EliEli Stone: The Complete Second and Final Season (2009, Buena Vista)
purchase from Amazon: DVD

It’s disappointing that the earnest, big-hearted series Eli Stone never found a large enough audience to stay on the air. You may recall this ABC show as the one about a lawyer who begins having visions that show him future events that he must do everything within his power to prevent. Jonny Lee Miller stars as the titular character, playing Eli with so much charm and likability that the show’s failure to catch on is surprising. The storylines aren’t bogged down with heavy issues, which is gratifying considering this was a series that dealt with faith and a belief in a higher being.  Moreover, the show never comes off as preachy and always offered a counterpoint to Eli’s spiritual callings. Alas, television is a business, and if a series doesn’t produce good ratings, its fate is pretty much sealed. Buena Vista (which owns ABC) has released the complete second (and final) season of Eli Stone on DVD. Fans of the show should rejoice because every episode is there for the viewing, and the character of Eli Stone will continue to live on your shelves, even though he’s not on television each week.

In a complicated world that could only exist in the world of television, Eli Stone is a high powered lawyer who works at the same San Francisco law firm as his ex-fiancé, Taylor, (Natasha Henstridge), a firm founded and run by her father, Jordan (Victor Garber). As luck would have it, Taylor is now involved with Eli’s rival, Matt (Sam Jaeger), another lawyer in the firm, and Eli has romantic feelings for one of his other co-workers, Maggie (Julie Gonzalo). For advice on all things outside the law, i.e. anything to do with his conscience, Eli generally turns to one of three people: his brother Nathan, a doctor (Matt Letscher), his opinionated assistant (Loretta Devine) and his acupuncturist, Dr. Chen (James Saito). When in Season One he began experiencing his vivid hallucinations, it was determined that Eli had a brain aneurysm. Dr. Chen offers another view: he offers that they may be messages from God, telling Eli that he has more to offer in life than defending large conglomerates in lawsuits. However, at the end of the first season, Eli receives an operation and the brain aneurysm is fixed; the hallucinations are gone.

As Season Two begins, the writers chose to resolve the issue of Eli’s visions by temporarily giving his “gift” to Nathan. When Eli realizes that his brother’s visions must mean that Nathan now has a brain aneurysm, Eli pleads with God (in the form of Sigourney Weaver- one of the classiest Gods you’ll ever meet) to be given back the aneurysm and therefore the responsibility of the visions and helping people. The scene is quite moving thanks to Miller’s emotional delivery. He really is a fine actor and I hope he gets another series soon.  After getting back his aneurysm and his messages from God, the second season returns to the type of storytelling from the first season, in which the stories evolve around Eli’s missions and also some big case at the firm.

Compelling stories from the second season include: Jordan’s noble decision to alter his firm’s clientele to those with higher moral standards; Nathan and Eli’s discovery of a journal that their father (who also received visions) kept with his documentations of what would happen in the future; Taylor becoming pregnant with Matt’s child; and the introduction of Grace, a young woman with a rare inoperable heart condition who may be Eli’s soulmate. That particular episode guest stars Katie Holmes. Although Eli Stone was pulled from the air before its final episodes aired, the producers crafted a final story that stands on its own as a series finale. The last hour of the series involves one final scene between Eli and God that ties together all of the storylines from seasons one and two and leaves open the possibility of future stories for Eli. It is a satisfying conclusion to the show.

I believe Eli Stone’s fans loved the show because it brought something that is lacking in so many hourlong series: hope. We see so much suffering in the news, and in edgy dramas, that on occasion it does the soul good to have a series to turn to make you feel better about humanity and what we are capable of doing. That the show could never find a large audience is, as I said, disappointing, because in these times, when people are feeling their lowest, we need hope. We need shows like Eli Stone.

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About the Author

Scott Malchus

Scott Malchus is a writer, filmmaker and die hard Cleveland Indians fan. His memoir, “Basement Songs,” is available in paperback and Kindle. He wrote and directed the film “King's Highway." His family is heavily involved in fund raising to find a cure for cystic fibrosis. Scott Malchus is an employee of Cartoon Network and Turner Broadcasting. The opinions expressed on Popdose are his own and do not reflect those of his employer. Email: Malchus@popdose.com. Follow him @MrMalchus

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