Last week, Eureka’s Co-Creator, Jamie Paglia and star, Colin Ferguson, took some time to chat with a group of bloggers/journalists about the series’ final season, which premieres this evening on Syfy [9/8C]. The two were their usual charming, witty, goofy selves, though there was a bit of an undercurrent of sadness with The End looming in just a few short weeks – in spite of the show growing its audience, year-to-year, every season so far in its run – along with their joy at being able to let fans see what they think is the best season of the series yet.
Hey, 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: Well, did you watch the first three? I know the packet got sent out with three episodes. Did you have a chance to watch those?
Ferguson: Okay, and I mean – I just wanted to say right out of the gate, I’ve – 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 – you know, 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, you know, 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.
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.
Paglia: Yes, it was the most fun to make.
Jamie, I want to take from what Colin said a minute ago about the show you’ve always wanted to make. I mean, as people mention, it’s been a terrific show from the beginning, but it’s also had so many interesting twists and turns along the way. 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?
Paglia: You know, 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, you know, 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, you know, 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, you know, not just us as writers or producers, but you know, 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.
Yes, let me ask you, 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.
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?
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, like Beverly Barlowe and the Consortium 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. You know, we did the Astraeus mission, which Bruce Miller, my co-show runner, that was really more of his you know, 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 – you know, 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, you know, 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?
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 you know, 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.
Did I – you know, to answer the question was I surprised, yes, 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 – you know, it’s sort of standard stuff. But it’s a testament to the imagination of the writers that we could get, you know, 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.
Cool. Good for you. Good for you.
Paglia: I just want to – let me just add to that, because you know, Colin, we’ve had this amazing cast, too. And you know, I think Colin’s gifts as both a dramatic actor and as a comedian, you know, 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 you know, 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.
You know, this question – I’d like to hear both from Colin’s perspective and Jamie’s perspective as well. You know, Eureka, when Eureka came onto the landscape science fiction was more really space-driven, kind of you know, the whole Battlestar Galactica style, you know, science fiction that everybody’s used to.
But Eureka’s really changed the landscape in showing that, you know, how great (unintelligible) can take place today, you know, 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.
Paglia: You want to go, 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, you know, over the course of it, and we’d get marching orders like that, like you know, no space, no aliens, no comedy. You know, 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.
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, you know, shepherded us from the very beginning said, you know, 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 – you know, the earthbound sci-fi space dramedy hadn’t really been done.
And I can’t say that it was, you know, 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 you know, 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.
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.
Ferguson: Oh, thanks.
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.
Paglia: Well, we’ve got Felicia Day and Will Wheaton are back for, as you know, 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, but you will see Matt Frewer.
You mean like in the final episode?
Paglia: You might see him in that final episode. There’s always – there might be a surprise there, so yes. And then obviously (unintelligible), Debrah Farentino, but there might be another surprise there in the final episode as well.
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?
Paglia: Well, yes, that is a very (unintelligible). 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 – you know, Mark Stern called Bruce Miller and I personally to give us the news. And it’s – you know, 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 you know, is there any chance that we could have one more episode?
And he said that he would support that, that I would have to, you know, 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, we had (unintelligible). So I think it was really a testament to our creative team that we didn’t, you know, 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.
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?
Ferguson: My death scene is one of the most moving death scenes you’re ever going to see.
But it’s sci-fi, so you can come back, right?
Ferguson: Exactly. No, there’s no death scene. Jamie, how about you take it?
Paglia: I – you know, 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 you know, we could do different – use different sets and then that would help with that aspect of it, but no hard plans at the moment.
Okay, great, then we’ll…
Paglia: And it would be really hard, because we eviscerated Carter in that last episode, so it’s…
Paglia: So, drawn and quartered by robot horses.
Ferguson: I still think, though, that we could do like a – like the team goes elsewhere. The team is called to Chicago, you know, because there’s a problem in Chicago. You know, 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.
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…
Ferguson: What am I thinking? No, there’s a horrible problem in the Bahamas. That’s where the problem is.
Paglia: In the Bahamas. On Hawaii.
Paglia: Okay, yes. I could – all of Colin’s favorite destination spots are going to somehow make it into the storyline.
Well we’ll definitely watch for that, so thanks very much, guys.
Paglia: You bet.
I don’t know how much you will talk about, but obviously the – you (unintelligible) imagine how the storyline is (unintelligible). Next week, and again, is there anything you can kind of tease about, whether it be like, you know, the time difference or anything like that that you can talk about?
