[GUEST POST] Michael A. Burstein on How to Save Eureka

A Modest Proposal for Eureka Fans

by Michael A. Burstein

Nomi and I have been enjoying the television show Eureka ever since it began its run on the Syfy Channel (back in 2006, when it was the Sci-Fi Channel). For those of you unfamiliar with the show, it’s about a secret town filled with scientific geniuses who develop advanced technology for the United States. We get to see the town through the eyes of Sheriff Jack Carter, an ordinary guy who often finds himself the only one who can figure out how to solve the problems created when scientific experimentation goes sideways and disaster looms.

I have to admit that the show felt like it was getting stale as the third season came to a close, but they kicked off the fourth season last year with a game-changing episode that made everything fresh again. I’ve really been enjoying watching the repercussions play out, and I was pleased when rumors indicated that the show would continue for a fifth and possibly sixth season.

But this week, the Syfy Channel announced that the sixth season will not happen and that the show will be cancelled after its fifth season in 2012. And, as often happens, fan reaction online ranged from the mildly disappointed to the startlingly vitriolic. I’m glad to see that most of the comments are of the former type, however.


For example, Emily Asher-Perrin, in her Tor.com blog post Syfy Channel Backhands Eureka Fans… and Its Audience at Large, bemoaned the cancellation calmly but noted that it appears as if the Syfy Channel is “out of touch with their fanbase.” Also, a lot of fans have been commiserating in comments on the Eureka writers’ blog at their own post about the cancellation, Riding Off Into the Sunset–But Not Yet, and in those comments the fans have been expressing their gratitude to the creative team.

And, as often happens when a show gets cancelled, there’s a movement on to save the show, with at least four separate pages on Facebook so far. In general, people are suggesting the usual letter-writing campaigns and other publicity stunts to get the network to change its mind. Sometimes these work, but most of the time they don’t, and I started to wonder if there was a better way to try to change the mind of the powers that be at the network.

Here’s a thought.

NBC Universal, which owns the Syfy Channel and is the entity that controls whether or not Eureka gets renewed, is jointly owned by Comcast and General Electric. Comcast owns 51% of NBC, a controlling share, and General Electric owns the other 49%.

Both of these companies are publicly traded companies. On the NASDAQ, Comcast can be found under the ticker symbol CMCSA, and on the NYSE, General Electric can be found under the ticker symbol GE.

Stock prices fluctuate (duh), but as of today both stocks are trading at under $20 a share.

I’m assuming many of you can already see where this is going. Twenty bucks is a lot of money for some of us, but for others, it’s the cost of a book, or DVD, or your monthly Netflix subscription.

I modestly propose that all fans who are disappointed by the Sci-Fi Channel’s decision to cancel Eureka contact their brokers, set up an account on E-Trade, or do whatever it is they need to do to buy at least one share of Comcast. Heck, if you can afford it, buy two. Buy ten for under $200.

Then get in touch with Comcast’s investor relations and very politely let them know that you are a stockholder, i.e., a part-owner of the company, and that you are disappointed in their decision to cancel Eureka. (I stress the “very politely” part because I see a lot of vicious posts by fans who don’t really necessarily understand all the factors behind a cancellation decision and jump into their viciousness without first considering how great it was that the Syfy Channel gave us the show in the first place.)

Admittedly, if you only own one share of stock, your opinion won’t carry a lot of weight. But if every fan of the show buys a few shares, and then contacts Comcast, it’s likely that someone will take notice. And who knows? Maybe there are enough fans of the show to end up with a controlling interest in Comcast. Then we’ll get to program the Syfy Channel.


Michael A. Burstein, winner of the 1997 Campbell Award for Best New Writer, has earned ten Hugo nominations and four Nebula nominations for his short fiction, collected in I Remember the Future. Besides his own blog, Michael blogs regularly at Apex Blog. Michael lives with his wife Nomi and their twin daughters in the town of Brookline, Massachusetts, where he is an elected Town Meeting Member and Library Trustee. When not writing, he edits middle and high school Science textbooks. He has two degrees in Physics, attended the Clarion Workshop, and served for two years as Secretary of SFWA.


3 thoughts on “[GUEST POST] Michael A. Burstein on How to Save Eureka”

  1. Um, the market cap for Comcast is currently just a bit over $55 billion. To own even 1 percent of the company, you’d need to buy $550 million worth of stock or 27.5 million shares. A recent Eureka drew 2.25 million viewers. So maybe if you got everyone who watched to buy 15 shares or $300, you’d manage to hit 1% ownership and maybe get their attention.

    Personally, I’d suspect you’d do better to raise $550 million on Kickstarter and just produce the show from that. Or buy $550 million of commercial time for Worldcon, Comic-Con, Gencon, various webcomics, etc. from SyFy on the condition that the commercials will air on Eureka episodes.

    an ordinary guy who often finds himself the only one who can figure out how to solve the problems created when scientific experimentation goes sideways and disaster looms.” This, btw, is why I didn’t like the show. When I heard the premise, I was hoping for something that’d come across like “Real Genius: The Ten Years Later Post-Insitute Story” where smartness, geekiness, and science chops were celebrated. But instead, way too many eps for my case could be boiled down to the aforementioned quote, where it’s up to the non-genius, not at all scientific, star character to save the day from those wacky, don’t really know how to clean up their own messes, scientists. To me, this set-up is inherently anti-intellectual/science. I could live with the sheriff sometimes solving something in his wheelhouse with respect to forensics, crime solving, etc., but most of the eps are where he solves things that aren’t in his area, but are in the “geniuses” areas.

  2. I think it’s a pretty clever idea, m’self. After all, the point is hardly to fight for a controlling share of the company, but as a symbolic gesture. Putting your money where your mouth is, while you’re asking for Eureka. It might make news, it might get attention, and it might do it well beore the 1% is reached. 

     

    It’s the attention-getting equivalent of a letter-writing campaign back in the 60’s or 70’s (back when that might of worked; these days, I think it’s a knee-jerk reaction and I seriously doubt it can have that much of an effect anywhere in television world)

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