April 4, 2017

Eureka's Last Q And A

Eureka's Last Q And A

This is a transcript of a press event I participated in with Eureka star Colin Ferguson and Executive producer Jamie Paglia as the series ended.

Congratulations on a great, great series so far. So I mean, what do we have to – oh, that’s a basic question – what do we have to look forward to this season on the final season of the show?

Colin Ferguson: I just wanted to say right out of the gate, 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 from a production standpoint, from a writing standpoint, from an acting standpoint. 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. Jamie, you can take it from there.
Jamie Paglia: 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.We just had the most amazing creative team, obviously from our cast and crew to the writing staff, and the level of work has just raised – we’ve really raised the bar once again I think, even after season four and what you’re sort of dealing with over the course of the back episodes are the ramifications of the experience that our people have during those first three that you guys have seen.So storylines will be spun out of the experience, not just psychologically of what’s happened to them on the character level, but physically what they’ve gone through and how that actually impacts individual storylines.

Colin Ferguson: And it’s some of the funniest stuff that we’ve done. I mean, there’s a smart car episode, which is phenomenal as Jamie’s directorial debut, is in disc thirteen, which is amazing. I watched that all the way – it’s really so – it’s the show that we always wanted to make where it’s really character-driven and really fun.And I mean, they did such a great job of sort of knowing their cast. I mean, the writers did, or knowing their cast, so oh, this person does this and we’re going to let them fly, and this person does this and we’re going to let them fly, and it’s really exciting for us.

Jamie Paglia: Yes, it was the most fun to make.

Is this always where you thought it would be after five years, or are you really surprised yourself at where it is at this point? What during this journey has just been different from what you thought it would be?

Jamie Paglia: Honestly I didn’t know what to expect on the journey when we started this. It was my first foray into television, and after having done a few feature films that didn’t get made, giving that process and working with some amazing producers in the studios, it was really exciting to get to finally make something.And it’s such a different animal, making television, because you don’t have ten weeks to mull a script over and two years to turn it in. You actually have to, usually you’re creating and putting it up on the screen in a very short amount of time, and 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. And it’s – that kind of collaboration is something I really enjoy.

Do be kind of specific because there’s this huge plot twist, even in this first episode this time there are two enormous plot switches at the beginning and at the end.

Jamie Paglia: Yes.

Did you think there would be that kind of big plot switches? And when you look at where the show is compared to where it was five years ago, does this all surprise you or what?

Jamie Paglia: I don’t know if surprise is the right word. It certainly excites me. We found different opportunities as our stories have evolved over the seasons, and there were things we did in season one that we weren’t able to I think fully complete in terms of some set-ups and these sort of longer story 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 so 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. And I think that the opportunity of you just – a very quick example. We did the Astraeus mission, which Bruce Miller, my co-show runner, that was really more of his passion.He really wanted to do an episode and a series of storylines about going to space. But we didn’t know where that would lead us, and I was very apprehensive about starting down a road that I didn’t know where the end was. But it actually forced me with – our team to say, okay, what’s going to be the interesting twist?Where are we going to go? What’s going to happen? And that’s exactly what led to the episodes that you’ve seen. This was going to be a huge abduction. It was going to bring Beverly Barlowe back, and that was an incredibly exciting discovery for us.

Basically a similar question for Colin, what were your expectations when you first signed on with this show? How long did you see it going? What did you see it amounting to, and when did it meet your expectations or surpass them?

Colin Ferguson: When we signed on, Salli and I, we were shooting in (unintelligible). Salli and I went downstairs. There was a psychic convention, and we actually had our futures read when we went down, and she said it’s going to go. It’s going to go for a while, but it’s not going to be what you think it is.And nothing could be more true. I mean, with the writer’s strike in there and the recession, and doing 20 episodes and then getting split over a bunch of seasons – that was the hard bit of what went down that nobody could see coming. The amazing thing is to get to where we got to this year. It’s funny.I was stunned that we could do what we did, and it’s only in the sci-fi genre that you can. In other genres when you reinvent the wheel, it’s 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.And in this one all of a sudden there’s the matrix and we have to get people – it’s the greatest plot twists that only this genre can afford, and it’s – it was a joy to marry that sort of structure change which I feel lucky to be able to do with the unbelievable character stuff that they were writing for us, so I never saw this coming. I’m stunned with what it’s become. 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.