Ferguson: The time difference?
Paglia: In terms of the story for season five?
Paglia: So is the question are there going to be more discoveries because of the timeline shifts?
No, I mean, can you talk about how the current plans kind of changed – I don’t know how much you could say. That’s why I’m trying to…
Ferguson: Oh, okay. Well, yes – well, we’ve sent a – well, those first three went out, so we can definitely talk about, you know, 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, you know, 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?
Ferguson: I love what they’ve done with the character evolution, and I mean, the funniest thing about looking back on the whole experience is, you know, 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, you know, marching orders, like these 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, you know, 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, you know, 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. You know, 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.
Paglia: Yes, I couldn’t top that. That was perfect.
Ferguson: That’s not bad, huh? Whew!
Paglia: Not bad, man.
Ferguson: I got lucky.
Okay, so what will the two of you miss the most, about, you know, working on Eureka?
Ferguson: Oh, so much. You want to go first?
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 you know, genuinely – we like each other.
We like to spend time together and we would frequently get the comments from other, you know, writing staffs that they’ve never seen a staff that actually voluntarily goes to lunch together instead of you know, wanting to get the hell away from each other after being in the writer’s room all day, or you know, spend time with cast and crew on the weekends if you’re – you know, 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, you know, building the next show so that I can try to, you know, build some semblance of that again.
Ferguson: And that’s exactly right, I think. That comes from Jamie. That’s – you know, 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. You know, 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 you know, it’s nice to meet up with them socially now. You know what I mean? Like, you know, Jamie, we’re going to – where are we going? We’re going to Phoenix, are we?
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.
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 know, you earn a level of autonomy after five years, and it’s, you know, starting at square one is hard. And we’re all in our various ways doing it as we speak.
Okay, well, we still hope to see more of it in some shape or form, so…
Ferguson: Oh, me too.
Paglia: Yes, me too.
Thanks a lot, guys.
Paglia: And thank you, Colin. You’re far too kind.
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.
Paglia: Thanks. Appreciate that.
You certainly get my vote for Comic Con again in San Diego. I’m actually making arrangements to go there now, and I’d love to see you all there again. That’d be a lot of fun.
Ferguson: That’d be great. I’d love it.
Paglia: We would love to go, believe me.
Tellado: Yes, as far as looking back on the series, we have to kind of exclude this year, because we haven’t – you know, you can’t talk about certain things, but favorite you know, plot lines or stories – certainly the time shift was my favorite, was one of my favorites on there. Anything for you gentlemen that stands out during the course of the run of the show?
Ferguson: Yes, I have my favorite eps. I know – this is probably my favorite plot line twist, the one that’s coming up. The Matrix was just an amazing – I pushed so hard in my own, you know, ineffective way to – I wanted this premiere to be attached to the season finale of last season because I loved the plot twist so much. That’s probably my favorite plot twist. My favorite episodes are probably actually the one that Jamie directed. What’s that one called, Jamie?
Paglia: That’s Jack of All Trades.
Ferguson: Jack of All Trades, I loved. Smarter Carter, I loved. Up in the Air, I loved, and Your Face or Mine, which was my directorial debut, which will always be a phenomenal place in my life, and also the first time Erica got a big plot line, and to be there for her was amazing, to be there for Alexandra, our script coordinator’s, first episode was amazing. How funny! All of my favorite episodes are someone’s directorial debut. It’s…
Paglia: It’s true.
Ferguson: It’s the best. It’s the best. You can’t top it. How about you?
Paglia: Yes, I – you actually named a number of my very favorite episodes, and it’s true I think that, like Your Face or Mine, the reason for them I think in some ways, and it’s funny, I was just given – they did a little featurette for our season five DVDs, and they were talking about the making of the episode that I directed, and Colin is giving me a hard time for having written a small character episode, and – but the truth is those are the stories that I love the most, and for Colin’s directorial debut I wrote him a small character episode, Your Face or Mine, and I think that he and I both and all of us really just love what you can do when you have the time, where you’re not necessarily having – you know, the world is about to explode, that the stakes are smaller from the danger standpoint, but for the characters they’re higher.
I think from season one my very favorite episode still is Once in a Lifetime, the season one finale. I felt like that was the episode where we found the right balance of real, true emotional drama and humor. And that was kind of the benchmark going forward for us, and Founder’s Day will always also be a favorite, just because we were getting to create a new world with a new time, and that had been an idea that you know, I’ve had since season one, wanting to go back to the origins of the town, and we were never able to afford it for various reasons, you know, mostly because of the standing sets that you would have to build.
