Hit show returns for a second season...
Eureka, a new hit show on the Sci-Fi Channel now into its second season, hit the SDCC panel scene on Friday night. The first part of their presentation was a showing of the trailer for the new Sci-Fi miniseries Tin Man, but then it was down to business with a preview clip of Eureka's season 2.
Next came the panelist introductions, which included actors (pictured above, left to right) Ed Quinn (Nathan Stark), Salli Richardson (Allison Blake), Jordan Hinson (Zoe Carter), Colin Ferguson (Sheriff Jack Carter) and Joe Morton (Henry Deacon). Also on hand was Tony Opticon from the Sci-Fi Channel and Jaime Paglia (executive producer and writer). Mark Stern (Senior VP for Original Programming at Sci-Fi) was the moderator and began the Q&A session…
Q: Which guy will it be for Allison?
Salli answered that it's a modern world: she can have both!
Q: Do the actors have to get naked a lot on Eureka?
Ferguson replied that he's always getting naked, being pelted with water, and frozen. Quinn recalled having bronchial pneumonia while filming at Bunsen Lake in the rain.
Q: What's the thrust of season 2?
Paglia fielded this one, explaining that season 2 is all about building the Eureka world. There will be evolutions and delving into character stories and relationships. While episodes will still have a stand alone quality, there will be more ongoing and broader story arcs.
Q: How about the artifact?
Paglia says there will be some payoffs to the artifact storylines, including some that were originally supposed to occur last season.
Q: What's going to happen between Allison and Jack?
Richardson explained that her character's takeover at Global Dynamics have changed relationships all around. Now she's Carter's boss, etc. Quinn likes how the new plot line is unconventional; whereas such a reversal would normally alienate the man, in this story it has brought Allison and Stark closer together. Richardson added that they have always had a connection, but with Carter it may be destiny. Ferguson completed the thought by saying that "we need to earn it, it can't happen too fast."
Q: How about the changes in Henry since the end of last season?
Morton described his character as "having an agenda. He needs to find out exactly what happened and why. He's back at Global Dynamics for closure. Henry always does what he thinks is right.”
Q: How is Carter's daughter, Zoe?
Hinson described Zoe as becoming more mature this season and less rebellion. The issue of dating will come up, which will be a lot of fun. Paglia added that every character must grow and evolve. There will still be tensions and shifts.
Q: What about the introduction of Carter's ex-wife to the show?
Paglia said that they considered having her last season, but that it was just too soon. "Abby's there to stir things up." Richardson intoned seriously. "I don't like it," while Quinn "likes it a lot!"
Q: Opticon wanted to point out the physical additions to the Eureka in season 2, highlighting the amazing new Global Dynamics set built with Sci-Fi's money. Richardson described it as "amazing and so real!" Quinn called it "user-friendly" both from a filming perspective and as an actual building as it has complicated lighting systems and much more. "There's more Global Dynamics coming."
Q: Do you have favorite episodes yet?
Ferguson liked the "Games People Play" episode while Paglia always prefers stories that are more character-based and place an emphasis on emotion over sci-fi techie stuff.
Q: Stern asked about inspiration for Stark's character, hinting that they based it on him (Nathan Stark/ Mark Stern) and his business practices.
The others laughed off any coincidences there may be and Paglia told the audience that one of the writers had always wanted to use the name Nathan Stark, so the name existed before the character.
At this point Stern turned to the audience and opened up the panel to fan Q and A. Eager fans rushed to the microphone to question the actors and creators.
Q: How similar is Ferguson to his character, Jack Carter?
Ferguson said he gets asked that all the time, and that in real life he's not nearly so dense; he just plays it on TV. Richardson described him as the opposite of Carter in many ways, and that he's very smart. He'll be talking about some complex idea and she'll zone out, stopping him with "I don't care." Quinn called Ferguson a consistent pro. "He's in every scene, always onscreen. It's tough and a lot of work to pull it off." Ferguson pointed to his fellow actors and remarked that he can't even answer for himself. Stern pointed out that the show works really well as an ensemble with humor and technology, giving credit to Paglia. Paglia in turn thanked his whole team.
Q: The Made in Eureka sci-fi gadget commercials are really cool. Do you think that one day technology from your show will exist?
Ferguson was pretty sure it would, while Morton discussed how even ancient people drew and imagined fantastic things that wouldn't be created for thousands of years.
