Archive | August, 2011

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The End and the Beginning of the DC Universe

Posted on 31 August 2011 by VinnieAve

So in my 2 or 3 years of reading comics regularly, there has never been a more interesting week. This is the week is quite possibly the most important week yet. DC only released two books. One was Flashpoint #5 and the other was Justice League #1. I’m going to review this and try to keep them in context of what I’ve seen in DC comics. I’m reviewing them in the order that I encourage you to read them; it just makes sense that way.

Flashpoint #5 – So for this past summer we’ve had the experience of seeing this darker world, it hasn’t been the smoothest ride and this book is no exception. It wasn’t quite a story but more of an exposition book that explains why this happens. I wasn’t really impressed with it overall. The ending is pretty much a forgone conclusion. It has a bit of a Lord of the Rings feel in that there are all these threads from the side books that have going on (the best part of the Flashpoint Universe) all come together to help end the war between Aquaman and Wonder Woman. I don’t usually notice art or things like that but the splash page when the resistance shows up is something that I hope gets made into a poster. The book ends with the Flash going back but when he travels he sees three different timelines. Part of me says that this might suggest that there could be a way to bring back things from the previous DC. I’m not suggesting that this will collapse the new universe but a way to filter in ideas that should be brought over. For a brief comment, if you haven’t already read Flashpoint there is no reason to read #5, however, I suggest if you haven’t read Flashpoint and enjoy superhero comics pick up the collection that is coming on in October (only the main story, not the side books, which are coming out in March).

Justice League #1- Also for the past summer there has been a lot of build-up to the New 52. Today it started its landing with Justice League. This is a smart choice since it can be used a way to bring in characters and see where they’ve been. The first thing I noticed was that it say “5 Years Ago” in the first panel. To me this says that the main DC Universe is going to take place after this book (with exception to Action Comics which will take place before this). This is a very tone establishing issue. This is before heroes became well known. Most of the book is making sure you know this in the dialogue between Batman and Hal Jordan.  The book isn’t bad, it’s a little slow but I think that this is a good start. I didn’t expect too much action in this book. The art is slick and clean throughout the book. This book would be a good starting point for any super hero fan.  It’s not an action packed start but the action is good and Hal shows off his powers pretty well. There is something of an over-arching story but it’s really front and center, as JL progresses I’m sure it will be more a part of it as the gang forms up. I’m actually glad they didn’t rush the formation in one book and will spread it out.

So there it is the end of the old and the beginning of the next stage. These books are not going to bring in people who don’t like the superhero thing but this will be a good way to make stray sheep back.

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Comments on Conan the Barbarian (2011)

Posted on 25 August 2011 by VinnieAve

I will start with this disclaimer, I am a huge fan of the 1980s Conan the Barbarian. I am going to make a concerted effort to not be shaded too much by my love of that film.

What I liked:

-Ron Perlman as Corin steals the show in the first scene of the film with what can only be described as The Lion King in the world of Conan. He continues to play a strong role until he is killed a few minutes in after we see a young teen Conan be an impressive fighter. Corin teaching his son to fight and forge steel are strong scenes for the stoic Perlman. On the off-chance of a sequel, I would like to see this character back in film.

-Action Sequences: They weren’t the best but on the whole they didn’t really feel dull and broken that would have made this film unwatchably bad.

Ummmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm…………..

What else was good about this film, what else. If I think of something I will mention it.

-Jason Mamoa- This is not a positive or a negative. When his casting was announced everyone looked and wasn’t sure the motivation for it. Then we all watched Game of Thrones and sang praise for the decision. I know that I wanted Khal Drogo to essentially be the main character but we got a sometimes wise-cracking character that was more or less forgettable
Now on to the part that everyone wants to read, me complaining

-The biggest flaw with this film was the utter lack of a great villain. I’m not saying that every great adventure film has a great villain but this film had a character almost pretending to be a great villain. He had a mad-lib like scheme to become a god. His motivations were muddled and acting weak but never once did we believe that our heroes were threatened by this guy.

-Lack of loss- Sure Conan had his entire village killed at the beginning of the film but really after that things more or less go his way. That should not be. A great hero needs to really suffer greatly during his quest.

