The visual of it all felt both whimsical and comical at the same time. It is definitely a sight one would only find in “Eureka”!

The appearance of the mysterious Dr. Drummer who wandered about in plain sight at the G.D. holiday party in a Santa suit was also fantastic. When he told Taggart, “It shouldn’t always be about science. Some things are better left unexplained,” he was reminding Taggart that the world needs a bit of mystery.

Even the normally scientifically-inclined Allison, wanted to preserve the mystique of Christmas. When she told Zoe,”I just think we could all use a little more magic in our lives,” she knew that without it, life feels a bit more dull. Allison’s delight in discovering that Secret Santa had brought her pink bunny slippers invoked the child-like joy that everyone should feel for the holidays.

What Didn’t Work

It felt inconceivable that Jack would plan to spend Christmas away from Allison. He would have been dragging his feet about having to spend the obligatory holiday with his family. Instead, the episode portrayed him having no qualms about it. It was not until Allison shared her desire to have a traditional holiday that he changed his mind. It just did not feel like the Jack Carter we all know and love. Thank goodness, it all worked out in the end!

Also just missing the mark was the crazy gift for Carter where Taggart gave him the gift of Christmas cheer in the form of a singing trio of holograms in the form of Vincent (Chris Gauthier), Zoe and Fargo. The joke played out pretty quickly and felt disjarring each time it popped-up.

Also, a few faces missing from the episode were sorely missed. Where was S.A.R.A.H., Deputy Andy (Kavan Smith) and Grace (Tembi Locke)? Surely, a moment or two could have been spared to include them in the holiday festivities. It just did not feel as complete without the entire “Eureka” family to share in the fun.

Finally, this would have been the perfect opportunity to slip in another unexpected surprise, such as Zane could have also been pretending that he had not noticed Jo’s pain and then secretly gave her a Secret Santa present. The joke would have been priceless since Jo was the one leaving presents for everyone – and then for her to receive one in return, that would have been the true essence of Christmas.

Giving Credit Where Credit Is Due

“O Little Town” was written by Eric Tuchman and directed by Matt Hastings. “Eureka” stars Colin Ferguson, Salli Richardson-Whitfield, Joe Morton, Jordan Hinson, Erica Cerra, Neil Grayston, Chris Gauthier, Niall Matter, and Trevor Jackson. “Eureka” airs Fridays at 9:00 pm on Syfy.

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Reflecting on a summer of change in “Eureka”

In * By Tiffany Vogt, * Sci-fi columns, * Showcases, Eureka on September 12, 2010 at 5:47 pm

Promotions, demotions, falling in and out of love, and the return of a long-forgotten villain

Who knew that 1947 would be the most important year in “Eureka’s” history? When we first heard that Eureka had been founded in 1947, it barely registered. It was a forgotten memory as soon as we heard it. But ever since “Founder’s Day,” we have learned that 1947 means everything to the residents of Eureka – both past and present. It was not just the year that Eureka was founded and paved the way to create the world that our well-beloved heroes now live in, it was the year that everything changed.

Due to some small hiccup in time, whether triggered by a young autistic boy who wanted to use the Butterfly Effect to undue a birthright that left him developmentally-challenged, or by someone else with a darker motivation in mind, that time hiccup drew our five heroes out of their peaceful everyday lives in 2010 and took them back to 1947 where they scrambled to find a way back home again.

However, that is the magic of the Butterfly Effect. No matter how small the influence, any influence will change the future. 2010 was not the same. A divergent timeline had been created. It was impossible to go back and fix it and it was impossible to recapture their former lives that had been lost in the ever-shifting sands of time.

For Jack, Allison, Henry, Jo and Fargo, life would never be the same again. This past season has allowed them the opportunity to see what life would have been like if things were different. Nothing too big, but how small changes in everyone’s lives can feel as big as the Grand Canyon when inserted into someone’s personal life: Jack was forced to look at which woman he wanted to spend his life with; Allison gained a son no longer constrained by a developmental disability; Henry found himself forced to give up his bachelor ways; and Fargo was suddenly the man in charge.

