EUREKA is Syfy’s much-loved and successful series about a town full of good-hearted geniuses working on secret science projects that accidentally almost destroy the world every week or so. The show, starring Colin Ferguson as regular-guy town sheriff Jack Carter, Salli Richardson-Whitfield as Jack’s love Dr. Allison Blake, Erica Cerra as deputy-turned-chief of security for town science hub Global Dynamics Jo Lupo, Neil Grayston as GD chief Douglas Fargo and Joe Morton as eccentric engineer Henry Deacon, is in its fifth and final season Monday nights.
Jaime Paglia, who co-created EUREKA with Andrew Cosby, and remains as one of its executive producers and show runners, sits down at a lovely pond-side location for this two-part exclusive interview.
ASSIGNMENT X: You ended Season Four on a cliffhanger. At the time, was there any danger you might not come back for Season Five?
PAGLIA: We sure hoped not. I mean, you don’t know for sure. I think that based on our growing ratings and the fact that we successfully helped launch WAREHOUSE 13 and HAVEN and now ALPHAS, that we were a mainstay for the network and unless we had shown some huge drop-off, the chances were good, at least, that we were going to come back for a Season Five. So we approached it that way. We went for the giant cliffhanger, and nobody said, “Why don’t you not make it a cliffhanger?” So there was the potential that we were going to be where we almost were with Season Five, which was, we had written a giant cliffhanger, and then it was like, “We’re not going to get to come back after all.” Luckily, [after the cancellation came down], we [were given] one more episode to wrap things up, but it’s not like Season Five was a planned final season from the beginning to the end.
AX: Debrah Farantino’s character Beverly Barlow recurs season after season to wreak havoc. Was she always conceived as a primary villain?
PAGLIA: She’s a villain in the sense that obviously she’s an antagonist for our town, but I think that the most interesting villains are the ones who have a perspective that you can kind of understand, and hers was, any time you have this kind of a concentration of intellect in the hands of a military/industrial complex, that might not necessarily be a good thing. So [she] was sort of keeping tabs on things. Now, her methods were extreme and we didn’t have a chance in Season One or even Two to really fulfill what we had created for her, because of the reordering of the episodes in Season One. We had five episodes that got moved around, and so a lot of the mythology arc with Beverly, we had to just kind of cut it out, because it didn’t make sense out of order.
AX: Why were the episodes reshuffled? Was that the network wanting different plot points to surface in different places, or was that because of production logistics?
PAGLIA: No, it’s really all about the perception of what [will be] the favorite episodes, and you want to put the strongest ones in the first six episodes to grab an audience. The network really felt like there were six that they really loved and they didn’t necessarily coincide with what our natural order was going to be. It worked apparently – we got to be here for seven years – but obviously the one sort of downside of that is that you do have to excise things. And so some of the things that got cut out were explaining more about who [Beverly] was and the group that she worked with and the philosophy behind it. And then in Season Two, we had a number of changes on staff and so there were differing opinions about what Beverly’s role should be and where we should go with it, and so it ended up being a more condensed version of what I had originally hoped that we were going to do with her storyline. So it was nice to be able to, with the [post-time travel timeline] reset, bring her back in and pay off a bit more on something that was a big part of the show originally.
AX: Were there concerns about the “butterfly effect” – one small change in the past could affect everything in the future – with the Season Four reset, when Jack, Allison, Jo, Fargo and Henry get sent back to 1942 and find the present somewhat altered when they return?
PAGLIA: Honestly, I think that we were so excited by the potential of what that was going to give us in terms of taking our same town and our same people, but putting them into these unknown roles and giving each of them basically an upside and a downside to [coming back to a changed town], it was going to be such a rich opportunity to tell new stories with them, that it was going to be worth the risk. And when we went in, my co-show runner Bruce Miller and I went in to pitch this to the network, what we were going to do for the season. We said, “We go back in time and there’s a reset, we come back and Henry’s married to a woman he’s only met, Tess [Carter’s ex-girlfriend played by Jaime Ray Newman] never left, so Carter and Allison can’t be together, and Jo is now the head of security and Zane [Niall Matter] never proposed to Jo, so there’s an upside and a downside, Allison’s son doesn’t have autism any more and Fargo is running Global Dynamics.” They just danced in their chairs. But after everybody was so excited about this, they said, “So when are you going to make it all go back to normal?” And we said, “We’re not.”
And then we had a real serious conversation about that, because they said, “Well, wait a second. You’ve got to be really careful here, because now you’re really messing with your franchise.” And we knew that, but at the same time, Mark Stern, who bought our show originally and has been our biggest fan and supporter, the head of Syfy, had basically said, “Season Four, you really have to do something exciting. This is the season that decides whether you’re going to go on to Five or more, or whether this is going to be it.” And so [in reaction to the reset, Stern] said, “Well, I said, go big. You guys have gone big, so okay.” And we really felt like there would be obviously a few people who were going to say, “Oh, gosh, I really wanted to see Zane and Jo together and I don’t like these changes,” but we felt like the audience was going to go along with us and luckily, they really did. We were all kind of overwhelmed by the support overall that we had about the reset. You also don’t want to rip the rug out from an audience. You don’t want to change all this stuff and then we’re going to have a whole season, and then we’re going to undo it, so none of it mattered. We just didn’t think it was fair to do to the audience. If you’re going to get invested in those stories, then the ramifications need to have weight and carry on and impact the show forever more.
