Eli Stone: The Complete First Season (2008)

Genre(s): Comedy / Drama / Fantasy
Buena Vista || NR - 559 minutes - $39.99 || September 2, 2008
Reviewer: Brad Lowenberg || Posted On: 2008-09-11


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.:: F I L M ::.
The Film

S P E C I A L
.: F E A T U R E S :.

Special Features

.:: V I D E O ::.
Video

.:: A U D I O ::.
Audio

.:: O V E R A L L ::.
Overall
.::MOVIE INFORMATION::.
Director: NA
Writer(s): Greg Berlanti & Marc Guggenheim (created by)
Cast: Jonny Lee Miller, Natasha Henstridge, Loretta Devine, Matt Letscher, Victor Garber


.::DVD INFORMATION::.
Supplemental Material:
  • Extended Pilot with Optional Commentary
  • 2 Episode Commentaries
  • Deleted Scenes
  • Acting on Faith: Eli and George Michael
  • Turning a Prophet: The Creation
  • Creating Visions: The Effects
  • Inside the Firm: The Natasha Henstridge Tour
  • Blooper Reel


Technical Information:
  • Number of Discs: 4
  • Widescreen (1.78)
  • English (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Subtitles: English

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.::THE FILM::.

“Eli Stone” is a mix of “Ally McBeal”, “Wonderfalls” and a bit of “The Practice”.

Eli Stone (Jonny Lee Miller) is a lawyer - a great lawyer - and one day he begins having "visions". In these visions people all around him are dancing and singing all while bringing some sort of message to Eli. In the first of these visions we see George Michael (yes, the real George Michael) who gives Eli some solid answers on what to do for a pending case. He uses these visions to help solve court cases and soon he begins to believe he is a prophet of some kind - and soon the rest of the cast does as well. We eventually find out Eli has a brain tumor that is apparently causing the visions... but the truth is unknown until the season finale (and I won't spoil it here). Over the course of the season we meet the rest of the cast including Eli's fiancé Taylor (Natasha Henstridge), her father Jordan (Victor Garber), Eli's brother Nathan (Matt Letscher) and other core characters that will help serve Eli on his journey.

Right from the start you should know at the start of the series there is a lot of singing and dancing. They tend to go a bit over board and at times I was ready to tune out. Over the course of the season they tend to focus a bit more on Eli and less singing which is definitely a good thing. While it is enjoyable - and brings something fresh to TV - it’s just not needed for every episode.

The show seems to borrow a lot from “Ally McBeal” so if you liked that show at all, “Eli Stone” appears to be the male version of with less goofy-like episodes (the dancing baby, ugh). Sometimes I literally feel like I am watching a re-run of the show since they are so similar, and that's not a bad thing since I enjoyed “Ally” during its run.

Over the course of the season we get introduced to a huge cast of characters. The ones we typically see the most of its Eli's assistant and friend Patti (Loretta Devine) and his soon to be friend and acupuncturist Dr Chen (James Saito). Jonny Lee does an amazing job as the title character and you would never know he actually has a British accent (much like Hugh Laurie on “House”) Acting here is what you would expect for a prime time show, though I don't care to much for the other lawyers involved on the show like Matt Dowd (Sam Jaeger) and Keith Bennett (Jason George). Not that their bad actors, but it’s just the show is so heavily focused on Eli and his visions that when they appear on screen it serves very little purpose.

Easily the best thing about this show is that they incorporated Eli's dead father into the show through the course of flashbacks. Eli has always resented his father and often found him to be a bit crazy, but he soon figures out that his father also had a similar tumor and probably the same gift as him. But the best part about this? His father is played by Tom Cavanagh, the same guy who starred in the show “Ed” and the short-lived “Love Monkey”. You'd never know it looking at the cover art or cast credits but he stars in all of the season best episodes and has a reoccurring role next year.

Eli came on ABC mid-season - right when the writers’ strike was still in full affect. Sadly the show only managed to get its 13 already produced episodes to air and never received the back nine. Fortunately, ABC saw the magic in the show and coupled with decent ratings granted the show a second chance this fall starting October 14th. From what I've heard the show plans on bringing in some heavy hitting guest stars to spur ratings (Katie Holmes) and hopes to make a bigger splash than last season.



.::SPECIAL FEATURES::.

Disney has encases this is a space saving DVD case with matching slip cover.

Extended Pilot Episode with Commentary (~46 Minutes) - Running about 3 minutes longer than the original episode, this doesn't introduce a whole lot of new things. Honestly, I couldn't find much of a difference.

Deleted Scenes (~10 Minutes) - A collection of 7 scenes from various episodes that have been cut for time.

Acting on Faith: Eli and George Michael (~5 Minutes) - A short featurette that incorporates interviews with George Michael and the basis for the songs on the show. Not bad, but I never really cared for George Michael so I cringe every time I see or hear him on the show.

Turning a Prophet: The Creation (~12 Minutes) - This is your basic "Making of" type featurette that is filled with numerous interviews with the cast - all of which make sure to gives props to all the other cast members as much as possible. Still, this is a great overview of the series and something most fans will want to watch.

Creating Visions: The Effects (~6 Minutes) - A look at one episode of the show and the amount of CGI used. Pretty interesting to see some of the techniques used (putting dots for the computers to track).

Inside the Firm: The Natasha Henstridge Tour - A walk around the set where Natasha shows us around the various sets used in the show as it incorporates scenes from the show. I liked Natasha running into her clone during filming and being a bit surprised by it. After watching all these features It seems all of these were filmed on the same day.

Also included is a Blooper Reel and two unadvertised Commentary Tracks on the episodes I Want Your Sex and the Season Finale episode, Soul Free.



.::AUDIO & VIDEO::.

“Eli Stone: Season One” includes all 13 episodes spread across 4 DVDs. Each episode is presented in Anamorphic Widescreen preserving its 1.78:1 Aspect Ratio. Quality is very nice - which is to be expected considering how new this show is. While the HD versions that aired were a bit nicer, the DVD packs a punch and looks much better than the typical SD broadcasts.

Disney has included an English Dolby Digital 5.1 track. Much of the action takes place in the front speakers and center speaker - which isn't a bad thing considering how dialog driven this show is. The only time you will notice the rear speakers is during the musical aspects of the show and small sounds every here and there.



.::OVERALL::.

“Eli Stone” is a mix of so many past successful shows that it’s really hard not to like it. While the show stumbles in the first few episodes it quickly picks up half-way through the season and continues to the dramatic end. With Season 2 premiering soon on ABC (and guest starring Katie Holmes), this show looks like it’s going to be a hit for ABC and this is a perfect time to play catch-up if you missed this mid-season replacement show.