-Prologue- Yes they used the proper starting lines of any Conan work but having them read by Morgan Freeman was not the right choice. In 1982 it was Mako, this time it could have been someone else was an overly dramatic voice. I’m not saying use Brian Blessed but someone to make us really understand the drama that we will see. I don’t want my kindly grandpa to say this but more my nutty uncle.

I may just be a gumbly young man longing for the days of high adventure but I really didn’t enjoy this film enough.

Now to make everyone feel better here’s the way it should be:

 

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Technology and Introspection…Have Things Changed or Stayed More the Same?

Posted on 25 August 2011 by DM

I am feeling a bit thoughtful with the rain pouring and a hurricane looming and this is where my thoughts turn.  Our lives are different now than they were a year ago, more so five, ten, and twenty plus years ago.  The nature of the beast, after all, is that nothing stays the same.    Recently I have been thinking about how technology has changed my life.  How it is more different than it has ever been, and it forces me to wonder if technology has changed my life of myself.

At the risk of exposing just how old I am, I was a child in a time where computers were not the everyday household appliance they are today.  Where one computer was special let alone having several including that one that subs as a phone.  I played computer games in elementary school once a week that taught me to type correctly and that was it until I reached high school.

High school brought with it a keyboarding class and some more exposure to good old Windows but there was not one in my house until I was a junior in High School and even then…you remember AOL and dial up modems?  Oh ya.  Floppy disk drives for the win.  That takes us to around ’98 and my first laptop, which came to me used and with DOS as its operating system.  It took three of us and patience to put Windows 95 on it.  It was a brand new world.

Around 13 years and numerous new devices later and this new world continues to amaze me.  I mean I still remember making people stay offline when a girl was supposed to call me.  Now we have cable modems, DSL, 3g, 4g, and any number of ways with which to stay online.  I have a phone in my pocket right now that is significantly more powerful than what was required to put the first rockets that used computers into space.  I have no fewer than 6 devices that can be considered some form of computer, including the laptop I’m typing this on, a gaming console that serves as the primary media center for my household, and a phone that does more for me than my first laptop ever did.  The changes are paralyzing if I stop to think about them.  They border on terrifying.

Now, I am in my early thirties but I am not turning into the old man who chases you off your lawn yet.  The casualness with which we take these changes does not make them any less significant though.  I love many of the changes that technology has wrought, but again, I wonder how much I have changed because of it.  Am I less patient now that I can simply look facts up online instead of trying to find out through contacts and books?  Is my ego bolstered with the illusion that what I do and say is important simply because I can post it to Twitter, Facebook, or some other of the myriad social networks available? Is there a time when technology, low or high, does not influence my life in some way?

To mangle a quote from a great movie, “Life is change. Anyone who tells you different is trying to sell you something.”  We are a different people now more than ever.  I encourage you to think about who you are without any devices and doohickeys for a moment today.  How has technology changed you?

DM
All Geeks Considered

More info:
written after reading this piece from the Huffington Post: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/08/25/steve-jobs-resigns_n_935940.html#s338918?ncid=edlinkusaolp00000008

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Response to Robot King: A Love Letter to Mike Toole

Posted on 23 August 2011 by VinnieAve

Rarely do I rush to write an article but I want to see this get to 500 views before tomorrow. Mike Toole put this challenge to twitter to get this to 500 views. I will try to use the mighty readership of All Geeks Considered to get it there (hahaha). Here’s the video now watch it my stupid comments will follow.

This is one of the brilliant little things that come out of the internet every so often. This home made music video about a knock-off toy, in this case Robot King which is a Chinese version of Mobile Suit Double Zeta Gundam. This is not professionally done or anything but the amount of creativity and love required to make this video goes beyond anything I could imagine. Anyone can just post a picture or a video of a knock-off they found at a store but no this is something else. A song was written and sung to describe the greatness of Robot King. I have to say this toy will now be hugely popular and everyone will want Robot King. Mike Toole is one of the great pillars of anime fan community. If this is any indication of his talent, I encourage everyone to go to his panels at conventions (Dubs that Time Forgot is one but there are many others that are different at every convention) but also read The Mike Toole Show. ROBOT KING!

