Eli Stone: The Complete First Season Review
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If thereís anything the series TV landscape needs less than another show about the personal lives of doctors, lawyers, or cops, itís another show about an individual on, as Elwood Blues so eloquently put it, ďa mission from God.Ē That said, I was a bit surprised to find myself enjoying Eli Stone as much as I have. Thereís very little in the series thatís wholly original, and yet itís all done with such a light touch that itís hard to hold that against it.

The pilot episode sets everything up quickly. Weíre introduced to Eli (Jonny Lee Miller), a San Francisco corporate lawyer who worships ďthe holy trinity of Armani, accessories, and ambition.Ē An evening with his fiancťe is interrupted by a vision (some might say waking nightmare, perhaps) of George Michael performing the song ďFaithĒ in his living room. The vision leads to two significant changes in Eliís life. First, it takes him to an acupuncturist whose encouragement to follow the vision propels him into suing one of his own firmís clients on behalf of the mother of a child whose autism may have been caused by a faulty vaccine. If that werenít enough, it also reveals that Eli has an inoperable and potentially fatal brain aneurysm.

His victory in the case sets up the pattern and the central question of the show. Eli experiences a visionóoften involving a musical number, though not alwaysówhich leads him to take a case that usually involves championing an underdog, frequently under the objection of his superiors, while trying to keep his condition a secret. Had this been all the show tried to achieve, it would be little more than a mish-mash of Boston Legal, Ally McBeal, and Touched by an Angel.

Miller does a laudable job as the beleaguered might-be prophet, but itís the supporting cast thatís the seriesís real saving grace, from Victor Garberís stern consternation as Eliís boss to Tom Cavanaughís sympathetic portrayal of Eliís father. For a 13-episode first season, the relationships among the cast develop in impressive ways. Itís also a kick to see them get the chance to cut loose every once in a while in one of Eliís visions. You quickly get the sense that those are the days everyone looks forward to on set.

The DVD set also includes a small handful of mini-documentaries, deleted scenes, and bloopers.

Like most series, it took a few episodes for Eli Stone to really catch its stride. While the middle section began to feel a bit repetitive, it finished strong with Eliís prediction of a major San Francisco earthquake and an operation to remove his aneurysm. Either of these could set the stage for a major change at the beginning of the second season next month.

What it lacks in originality, Eli Stone makes up for with a refreshing lack of cynicism and a dynamic cast. The journey is uneven and the destination unsure, but Eli Stone certainly seems to be on the right road. Check out the second season premiereóor pick up this DVD set to see how he got there.

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