(Delayed) EPISODE REVIEW: Eureka: “O Little Town” (Season 4, Episode 10)

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Meanwhile, over in the (Slightly) less stupid corner of the Warehouse 13 universe…

PLAY BY PLAY

Sheriff Carter is bored, and buttonholes some kids into having to listen to his Christmas story:

The force field over Eureka is sketchy, and no one can get in or out. Carter can’t go visit his brothers in danelaw, and Zoe is trapped in town as well. But since she’s Zoe, this amounts to nothing, so we’ll just ignore her.

Santa Claus buzzes the town in broad daylight, injuring several. Carter goes off to check it out and discovers it’s Matt Frewer with an outrageously bad Australian accent. (I miss Max Headroom, but not enough to actually watch the old Max Headroom show. I’m afraid it wouldn’t hold up

) Frewer’s latest gag is “Santology,” the study of Santa. He’s trying to figure out how Santa does the things he does. Carter points out that Frewer is nuts, but to no avail. Frewer’s been experimenting with a transdimentional shrink ray technology to make packages small. We’ll come back to that.

MEANWHILE, Dr. Leo Spaceman from 30 Rock

has made a snowball that he says will bring about world peace, or at least a bit less war. Yeah, whatever.

MEANWHILE, a secret Santa is giving everyone the perfect present. I’m on vacation, so let’s just save ourselves some time: It’s Jo. Moving on…

MEANWHILE, Allison goes overboard about Christmas, mostly offscreen. We hear her talking about four kinds of pie and stuff, but we never see it. Nothing really comes of this. I just mention it because I’m kind of in love with her.

Hubba!

MEANWHILE, in a more or less vestigial subplot, Fargo throws a big Christmas party.

MEANWHILE, the gay dude (Vincent) who runs the Café is giving everyone miniature fruitcakes which are the best thing anyone ever had. (I mention the gay thing for a reason).

MEANWHILE, the town begins to shrink, and Dr. Spaceman’s snowball isn’t. It’ll destroy the GD tower simply by doing nothing. It quickly turns out that Matt Frewer’s shrink ray caused all this (Duh) because someone put something super-dense in the shrink ray without Frewer knowing. This sets up the best scene in the ep:

Carter [Angrily]: “Fruitcake!”
Vincent [Angrily]: “Excuse me?!?!”
Carter [Angrily]: “You put fruitcake in the shrink ray?”
Vincent [Contritely]: “Oh…”

Of course everything works out - they’re not about to end a series on a Christmas episode (Though, seriously, how cool would that be? Santa shows up and kills everyone, “G’night everybody! Peace!”) - so they figure a way to simultaneously fix the shrinkage and snowball problems, Frewer realizes there are some things that shouldn’t be explained, it snows in the middle of a heat wave, Dr. Spaceman turns out to be Santa, and…hm….it feels like I’m forgetting something. What was it again? Oh, yes:

ULTIMATELY, everyone realizes that - say it with me - ‘Family is whoever the cast of a TV show happens to be, and not people who raised you and shared their lives with you’ - the timeless Christmas message. It’s a triumph of work friends over real life! Hooray!

MEANWHILE, back in the frame story, Sheriff Carter wraps up his story to the bored kids who are vaguely appreciative.

The End.

OBSERVATIONS

I didn’t hate it. That’s probably no surprise since I like Eureka better than W-13 anyway, and I’m somewhat more forgiving of nonsensical science than I am of nonsensical nonsense. (Seriously, it’s not even good nonsense) Just the same, I liked it a bit more than I expected. I generally despise Christmas episodes, and was groaning at the thought of this one. It wasn’t that bad, though.

Kinda’ short of laughs. I always find Matt Frewer’s character kind of annoying. He’s supposed to be zany and hilarious and screwball, and charmingly unhinged. Nope, doesn’t work. Annoying. I like Matt Frewer a lot, though. Maybe it’s just the bad accent?

The fruitcake gag is pretty funny, (“Those weren’t miniature fruitcakes, those were entire fruitcakes! Do you have any idea how many calories I just ate? Gah!”) as was them *finally* doing the obligatory gay joke with Vincent. Also nice to see Vincent play a central role in an episode, rather than just bringing milk and cookies to the actual cast.

As usual, the peril is rather artificial and the resolution likewise so. That’s not a huge problem here, since the show has always risen and fallen based entirely on the charisma of its cast. (Conversely, most of the recent Trek shows are quite a bit smarter than this, but frequently bland themselves to death with flat casts) They’re all in fine form tonight, even if most of them don’t have much to do. Colin Ferguson is, as ever, a surprisingly effective and amiable lead, a not-quite-everyman who’s out of his depth, but kind of likes it.

Having Santa in town was more than a bit over-the-top, even for this series, but in the end it’s very nebulous as to whether this episode even counts as canon. Carter says it’s a true story, but he’s basically just killing time entertaining some bored kids. It could be the whole thing is a yarn, it could be literally true, or it could be partially true, but he threw in all the Santa crap. Did it happen in the old timeline that they’re no longer a part of? Ultimately it doesn’t matter much, since Eureka tends to ignore the goofier aspects of its own past. (Though they have gotten much, much, much, much better about that this year.)

The scene of city-as-snow globe in the end was really nice.

And that’s it for season 4.1. The show will be back with ten more episodes in the spring. Also, as Syfy's second-most-popular show, it's already been renewed for a fifth season.

I'm expecting a new show set in the Warehouse 13/Eureka universe fairly soon. How about you guys?

WILL CONSERVATIVES LIKE THIS EPISODE?

Probably. Nothing here to dislike, and it was fun. Also: Salli Richardson. Grrrrrowl!

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