Jamie Paglia: I just want to – let me just add to that, because Colin, we’ve had this amazing cast, too. And I think Colin’s gifts as both a dramatic actor and as a comedian, lends it for us to be able to write essentially anything.I mean, these are our cast members who can take a scene and have you in tears in one moment, and then have you laughing through your tears in the next, and that sort of magical chemistry is very rare I think, and you see a lot of shows struggle with it. And we’ve been really unbelievably blessed with the group of people that we’ve had to write for.

I’d like to hear both from Colin’s perspective and Jamie’s perspective as well. Eureka, when Eureka came onto the landscape science fiction was more really space-driven, kind of the whole Battlestar Galactica style, science fiction that everybody’s used to.But Eureka’s really changed the landscape in showing that, how great (unintelligible) can take place today, in funky little towns called Eureka and such. And I would just kind of get your perspective on how much Eureka has influenced not just SyFy the channel, but also the genre as a whole.

Colin Ferguson: Wow.

Jamie Paglia: You want to go, Colin?

Colin Ferguson: Sure. I’ll take a quick pass. The – I don’t know if I can speak to how it’s affected the genre as a whole because I don’t have a ton of perspective on it. I know that when we came on we were told no space, no aliens. And this is also my first lead role that’s gone for a long time, and Jamie’s first TV thing that’s gone for a long time.So in a lot of senses, Jamie and I were sort of finding our way in our jobs, over the course of it, and we’d get marching orders like that, like no space, no aliens, no comedy. and come to find a show that has some comedic beats and we send a ship into space in this the final season. So how it’s affected the genre? Gosh. I know that Warehouse was supposed to be its sister show.I know that I’m proud of the fact that we succeeded and more proud of the fact that no one really knew what we were doing in a sense. You know we’d meet up with Jamie and be like this is what we’re doing now? Like, okay, this is what we’ve got. Okay. And it’s been a fun journey to go down. I’m mumbling, Jamie. You can just slap me in the face and take over.

Jamie Paglia: I think you’ve pretty much covered it. I think that the interesting thing was when we took this – the pitch in to SyFy and they bought it in the room, in the follow-up meeting, Mark Stern, who has, shepherded us from the very beginning said, we didn’t really know what we were missing on our channel until we heard this concept, because they weren’t doing really kind of grounded, earth-based sci-fi, especially with a sense of humor.I mean I think that we were kind of inadvertently creating something that was sort of all the favorite things that we like in television that we like to watch and write, 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. I think that we kind of all of us collectively, that’s – that ended up sort of being the outcome. And I am proud that it has, I think, opened up the possibilities for other shows and they’ve had more success on the channel with Warehouse and Haven is now on, and Alphas coming into its second season.And a lot of great talent from the Eureka team that’s also going to be trying Alphas. So it’s – I think that we’ve got – we had a good run and I’m proud of the show that we’ve been able to do.

Tony Tellado: Hi, gentlemen. I will say that I definitely think you have changed the science fiction television landscape. If anything embodies imagine greater, it’s certainly Eureka, so you will be missed, definitely.

Colin Ferguson: Oh, thanks.

Jamie Paglia: Thanks.

Tony Tellado: As far as what to look forward to in this season, it’s very bittersweet for me, but any special guest stars? You certainly have brought in some great people over the years.

Jamie Paglia: Well, we’ve got Felicia Day and Will Wheaton are back for, as a number of episodes. I’m thrilled that we’re able to bring back Wallace Shawn as Warren Hughes, and even more was excited that I got to direct him in the episode that I did. We’ve got a couple of surprises that I don’t want to spoil because they might be at the very end.