But we managed to pull it off, and I think that you know, Matt Hastings, who directed it, and Robert Petrovicz, our producer who actually physically, you know, managed to make that – coordinating that production happen, you know, along with my co-show runners Bruce Miller and Todd Sharpe who have been amazing partners these last couple of seasons, you know, just creatively being able to get that stuff done. That was a – that was definitely a turning point for all of us.
Yes, and I’d have to chime in that one of my favorites was last year’s holiday special. I thought that was – hearkened back to my childhood…
Ferguson: Oh, yes.
Paglia: Yes, that was – you know, it’s funny. We – I think you know, there are a number of – certain kinds of episodes or concepts that I’ve wanted to do for a really long time, and one of them was an animated episode, and also for the same kinds of reasons that we haven’t gone back and done the Founder’s Day episode, the cost is so extra prohibitive when you’re not using the sets that you already built and paid for and all those things.
I was so thrilled that we got to do an animated episode, and you know, the (unintelligible) pictures, and we got our own director for the animation stuff, and Matt Hastings, again, who directed that episode, just did such an amazing job pulling it off. I think our cast had the most fun doing those voices.
I got to see the first three episodes, and I was really impressed.
Yes, Lost, especially, the first one. You’ve mentioned before, Colin, about how it would have made a great season finale, and while that would have really been a creepy hiatus, because I was dreading that it was going to reset the status quo to be that, and I was actually (unintelligible).
But so, Kavan Smith and the production design of the Venturi Brothers I thought really added to that premiere. Would you like to talk about either of their works helping to bring that episode to such a different level?
Ferguson: Oh, I love to talk about Kavan. Can I hit Kavan first?
Paglia: Yes, I was going to say, jump in, man. Yes, go ahead.
Ferguson: Like, we just so – like, Kavan’s so good, it’s amazing. You know, and he wasn’t the original Sheriff Andy, and that’s a testament to, you know, the strength of our team, where we had someone else – I think it was Ty Olsen who was doing it, and the fit wasn’t quite right. It was just like he was busy; the days weren’t working out. And then Kavan came in as his replacement and just knocked it out of the park.
I mean, that character blossomed in a way because you know, Kavan does stuff and then Jamie can write to that, and then it – whatever Jamie wrote Kavan could then take to the next level. I mean, there’s – you – I absolutely adore working with Kavan, and the levels that he brought into the premiere are just really, really impressive. He really impressed – constantly impressed me.
Paglia: Yes, you see the level of his ability in that premiere. I mean, for me, when I fell absolutely in love with Kavan in the role, and that was a big challenge for him, because Ty had been I think a really great draft creating that character, and you know, we couldn’t work out the dates, so he was stepping into a role that (unintelligible) obviously there were certain expectations for what it was, and he also wanted to be able to try to make it his own, and we wanted to give him the latitude to do that.
After we did I think Lift-Off last season, and at the end of that episode, at the end he comes in and he’s talking to (Unintelligible) I think after he’s been you know, sort of (unintelligible), and they have their reconciliation scene. And whenever you get a guy who’s been (unintelligible) or in love with (unintelligible), and you believe that relationship so much that it actually brings you to tears, that’s really – that’s unbelievably talented (unintelligible).
And (unintelligible) dramatically I think in Lift-Off was just truly astonishing. It was a great – you know, we’ve put a whole lot on Kavan’s shoulders to pull that episode off, and you know, (unintelligible) that he just – and Colin said he knocked it out of the park.
And then the Venturi Brothers, Paulo and Vaik are phenomenal. They had been and are key members of our art department and design team under Lance King, who had been doing our show up until season five, and then it was great because Lance decided to retire, and the Venturis got to take over. And we’ve always tried to come up from (unintelligible) our show in all departments, when people earn it.
And people really step up, and they have just brought an unbelievable level of quality to the production design for the final season. I mean, the show just has, you know, continued to never look better.
Ferguson: And there’s another aspect to that that I want to sort of hit. It’s when Fringe came on the scene we lost a bunch of our crew, and what happened with that is we lost Dave Warner, who was always the gaffer under Rick McGuire, who was our DP. When Warner left, Warner was actually – had worked with Robert Petrovic for a decade or plus at that point. So when Warner left, Ricky got to choose his own lighting department, his own crew for the first time, and that was season four.
