"In cooking, as in all the arts, simplicity is a sign of perfection." - Curnonsky

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Eli Stone: Father Figure

Okay, it looks like I have the formula down pretty well now. Eli's going to have some bizarre visions that will jeopardize his personal and professional life, but those visions will help him make decisions as to what to do. Could it be a brain aneurysm? Sure, if aneurysms can specifically name clients that he hasn't met yet. Instead of creating a compelling long-form narrative, Eli Stone is going to be a typical legal dramedy with a few spot visions thrown in to mess with Eli's life. That's it and it's a shame.

I guess I wanted more for Eli. And maybe there's still time to give it to me. I have to say, I didn't care for this episode's case at all. Not that the case itself wasn't compelling, but that Eli perpetuated the perjurous statements of a twelve-year old boy, knowingly sending an innocent man to jail (at least for awhile), all to bring home a woman who didn't want to serve in the war any more.

The progression of Eli's and Taylor's crumbling relationship headed for its inevitable dissolution, and first "love" Beth came back into the scene. Laura Benanti (Beth) is listed as a regular cast member, so I've got to figure her role will grow and I'd wager she'll become the sympathetic lover Eli needs. Though it's very possible they'll hook her up with Eli's brother Nathan first so there can be Moonlighting unrequited passion. I hope they do something because the chemistry between Johnny Lee Miller and Natasha Henstridge is so flat it's awkward to watch.

Victor Garber remains a good actor, but his character continues to ride that fine line between stereotypical senior partner and somewhat compassionate future father-in-law. Oh and bonus for going ahead and having the completely cold-hearted senior partner there for Garber's Jordan to look good next to. I'm still waiting for these characters to inflate a bit and become well-rounded.

Eli's "friend" Dr. Chen keeps pushing the angle that Eli is a prophet, which Eli rejects wholeheartedly. So why does he keep going to him? Because the acupuncture triggers memories? Removes the visions temporarily? Or as a conveniently placed plot device to push the prophet angle forward each episode. And how did Chen become a friend anyway? Wasn't Eli just recommended to go meet the guy in the first episode and then found out he was a quack. By the intro of the second episode he was referred to as Eli's friend.

No junior partner (Maggie) could be that terrible in court. Sure, nerves and jitters can cause some screw-ups but when she said "like Jeopardy" to remind herself to question the witnesses, I almost rolled my eyes. She went to law school to be a lawyer. They go over how to question witnesses. What to do, what not to do. Either she was really, really, really nervous, or she barely graduated. Plus, she's very sweet and kind. So a sweet and kind terrible lawyer who wants to save the world ... what's she doing at this law firm? The firm is the stereotype of a corporate law firm that focuses entirely on the bottom line and billable hours and screw everything else. It just doesn't seem a good fit for her at all. That and I can't figure out her role either. Is she there to be a driving force to help Eli in his new direction in life?

Outside of the cases, which haven't impressed me too much, the side stories are at least somewhat compelling. I am curious how Eli's continuing visions will affect his future at the firm. Can he keep from losing his job, especially in the fallout of that ending? Should he bother to? I know he worries about losing his health and malpractice insurance, which is valid, but maybe losing all of that will push him further down his prophetic road. He'll have to find other ways to make a difference.

I'm still willing to forgive Eli Stone a lot because it's trying to find its voice and way in the television landscape. There's still potential in the premise but I worry that it is settling quickly into what will become its routine. I hope I'm wrong. I'm actually still intrigued enough to keep with it for awhile more.

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