Very much like the story the “Wizard of Oz,” Jack was forced to find courage to declare his love for Allison; Allison was given a heart and a second chance to be a mom; Jo had to choose between the love of her job and the love of a man; Henry gained wisdom to see that living life alone is not living; and Fargo was given power to see if he knew how to use it wisely.

So as our heroes acclimated to the new and improved 2010, there was a small wrinkle in time that complicated things. This wrinkle came in the form of Dr. Trevor Grant – promptly renamed as Dr. Charles Grant so that the unsuspecting brilliant minds of Eureka would not wonder about the man who suddenly appeared out of no where living in their midst. Dr. Grant was truly a man out-of-time.

Having absconded with Jack’s converted cell phone which would have transported him safely back to 2010, Dr. Grant made the time-jump into the future. He thought he could just play tourist and observe all the amazing discoveries and technology that the future held. But only having been given a one-way ticket, he was stuck. Losing out in his bid for Allison’s affections, Dr. Grant was easy prey to the likes of any scavenger looking for someone just like him.

Enter the long-forgotten Beverly Barlowe – who, once unmasked at the end of the second season as being a traitor in their midst, took off for parts unknown. Seeing the opportunity to return and use Dr. Grant for their own ends, Beverly was quick to woo and win over the lost and lonely Dr. Grant. Perhaps being too distracted by their own personal problems was not the wisest thing for Jack, Allison, Henry, Jo and Fargo to do – they left a potentially devastating scientific mind open to manipulation.

It was no wonder that Dr. Grant was only too happy to be given another opportunity to make a time-leap – this time hopefully back to 1947. There is truly no place like home and not being able to integrate fully into 2010, he happily made the leap. But how dangerous is it to have a brilliant scientist who has not only glimpsed the future, but who has played with all its wondrous toys and learned how it all works, to return to the past where he could be virtually unstoppable in recreating the world as we now know it. Do the inhabitants of Eureka truly want yet another alternate timeline created by this little foray into the future and back again? Was it not hard enough adapting to the new reality and all its changes? And would they even know it, if time itself shifted and they merely shifted along with it?

Looking at the “Founder’s Day” time-shift, one wonders if it helped our heroes out of stagnant lives from which they did not even realize they were trapped. Both Jo and Fargo have benefited from being allowed positions more worthy of their talents and the chance to openly be recognized as well. They are no longer overshadowed by Jack and Allison and seem to be thriving professionally. It is debatable if their professional success cost them in their personal lives as both lost their love interest at the time. But perhaps those relationships were unhealthy or not going anywhere. Being unshackled and out from behind the shadows of their former superiors has let them thrive in their lives.

Additionally, Jack, Allison and Henry were stuck in their quasi-bachelor like lives unwilling to make a change and take a risk on personal happiness. Henry, like Jo and Fargo, received a distinct bump up professionally since he is no longer just a garage mechanic tinkering on science projects and is now the Mayor of Eureka. But his change was to allow him to both gain a professional and personal life as he had neither in the old timeline. As for Jack and Allison, they needed a big push to get past their “let’s just be friends” stance that had gone on for far too long.

For each of them, the timeline shift shook them out of their complacency. They would have never made these changes in their lives without a big push from fate. So it would seem that this alternate reality has actually been a good thing for them. Painful and disorientating, but ultimately perhaps just what they needed.

As for the yet unknown fate of Dr. Grant, perhaps he will always be a man trapped out-of-time. Even if he were to return home again to 1947, what he has seen of the future will have changed him irrevocably. He will no longer be a man with just vision and ambition, he will be a man with definite knowledge of what lies ahead. Knowing the future can hinder vision and ambition. It can change one into one who demands and expects opposed to one who simply hopes and wishes for a better world. The intent of the heart has been warped and it may warp the future as well. We can only hope that Dr. Grant is wise enough to know that he will become the Butterfly Effect once again if he chooses to return to 1947. Choose wisely Dr. Grant!