Q:Do you have a science advisor?
Paglia responded in the affirmative, that their science guy is the same guy who works on Battlestar Galactica. Morton remarked that they do research on all of the scientific principles in the show, and was seconded by Ferguson who emphasized that they research "everything."
Q: How do you come up with the scientific parts of your stories?
Ferguson came back to the traditional 'secret code' of sci-fi, that despite the technological veneer it's really all about the ethical and moral ramifications. Paglia said that he'll see a controversial scientific issue, such as bio-engineered food and then tell his science guy that he wants something on that topic. They're there to "figure out a way."
Q: How much does Eureka cost to produce?
After groans and nervous laughter from the panelists, Stern related that Eureka does cost a lot to produce, but that they're always looking for opportunities to bring in viewers to support it, especially with the website. He said it also helps that Eureka's audience is so dedicated, and they can rely on the same strong numbers each time it airs. Paglia wanted to give credit to the producers, who have the difficult task of reading the script and then figuring out how to get it onto the screen. Stern added optimistically that the first season is usually more expensive because they have to build and create everything, whereas in season 2 they can re-use a lot of existing set pieces. Stern also implored fans to watch the show live and not time-shifted (i.e. DVR/TiVO).
Q: What's going on with Henry?
Morton philosophically remarked "It's all about possibility" and described Henry's new fascination with timelines and destiny. He said that the end of season 1 was good for his character, forcing him to evolve and grow. Once Henry knows what he wants he will do anything to get it. After the death of Kim there's also a measure of hatred toward Carter, and that has to be resolved somehow. Paglia added that such an amazing cast can really do anything.
Q: Can you tell fans about the podcast?
Ferguson explained that during the filming of season 1 he decided to do podcasts on his own website. Eventually Sci-Fi heard about them and put them on the Eureka site. Now everyone wants to help and be part of them, so they will continue bigger and better!
Q: Why is the main character named Jack Carter? On Stargate SG-1 there's a JACK O'Neill and Samantha CARTER…
Suddenly all eyes turned to Paglia, who sheepishly admitted he had never realized that. When he was creating the show he simply wanted a "regular name" and came up with Jack Carter on his own.
Q: How is it being the youngest series regular on Eureka?
Hinson said that it was intimidating at first, but she quickly became close with everyone. Now she loves it. It's her job to try to get Ferguson out of the house, because he's such a hermit. She's also happy that in the new season Zoe is "less annoying and naggy." The relationships are really the most important part of the show. Ferguson complimented her, saying that for anyone else it would have been really tough, but that she's great on and off-screen.
Q: Does the cast spend time together away from the set?
Ferguson explained the camaraderie by saying that they all "know each other's lives," and really rely on one another. Richardson explained that when they're filming in Vancouver the other actors are their family away from home, especially since the crew is all local. Quinn said he actually prefers to hang out with the guys from Battlestar Galactica, because they're cooler! Stern interjected to tell a brief story about Quinn going over to tour the Galactica set so he could hang out with the people there.
Q: How much of your characters are really you? Ferguson tries to make it asmuch as possible. Morton said that you work so long and hard that it becomes you. You have to "be honest with yourself and your character." Hinson estimated that there's a lot of her in Zoe, just "not all the crime." Ferguson brought the discussion into the acting realm, describing the cast using the Meisner Method and "responding in the moment." Richardson affirmed the similarities between her and Allison: they're both mothers of young children, they work long hours, and they're both married. She brings a softness to Allison's hard edge. Quinn appreciates the comedic aspects of Stark and his chance to use misdirection to defuse complex situations.
Q: When did you realize that Eureka "worked?"
Paglia enthusiastically responded with "today!" The panelists and audience shared a laugh. The final two questions came from young children.
Q: Eureka is my favorite show on TV. For Joe Morton, why did 'you' erase Carter's memory and not your own?
Morton explained that there's an element of vengeance to Henry's recent actions, that he has a desire to hurt Carter and have power over him.
Q: What's the coolest thing about season 2?
Ferguson just loved coming back and being with everything and everyone so familiar. It was also a chance to do more and better. Quinn explained that for the first season, they had filmed every episode before the first one aired, so they really had no sense of how they were doing! It was a relief when the show finally aired and was successful. Going into the second season they all have more confidence.
With that - the final word - the Eureka panel ended and fans swarmed the stage as the actors waved goodbye to catch their next scheduled event…