So if you notice the kick-up in lights in season four was due to Ricky having sort of like his own new – his own toy store. And I think the lighting in season four and season five and like I was even commenting on it watching the first three episodes, just phenomenally well done, like all the blow-out lights…
Ferguson: …and how sharp it was and the colors, versus the real world. It was really – I mean, Rick – it’s such an unbelievable bonus for the show. He can light anything so quickly.
Paglia: Yes, and Mark (unintelligible) for Dave Warner and did a phenomenal job too, and he was great to work with.
Obviously all you guys did an excellent job, and I just thought those two were deserving of some noteworthy mentions.
Paglia: Yes, they did good.
I’m curious, what are some of your plans for the future? Are there any upcoming projects in the works for either one of you?
Paglia: Colin’s going to go be a giant sitcom star now.
Paglia: Go on and talk about your new show with Bill.
Ferguson: Yes, I’ve known Bill Lawrence for a while. He did Scrubs and Spin City and Cougar Town, and we just finished shooting a pilot last week called Like Father. I guess it’s through Warner Brothers for Fox, and we’ll find out in a month whether it’s going to go or not, but I was – it was really fun sort of doing, you know – talk about easy. We had seven days to shoot 30 pages, (unintelligible).
Paglia: Oh, my God. I’m angry and getting angrier.
Ferguson: There’s so much time. But so that was really great and really fun, and Jamie, as – you’re doing Boston Corporate, yes?
Paglia: I’ve got a project that we’ve set up over at Universal that Eric Watchford is actually the creator of the show, a writer out of AFI, and a producing partner of James Middleton who was an executive producer who he was actually the guy who developed the last couple Terminator movies, and he developed Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles.
So he and I have been partnering on that, and I’ve got a number of other projects that are in development with some other producers and companies, and we’ll sort of see I think which one goes first as far as – this part of the process is a little bit of a waiting game. So – and then I think it’s interesting, this is actually the first time that I’ve been free.
You know, this will be seven years of Eureka being on the air when you count the split seasons for three and four. And then it was two years of development prior to that, that it was, you know, pretty much taking over my life. So I might actually go and work on someone else’s show for a while if I find a show that I really like that makes sense and is a good fit. It would be really fun I think to try to do something in maybe a different capacity, as well as create something new. So I’m keeping a – you know, a lot of options open.
That’s great to hear. Well, we’re certainly going to miss Eureka, and I definitely look forward to seeing what you both have in store in the future.
Paglia: Thanks very much.
Good morning, gentlemen. How are you guys doing? I know this is a long process, but we really appreciate you sitting with us.
Paglia: It’s good to get to talk to you guys.
Colin, I have – my question’s actually part question and part compliment. In Up in the Air – that’s the one where the – if I’m not mistaken, the bank is floating, the facial expression and squeal that you do as you’re going through the window by far is one of the funniest pratfalls I have ever seen. We actually rewound it like three times to rewatch it.
Where does that – where do you find inspiration for that type of – because you do some great facial expressions and squeals and screams and it’s just such great timing, and it adds such a great flavor to the episodes where those – where you have those. Where do you kind of get that inspiration? Like, where does that come from? Do you practice?
Ferguson: No, we always – I think it’s – I mean, I’m a bit of an idiot. We always try to push it as far as we can push it, and the funny ones are frequently the ones that go too far, you know, where you just take, and then you’ll hear from behind the monitor, ‘No. Tone it back a bit.’
But it’s really fun when one of them sneaks in like that where all of a sudden it’s sort of appropriate and it can fit there, and I’m so glad you enjoyed that. That makes me so happy. That’s – we have a really goofy sense of humor. Where does it come from? I don’t know. We enjoy having a good time. I’m just really grateful that it plays and that it makes the cut, and that – you know, it’s recorded for posterity so it’s – it certainly makes up for…
Paglia: Yes, I got to (unintelligible)…
Ferguson: Go ahead.
Paglia: I got to pay Colin a compliment here too, which is I think that he is kind of a rare actor who, first of all as I said, can do both the drama and the comedy and the physical comedy. I mean, it’s one thing to be really great with a one-liner and have that kind of timing with other actors, but to be able to be that funny in the physical comedy is another sort of extra gift, tool that he has in his, you know, voluminous box of acting tools.
But it’s also I think a rare actor who is not afraid to look – you know, not the most macho guy in a moment, and to be afraid and to show that and to go you know, to the larger comedy moments and not be worried about, you know, what does that – how does that speak about my character? And he’s – he is fearless about doing anything in the scene that will you know, maybe work, and he gives us a whole range of colors to choose from.
