LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - Considering the number
of hallucinations Eli Stone has, maybe they should have added a
"d" to his last name. But no, Stone, a high-powered San
Francisco lawyer, owes his unique visions to a freaky brain
aneurysm which, of course, is inoperable.
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.
"Eli Stone" nibbles at the corners of other series,
including "Ghost Whisperer," with its prophetic visions, and
"Saving Grace," with its vague spirituality that will, in time,
guide Stone from his unacceptable atheism to a more
conventional belief in a divine spirit. There's also a weekly
music-and-dance number that, unlike such sequences in "Viva
Laughlin" and "Cop Rock," clearly is a fantasy.
Also, as long as we're making TV comparisons, let's throw
in "Highway to Heaven," not so much for Stone's ability to find
solutions to serious problems but for the Michael Landon vibe
that provides almost instant assurance that everything will be
fine in the end.
The premise in the pilot introduces Stone, played by
amiable Jonny Lee Miller, as a lion in the legal arena but a
kitty cat in his personal life. Even so, he's engaged to
fetching Taylor Wethersby (Natasha Henstridge), a fellow lawyer
in the firm and the daughter of the senior partner, artfully
played by Victor Garber.
His delusions begin with the sound of organ music and then,
later, a rendition of "Faith" by George Michael in a guest
role. Shortly thereafter, Stone is visited in real life by a
single mother who claims that a preservative in her son's
vaccine made him autistic. She wants Stone to sue the
pharmaceutical company, which happens to be a client of the
The story is based on actual claims by parents that a
vaccine preservative, thimerosal, caused autism in their kids.
But study after study, including one released this month by the
California Department of Public Health, has found no link.
Aside from distorting these facts, "Stone" could be a menace to
public health if nervous parents buy into the show's specious
In another episode, choir music and a menacing biplane
foretell the plight of an immigrant couple, farmworkers conned
into believing they became U.S. citizens. Whose side is Stone
on? Let's just say the Minutemen won't be throwing a watch
There's a strong supporting cast, including Loretta Devine
as Stone's no-nonsense secretary, but the big attraction is
Miller's Stone and his transformation from heartless corporate
lawyer to protector of the little guy. "Eli Stone" will follow
"Lost," a pairing that likely owes more to the writers'
strike's impact on scripted shows than the prospect of audience
Eli Stone: Jonny Lee Miller
Jordan Wethersby: Victor Garber
Taylor Wethersby: Natasha Henstridge
Patti: Loretta Devine
Matt Dowd: Sam Jaeger
Dr. Chen: James Saito
Nathan Stone: Matt Letsher
Maggie: Julie Gonzalo
Beth Keller: Laura Benanti
Mr. Stone: Tom Cavanaugh
Executive producers: Greg Berlanti, Marc Guggenheim, Ken
Olin; Co-executive producer: Andrew A. Ackerman; Co-producers:
Michael Cedar, Melissa Berman, Jennifer Lence; Director: Ken
Olin; Teleplay: Greg Berlanti, Marc Guggenheim; Director of
photography: Michael Monvillain; Production designer: Aaron
Osborne; Editor: Kristin Windell; Music: Blake Neely; Set
designer: Jennifer Gentile; Casting: Robert J. Ulrich, Eric
Dawson, Carol Kritzer, Liz Dean.