Christmas in A Town Called Eureka

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Standalone Christmas episodes aren’t normally concerned with furthering major plot threads, and this means they can come off as treacly, dull and pointless. And odd, especially when they air in a season hiatus. When specials work, however, they’re a pleasing diversion. This one (Thursday 16th at 9pm on Syfy) may pour on lashings of syrup but it won’t bore the Christmas stockings off you. It flits back to an entertaining (and possibly invented) Eureka Christmas from “a few years back.”

We come in as Sheriff Carter snuggles into a comfy chair and prepares to tell a cockle-warming Christmas story to a bunch of child geniuses stranded in Eureka for the holidays. Pedants should switch off now because there are some nagging consistency issues that arise from the flashback. But we’ll forgive them because Carter has, most likely, invented his Yuletide yarn to jolly up the kids. Still, you should feel free to be irritated by the fact that the hologram characters have shadows. That’s just careless.

Christmas Past begins with an unusual heat wave. As Carter and Zoe prepare to leave town, Eureka’s magnetic shield is on the blink, so they have to stay put. Next, we viewers get the best Christmas gift of all: the return of Taggart (a zany biologist with dodgy Australian accent). He rides in on a sleigh and we discover that he’s now a self-appointed expert in Santology (that’s Santa Claus studies, for the uninitiated). He set out to answer the big questions surrounding FC’s astonishingly efficient present delivery system, including how he’s able to pack so many gifts into his sack. Cue a slew of gizmos, barking theories and fancy lasers.

There’s also a secret Santa on the loose and Vincent has finally found a Christmas cake recipe that doesn’t make folks want to spit his offering into a napkin. Later, Fargo puts on a Global Dynamic’s Christmas Party and serves the cake as a canapé. These manoeuvrings may sound insipid and trivial but they knot together nicely. Look out for the unfamiliar scientist and his glowing crystal “ornament”. They’re important--in a world-ending, seasonal cheer kind of way.

Hard line sci-fi sorts might bristle at the cosiness of it all but we guarantee this is good for more than regulation Christmas sentimentality. But don’t expect it to pick up where the first half of series four left off. For that, you’ll need to write to Santa begging him to use his magical powers to bring forward the rest of the season.

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  • 10:00 pm
    20/20
    NEW
    ABC