So we can go more broadly, you know, if we want to with the comedy, or not, and it’s really fun when you’re editing the show to be able to have all those options. So I’m going to miss you, Colin.
Ferguson: Yes. We – well, what – but it did. It sort of spiraled up. I mean, it was one of these things where Jamie would write something, and it comes to set, and you’re like, oh, we’re going to do that? All right, well, let’s see how far we can push that. And then Jamie can – he watches that and goes, oh, you pushed it, there? All right, well then I can see if I can write this.
And see we – you know, it’s sort of – you know, I’m going to do that, but then I’m going to make it dramatic, and then we’re going to – and it was a really fun exchange over the years to sort of see how far we could push the different boundaries of things, and you know, obviously, you know, make us laugh along the way.
Paglia: Yes, I think that process is, you know, especially when I was lucky enough to be able to you know, be up there for a lot of the shows that I had, you know, written and be able to work with our cast and directors, but to be able to kind of work through those – some turns of the scene, you know, just talking them through with Colin and our other cast members, was like, okay, so then I need to find – okay, if I can have this there, I can make that turn.
And then Colin is like, you know what? I’ll figure that out. I got that. I can – I know what I have to do. And then you know, but that’s part of the creative process that you – that is – you know, it’s a surprising operation.
Well thank you so much, and I’m – Colin, I’m really looking forward to see what you do in Like Father, being it’s a sitcom. I was – I had a little internal cheer for you when I read that you were planning on to do it. I’m really hoping we get to see it.
Ferguson: Oh, thanks.
Paglia: Oh, man, I can’t wait to see it. It’s going to be great. I think even Colin is fixing to knock this out.
Ferguson: I’m nervous. I mean, it’s – you know me. I’m the king of pessimists, so I’m like, I haven’t seen it yet, so I’m like, oh, I probably screwed it up. I know some bits of it worked, but I was like, you know, I’m always the last one to make it work. So well, thanks, guys. I’ll let you know if it works.
Paglia: Yes, it’s going to be great.
My question for you is 20 years from now how do you want people to remember Eureka.
Ferguson: By this last season. By this last season. I want them – yes, I want them to remember by season five. I want them to remember it by the end of our journey, where we got to, the growth that we all went through, how our stories got tighter, our acting got better, our lighting improved. I want – it’s been a great journey, but I’m so proud of the end of the road that I’d love them to look back on that and remember us for that.
Paglia: Yes, I think – I hope that people remember the town and miss the town still and wish that they could, you know, be a part of it. I think that’s – that for me, the part of the show that always resonated the most was this sort of Northern Exposure aspect to it. I grew up in a very small town in Oregon and the Pacific Northwest.
And there was the dynamics of those people and the kind of characters that you meet that – that’s what I love to write, and that’s kind of what I love to watch, too. And I watch a lot of things, but that’s one of the things, and so when I – when people started talking about how, you know, they want to move to Eureka, even though you’re just dying on a weekly basis, that’s a good thing to have created. So I hope that it’s sort of remembered fondly that way.
Hey, guys. Good to talk to you again. First, I just have to say, Colin, I hope the Canucks close it out this year.
Ferguson: I’m actually an (unintelligible) fan myself. I’m from Montreal originally. But I’ll – I think my call for the hockey this year – not your question, but you’re going to get an answer – my call for the hockey this year would be – I’m going to go with the Rangers. I’m going to – not what I thought I was going to say, but they – I thought I was going to say Pittsburgh, but…
Ferguson: Go Pittsburgh.
Bold choice. Now the first three episodes of season five are really dark for Eureka, although there’s still those unique comedic moments that can only happen on that show. What I’m wondering is when was the decision made to go that dark, and I remember earlier in the conversation you were saying that there was a lot of comedy ahead, so I’m hoping that the comedy comes from the repercussions.
Paglia: I can’t say that we made a decision to go dark, but it felt like you know, the show has always sort of been this evolving thing, and the idea of this mission was all orchestrated and it – by Senator Wynde and Beverly Barlowe was behind this, and the idea was to kidnap this crew, the greatest minds in Eureka, and basically put them to work for us without them ever knowing it. I just thought it was a really interesting concept, but when you – when we started to break down what does that actually look like for the people that have been kidnapped, and trying to justify what the world should look like inside The Matrix to make sure that they don’t get (unintelligible) to it, it had to be kind of shocking.