The fourth season journey of “Eureka” has been mesmerizing. It is only half over, but until it returns again, we are breathless with anticipation to see what lies ahead. Will time stand still or bow before the hourglass which has turned yet again? Either way, we’ll be watching.

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Review of ‘Eureka’ – I’ll Be Seeing You

In * By Tiffany Vogt, Eureka on September 11, 2010 at 7:39 pm
Monkeying around with wormholes has serious repercussions

Violation of the time-travel protocols is the least of our heroes’ problems. From what we have seen, Dr. Charles Grant (formerly Dr. Trevor Grant) (James Callis) has been tinkering with time itself in order to get the result he wants. He may have hitch-hiked back to the future initially out of curiosity, but then, he went back to stop Adam Barlowe (Elias Toufexis) from stealing the Bridge Device blueprints and to save Allison’s (Salli Richardson-Whitfield) life. However, if the baseball he gave Jack (Colin Ferguson) and the opening scene where he was holding a clandestine meeting to prevent the atomic bomb from ever being built are any indication, Dr. Grant has returned to 1947 more than just once. Just exactly how is he doing that and to what end? Is he still working with Beverly (Debrah Farentino) or has he gone rogue? Will he finally learn his lesson and stop toying with the possible Butterfly Effects each time he jumps between the past and the future?

It may look like all fun and games, but each jump causes a tiny ripple which can have large and unintended consequences. Who decided that Dr. Grant gets to play God and manipulate everyone’s lives?

What Worked

It was highly entertaining watching the episode unfold. Jack’s opportune time-jump with Dr. Grant after Allison died was immediately reassuring that she was not gone forever; particularly as killing off Allison at this point in the series would have been too heart-breaking. Thus, like Jack, we were invested to make sure that this 2nd return trip to 1947 worked out so that Allison would be alive and well when he returned.

In addition to the emotional investment, the episode also had us curious whether or not any of their actions would have further repercussions — would the future change again simply because of their return trip? And what is Dr. Grant really up to? Is he indeed just a pawn of Beverly Barlowe?

When Dr. Grant asked Beverly, “You assume I want to go back. Why would I want to leave all this behind?” She told him what she thought he wanted to hear, “I know about your passion. How you formed this consortium of scientists who wanted to protect us from ourselves. This is a chance to restore your legacy.” Interestingly, he responded, “Impossible. Whatever I do will change things.” Charles knew from the start that returning to 1947 at this point could be incredibly dangerous. But Beverly’s persistence in plying him ego-flattering lines, like “Einstein was a visionary — you’ll be a god” and “together you’ll be unstoppable,” seemed to persuade him. It was surprising when Charles said, “Okay, let’s make history” and agreed to go back. Beverly seemed to be preying on Charles’ vanity and fears, a double-weakness, which compelled him to agree to something that he knew was wrong. Playing the time-keeper of fate does not really seem like a role that he would agree to. So why did he?

Did he go back to ensure that Adam Barlowe never stole the Bridge Device blueprints, thereby preventing Beverly from ever having a reason to re-create the device to begin with? Was it his altruistic motive to shut-down this dangerous project once and for all?

But altruism or greed was quickly superseded by the need to save Allison. The 2nd trip to 1947 was not about becoming a god or preventing the Bridge Device from being re-created, it was all about saving the woman both Jack and Charles loved. It was interesting watching to what lengths both would employ to make sure that Allison was alive when they returned. Charles was willing to let Adam Barlowe die, whereas Jack could not simply stand by and let that happen. Yet fate seemed to have something else in mind and made sure that Adam Barlowe lived.

Thus, when Henry (Joe Morton) curiously asked Charles at the end, “Charles, what did you do?” Jack quickly came to his defense and said, “Nothing. He screwed up, but he made it right.” With a hint of regret and insight, Charles added, “I thought I could make things right, but there are certain things in the universe that clearly cannot be changed.” Saving a life is permissible, but perhaps taking a life is not.

While it took a bit of maneuvering to fix the broken timeline and ensure that they did not venture down that same dark path again, it was spine-tingling when at the end Beverly reported to whoever she was colluding with, saying, “I’m afraid things did not work out the way we hoped. But I do have a new target in mind.” She was starring right at Jack and Allison as these ominous words rang out. What in the world is she up to now? That is what we are now dying to find out. Is she truly done with Charles Grant? Or has she found another way to manipulate time to her own ends?

