Q&A with Eureka’s Colin Ferguson and Jaime Paglia

Eureka is one of those rare gems of a television series that only comes along every now and again. But after five seasons, SyFy is pulling the plug on this fan favorite, and probably putting yet another cheap reality show in its place (don’t get me started). I had the opportunity to talk about Eureka‘s final season with series creator Jaime Paglia, along with Sheriff Jack Carter himself, Colin Ferguson.

(Please note that if you have not seen last season of Eureka, the following may contain spoilers.)

Colin Ferguson started the discussion by answering a question about what to expect with Eureka‘s fifth season. “I’m usually the king of pessimism. I’m the king of like, well, we did okay, or we did – I watched the first three episodes in the last couple days. I’m so proud of them. I’d put them up against anything, and that might be cocky and stupid. I’m so excited for this season to come out. It’s the best thing that we’ve done.”

Jaime Paglia added, “Gee, I never even make Colin happy, so that’s high praise indeed. I do feel like these last two seasons, seasons four and five, and if you want to call it 4.5 in there as well, that’s good. But I think that everybody has really done their best work.” Paglia praised the creative team, including everyone from the cast to the crew to the writing staff. He feels that the show has once more raised the bar for its genre and that season five was “the most fun to make.”

At the beginning of the series, Paglia had no idea what to expect, with Eureka being his first experience working in television. “I think that, like any show, we had the growing pains of just trying to figure out what the show was, all of us, not just us as writers or producers, but the cast finding the characters and it’s an involving kind of creative process.”

The show’s numerous plot twists also excited Paglia. “We found different opportunities as our stories have evolved over the seasons, and there were things we did in season 1 that we weren’t able to complete in terms of some set-ups,and these sort of longer arcs that had been part of the mythology that we had hoped was going to kind of continue. But due to a number of reasons, they kind of got truncated a bit in seasons two and three, and it was nice to be able to kind of come back around full circle and satisfy some of the things that we had originally wanted to do.”

One of these storylines involved the Astraeus mission, which the series didn’t tackle until last season. According to Paglia, “Where are we going to go? What’s going to happen? And that’s exactly what led to this new season.”

Ferguson was stunned that the show took the path that it did and went on to state that it has everything to do with working in science fiction. “In other genres, when you re-invent the wheel, you bring in a new character; you bring in an evil twin; you bring in – it’s sort of standard stuff. But it’s a testament to the imagination of the writers that we could get going back in time, and there’s a new Eureka in one season. It’s the greatest plot twists that only this genre can afford. I’m so proud, particularly watching those episodes, so I guess that’s my take on the last bunch of years. I never saw this coming.”

The initial creation of the show was also inspired. “I think that we were inadvertently creating something that was sort of all the favorite things that we like in television, that we like to watch and write,” said Paglia, “and kind of maybe putting them into a new blend of elements, and sort of a – the earthbound sci-fi space dramedy hadn’t really been done. And I can’t say that it was a plan to create that.” Paglia is proud that Eureka opened SyFy up to other shows that have had more success on the channel that don’t fit the typical science fiction space-bound drama, namely Warehouse 13, Haven and Alphas.

Paglia confirmed that series guest stars Wil Wheaton and Felicia Day would be returning for some episodes of Eureka‘s final season. We’ll also be seeing Wallace Shawn return, along with a few other guest star surprises.

I couldn’t help myself, so I had to ask about Battlestar Galactica‘s James Callis, who guest starred in season 4 as Dr. Trevor Grant. “I think you should make sure that you see every episode,” teased Paglia. “We were going to have a lot more of Trevor Grant in season six, so I think that you might keep your eyes open for him, maybe potentially showing up somewhere along the way in season five.” That’s a yes, isn’t it?

SyFy originally had announced that Eureka would get a short sixth season to wrap up its storylines but then later changed its mind, only giving the series a single episode as a finale. Paglia discussed that they had almost finished wrapping up the fifth season, which includes a cliffhanger that was supposed to go into the short sixth season. Preparations had been made for the final six episodes that the sixth season would entail when he got the phone call that it wasn’t going to happen.

“It’s – of course – impossible to course correct the script at this point. And this would be just this giant cliffhanger and there would be no resolution for the characters, much less the storylines,” Paglia remarked. So he asked SyFy for just one more episode. Mark Stern, President of Original Content at SyFy, supported that, but, because of the Comcast merger, it wasn’t a single unilateral decision. After Paglia wrote “a long email,” though, the one episode was approved, with one small caveat: the script had to be done the next day. “I had different writers writing pieces of the outline and I started writing the script as soon as we had the notion of what we were going to do. We finished it.” Even though the last script was a rush job, Paglia is very happy with the episode that they delivered.

Ferguson’s Sheriff Jack Carter, clearly the show’s star, has gone through some changes throughout the course of the series. Ferguson said, “We came – he started as a guy who was a bad father, very closed off to people and very all about work, and by the end of it had really embraced not only his daughter and his family but a community of scientists and people, and really life, in a sense. As many times as maybe he’s saved Eureka, I think ultimately Eureka saved him, and that might be the most poignant salvation of all of it for me.”

In a bittersweet moment, both Ferguson and Paglia discussed how they would miss working on the show. “The people that we have on the show have just been amazing people as well as creative talents, and that is something that I’m definitely going to miss having every day,” Paglia said.

Ferguson concurred. “I’m going to miss – gosh, probably the process as well. I mean, I’m so proud that this is our swan song. if we could do this show, this final season, forever, that would be amazing. This is always the show that we – I’m so happy that we got to make it on our final season. I have a lot of fond memories and a lot of dear, dear friends that have come out of it, and it’s nice to meet up with them socially now.”

Both Ferguson and Paglia also agreed that Eureka has helped prepare them for future work. Ferguson said, “As I went into auditions and what not, and people would be what appeared to be genuinely excited, and that felt really great, to walk into a room, like, oh, great! Oh we’re so excited that you’re available this year, and that was – that meant a lot to me.”

According to Paglia, “Yes, I think similarly that it is great to have people now actually wanting me to come to work on things, which I wasn’t available to do before, and there are – you’re like, oh, wow, thanks! That’s great that you actually want to work with me, because that was – obviously when we started out, I was – brand new to this.”

So how do the two want Eureka to be remembered 20 years from now? According to Ferguson, he hopes the show is remembered for this final season. “I want them to remember it by the end of our journey, where we got to, the growth that we all went through, how our stories got tighter, our acting got better, our lighting improved. I want – it’s been a great journey, but I’m so proud of the end of the road that I’d love them to look back on that and remember us for that.”

Paglia continued, “Yes, I think – I hope that people remember the town and miss the town still and wish that they could be a part of it.”

I think it’s safe to say that if Eureka were a real town, I’d move there. Thanks to the cast and crew of Eureka for giving us five seasons of an amazing show. You will be missed.

Don’t miss Eureka‘s final season beginning April 16th on SyFy.

 

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