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Geeking Out With Dinosaurs, a Review of the American Museum of Natural History’s New Exhibit The World’s Largest Dinosaurs

Posted on 22 August 2011 by DM

Having made a trip the American Museum of Natural History this weekend, I thought I would convey some of my thoughts on one of their newer exhibits, The World’s Largest Dinosaurs.  Before I begin that though, I want to gush about AMNH’s iPhone app, Explorer. This app was a fantastic way to find out what the museum had to offer and how to get there.  With the help of an internet connection, provided free vie the museum, it showed you where you currently were and provided GPS style directions to get you from where you were to where you wanted to go. It also provided some supplementary info on many of the exhibits.  Best of all, the app was free.  I am really hoping that this is something that museums start to do.  It made the day much more efficient and enjoyable.

Having something of a devout love for dinosaurs, it was a no brainer to check out AMNH’s World’s Largest Dinosaurs special exhibit.  Having done the research, I knew that the exhibit allowed eight people in every once an hour and that there was a large dinosaur on display.  It turns out that is only half-right.  There seemed to be no true limitation on how many people were allowed in at a time.  There were certainly more than eight people in my 1:30 slot.  There was totally a large dinosaur there though.

The first thing that I noticed was the large group of people coming in.  I did my best not to feel rushed and took my time at each exhibit/display.  It was difficult though with a couple of dozen people clamoring through attempting to take pictures and see whatever is there to see.

Whoever designed the room for the display deserves a commendation.  Walls were covered with textured cloth, making it difficult to get a gauge on the size of the room, which was probably the point.  Small exhibits were set at the beginning forcing people into a line to see them and creating a nice transition into the main exhibit room.

A Look at Mame

The main exhibit room was dominated by an actual size rendition of a young adult female Mamenchisaurus who has been christened Mame.  Half her body displays a possibility of what her exterior could look like while the other side gave the observer a look at what her internal structures would look like.  The interior side had a small set of bleachers for viewers to sit at and watch as demonstrations of lungs and internal organs were displayed along with a close captioning system describing what was going on.

A look inside Mame

While kind of gross, this was a great way to learn more about the science of being big.

Exhibit Video Game
I got to learn things and play video games…score!

Surrounding Mame, a series of exhibits went into describing what went into making larger dinosaurs functional, such as bone composition, tooth types, lung capacity, and neck structure.  Many of these exhibits were interactive, allowing people to have a hand-on experience.  Examples of this ranged from measuring your thighbone to determine what a dinosaur that had a thighbone of your length would weigh and a simple button pushing video game to demonstrate the differences between mammalian and reptilian food consumption and high energy and low energy burning plants.

Witty informaiton

I did a double take at this. I wanna shake the hand of whoever wrote this.

While it was a self-guided tour, you were not entirely left to your own devices.  A museum worker roamed around the main exhibit area seemingly targeting small groups or individuals at random and engaging them in questions regarding the exhibit they were observing.  I thought it was a nice touch that would likely enhance a museumgoers experience at in any hall and not just the dinosaur special exhibit.

At the exit of the facility was a mock dig site where children busied themselves with goggles and digging tools to excavate dinosaur bones.  Benches were provided around the dig site and a video describing the science of how the exhibit came about was playing for the comfort and entertainment of the adults.

Over all my experience at the exhibit was a positive one.  The cost, 22 dollars plus your donation for entering the museum for a standard adult, was a bit high considering where the average person is falling in this economy, but I did not find myself regretting it after spending a full hour there.  I found the exhibits fun and found the interactivity something refreshing that I had previously only expected in a science museum.  I would certainly recommend it to a dino geek looking to blow an afternoon, a parent looking for something educational to do with their kid, or anyone else who is interested.  Enjoy and say hi to Mame for me.

DM
All Geeks Considered

For More Info:
http://www.amnh.org/exhibitions/wld/
https://twitter.com/#!/Giant_Dino

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NPR’s Top 100 Science Fiction and Fantasy Books, Fact or Fiction?