AX: You didn’t want to have Patrick Duffy in the shower.
PAGLIA: Did not want to have Patrick Duffy in the shower. Bob Newhart’s not going to wake up and say it was all a dream.
AX: Were there any elements you specifically wanted to change, so you thought, “We need to reset in order to get to X, Y and Z,” or did you just feel like you wanted to do the reset because …?
PAGLIA: Well, the way that eureka moment – if you’ll pardon the pun – happened was, we’ve always wanted to do going back to the origins of the town. That was one of the original concepts for Season One. For budgetary reasons, it was just too difficult to do it [at that time], having to build all these new sets and period costumes and hair and all those things. One of the other concepts I had had that I had always wanted to do was that Carter wakes up and starts to go about his day and goes in to get some coffee and Henry is actually running Café Diem and Carter doesn’t seem to notice there’s anything wrong with that and he goes over to Global Dynamics and Fargo is the head of Global Dynamics and runs into Henry’s garage and Zane [is there] – everybody was sort of out of their role. And then Carter slowly realizes there’s something not right. We could never make the story work, we could never figure it out, because it was basically a funny idea, but from a science-fiction standpoint, we could never really crack why would that happen. What could happen in one episode that would explain that, that wouldn’t feel like magic?
So when we did the reset and we went back and we were talking in the writers’ room about when they come back, somebody said, “Wouldn’t it be funny if we changed one thing, like the Archimedes status is now a statue of Trevor Grant [the character who begins in the past and comes to the present, played by James Callis], and it’s now in front of the sheriff’s office and Carter has to see that every day to mock him and it’s irritating.” But then we started to think, “What if we have Grant come back?” And I said, “Well, we don’t have to limit ourselves to changing one thing, we can really change anything.” And that [was] coupled with the idea of people being in different roles, because one of the things that we’ve always wanted to do was to give Jo actual authority to make her an equal to Carter, and had talked about moving her over to be head of security. We had talked about wanting to grow Fargo from being someone who is brilliant but has poor impulse control to someone who could actually really seize the reins of Global Dynamics and become a leader. We wanted to give Henry a new love interest. The best thing about sci-fi is that instead of doing that naturally, growing them over the course of the season, we just do it all at once and then see what happens, see what they do. And that was really the genesis of that idea.
AX: Some of EUREKA’s leads have come and gone. For example, Nathan Stark, played by Ed Quinn – did he need to go somewhere or did you just feel that his story was wrapping up?
PAGLIA: It was more the latter. I think we felt like it was a time in the series that we wanted to do something shocking and let the audience know that we weren’t afraid to kill off a main character. It felt natural that we couldn’t keep dancing around this love triangle [Jack/Allison/Stark] forever – we’d done it for a couple of seasons, and once Stark proposed, it felt like Allison’s got to make a decision and we didn’t want her to just back out at the last second, we really wanted to see her go through it, but then [have] the ramifications of her having done that and [Stark] dying, what that would also do to the relationship between her and Carter, where he had to become more a support and a friend to her, instead of just the other spoke in that triangle. And it just felt like the right time to do it. Ed’s an incredibly talented guy and a lot of fun and funny and I think he did a great job with the character.
AX: And with Felicia Day’s character Holly, did the role exist and then you got Felicia Day, or did you go, “Geek goddess Felicia Day, how can we work her in here?”
PAGLIA: Well, we kept a board in our writers’ room of the actors that we would love to have on the show at some point. Wally Shawn was one of them, and Ming-Na was one of them, and Wil Wheaton was one of them and Felicia Day was one of them. And I happened to be going to Phoenix Comic-Con and Wil Wheaton – we’d had Wil on the show [as Dr. Isaac Parrish] and he said, “Oh, you’re going to Phoenix Comic-Con – you’ve got to come and I have to introduce you to my friend Felicia.” I said, “Well, yes, you do, because we would love to have her on the show and we were thinking about an arc for another character who would be basically in a love triangle with Fargo and Parrish.” And so, basically, we got to Comic-Con, I met her, we were doing signings next to each other and I told her what we were thinking. And she said, “That sounds like a lot of fun.” And so we got back, we pitched the storyline to the network, they said yes and we brought her in and I said, “I wasn’t kidding, we really want to do this.” And she – like Wil Wheaton, too, and Wally Shawn – they just fit. There are some people that just come on for a guest turn and they’re absolutely perfect for the show. And so we continued to keep her around and she wanted to keep doing more, so we just kept doing that.
AX: The story arc with the space mission starts in Season Four and continues into Season Five …
PAGLIA: Yes, that whole last ten episodes of Season Four-point-Five.We actually planned for it and laid pieces of the plot down, if you look at episodes – especially from Episode Eleven, Twelve and Fifteen of last year – “Omega Girls,” when Beverly came in and took over the town and tapped into the GD mainframe and all those things – there were things that were happening there that were seeds being planted.
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Article Source:Assignment X
Article: Exclusive Interview with EUREKA co-creator Jamie Paglia on looking back and forward – Part 1