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Welcome to Eureka, a secret government-funded town of geniuses, a futuristic community tucked away in middle-of-nowhere Oregon. Jack Carter, the town’s new sheriff, is an everyman adrift in a sea of mad scientists. Inevitably, projects run amok – anything from roving pockets of gravity to malfunctioning robo-dogs – and Jack’s average-intelligence and common sense prove to be exactly what the town needs.
If you’re still thirsting after government conspiracies, crazy science and (just maybe!) extraterrestrials, we’ve got some other small-town sci-fi shows for you.
First up is ‘Eureka’s’ sister show, ‘Warehouse 13’. Warehouse 13 is an isolated government stockpile of historic, supernatural and scientific artifacts collected throughout time.
The series follows two FBI agents, Myka Bering and Pete Lattimer, who are assigned to investigate and recover artifacts for the warehouse – and to run damage control when they inevitably act out. ‘Warehouse 13’ has the same mix of drama and comedy that kept ‘Eureka’ fun, but goes past ‘Eureka’s’ sometimes silly science to flat-out magic.
The warehouse has all sorts of bizarre artifacts: a tea kettle that grants wishes, but occasionally produces a live ferret, a camera that turns people into cardboard cutouts, and stun guns invented by Nikola Tesla, to name a few. The two shows exist in the same contiguous Syfy universe – both have had crossover episodes in which character from ‘Eureka’ and ‘Warehouse 13’ will appear in each other’s shows.
The granddaddy of supernatural, small-town dramedies, ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’ has many of ‘Eureka’s’ key elements: clever comedy, a strange small town, and a bunch of badass ladies. It’s the story of Buffy Summers, a teenaged girl just trying to navigate high school, and also rid the world of vampires.
Joss Whedon’s ‘Buffy’ is hilarious, thoughtful and has stood the test of time (even if its somewhat dated special effects haven’t.) It’s a bit sexier and darker than Eureka, but has the same balance between serious moments and slapstick.
While the mysteries of ‘Buffy’ episodes tend to be grounded in more magic and lore, the dynamic between the main characters feels the same – loyal friends from the beginning to the very end.
‘Haven’ is a loose adaptation of a Stephen King novella “The Colorado King,” so it follows that it would draw more on King’s trademark horror and mysticism than classic science fiction.
Special Agent Audrey Parker arrives in Haven, a fictional town in Maine, and quickly becomes embroiled in the “Troubles,” a series of supernatural afflictions and plagues that periodically settles over Haven’s mysterious inhabitants. It soon becomes clear that Parker’s complicated past with the town is far older and stranger than even she could have realized.
While our first three shows are all concentrated in the same little self-contained communities, the next few shows break outside of the boundaries, travelling not only through space, but through time as well.
How could we talk about cult classics without mentioning ‘Doctor Who’? Not only is it the longest-running show on television, it’s a series that shaped multiple generations of viewers.
‘Doctor Who’s’ characteristic blend of wacky science, extensive lore and quirky, funny characters have ensured this time-traveling, regenerating Time Lord a loyal fan-following.
The 2005 reboot of the series is a more slickly produced, snappier update of the classic show that preserves the original charm with original characters, more romantic entanglements and a constantly evolving cast.
‘Firefly’, Joss Whedon’s sophomore project, is a perennial fan-favourite and much-missed show. ‘Firefly’ takes Whedon’s characteristic wit and speeds into the future, following a group of outlaws in space on the spaceship Serenity.
‘Firefly’ is a force unto itself, an inventive genre mashup of noir, western and sci-fi that can only be described as Robin Hood meets cowboys in space. You may be suspicious that ‘Firefly’ was canceled after only a season, but its cancellation is widely held to be one of the worst tragedies in sci-fi television.
See if you can resist Captain Mal Reynolds’s (Nathan Fillion) charms – it’s easier said than done! Once you’ve finished that there’s also a follow up film, ‘Serenity’, and a nostalgic fandom waiting to welcome you with open arms.
The original sci-fi cult classic. ‘The X-Files’ follows two FBI agents, Fox Mulder and Dana Scully, investigating paranormal crimes.
Mulder is firm believer in the strange, the abnormal and the extraterrestrial; the no-nonsense skeptic Scully is his perfect foil.
Dark, moody, ironic and bizarre, ‘The X-Files’ was a massive hit from the get-go. Like many of our other series, it’s concerned with the nature of truth, government conspiracy and the progress of science. It follows a more procedural formula, with lots of “monster of the week” standalone episodes – and with nine seasons there’s plenty to watch!
But fear not: if you find you just can’t go on without more Mulder and Scully, not only are there two feature films, but ‘The X-Files’ is slated to come back to TV for a limited run in 2016.
So, a bunch of series like ‘Eureka’ to tide you over – may your small towns be strange, your mysteries complex and your characters nothing short of fascinating!
Of course, cult classics are nothing without their cults!
What show do you owe your allegiance to?
Let us know in the comments!