Eureka's Fiction Is Great, Their Science A Little Shaky

Eureka's summer half-season continued last night with an episode that offered up the best argument for and against Syfy's gentle sci-fi comedy we've seen for awhile. Can we see more of the former and less of the latter, please?


To be fair, there really was a lot to enjoy in "Ship Happens" - Not least of all, the unexpected return of Kim Anderson (Well, kind of), who's been dead since the end of the first season. Her return, in the form of a living computer using her DNA, offered not only a chance for Joe Morton's Henry to frown and get a B-plot to himself, but also a McGuffin for the show's A-plot, a computer virus that's managed to jump over and infect humans. It also showcased that, while the show works well as a character-based dramedy (Yes, I hate the term, too, but it fits here), it kind of falls apart as a science-fiction show.

Here's the thing: The idea of a virus infecting "organic computers" (that interface with users through gel, just like BSG's cylon systems in either a smart shout-out or odd coincidence) and jumping to users? Fine idea. But curing the virus by downloading the antidote via a special light that magically manages to go throughout the town despite no apparent light source other than one inside an underground bunker with no windows... Not so much, even with the techspeak about using the eye's natural translation of visual input into electrical information as an attempt at an explanation. It's a problem that the show constantly runs into; being unable to resolve the science plot of the week without resorting to semi-magical fixes in order to fit within the timeslot (See also "It's Not Easy Being Green"'s "That herbal medicine just happens to be able to kill the organism we've been hunting for! WHAT A COINCIDENCE!"), and it's one that just seems to be part of the show's make-up: Every now and again - or every week, whatever, you're just going to have to suck up the occasional Deus Ex Machina in the last ten minutes.

And yet, I'm not sure I really care that much. Because the Science Gone Wrong Of The Week isn't why I watch or enjoy Eureka; it's just the razzle dazzle that occasionally brings the laughs. But what brings me back are the characters, and this week I was as happy to see Carter and Tess go on that quasi-date as anything else that happened (Sorry, I can't really fall for the Zane/Jo thing, mostly because of Zane's distracting forced-unkempt hair. What can I say? I'm shallow). As long as they get the character stuff right - and with actors like Colin Ferguson, Joe Morton and even Salli Richardson-Whitfield, continually given the thankless role of pregnant exposition machine, even cliche and lazy dialogue can be made to sing - I'll keep watching. I just wish they'd make the science as worthwhile.