It had to have them back on their heels so that they don’t notice the inconsistencies. And so that really allowed for some interesting dramatic moments. And so the idea of you’ve missed out on, you know, your daughter’s childhood, and oh, by the way, you know, Carter is now with Jo. If you believe those things, then that’s going to resonate with you for a while.
It’s like if you have a bad dream about, you know, your, you know, spouse having an affair, and you wake up, and even though they didn’t do it, you’re kind of pissed at them. So you still carry that with you for a little while. It’s that kind of thing, you know, taken to the nth degree.
So we wanted those first three to be a trilogy of sorts, where you know, we’re resolving the kidnappings and that the experience is impactful enough that it will definitely resonate for those characters and their relationships with each other for the rest of the season, because that was a really rich place to start drawing new storylines from, and but the – what we just draw from them is often very, very funny. I agree.
I think that we think we’ve actually done a couple of our very – of the funniest episodes that we’ve ever done. The one that Colin was talking about, the one that I directed, I think for a number of reasons, one because of the sci-fi trope that we’re using lends itself to it, and to the strengths of our actors as well. But you don’t have to worry about being stuck in the dark you know, through the place, for the entire season. Trust me, you have a lot to laugh at.
Ferguson: Well, that’s why I was so proud of it, was because the – you know, the first three are as dark as we’ve ever gone, but then there are definitely two, maybe a third one that are as funny as we’ve ever gone, so we’ve really like the – made it darker and then funnier and like the extremes are better. Like, it’s a really, really fun ride this year. And there’s some really funny episodes.
Paglia: Yes, I think that one of the great things that the concept of our show has afforded us is exactly that. I mean, we have the ability to kind of do anything, and you know, I’m sad that we won’t get to continue to do that. I think we have a lot more great concepts that we were – that were already mapped out for season six, and I wish that we had gotten to do, but I think that you know, the upside of this is that we are kind of going out, I think, you know, Colin and I both feel, on a high note.
I think it’s our best season yet. Our audience has grown every year for the last six years, and this will be our seventh year now. I hope that they find this on the new night and time, and they make this, you know, continually one of the highest rated shows that the network has ever had.
Ferguson: Which is on Monday the 16th, at 9:00, just so everyone knows it.
Paglia: That’s right.
Ferguson: That’s USA/Canada. Yes, US and Canada for the first time airing together, I believe, April 16th at 9:00, every Monday.
And we heard it here first. I just want to say I hope the season continues to go as well as the first three, because they are absolutely amazing, and I hope that there are commentary tracks for all of the episodes this season on the DVD. Thank you so much for your time and your energy and your creativity.
Paglia: Thank you.
I’m trying to think of what to ask that hasn’t already been asked at this point. Not to spoil anything for those – I know there’s probably some people on the call who haven’t seen the first three episodes, but I just wanted to say I have an 11 and a 7-year-old daughters and they absolutely adore the show and they actually watched the episodes with me.
And I know Jamie knows about this particular part, and I’m sure Colin does too, but there’s this thing that happens in episode two that they’re still muttering about, and you know, so they’re going, I hope they fix it, I hope they fix it.
But I don’t want – I know you can’t spoil anything, but just thinking, I know you guys have been getting together to work on already the DVD commentaries for season five. And like, Colin, you had some excitement with that apparently last night.
Ferguson: Yes, yes, that was crazy. I was – I tracked down Neil Grayson and was doing I think episode – whatever, two, and yes, some guy who started hanging out of his window in his underwear, like ten stories up. So yes, I mean, I’ll make it quick, but there was a show. Neil and I were yelling to him as his roommate ran – I don’t even know if they were connected to the building really well – down and up and got over to his room, and ended up pulling him back in.
As far as the question goes, you doing the DVD commentaries, so you’re at least getting back together for that. Is that kind of the last thing you have to do kind of as a group other than kind of the promotional things like this and the conventions and so forth? Is there anything else that’s kind of planned for you guys to get together and do?
Ferguson: I hope that we do get together to watch some of them. That would be great. But for me, you summed it up. That’s the end of the road for me. How about you, Jamie?
Paglia: Yes, that is for me as well. I just gave like the final notes on some of the DVD extras that have been in post-production, so I’m almost done with that. I delivered the series finale a couple weeks ago to the network, so I think that really it’s going to be about – we’ve got the summer press day coming up, where I get to see Colin and (Salli) together there.
