Last week, TVaholic had the opportunity to travel to the town of Eureka. Well, actually it was a couple of big warehouses sitting on the lot of Vancouver Film Studios in Vancouver, B.C. where Eureka is filmed. It was all a part of the Sci Fi Channel Digital Press Tour.
This was the first of three sets we would be visiting on June 26th, 2007. Next, was the set of Stargate Atlantis and then to cap off the day, Battlestar Galactica. Yes, that’s right, the set of Battlestar Galactica was to be visited. Many of those in attendance were most looking forward to this part of the tour. But, not this TVaholic, I was most interested in checking out Henry’s Garage, walking around the Smart House or checking out the new Café Diem. The first stop on this tour was the one I wanted to see and it sure didn’t disappoint.
Don’t get me wrong, with Battlestar Galactica being the flag ship show on Sci Fi Channel, the upcoming fourth season being its last, and knowing how fans of the show feel about it, I was looking forward to it as well. But, for me, Eureka was the one.
If I were to throw together a Top 5 list of the TVaholic’s favorite shows to hit the small screen in the last year, Eureka would make that list. I liken it to Northern Exposure with a sci-fi twist. It mixes in just about every genre: comedy, mystery, drama, science fiction and it does it very well.
(Click Photos for Larger View) Our first stop, after the craft services table, was the set of Henry’s Garage. This small structure sitting inside an even bigger one doesn’t look like much, until you step inside. When you do, it is just like what you see on screen. Gadgets, gizmos, tools, and old tech gear lie about with shelves of old car manuals, car parts, and all that you would expect to see at the local mechanic’s garage in small town USA. From the floor to faux ceiling, the designers and decorators have done an incredibly detailed job. A lot of which will probably never be noticed on screen, but just in case the camera happens to catch it while filming a scene, it won’t look out of place at all. We only spent a few minutes roaming around, but you could probably spend hours marveling at it all. Step out the side door into the little hallway and you end up outside the garage in the warehouse and just steps away from the set of Café Diem.
Also, housed in this building, was the Sheriff’s Office set, which was our next stop. Walking in the front door, you pass the bulletin board of Wanted posters, which are all pictures of crewmembers. Again, walking around this set, you are taken in by the attention to detail of the set dressers, although I kept looking up wondering where the armory was. From fake baseball cards on the shelves behind the sheriff’s desk, to the jail cell, to the pictures on the wall, everything just fits. As we exited out the back, which is actually the bathroom part of the set, we were shown the remnants of the exploding toilet from a recently filmed scene. Can’t wait to see that one.
Next stop on the Eureka tour was the Smart House. Of all the Eureka sets, this is the one I most wanted to see. Neil Grayston, who plays Fargo on the show and also does the female voice of the house, gave us the tour. While the house looks super cool, just as it does onscreen, it is less than “smart.” It takes up to eight technicians running around the outside hitting their marks, push things in, turning cranks, and pulling levers to make everything work. The computerized house of the future is all run by manual labor. For example: the sink and mirror in the bathroom that slides out from behind the wall when needed, takes three people to make it work properly. Two to slide open the panels on each side and a third to push the sink unit into place. The next time you watch a scene where someone is walking through the house telling it to do things as they go, just know there is a whole lot of guys and gals running around making it happen.
During this part of the tour, someone asked Neil if he would demonstrate the voice of the house, which he graciously attempted. In the show, everyone thinks it’s his voice, but he always denies it, making it kind of a running joke. It turns out that it was originally supposed to be a woman’s voice, but during a script run through, he stepped in and did it one time and they decided to do it that way instead. In season two, Neil will also be the male voice of a car.
Next, we were taken to the new Global Dynamics set. From the outside, it looks to be a monstrosity of plywood and two by fours. Then, you walk up a small grip-taped ramp and you are transported into what was truly, one of the most impressive set pieces we had the opportunity to set foot in, over the course of the two days. It is a two-story set that encompasses thousands of square feet. On the first level, there are new wider corridors and multipurpose rooms that can be made to fit whatever the script calls for that week. The one we walked through was dressed as the infirmary. On the second level are the main rotunda and the director’s office.
Then, we headed back down that little ramp and were ushered up a set of wood stairs, like you might find attached to the deck in your backyard, up to the second level and into the main rotunda. There it was all set up for the Eureka Cast Q&A session, where Mark Stern, Sci Fi Channel’s executive vice president of original programming, introduced the cast and we all got a chance to ask them questions.
The cast of Eureka has remarkable chemistry and they all seem to really like each other. Watching them interact with each other, during the panel Q&A, gave you a glimpse into what makes this show so much fun to watch. They all play well off of each other.
After the panel was over, we headed down the steps towards the elevators in the rotunda and around through the corridor and down the little ramp once again. Then, it was back to the previous building and the set of Café Diem.
Café Diem has been completely redesigned for season two. It was in the process of being prepped for a f/x shot. A sonic pulse wave was to come through the diner from the kitchen and send stand-ins for the sheriff and others flying, along with all the tables and chairs. There were air cannons in the kitchen set to disperse debris, cables attached to the tables and chairs to knock them over at the right time, and the fireplace panel of the set had been removed so the stunt people had a place to do their thing. This is the type of shot they need to get on the first try, as it would take too much time to clean everything up and reset for a second one. I can’t wait to see this one as well.
To cap off the Eureka set tour, each member of the press in attendance was offered the opportunity to get his or her picture taken in Café Diem. Then we all took another pass at the craft services table and it was back on the bus for the next leg of the tour.
Amazingly, all this was to be found in a grouping of non-descript large warehouse buildings across the street from a Costco, just a few minutes from downtown Vancouver.
More from the Eureka Set Tour
Eureka – Season One is available on DVD and Season Two begins next Tuesday, July 10th on Sci Fi Channel.