Posted on 20 August 2011 by DM

Having taken a look at this week at NPRs top 100 list of Science fiction and fantasy books I am left with a few thoughts that I would like to share.  I was led to this list by a fellow writers comments on it via NPRs site.  He has made some interesting points and I definitely recommend you read his piece before you check out the list.  Among his most interesting observations was that since 60,000 votes were counted to compile this list, the top books listed were powerhouses that would prove difficult to oust.  So let us go onto my own observations.

First, noticing what popular vote does in normal circumstance I was worried about what I would find on this list.  Now having read it I feel that my worries were a tad overstated.  While I by no means agree with this list as my personal list, I do feel that it gives a good impression of the average SF/F reader.

Upon reading the description of the list, I was taken aback regarding their decision to remove certain books from the running because they were considered “young adult” books. These included the His Dark Materials trilogy by Pullman, The Chronicles of Narnia by Lewis, The Earth Sea Novels by LeGuin, and the Harry Potter books by Rowling.  What in the world gave them the idea that adults do not enjoy these books?  In fact, I would wager that more adults read most of those works every year than children did.  My first instinct is to render this list incomplete because of this omission, but it still has some interesting things to comment on.

I am going to itemize the rest of this list mostly because I am lazy…enjoy

  1. A Song of Ice and Fire by Martin is ranked number five.  It boggles my mind.  For one it is not even finished yet.  What if the last book blows chunks?
  2. With that in mind, I am forced to wonder what this list would look like if you broke up a series.  Would the tow 30 be dominated by individual books through a series or would we see the gems shine through?
  3. I cannot believe that A Song of Ice and Fire beat out Wheel of Time…This is not the world I want to live in.
  4. A trade paperback hit number 15.  Let’s hear it for the comic geeks! Watchmen was number 15.  I could pick better trades or graphics to be there but I am very pleased that a comic book got on this list.
  5. Huge props to Patrick Rothfuss for his Kingkiller Chronicles ranking at 18.  A relative newcomer, he should take a some well-deserved pride in being top twenty.
  6. Same goes for Brandon Sanderson for being in the list twice at 43 and 71.
  7. I call bullshit on the Silmarillion being listed separately from Lord of the Rings.  It is basically an appendix.
  8. I was surprised that it was Jim Butcher’s series The Codex Alera that got him on this list at 86 and not The Dresden Files.  Both are wonderful series but I really expected some love for Harry.

There is probably a ton more to say on this list, but something like this is so personal.  I really am more interested in what other people have to say in regards to the list.  Please comment below with your own observations.

DM
All Geeks Considered

For More See:

http://www.npr.org/blogs/monkeysee/2011/08/11/139346998/nprs-top-100-science-fiction-and-fantasy-novels-parsing-the-results

http://www.npr.org/2011/08/11/139085843/your-picks-top-100-science-fiction-fantasy-books

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Learning new stitches and patterns can lead to cute new items

Posted on 19 August 2011 by DM

David Rosenthal

My favorite request is a tie between two projects, both commissioned from the same two people. John and Kristina happen to be married geeks of varying flavors and are good friends. Almost two years ago, they spawned baby geek Brigid, which is where the project requests come in. During the pregnancy, they came up to me and asked me to make a set of knitted dice. Not just some six-siders but the standard RPG pack, D4 through D20. Hey, if you want your kid to be dorky, you have to start them out young.  It was a fun and challenging project to work on because of the fact that I was unable to find any real patterns for knitted dice. Having to find the correct shapes and putting everything in the correct order was the biggest hurdle to jump but I felt like they came out really well.

The second project was commissioned after Brigid was born. Kristina found a squid hat she wanted Brigid to wear. The hat was really cute and the fun but difficult to construct for a few reasons, not the least was the differing limbs of the squid that needed to be crafted. The other challenge was to make it in two different sizes so that Brigid had something to grow into.  Differing sizes required that I expand the pattern and still maintain all the ratios and sizing. That may sound easy but can be tricky. The work was worth it though because it looked like some cthulhu-esque monster was trying to eat baby geeks head when she wore it.

The point I am making for all you knitting geeks is simple.  Make sure you open your hoppy up to other people.  It may make a lot more work for you and you have to be a bit adventurous, but in the end, your reward will be more skill and some awfully geeky projects to share.

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Spoiler Alert 5 Week of 8/17/11

Posted on 18 August 2011 by DM

Lets get right to it this week because a lot of good stuff is out this week and its worth picking up.