Paglia: And we’ll go do that together, and then it’ll be probably I think the various conventions. One way or another, I’m going to – I will have a series finale party for everybody to view and we’ll probably have a screening room for that, so…
Paglia: …I’ll – once – when we get closer to that date, we’ll do that because I feel like we need to have a sort of a reunion for that last episode.
Ferguson: That’d be great. I’d really like that.
Well, again, to reiterate what others have said, thank you guys for such an awesome show for the past five seasons, seven years, one of those shows that my entire family just looks forward to every single week, and it’s been a great show. Thank you.
Ferguson: Thank you so much.
Paglia: Thank you.
First of all I want to say thank you so much for everything. It’s bittersweet, so I want to put that out there, but I want to ask you from playing the final season, what have you learned about yourselves from it, and if so, are you going to take it forward, or is it something that’s just for Eureka that you want to keep inside?
Ferguson: Oh, wow. I think professionally for me it’s a funny thing to – you know, we went into this tunnel six or seven years ago, and you come out the other side, you know, being aware of changes that you made as a person and a priority shift that you’ve made and choices that you’ve made.
But it’s another thing sort of professionally to exit and sort of be on the market again for the first time, and to realize in a really flattering way that people have been watching, and that you know, professionally speaking it has counted for something. As I went into auditions and what not, and people would be you know, what appeared to be genuinely excited, and that felt really great, to walk into a room, like, oh, great! Oh we’re so excited that you’re available this year, and you know, that was – that meant a lot to me.
So that’s definitely something I can put in my pocket as you know, a win for our show, that people you know, respected it. They have that certainty, I guess, but it was nice. It was really warming to realize. Anything for you, Jamie?
Paglia: Yes, I think similarly that you know, it is great to have people now actually wanting, you know, wanting me to come to work on things, which I wasn’t available to do before, and there are – you’re like, oh, wow, thanks! That’s great that you actually want to work with me, because that was – obviously when we started out, I was – you know, brand new to this.
And I think that, you know, the main thing that I’m going to be taking away is the fact that I learned so much by all of the amazing creative people that I have had on the writing staff and producing staff and in our cast and crew, how to run a show. And that’s – you know, that’s a hard skill. It’s something that you can’t really study for it.
You kind of have to figure it out along the way, and I know that I certainly was not great at it when we first started out, and made a lot of mistakes and I’m sure a lot of people had to put up with that for a while as – you know, because I was green.
But this has been the most amazing training ground that I can imagine, you know, given that it’s a one-hour show with a limited budget and a tight time schedule, and it has drama and comedy and giant physical effects and huge visual computer-generated effects, and you try to sort of meld all that stuff together, so I kind of feel like I’m ready to do anything.
And that’s definitely a different feeling than I had when we started this out and I said, what? I can make a TV show now? Okay. So I’m grateful for the experience and for all the people who, you know, helped – who put up with the growing pains and helped me figure out how to do it better along the way.
Ferguson: Yes, I feel similarly. I feel like I’m ready to do anything at this point because of the training ground that it was. It was so hard to shoot, and so hard to create. The – just because of the budget that we had, and we’re always so ambitious with everything that we did, and you know, I look at Jamie now, and you know, now he’s a director, and he’s a producer and you know, a writer, and he’s – it’s one thing to be around when someone else is directing.
It’s another thing to actually do it yourself, to sort of go – and once you’ve done it, nobody can ever take that away from you. So all those life experiences really incredibly grateful to have had the opportunity to have.
My other question is, if we go back seven years and five seasons, knowing what you know now, what advice would you give yourselves if you had to kind of flashback.
Paglia: All right, get ready. I can’t wait to hear. Yes. Yes, go.
Ferguson: I would. I’d probably just laugh and pat myself on the back and say, good luck, buddy.
Paglia: I think probably it’s just about not – about being more open to the possibilities that things can look a different way, because you know, in some ways, you know, I do think of myself as being very collaborative in terms of making this show. You know, you have to be, despite the nature of the medium.
It’s so many moving parts, and you’ve got so many people with expertise in their areas. If you don’t rely on those people to do their jobs, it makes it impossible to do yours. And I know that I – I’m sure I drove our director, Peter O’Fallon, of the pilot, absolutely crazy on those first days shooting because, well, wait a second, that’s not how I envisioned this particular line being said, and wait, they dropped a word there.
And you realize that this is a sort of fluid beast, and how to roll with it in a way that it gets better as opposed to – well, it’s not how I had it in my head. So I think just sort of being open, and – yes, I think that’s probably the biggest thing.
