I’ve noticed something with Eureka. No, not how the first few shows after the long absence were pretty weak. Nor how it turned around slowly and finished strong. I mean, I did notice, but I noticed something else as well.
I noticed is a consistent anti-science and anti-scientists theme to the plots. Mind you, the plots have not changed much, so it’s more me thinking about the show (probably because I find it a little boring relative to prior seasons). It’s subtle, no doubt, often presenting fantastic ideas with gushing enthusiasm… just before someone dies. Then, of course, it’s up to the non-scientist to come up with a solution to save the day, save Eureka, and save the world.
Don’t get me wrong, I like Carter. He appeals to the engineer in me; he may not know what exactly makes something tick, but by golly he can sure come up with a use for it. But come on! I don’t personally know any scientists, and I certainly don’t want to imply they are incapable of making mistakes, or having blind spots regarding their work, but to a person every scientist in Eureka is a disaster waiting to happen. Henry excluded, of course, although he too has to patiently wait for Carter to have a flash of non-scientist-common-sense genius.
I guess Mary Shelley fears still echo with today’s script writers. Or at least Eureka‘s script writers.
And the scripts have become a formulaic, almost carbon copies of one basic premise… strange and nasty stuff begins to happen, people are mystified as to the cause, Carter starts to guess right and left, and the smug scientists take delight in deriding his lack of understanding and poor scientific vocabulary skills… until someone dies. Of course, Carter eventually hits on something, and then not only does everyone see it, but they all have ready made solutions on how to fix things by applying Carter’s layman’s insight.
Perhaps I am wrong; perhaps scientists are utterly myopic geniuses unable to see outside their tunnel vision. However, seeing as their very jobs entail thinking outside the box, to my mind they should be the ones coming up with the insights. Plus, after so many instances of Carter pulling their “No, can’t be my invention!” asses out of the fire, one would think they would flock to him at the first hint of any trouble, hang on his every word, and help him brainstorm. But that’s the other aspect of scientists prominently flaunted on the show… to a person they are arrogant and dismissive.
I’d be willing to bet most people who watch the show likely believe to be smart is to be arrogant, and that’s on top of being a danger not only to everyone around them, but all of humanity. Some may even cheer when the occasional scientist is hoisted by their own petard. Of course the show always ends with the administrator assuring everyone procedures are in place to keep that particular problem from happening again… but the audience knows; them pesky scientists will keep discovering stuff willy-nilly, thinking they are helping humankind, but they are just a Carter away from wiping us all out. They may have the best intentions at heart, and Nobel laureates they may be… but really, they should not be trusted with anything more complicated than a rock. Make that a small rock.