Review: Eli Stone 2×1

Finding its path

Eli Stone

In the US: Tuesdays, 10/9c, ABC
In the UK: SciFi, probably (season 1 now airing)

Eli Stone was a show I really disliked at first sight. A high-flying lawyer gets a brain aneurism and starts to have visions of the future, usually involving singing, dancing and/or George Michael, that enable him to save people or fix problems in their life. Where are these visions from? God? Somewhere else? Eli Stone didn’t seem to want to make an actual decision on that one because then it would, you know, have to be saying something.

But it improved slightly and by the third episode had started to have a few moderate things going for it, even if it had got both wishier and washier. By the sixth episode, the producers seemed to have worked out that the format needed a bit of tweaking and by the season finale, the show was actually pretty good and occasionally moving as the producers got progressively bolder.

Now it’s back, just as fluffy as before, but willing to lay down a few hard “this is what we stand for”s, along with a few properly tear jerking moments – and Sigourney Weaver.

As we may recall from the season finale (don’t read on if you’re watching in the UK), Eli has his brain aneurism removed in the finale of the last season. This season carries on a few months later with Eli still not a lawyer again and needing to see a psychiatrist (Weaver) to give him the all clear before he gets his licence back.

Most of the focus of this episode is about getting the format back on track, since theoretically Eli shouldn’t be able to have visions any more. It won’t surprise many to learn that he does by the end of the episode, but how he gets there is actually surprising and moving (surprisingly moving even).

But a big chunk of the episode also deals with the supporting characters and the equally surprising fact they miss Eli’s messianic days – everything’s back to normal and everyone, including Eli, feels as though something good as left their lives. Few of them get much of a look-in, but that’s understandable with so much plot to work through. Weaver’s in it too little, too, and I’m hoping she’ll be back later in the season. But Eli’s annyoing assistant is still there, unfortunately.

The show does, at least, finally more or less hang its hat on the “it’s God” explanation, which whether you’re an atheist or not, is preferable to the constant dithering. It doesn’t make much sense, but hey ho. There are also signs that the format’s going to undergo more changes over the next few weeks as the power of good makes itself felt properly at the law firm.

New viewers should be able to watch without too much difficulty; old viewers should be able to enjoy more of the same. My one worry is that the show’s going to focus on song and dance visions – and new semi-regular Katie Holmes – too much. I could do without either of them.

Here’s a YouTube promo for the show in general and one for the rest of the season:


  • I’m Rob Buckley, a journalist who writes for UK media magazines that most people have never heard of although you might have heard me on the podcast Lockdown Land or Radio 5 Live’s Saturday Edition or Afternoon Edition. I’ve edited Dreamwatch, Sprocket and Cambridge Film Festival Daily; been technical editor for TV producers magazine Televisual; reviewed films for the short-lived newspaper Cambridge Insider; written features for the even shorter-lived newspaper Soho Independent; and was regularly sarcastic about television on the blink-and-you-missed-it “web site for urban hedonists” The Tribe. Since going freelance, I've contributed to the likes of Broadcast, Total Content + Media, Action TV, Off The Telly, Action Network, TV Scoop and The Custard TV.