Flashpoint – The Outsider 3 of 3
This book has been so fantastic, and it ended as well as it started.  The Outsider is everything that I want to see in a villain.  He is formidable physically and mentally, capable of quick thinking as well as drawn out plots, and recognizes his weaknesses.  Oh, how I thought that The Martian Manhunter, revealed in the last issue to be impersonating Black Adam, would be the end of him, but I did The Outsider a disservice by underestimating him, something I’m sure his foes continually do.  As I have heard Vincenzo say, he is in fact a Bond villain, but this is a Bond villain who would be the end of James Bond.  This is Batman dedicated to profit and power.

Final 2 Cents: A nicely contained miniseries that contributes to the main story without being required to understand it.  Please pick it up; you will be doing yourself a favor.

Flashpoint – World of Flashpoint 3 of 3
It is hokey and compelling all at the same time.  The story was a bit weak and lacking but at the same time I was drawn to follow Traci 13 on her journey across the world in an effort to stop her father.  She does, at the expense of her magic but it is a happy story nonetheless.

Final 2 Cents: Like I said, it is hokey, but it was a fun way to wander around the world and find out what is going on with the smaller players.  Worth it if you have been into Flashpoint to date but perhaps not if you are just looking for a good read.

Flashpoint – Abin Sur Green Lantern 3 of 3
OK this is the book that tells you that Sinestro was right and the world may have in fact been better off if Abin Sur had lived and Hal had never taken the ring.  In a brutal conclusion to Abin Sur’s fight with Thaal Sinestro, begun in last issue, Abin shows brutal amounts of willpower by summoning his ring from his severed hand and besting Sinestro handily, destroying Thaal’s ring in the process.  The Guardians are assholes in any galaxy and boot Abin Sur from the corps for disobeying orders.  Having only the remaining charge in his ring, he flies off to help save Earth.  I am going to make you read the rest of this one though to find out the conclusion because it is a doozy.

Final 2 Cents: Honestly, I felt that this was one of the weaker tie-ins to Flashpoint, but I feel that the conclusion warrants a read and almost stands alone within the miniseries.

X-men Schism 3 of 5
Ok we have finally gotten to a fight between Wolverine and Cyclops that I can see.  We know almost all of schism we need to right here.  Wolverine is going to do his best to spare the children and I am guessing will restart Xavier’s School for the Gifted in order to spare the youngsters.  Cyclops is going to use all the resources he has to do his best to save all of Mutantkind.  He really is turning into Magneto, but a better one at least.

Final 2 cents: I know where my loyalties lie, where do yours?  Read and find out.

Uncanny X-men 542 (Fear Itself tie-in)
We have a lot of good stuff in here so I am going to have to rush through it a little.  First Cyclops was not kidding when he said he has a metric fuckton of plans.  We are streaming rapidly through those plans in this issue.  We get to see some awesome power combinations in this one.  While mutants and humans are doing their best to work together, there are, unfortunately, some snafus and each side begins to pull away.  Best yet is what is going on behind the scenes.  You know that teaser image where they tell you who is going to be on who’s team when schism wraps up?  OK, well you know that juggernaut looking image on Cyclops’ team.  Well it ain’t Cain Marko, but this issue will tell you who it is.

Final 2 Cents: Go and find out.  If you absolutely cannot wait then tweet me and I will let you know.

X-Factor 224
It is done.  Now I love Peter David and would read just about anything he would write but I am so happy that this storyline is finished.  It was a good conclusion with some enigma about what the future holds, and I look forward to where those enigmas will influence the story.  Rahne has had her baby but the poor little guy defended his mother first thing and the bloodiness of it causes her to reject him.  He is taken by Werewolf by Night at the end.

Final 2 Cents: If you like werewolf’s and varying deities fighting each other then this is the storyline for you.  Pick up the trade when it comes out.

Venom 6
What the fuck?  I have no idea what is going on here.  Is Fear itself over?  Has is started yet? Where does it fall in line with Spider Island? I guess time will tell but we have a new casualty during Spider Island.  It is none other than Steve Rogers the one and only Captain America.  At some point, he has been captured and transformed or perhaps cloned and turned into a giant spider monster.  Also, Venom the dog comes out to play.