Tony Tellado: You mean like in the final episode?

Jamie Paglia: You might see him in that final episode. There’s always – there might be a surprise there, so yes. And then obviously Debrah Farentino, but there might be another surprise there in the final episode as well.

Tony Tellado: Sounds good. Good tease, guys. Thanks so much for five wonderful seasons, and this one’s going to be on my DVD shelf for a long time.

Colin Ferguson: Oh, thank you.

Jamie Paglia: Well that’s good to hear.

So once you found out that this was going to be the final season, did you need to make a lot of changes to your original plan for the season in order to make sure things got wrapped up properly?

Jamie Paglia: We had – there was, you know – I’m sure that you all probably remember all the sort of publicity debacle about having gotten picked up for a sixth season, but it was only going to be six episodes. And that was one week, and then we were actually on the final day of prep for the season finale, which was a huge cliffhanger that was going to set up, excuse me, what season six was going to be.And originally we had actually hoped, and everybody at the network, we were all on board with wanting this to be a full season order for season six, so it was already a little bit of a surprise that it was only going to be six for budget reasons. So we thought, well, okay, well we can truncate some of those storylines and get it down to six episodes. But then on – it was Monday I think at five o’clock that we got the phone call that there was not going to be a sixth season and that was it.But I told – Mark Stern called Bruce Miller and I personally to give us the news. And it’s – of course it’s 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. So is there any chance that we could have one more episode? And he said that he would support that, that I would have to write an email to everybody, because obviously with the Comcast merger it was not going to be a single unilateral decision. So we ended up – I wrote a long email. It took 24 hours before we got the answer that we could have one more episode, so when we went in to tell the writers that following Wednesday, it was basically the good news is we have the last episode.The bad news is it cuts tomorrow. So normally what would be basically a two-month process of breaking the story, writing an outline, getting notes on an outline, writing the first draft, getting notes on that first draft, polishing it, what’s a two-month process.So I think it was really a testament to our creative team that we didn’t, nobody – obviously it was disappointing, but nobody really even blamed – they just said, well, let’s get to work.And we broke the story in two days. 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. Basically I wrote the episode in three days over the weekend, and we started prepping it. We only had a four-day prep instead of seven, that following Monday.So we’ve had to try to do that with the full lot. Obviously that was never going to be planned that way, but I think given the sort of constraints that we were under, and the pressures to really wrap up a lot of especially character storylines, I’m proud of the episode that we actually ended up delivering ahead.

Is the final episode – to kind of do a follow-up to what you were just saying – is it going to be an absolute and definitive end to the season, to the series, or is there a possibility that there could be some kind of, I don’t know, Christmas special or anything else in the future?

Colin Ferguson: My death scene is one of the most moving death scenes you’re ever going to see. Exactly. No, there’s no death scene. Jamie, how about you take it?

Jamie Paglia: I – there are no plans right now for that. I think that the realities of having taken down all of our sets would make that definitely challenging. There have been discussions about potentially doing a spin-off to the franchise, and I’m open to that and the network is certainly open to that.I’m not pursuing it right at the moment, mostly because I think everybody probably wants to just feel some resolution with this series before we’re off to the next one. So I certainly would not say that there’s – that it’s definitively over and that we couldn’t do another either spin-off or actually shoot it as a movie, and we could do different – use different sets and then that would help with that aspect of it, but no hard plans at the moment.And it would be really hard, because we eviscerated Carter in that last episode, so it’s…

Colin Ferguson: Yes.

Jamie Paglia: So, drawn and quartered by robot horses.

Colin Ferguson: I still think, though, that we could do like a – like the team goes elsewhere. The team is called to Chicago, because there’s a problem in Chicago. like that definitely get done as a movie. I’d love to do that, like some sort of two-hour thing. That’d be fun to do.

Jamie Paglia: Yes, and I – that’s one of the other possibilities, if we – and we’d certainly – there’ve been lots of people who have talked about that. So I think that that would be…

Colin Ferguson: What am I thinking? No, there’s a horrible problem in the Bahamas. That’s where the problem is.