Ferguson: Yes, I’d go with that too, and patience. I learned a lot from Grant Rosenberg, who was one of our supervising producers and Matt Hastings, their political acumen and how they accomplish things, that was a great learning ground for me, working with those guys, and I’d say the same thing, just patience and other points of view and sort of how to get things done. I really learned how to get things done, which was you know, I’m sure everyone was very glad when I did.
My last question is twofold. You did drama. You did the comedy. You did a lot of physicality. What did you prefer most, the drama or the comedy? And what did you guys do to prepare yourselves for the physical aspects of the characters?
Ferguson: Oh, I – one doesn’t work without the other in my head. I don’t – I think if you’re – you need the best of drama to get the best of comedy, and if you can get the best of both, then it’s a win. So there – it’s a symbiotic relationship in my head between those things. And what we did to prepare physically was rested, healed, went to the gym, made sure that we were really physically fit and stretched, and seriously, because those stunts are miles up right now, shooting Primeval, as the lead of the show. And I talk to him every couple weekends, and he’s like, oh, buddy, my body’s tired. You know, you got to rest it. You know, go to – make sure you…
Paglia: Yes, and Colin’s like, yes, tell me about it.
Ferguson: What are you on, episode four? That must be tough.
Ferguson: But it’s – that’s what we would do. I mean, Jamie would go through a similar thing. I mean, (unintelligible), he’d come out and laugh about it at work and be like, oh my God, I’ve been sitting in a chair writing for way too long, I can’t wait to get some exercise.
Paglia: Yes, that part – it’s you know, like, it’s – writing – being able to write for a show is definitely a luxury. It’s a great job. We all love it. We get to spend a lot of time together thinking up things, and then we get to put it on television for you guys and our fans to watch, and that’s the most fun ever.
But you do have to make sure that you actually get out of that room and see the sunshine and exercise once in a while, because it’s very easy to just totally just fall apart when you spend as many hours as we do, you know, to write a show. It’s – that’s a balance that everybody has to try to manage.
I have one question, but I’ll keep it short and sweet. One of my favorite guest stars that’s been on the show is (Unintelligible). Is he going to be making a return as Dr. Grant?
Paglia: I think you should make sure that you see every episode.
Paglia: Yes, Robin, James was great to work with. He’s – you know, one of the many unbelievably lovely people that we have been fortunate to have on our show and our guest cast, just a great human being as well as obviously a phenomenally talented actor. So I – we always had hope that we would – we were going to have a lot more of Trevor Grant in season six, so I think that you might keep your eyes open for him, maybe potentially showing up somewhere along the way in season five.
Jamie, I was kind of interested in your comment about growing up in a small town, and – because really the town does – Eureka has that feeling of a place you’d like to live. First of all, what (unintelligible) and I’ve forgotten this. What’s the Canadian town…?
Paglia: Mike, say again. You drowned out there for a second.
Okay, so first of all, what’s the town that you grew up in, in Oregon?
Paglia: It’s Warrenton, W-A-R-R-E-N-T-O-N.
Okay. And I was wondering, does look or feel of anything at all like the mythical Eureka town here? And I was also wondering what is the town up in Canada that you dress up to look like Eureka?
Paglia: I would – the town is Chilliwak, and those – the people have been – they’re just great to us. They welcomed us, and we got to know all – a lot of the shop owners along the way whenever we would go up and shoot, because they would keep their doors open, and we would just sort of redress the store fronts to be our town. And we’ve had a great time shooting there.
In terms of does Eureka look like Warrenton, I would say that in terms of the green that we tried to bring to the show and the trees, yes. Main Street is probably a little more spruced up than my Main Street was. I was very excited that my Main Street actually got its first traffic light not too long ago. Until then we had a stop sign, recently.
But I think that the general sort of energy is just something that we’ve tried to find in the show, even though it might feel a little more sparkly and you know, Technicolor.
Okay, thanks, and was that Warrenton that just got the first stoplight, or Eureka?
Paglia: Yes, Warrenton. Yes, Warrenton…
Okay, yes. Cool. Okay.
Paglia: …got their first stoplight not too long ago.
Ferguson: Would that be North Main and First? I’m looking at a satellite view of Warrenton right now.
Paglia: Oh, do you have it right there? Yes, I think you have it. I think that’s it right there.
Okay, thanks a lot.
Ferguson: Thanks, everybody.
Paglia: Thanks so much, everybody.
Photos by Eike Schroter, Art Streiber and Justin Stephens/courtesy Syfy