Final 2 Cents: A good issue in line with what I have come to expect from Venom.  I say pick it up.  They have yet to disappoint me.

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My Journey Through Doctor Who (Part III)

Posted on 17 August 2011 by VinnieAve

The next actor to play the Doctor would be Christopher Eccleston.  Now there is almost ten years between eight and the ninth doctor.  We come to know that while the doctor has been through a lot including the Time war. The Time war had a profound effect on the doctor; one of main reasons would be is the fact that the Doctor is now the last time lord left.  This brings a big change in the ninth doctor’s personality. Eccleston’s doctor in much more somber and more serious. The doctor seems much more down to earth.  The other change is how the doctor interaction with the compactions.  It seems like the compactions are no longer a burden but more of a help.  Every now and again we see the all-knowing ego of his but he seems to be humbled easier.  We even see at the end Eccleston’s season, The Doctor taking a big risk for Rose. This is the first time that we see the doctor put his life on the line for someone that he is traveling with. With previous doctors, they might be sad if something happened to the people that he was traveling but he might not have risked his life in order to save his.

The transition from 9th doctor to 10th doctor seems quick because of the fact that we only had one season with Ecclesion. The 10th actor to take up the charge of the Doctor would be David Tennant. Out of the most recent doctors, Tennant seems to be the most popular. I find that Tennant’s doctor is much like Tom Baker’s doctor. Tennant’s doctor tends to be fun and light hearted.  The one difference between Tennant and Tom Baker is when the 10th doctor serious moment. When the tenth doctor gets mad, he gets dark and a little scary.  The doctor has seems and knows much more then when we first meet him.  There are a lot of bad things that the doctor has seen and done that he carries with him. With David Tennant’s Doctor we get to see couple of different dynamic relationships with the companions. We go from Rose and The Doctor being in love with each other, to Martha being in love with the Doctor, and to good friends with Donna. With previous doctor, the companions have really just been tag along friends. We didn’t really get to see anything more dynamic then that. I found it interesting to see some different with The Doctor and his companions.

The most recent doctor would be Matt Smith.  Even though the Doctor is at his oldest, Smith is the youngest to take on this role. Smith is the most outgoing and seems to have the most energy.  He seems to be always bouncy off the wall and all over the place. Sometimes he seems a little unfocused but always gets on track quickly. It’s also nice to see him interact with Amy and Rory. Amy and Rory seem to be the first companions are a couple and also to be close friends with The Doctor. You can tell that they have gone though lot together and have come out the other side.  What I really enjoy is seeing Rory go from being minor character and grow into a much stronger character.  Just as a side note, I love watching River Song interact with the three of them. I don’t really count her as a companion because she is just such a strong character by herself.

It was really interesting to see the character of the doctor grown and change thru the years. Each actor brings something different and something new.  Even though it took me almost a year to do but I’m happy to do it. The fans that only have seen the new stuff ain’t got nothing on me

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Eureka Cancelled After Season Five

Posted on 16 August 2011 by DM

David Rosenthal

A couple of days ago I found out that Eureka was being cancelled after the fifth season, which was upsetting for a few different reasons.

First of all, it’s a fantastic show that’s very different from most of what’s on TV.  The premise of the show is that Eureka is a small, government-funded town populated by the world’s smartest people. The town has an average Joe sheriff who is trying to keep up with everyone but still manages to see things in a different enough way to be useful.  Having so many geniuses in one place really opens up the possibilities of where the show can go. Even better, the writers manage to keep the show fresh and new within the framework of the show.

The second thing that really bothers me about Eureka being canceled is how it was announced. Syfy made a press release to the public before anyone associated with the show was informed. In fact, it seems like many staff members were informed by their fans.  It is a very harsh move to do this to any show, let alone a beloved one that has been on the air for four seasons.

The news was sprung on the cast and crew while filming the end of the fifth season.  Reports say that they are working on rewrites for the finale of season 5 in order to make it a good ending for the show.

Even though it is sad to see Eureka go, I am glad that we are going to have a full five seasons of it to enjoy.  With hope, the show will end with the same quality in which it aired.

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