On tonight's season-four premiere of Syfy's Eureka, everything will change for our heroes, said Eureka's creator and executive producer Jaime Paglia in an exclusive interview. And don't expect things to go back to normal anytime soon. The repercussions from "Founder's Day" will follow the characters all season long.
To get the scoop about the new season, we talked to Paglia and the show's stars, Colin Ferguson, Salli Richardson-Whitfield and new regular James Callis, about the game-changing season premiere, why dinosaurs might be visiting Eureka and why Callis feels like he's living in an alternate universe.
The equation has changed ... maybe forever
As the new season premieres, expect boundaries to be pushed, said Paglia. "We are going to be doing that in ways I don't think anybody is going to see coming. This is the year where all the things we love about our town will remain the same, but we're going to turn things upside down for our characters in ways that will be incredibly fun to explore."
Paglia said that the concept for the game-changing episode came from an idea that they had way back in season one involving Founder's Day, which is a celebration of the creation of Eureka. "The first two episodes are in some ways kind of a two-parter. I mean, they are definitely stand-alone, but the surprise of episode one is going play out a bit more in episode two that will combine with the 'A' stories for the season premiere. This is something that you can say for the first time ever. I've actually had people on the cast and crew all sign non-disclosure agreements and closed sets so we don't have spoilers for what we're doing."
"It's a monstrous thing to do. It's a monstrous reboot to do in season four," said star Colin Ferguson, who plays Sheriff Jack Carter. The "episodes were filled with this new sense of 'Well, if we could do this, then we could do this. And if we can do this then we could do that.' And it redoubled on itself over the course of the season, and it made for probably the best 10 episodes we've done."
The possibilities have been expanded
"I think you're going to see just how much possibility there is in our show. It's a chance to meet all of our characters and get to know them immediately," said Paglia. "But then be pulled into a whole new storyline that will be really fantastic for the longtime fans of our show, but be completely accessible for anybody who is going to be coming fresh to it. We're really going to expand the possibilities of what we've done so far."
The James Callis of it all
Battlestar Galactica's James Callis joins the cast this season as the mysterious Dr. Trevor Grant. His character becomes a key factor in the changes that happen this season. That said, most of the details about who his character is and how he ends up in Eureka are under wraps until the premiere.
"I can't tell you too much about his character, but just that he was a former resident of Eureka who has returned, and he is a very unique person in our town. His particular backstory and history will come to light in a way that will illuminate many questions about the town, even going back to some of the mythology from season one." said Paglia.
"You know Frank N. Furter from The Rocky Horror Picture Show? He's nothing like that," joked Callis. "The show is very funny. It is kind of smart, and it's light and is good- natured. I felt like, just, I needed a change, wanted to be a different person, and this character is American, and it's a chance to be somebody else. The character is clean-shaved. God, that makes a difference to me [laughs]. ... Not that he's heroic on any level, but he's not the kind of back-sliding scoundrel that Gaius Baltar was. I just want to explore as many avenues as are possible. I read the first episode of this and I really thought it was rather great, to be honest. It takes the show in a place the show's never been."
As far as specific details, Callis admits that Dr. Grant does wear a hat now and then, and he's going to have his eye on Allison. "The strange thing about being here right now ... I'm back in Vancouver. I'm living next door to the house that I lived in for three years. When I say next door, I'm next door, not down the road. I'm on the same set where I filmed Battlestar. I'm in the same trailer, and last week I was running away from a robot with red eyes, and I'm just like, 'Whoa! Is this strange?' It's like a repeat, like in an alternate universe where actually my character is not a scuzzball. Wow! Great!" said Callis with a laugh.
From Jurassic Park to the moon
One thing that won't change is the writers' fondness for taking a movie or an idea and putting their own spin on it. "We always conceive of the show as being a love letter to science fiction, where we can take our favorite concepts or stories or homages and genres and do our Eurekified version of them," said Paglia.
This season they'll take on their own versions of the zombie thriller 28 Days Later and Jurassic Park. "We're pushing things, the boundaries, a bit. What does a soap box derby look like in Eureka? We always start with what is the quintessential kind of small-town tradition that we might be able to do differently in our show. We decided to do an episode where our soap box derby really isn't about racing cars without engines down hills sculpted of balsa wood, but it's actually a rocket race where you have to take a lap around the moon. First to return wins," he said.
As for taking on zombies, "we always wanted to do a little nod of the horror sci-fi, without getting too dark. So we're doing an episode that would be sort of more along the lines of our nod to 28 Days Later, or those kinds. A little scary, a little darker," said Paglia. "It will definitely feature Erica [as in Erica Cerra, aka Deputy Jo Lupo] and ... it features Wil Wheaton."
