ELI STONE: THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON
MOVIE: *** (out of 5)
DVD EXPERIENCE: *** (out of 5)
Johnny Lee Miller as ELI STONE
Natasha Henstridge as TAYLOR WETHERSBY
Victor Garber as JORDAN ETHERSBY
Loretta Devine as PATTI DELLACROIX
Studio: ABC Studios
BY KEVIN CARR
Last season, which keeping up on the ABC shows like “Desperate Housewives,” “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Ugly Betty,” I saw plenty of promos for “Eli Stone.” And while it garnered a bit of a following from the viewers, I couldn’t help but recognize it as nothing more than the show with George Michael.
Ultimately, after seeing the first season on DVD, I realized that George Michael plays a greater role in the show than I ever thought he would… for better or for worse. (After all, the show paints him as a current cultural icon, but I doubt 20 percent of people under 25 years old even know who he is.)
Eli Stone (Johnny Lee Miller) is a corporate lawyer shark who suddenly starts seeing visions, beginning with George Michael singing in his living room. When he goes to his doctor (who also happens to be his brother), he discovers an inoperable brain aneurysm which is causing the visions. However, after some weird coincidences and a visit to an acupuncturist, Eli realizes there might be something more spiritual to his visions.
This sends Eli on a quest to right some wrongs in his past. He wants to be a better person, and he uses his power and influence at one of the biggest law firms in San Francisco to help him do just that. Along the way, he inspires his coworkers and gets a chance to save some lives.
I’m not a huge fan of films and television shows that have too much heart. These programs run the risk of becoming too preachy or too schmaltzy. However, “Eli Stone” manages a delicate balance between its heart and good storytelling. I’m also not a huge fan of Johnny Lee Miller, but he embodies Eli Stone perfectly and makes the character utterly likeable.
There is a bit of preaching in this show – from autism-vaccination controversy to urban renewal – but in general things don’t get too heavy handed. There’s a definite liberal political slant, reminding me of the days of “Picket Fences,” but for some reason it doesn’t bother me too much.
The cast that supports Miller is quite good, featuring Natasha Henstridge as Eli’s estranged fiancée and Victor Garber as Eli’s corporate bigwig boss. The writers manage to give these characters a little depth and not make them caricatures, allowing the to grow on the program.
In the end, “Eli Stone” really is nothing more than a fluffy show, but when the dial is filled with gritty, hard-hitting courtroom dramas, this can be refreshing and fun.
The DVD set comes with an extended pilot episode (with only a couple minutes added), deleted scenes, bloopers, a spotlight on George Michael, the development of the show, the visual effects and a set tour with Natasha Henstridge.