Starting tonight at 9 pm/ET, Sci Fi Channel's Eureka ventures into the same Pacific Northwest that played home to Twin Peaks as it tells the tale of a tiny town harboring a big secret: namely, a population of geniuses, many of whom toil for a top-secret government think tank. Playing U.S. Marshal Jack Carter, through whom viewers experience this strange (and soon about to become stranger) world, is Colin Ferguson, whose alter ego has little idea that this quick pass through town, with a temperamental teenage daughter in tow, will turn into a very "extended" stay.
TVGuide.com: How are you doing there, Colin?
Colin Ferguson: I'm hanging in. We've got a sick, sick, sick page count this week. Our normal episode is like 40 pages a week, and we're doing 27 pages of webisodes as well. So it's close to 70 pages we're shooting. Everyone is sort of laughing because we're all running between two stages and getting shuttled out to parks and stuff....
TVGuide.com: I was saying to your publicist how I think you look like a young Hugh Laurie, and she groaned. Apparently she prefers a Simon Baker comparison.
Ferguson: That's really funny! I always thought, too, really [about Laurie]. I was like, "Wow, we could be related."
TVGuide.com: Eureka has this neat Twin Peaks flavor to it federal agent visiting small town gets wrapped up in a larger mystery....
Ferguson: Definitely. The tone varies from episode to episode. We get some that are definitely your out-and-out spectacle ticking clock-type stories and others are all character-driven.
TVGuide.com: I was going to say, Eureka is not exactly what I expected in that it's not some overtly sci-fi, good-versus-evil setup, but a character piece.
Ferguson: That's what attracted me to it in the beginning. They definitely have an interest in maintaining the integrity of the characters and giving them serial aspects to their relationships that evolve over time, and not in a trite way but in a plot-affecting, show-affecting way.
TVGuide.com: Were you also drawn to the idea of being the eyes and ears for viewers as they are introduced to this town and its secrets?
Ferguson: Yeah, and initially I didn't know how to access that. When we were doing the pilot, I thought, "How many times am I going to have to play the beat, 'Oh, my gosh, that's weird!'" [Laughs] Is that what this guy's going to be? And very quickly into the series, it sort of changed into, "Things are going wrong, and you have to figure it out," which is a much more active way to engage in the town. I was really pleased with that.
TVGuide.com: They gave you a real spitfire [Jordan Hinson plays Zoe Carter] of a daughter, eh?
Ferguson: Oh, yeah. What's fun about the show, for us anyway, is they've been really into making it as interesting as they can for us. Like, Jordan and I initially, we overlap everything that we do. She never stops for me to talk, and I never stop for her to talk, which is great because it's a different dynamic to play. You juxtapose that to the scenes with, say, Joe Morton [as local mechanic/engineering genius Henry Deacon], where we just sort of sit and we figure stuff out in a slow and calm manner. It allows you to flex different muscles.
TVGuide.com: Right from the get-go, I see you have fun chemistry with both Salli Richardson-Whitfield [as government liaison Allison Blake] and Debrah Farentino [psychotherapist Beverly Barlowe].
Ferguson: Yes. [Laughs] Poor me!
TVGuide.com: Are we headed for a triangle?
Ferguson: I think where they're going is Salli's ex-husband comes into town [and] he actually takes over [the thinktank] Global Dynamics. They're not actually divorced yet, but it turns into a triangle with him and Salli and I. Jack is still wearing his wedding ring for most of the first season.
TVGuide.com: Had you worked with anyone from this cast before?
Ferguson: No, but I'm originally from Montreal, and a lot of the guest players we've had on the show are people I did plays with 15 years ago. There was this sort of exodus, I guess, toward the West.
TVGuide.com: Ah, yes, "The Great Canadian Exodus of 1991."
Ferguson: Exactly. [Laughs] But that's been really fun, to meet up with these people who you did some random play with 15 years ago.
TVGuide.com: It took me a few scenes to realize it is, in fact, "Max Headroom," aka Matt Frewer, playing the town dogcatcher.
Ferguson: I didn't realize how funny Frewer was. He's so quick with a line, it's great. Whenever you do scenes with him, you can sort of whip into this very comic area. It's been very fun, fun to play.
TVGuide.com: Sounds like they're giving you a wide variety of material. Romantic, familial, comic, overtly dramatic....
Ferguson: Selfishly, that's what I was looking for. I had done a lot of sitcoms and very earnest movies of the week, and I find with both you're always left sort of wanting to play other tones. After 13 episodes of a sitcom you're like, "Can I play something real?"
TVGuide.com: Speaking of sitcoms, have you shaken off the critical drubbing NBC's Coupling received?
Ferguson: [Laughs] For me it was such good exposure and a great launching pad, it was really hard to drum up any sour grapes.
TVGuide.com: I guess it was just a case of the whole being lesser than the sum of its parts?
Ferguson: Yeah, yeah, I guess so. Then again, it's not like it was given a ton of time on the air; they yanked it after three [episodes]. It's a funny business model. I don't understand it.
TVGuide.com: Do you have anything else coming up?
Ferguson: I have a movie coming out in the fall called Because I Said So, with Lauren Graham, Diane Keaton... a bunch of people. I play Lauren Graham's husband. It's a story of a mother [Keaton] trying to marry off the last of three daughters, who is Mandy Moore.
TVGuide.com: That can't be too hard it's Mandy Moore for chrissake!
Ferguson: Exactly. [Laughs] Poor Mandy!
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