Last week, fans erupted in surprise and dismay that Syfy had only ordered six episodes for season 6 of Eureka--an announcement which, while stopping short of announcing cancellation after that meager coda, presumably to air in 2013, left little doubt that those episodes would be the show's abruptly orchestrated swan song.
But only days after Mark Stern, Syfy's president for original programming, affirmed that "we do not have a commitment beyond six episodes for the sixth season," word came down that that there was no commitment for the six episodes either--that, in fact, the show would come to a sudden halt with the end of season 5, which wraps production within the next two weeks and which is set to air next summer.
Meanwhile, with his other hand, Stern was in the same week jubilantly renewing Warehouse 13, the network's all-time most successful show but the inferior of Eureka when it comes to depth of characterization and long-term plot ingenuity. With the scripts already written for season 5 and production of the final episodes at an advanced stage, the order to kill season 6 meant that the show would essentially just stop: there could be no real opportunity for Eureka's creators to convert the season 5 finale into a suitable series finale. The day after announcing this effective truncation of the series, Syfy relented slightly: reports surfaced that they had agreed to order one further episode that will function as a series finale, to air as an appendix to season 5, directly after it or as a special in the fall.
The multi-car pile-up caused by the conflicting decisions wasn't just painful for the fans: Deadline Hollywood says that some crew members turned down other job offers when the order for season 6 came down, and that Syfy execs called the cast to apologize for the way their futures had been batted around by the network suits. Why has Syfy suddenly got a hate-on for Eureka? Apparently the issue is not so much ratings (Season 4.5 premiered last month to 2 million total viewers, 893,000 of them in the adults 18-49 category--middling, or at least not catastrophic, ratings for a basic cable series) as expense.
From a balance sheet point of view, Eureka has a significantly larger regular cast than other Syfy series, and their salaries have growth over five seasons; that plus the regular effects budget has made the program progressively more unattractive to the network. And this has developed at the worst possible time--Syfy has needed to look as profitable as possible as Comcast-NBC deals with the costs incurred by the companies' merger, which the FCC finally approved earlier this year.
The upshot, Deadline's Nellie Andreeva says, is that Syfy's original, half-hearted (and half-season) order for season 6 was countermanded by the new post-merger management.
The statement issued by Syfy was as follows: "After painstaking consideration, we have had to make the difficult business decision to not order a season six of Eureka. But Eureka is not over yet. There is a new holiday episode this December and 12 stellar episodes set to debut next year, marking its fifth season and six memorable years on Syfy. The 2012 episodes are some of the best we've seen, and will bring this great series to a satisfying end. We are very grateful to Bruce Miller and Jaime Paglia, their team of incredible writers, and an amazing cast and crew who have consistently delivered a series we continue to be very proud of. We thank the fans for their support of this show and know they will enjoy its final season in 2012."
At least we're getting one more season, and a series finale. That's more than Syfy's bean-counters allowed their last lamb to the slaughter, Stargate Universe.
Tags: Eureka, Syfy