God told Moses he would send a prophet to every generation. What God neglected to tell Moses is that each generation would also have to suffer through television shows like “Eli Stone.”
“Eli Stone” is ABC’s newest dramedy about a lawyer who discovers that he’s a prophet. God, or another higher power yet to be identified, communicates with Stone through visions and directs him to people in need. However, Stone’s friends and family members – unsurprisingly – don’t believe he was sent by God, and instead attribute his “hallucinations” to a recently diagnosed brain aneurism.
While the concept of the show is original and appealing, “Eli Stone” fails in its execution. One of the main problems involves Stone’s visions. They’re meant to be funny, but usually they’re not. The visions are reminiscent of J.D.’s daydreams on “Scrubs,” which are used to break up dialogue and provide comic relief. Thus far, Stone has “seen” a few dance numbers and performances by George Michael – who is a little scary, by the way – but none of these visions have been particularly outstanding.
What’s really holding “Eli Stone” back, though, is Eli Stone. He’s played by Jonny Lee Miller (“The Flying Scotsman”), and he’s simply uncomfortable in a role that doesn’t suit him. But to blame only Miller would be unfair. The show’s writers never give viewers the chance to identify with the main character. In the pilot, Stone decides to take a case that could cost him his job. Instead of feeling scared for Stone – or rooting for him – viewers are left to watch him as he just goes through the motions. If this trend persists and viewers are indifferent to whether Stone succeeds, the show won’t survive. Stone’s character is especially disappointing because some of the supporting cast is exceptional, like James Saito (“I Think I Love My Wife”) who plays Dr. Chen, Stone’s spiritual guide and friend. The rest of the cast is dragged down by the show’s most visible actor and his less-than-dynamic character.
Although the pilot fell short, “Eli Stone” has the potential to improve. The show’s cast should have a chance to grow into their roles over time. If nothing else, the pilot was successful in setting up some compelling plot lines. We discover that Stone’s dead father also experienced hallucinations, which could mean he was a prophet as well. Stone also seems to be on the verge of getting a divorce, a move that would have serious repercussions, considering his wife is also his boss’s daughter. All this, however, will not be enough to attract and maintain attention unless both actors and writers start executing instead of waiting for a miracle.
Thursdays at 10 p.m.
Rating:1.5 out of 5 stars