Beyond that, there will be a serum that gives the taker super speed, a hover board, interdimensional traveling and mind melds. However, episode six will offer something really special. "There is a storyline I've been wanting to do for a very long time. Costs are always prohibitive when you are trying to do things that are huge in scale. But you've got to figure out a way to rob from one episode to pay for the other. ... I've always sort of wanted to do our version of a little Jurassic Park. We're going for it."
Look who's back
Last season's cliffhanger left us with Tess, played by Jaime Ray Newman, off to Australia for a new job and Jordan Hinson's Zoe heading to college. Both actresses will return for multiple episodes.
"We are going to be paying off on the question of what's going to happen with Carter and Tess. Jaime Ray Newman will be coming back for some episodes," said Paglia. Beyond that, there will be complications. "What I feel comfortable saying is that there is definitely a love interest for Carter this season, and maybe a bit too much of it. So decisions will have to be made."
As for Zoe, "that relationship has always been a really vital, central focus of our show. ... And, you know, and in terms of just the reality of contracts and things like that, we just don't have Jordan Hinson for all episodes produced this season, because she was striking out and doing other exciting things as well. But she is definitely still a part of our show."
When it comes to Jack and Allison, things stay complicated
When it comes to Jack and Allison, Eureka will continue to be a complicated place. The presence of Tess and Dr. Trevor Grant will play havoc with the emotions of the potential couple. In the premiere, "Founder's Day," Jack and Allison "are sort of being drawn back together again, but then, of course, we have Mr. James Callis coming in, who is now another person for me to be interested in and who is interested in me," said Salli Richardson-Whitfield, who plays Allison Blake. "He is another scientist, and he's very mysterious. He used to live in Eureka, and he brings in that sort of intrigue. ... You're not quite sure where he's coming from."
From Jack's perspective, Grant is "a bit of a thorn. You know, it's one of those really difficult things, because they have feelings for each other and I haven't made a move, and she's single and he's single, so you don't really have a right or any leg to stand on to object," said Ferguson. "But when emotionally you do object, it puts you in a really strange place. So, yeah, he's a bit of a thorn, but he's also a very nice guy, and yeah, it's a nice little triangle."
Beaming up Wil Wheaton and Jamie Kennedy
Two big guest stars this season will be Wil Wheaton and Jamie Kennedy. Regarding Star Trek: The Next Generation's Wheaton, "We had the potential for this particular character that we thought would just be perfect for him, [which] was designed to be potentially recurring. And the plan is hopefully that is going to happen in the back 10 episodes as well," said Paglia.
"And Jamie was a fan on the show and wanted to come over and play, so we found a role for him that we tailored a bit more in terms of the personality."
However, Paglia admits he has a big wish list of stars he'd love to see pop by Eureka for a visit. "I've always wanted to have William Shatner play Carter's dad. ... I know that it's a long shot, probably, but Felicia Day is on our list. Eddie Olmos is on our list. Gosh, I know that—I know I have many, many more, but those are at least a couple of the people that I would love to have. ... Ming Na is also on that list."
They've always wanted to direct
Ferguson will direct another episode of Eureka, this one involving "meta-material cloaking," which means it's a material that "can match any sort of item to another item. And that goes horribly wrong," said Ferguson. Jamie Kennedy guest-stars in this episode.
And Richardson-Whitfield will direct her first episode of Eureka this season. "I don't know what it's going to be yet. I'm directing our 15th episode this season. Last year I wanted to do it, but then I was pregnant and I didn't think that was the best time to do my first directing of the show," she said. "This is something that I've really been wanting to do and that I feel that I can start doing maybe after my career is over or on my off time, and this is such a perfect environment to do it. I know the show, and I have my family here to support me, and so we're just, you know, I'm preparing myself. It will be a very big task."
It's a novel experience for Eureka
While no more comic books are planned for Eureka, expect two novels to be released. "The novels are going to be coming out in conjunction with the release of the show. I think actually they're being released ... God, it might be actually this week or next week," said Paglia. "I was involved with the early concept. Just helping select the writers and some areas for them to explore and the general approach to how we're going to do it."
The novels are being published by Berkley Books.
A Eureka / Warehouse 13 crossover event
The idea sprang out of last year's Comic-Con. But why not? Paglia and Warehouse 13 executive producer Jack Kenny "worked it out [in] the timing of the schedule that we could have Allison Scagliotti [who plays Claudia Donovan] on our show when they were on their production hiatus, and we were able to schedule it so that Neil Grayston, [who plays Fargo] could go over to their show during an episode where we were a little bit lighter on his character."
The episodes will air the same week, and Paglia admits that "we're all definitely interested in possibly doing it again."
Eureka and Warehouse 13 have another connection. They both are doing special stand-alone Christmas episodes this year, which will air in December.
Eureka's episode involves "the science of Santa," said Ferguson, and guest-stars Matt Frewer, who returns as Jim Taggart.
Are you ready for a game-changing Eureka?