BC Review

Eli Stone: ABC

1/30/2008 07:05:45 AM

                 

When the drama opens with Armani-clad lawyer Eli (Jonny Lee Miller) waiting at the foothills of the Himalayas for his sherpas, one of whom bears a striking resemblance to Abe Vigoda, you get the feeling you’re watching something different. By the time Eli’s sex life is interrupted by an impromptu George Michael concert in his living room, different has been run out of town by random and its partner in crime, bizarre. (Las Vegas Review Journal)

In "Eli Stone," Berlanti benefits from great casting, strong acting and mostly inspired writing. Just when you think the show is going to be stupid, the writing stands up, managing to be both funny and moving. When the writing falters - it has a love affair with sentimentality and easily plucked heartstrings - the actors step up and save the scene. (San Francisco Chronicle)

"Eli Stone," it turns out, is 2008-speak for "Ally McBeal," which represents both a good and bad thing. The ABC series — whose protagonist is either a modern-day prophet or suffering the hallucinatory effects of a brain aneurysm — indulges in amusing flights of fancy, segueing from a dancing baby to dancing lawyers. Those quirks, however, can be a little too precious at times, and the show wraps this life-changing scenario in a conventional legal franchise that feels more like a throwback than a leap forward — as if cribbed from David E. Kelley’s well-worn yellow notebook. (Variety)

Odds are good that if a true prophet receiving visions from the great beyond were to be dropped into 21st-century America, he’d be medicated, litigated and likely incarcerated. Lucky, then, if he’s a lawyer whose brother is a neurologist. (The Oregonian)

There’s a bit of "Pushing Daisies" in the show’s nimble transitions from the everyday to the otherworldly, and more than a bit of "My Name Is Earl" and "Samantha Who?" in Eli’s heartfelt determination to explore the virgin territory of kindness and generosity. But where those series remain buoyant by skirting sentimentality, this one too often stoops to extended courtroom scenes of good triumphing over evil in the sappiest and most predictable of ways. (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)

This drama resembles a David E. Kelley legal drama, say Boston Legal or Ally McBeal, stuck in cute gear. But Kelley isn’t to blame.The offending co-creators are Greg Berlanti and Marc Guggenheim of Brothers & Sisters. They depict health crises, legal cases and matters of faith with wearying whimsy and superficiality. When the show turns dramatic, the results are usually maudlin. (Orlando Sentinel)

With "Eli Stone," Greg Berlanti’s Midas touch — he already has two other shows on ABC, "Brothers & Sisters" and "Dirty Sexy Money" — is very much in evidence. His new series is more quietly manipulative and less dramatically satisfying than the others, yet Berlanti and co-writer Marc Guggenheim have no trouble creating enough moments to propel the series straight to viewers’ hearts. (Reuters)

"Eli Stone" is flowing with idealism and whimsy, a combination that can prove to be lethal if not handled with care. But based on the early episodes, the show never becomes too precious or cartoonish. There is just the right amount of wry humor and imagination to offset the earnestness, and it helps that Miller is a likable, engaging lead. (San Jose Mercury News)

Cornball? Yeah. But so what? Miller plays Eli as skeptical of his own sentiments, yet not incapable of feeling them. Berlanti surrounds his hero with a terrific cast, including Alias‘ Victor Garber as his bristlingly intelligent boss and Everwood’s wittily prim Tom Amandes as a law-firm bigwig. And as Eli’s office assistant, there’s Loretta Devine from (well, whaddaya know) David E. Kelley’s Boston Public. With these superb supporting players helping drain away any potential drippiness from the show’s magical-realist trappings, Eli Stone proves as solid as a rock. (Entertainment Weekly)

Compiled by Sarah Outhwaite

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