Oh for a bit of fantasy on our screens. You can keep your realism and your factuals, television that surprises me is king right now. And that’s just what you get in the first episode of Eli Stone.
Long overdue to Australian screens, Seven is belatedly bringing this American drama to us over summer. Co-created by Greg Berlanti (Brothers and Sisters, Dirty Sexy Money, Everwood), this stars British actor Jonny Lee Miller as a lawyer in the title role. He seemingly has it all, a successful life, beautiful girlfriend and corporate career. He also has an inoperable brain aneurysm. How this unfolds in the pilot is part of the delicious style of the show.
Stone keeps hearing organ music: at home, work, in the middle of a client meeting. It’s a sound nobody else hears. Finally during sex with his girlfriend he can take it no more and follows the music from the bedroom to the living room. The chords of the music become the opening bars of George Michael’s “Faith.” And there is George Michael, in the flesh, singing on his coffee table. Right here, you know this is gonna be a fun show.
Michael is something of a muse for this show. Episodes are titled after a George Michael song. He’s obviously a good sport for participating in this series (filmed before more of his tabloid incidents in 2008). Musical numbers, and hallucinations, appear with regularity, more successfully achieved than Viva Laughlin managed.
Stone also has something of an epiphany on the first episode, and turns the tables on the legal world from which he has derived his status and security. His plea to a jury doesn’t quite match the theatrics of ‘Alan Shore’ in Boston Legal, but it’s persuasive and emotional enough. Whilst the court-room drama forms the plot of this series it is the character arc of Stone that is its soul.
Also in the cast is Victor Garber (Alias) who gets a show-stopping musical number of “Freedom” in ep 2, and the sassy Loretta Devine (in a more comic role than Grey’s Anatomy allowed).
With a mix of law, whimsy and wisdom, this show has been likened to Ally McBeal –a pretty fair way to sum it up. Summer viewing just got a little spring in its step.
Eli Stone premieres 8:30pm Tuesday December 2nd on Seven.