If Beverly is referring to Allison, maybe she has figured out that Kevin (Trevor Jackson) is the one she needs to focus on. After all, the first trip to 1947 successfully cured him of autism and the second trip saved Allison’s life. Maybe Allison and Kevin are the key to controlling time.

Even Henry alluded to that significance when he told Allison, “I’ve known for a while now that you two [she and Jack] were meant to be together.” This was a cool nod to the first timeline that Henry manipulated to make sure that his beloved Kim (Tamlyn Tomita) would not die, but was forced to correct — robbing Jack of the future life he had with Allison. (This was the end of the first season, for those wondering.) Henry has already seen how manipulating time does not work out, but, unlike Jack whose memory he erased of that first timeline, Henry remembers that ultimately Jack and Allison ended up together. Some things destiny will make sure happen. Jack and Allison are destined to be together, no matter what the timeline.

Finally, the time had come for Zane (Niall Matter) to figure out what was really going on. Being a genius himself, it did not take him long. Jo’s (Erica Cerra) inadvertent slip when she threw his grandmother’s engagement ring at him helped put the pieces together: this was not the same Jo that he had known; this was a different Jo from a time when they had meant something to each other. So when Zane said, “When this is all over, we’re going to talk about that ring,” we knew that he had figured it out. Jo tried to dodge him, but in the end he cornered her saying, “You’re not getting off that easy. . . I’m not stupid. I know something’s happened with the five of you and part of it had to do with us.” When Jo stood silently not denying or acknowledging anything, he prodded her further saying, “You had my grandmother’s engagement ring, Jo. Come on. Tell me what we were to each other.” When she finally reluctantly said, “Nothing,” Zane decided to push the matter and kissed her. He then flatly said, “Then why didn’t that feel like the first kiss?” Zane knows that time has been changed, but how and why; and Jo does not want to jeopardize him by telling him and including him in a possible government prosecution of a time-travel cover-up. At this point entirely too many people know about the time-travel breach of protocol: Charles, Beverly, Andy (Kavan Smith) and now Zane. That’s too many people to keep a lid on our heroes’ time-travel excursions. Will it matter that only Charles and Beverly are actually guilty of deliberately participating in such an egregious violation of protocol? Or will those who were inadvertently caught up in it be charged with treason as well? All these questions guarantee that we will be holding our breath to find out until “Eureka” returns for the second half of the 4th season.

What Didn’t Work

After teasing us at the beginning of the episode with the scene of Dr. Grant meeting with a woman and man plotting to prevent the atomic bomb from ever being built, that particular timeline — story strand was left hanging. While not an obvious cliff-hanger, it still leaves us feeling unsatisfied about what that was all about. Let’s not have hanging-chads tickling our brains. For as the other man said, “Traversing a wormhole into the past, not much work.” To say it like that, he must have done it before. So since when has time-travel become such an every day occurrence? When Grant said, “Let’s make history,” perhaps he was referring to more than just going back to 1947. Maybe he has perfected that art of traveling into the future and then back into that past? It is mind-boggling to conceive.

While Zoe’s (Jordan Hinson) presence served to heighten the moment between Zane and Jo after he kissed her, it was unnecessary. It is enough that the audience resents Zoe for ditching her high school boyfriend to pursue Zane. But to now make her down right despised for getting in between Jo and Zane is uncalled for. It was funny when Zane was clueless that he and Jo were involved before. Now it just feels painful.

Giving Credit Where Credit Is Due

“I’ll Be Seeing You” was written by Jaime Paglia and directed by Michael Robison. “Eureka” stars Colin Ferguson, Salli Richardson-Whitfield, Joe Morton, Jordan Hinson, Erica Cerra, Neil Grayston, Chris Gauthier, Niall Matter, and Trevor Jackson. “Eureka” airs Fridays at 9:00 pm on Syfy.

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