Jamie Paglia: In the Bahamas. On Hawaii.

Colin Ferguson: Yes.

Jamie Paglia: Okay, yes. I could – all of Colin’s favorite destination spots are going to somehow make it into the storyline.

Is there anything you can kind of tease about, whether it be like, the time difference or anything like that that you can talk about?

Colin Ferguson: Oh, okay. Well, yes – well, we’ve sent a – well, those first three went out, so we can definitely talk about the matrix and the solving and then the reintervection, and then I mean there are residue effects. I mean, that’s the great thing about how these guys write, is that things don’t just go away.They always have residual effects and residual sort of ramifications that go through it, the specifics of which I think would be more spoilery, particularly with how the third one ended, so I don’t really want to – I wouldn’t – I don’t feel comfortable addressing that, but just know that things don’t end right there. They continue to resonate through the rest of the series.

Hey, Colin, let me ask you, how do you think your character has evolved from the very beginning of the show, and this season coming up, where do you see it going?

Colin Ferguson: love what they’ve done with the character evolution, and I mean, the funniest thing about looking back on the whole experience is, the writers are always down in LA, and we were up in Canada, and it’s funny to sort of see a lot of commonality and with what Jamie was going through and what I was going through and trying – and with what Jamie was trying to do and what I was trying to do.We were always given sort of marching orders, like this need to be more standalone type episodes. But Jamie in his way was always looking for, well, okay, but can we put more drama in? Can we put more jokes in? Always looking for different ways to add things in all the way up in production lab. I was doing the same, so with that sort of being the model of what happened, I’m really proud with what we pulled off.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.

What will the two of you miss the most, about, working on Eureka?

Colin Ferguson: Oh, so much. You want to go first?

Jamie Paglia: Yes, for me, it’s honestly; it’s the people that we got to work with. I mean, the creative process is great. I love writing. I love making the show, but we have I think a really unique group, and on the writing, producing staff, post-production department and our visual effects guys and our cast and crew, and we’ve – we all are genuinely – we like each other.We like to spend time together and we would frequently get the comments from other, writing staffs that they’ve never seen a staff that actually voluntarily goes to lunch together instead of wanting to get the hell away from each other after being in the writer’s room all day, or spend time with cast and crew on the weekends if you’re – when you have down time.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. I’m looking forward to building the next show so that I can try to build some semblance of that again.

Colin Ferguson: And that’s exactly right, I think. That comes from Jamie. That’s – I’m sure you’ve got a bunch of guys that have met him at this point. Jamie’s a phenomenal human being and he sets that tone in the room, and so that trickles down to set. That trickles down through the writer’s room, and that’s exactly what he’ll do on his next show, is build that same structure again.And I know that room will be just as happy and just as good a place to live and work. For me, 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 struggled to make.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. You know what I mean? Like, Jamie, we’re going to – where are we going? We’re going to Phoenix, are we?

Jamie Paglia: We’re going to Phoenix Comic Con coming up. Yes, it’s over Memorial Day weekend, and then I think we’re going to – I haven’t heard yet. I’m hoping all of you can throw in your urging that we would love to have a swan song at San Diego Comic Con this year to say goodbye. And then I know we’re going to be going to Dragon Con as well. So yes, I’m looking forward to that.

Colin Ferguson: Yes, so it’s the people and it’s the process and it’s the luxury of being able to shoot how we shot with the level of talent, and being able to do scenes that have drama and comedy and you earn a level of autonomy after five years, and it’s starting at square one is hard. And we’re all in our various ways doing it as we speak.

Jamie Paglia: And thank you, Colin. You’re far too kind.

Colin Ferguson: Well, it’s true though. I mean, it’s really true. That whole thing stems from how you run a room and how you run a show, and that’s I think something you should be really proud of, you know.

Jamie Paglia: Thanks. Appreciate that.

Special Thanks To The SyFy Channel