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April 17, 2014

Eli Stone: One More Try

by Richard Keller, posted Feb 29th 2008 6:31AM

Eli Stone(S01E05) "I need your boobs." -- Matt Dowd to Taylor Wethersby

Hi again, everybody! Jason has American Idol duty this week, so I'll be handling the reviews for this week's installment of Eli Stone. When you think about it Idol and Eli have a lot in common...they each feature singing numbers on their shows. I guess the major difference, other than one being a reality game show and the other being a legal drama, is that no one on Idol has visions. Well, with Paula Abdul you never know. Anyway, on with the review.

I felt that this was the strongest episode of the season since the premiere and that the program may have finally hit its groove. It's been touch and go for the first few episodes as the character of Eli has been established and the cast surrounding him has been fleshed out a bit. And, there was a bit of worry when the plot started to veer away from Eli and focus on cases by the other partners in the firm. But, it looks like they found the right mix with, at least, this episode.

Perhaps it felt so different because of the changes we saw this time around. The most blatant was the elimination of Eli's opening monologue, which basically summarized what had gone on since the series began. I think it worked for a little while, but wasn't needed anymore now that the story has been established. Let's face it, if you don't know what's going on you'll eventually catch up. This doesn't mean that the start of the show was Eli free; since it is his show it would be weird if he wasn't featured somewhere in the first few minutes of the program.

Another change was the introduction of Eli's ex-fiance, Taylor, into the firm. This was a pretty logical choice for the producers to make since it killed two birds with one, um, stone. Not only did it allow more screen time for Natasha Henstridge, but it also gave her more interaction with Eli then just the occasional meeting outside of the office. I have to say that my opinion of Taylor has changed since the first time I saw her. At the beginning I thought that she was just a tad too hard on Eli. As the series has progressed she has been softening up to the point that I feel bad that Eli made the decision to leave her.

In addition to the new staff we had the opportunity to learn more about some of the existing staff at the law firm. The person who had the most focus other than Eli was attorney Matt Dowd. Matt, as best described by the ex-girlfriend who ended up being his client, is a frat boy with heart. It's an interesting mixture -- he'll talk about the chick who is suing his chick, who has a lawyer that's a chick one minute and then get all serious and emotional the next. He seems like a good attorney and has a fairly good sense of the law, but it's a bit hard to put a definite label on him.

Another person we learned about, although we had a sense of his nature previous to this episode, was Jordan's law partner Martin Posner. I do not like Posner one bit. He is the epitome of every lawyer joke that has crossed the lips of comedians for generations. He's ruthless and greedy and willing to break the rules -- like he did with Eli's case -- to keep the firm safe. I'm thinking that he is the bad cop to Jordan's 'good' cop and is more than willing to fight for evil in order to bring extra fees into W.P.K. If there is any impetus for 'New Eli' to stay 'New Eli' it's Martin and his antics.

I guess I shouldn't be too shocked that he and Patti were an item in the past as Eli's assistant is a bit devious herself. It does seem she has a good amount of scruples as she broke it off with Posner when she found out what he did to Eli. I am still not enamored with Patti and the way she treats Eli and hates Taylor -- I'm not too sure of her reasons for that. However, I am pleased with her singing voice, which she displayed during one of Eli's visions this week. Along with the Gospel choir I enjoyed her rendition of George Michael's "One More Try".

Speaking about people I'm not enamored with...I'm still not warming up to Maggie. I keep going back to the fact that, while she may be good at data gathering, she just doesn't work well with clients. Yes, I'm sure there will be an episode where she breaks out and becomes the attorney Eli thinks she should be, but I don't know if it will be good enough for me to change my mind about her.

As for Eli this week -- I'm starting to get a bit concerned about all of his whining. He whines about his visions (which interrupted him in court for the first time), he whines about breaking up with Taylor, and he whines when he steps out into the hot sun of Hawaii in a wool suit. I realize that Eli has issues right now that are muddling up his mind, but all of this complaining is going to get to me soon and I'm not going to be as sympathetic to his plight as I have been.

Next week -- Eli Stone meets L.A. Law (you'll know what I mean if you saw next week's previews) as Eli faces disbarment.

Who is your favorite seondary character on Eli Stone?
Taylor36 (19.0%)
Jordan63 (33.3%)
Patti67 (35.4%)
Matt Dowd17 (9.0%)
Martin Posner6 (3.2%)

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Liz

This episode was one of the worst so far. Maybe its because I work for a law firm like the one depicted, but this show seems to be moving past unbelievable and into completely ridiculous. The characters and storylines are so silly that I doubt I will be watching much longer.

February 29 2008 at 6:09 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Liz's comment
KSal

I'm a lawyer who used to practice in a big NY firm, and this episode seemed like the most realistic so far-- especially Posner's crack about over-charging the clients for copying! I agree it was weird for Maggie to be mad at Eli for doing a good cross (not sure why Maggie works at WPK). But otherwise, this episode seemed pretty real to me. These were the kinds of cases a big firm would handle. We actually saw the lawyers conduct some straightforward fact gathering and then saw them make some unobjectionable arguments in court. It worked for me.

As a side note, I wonder why people are so hard on the legal stuff on this show (which is meant to be fantastic), but still seem to love a movie like Michael Clayton, which for me was probably the most unrealistic and unintentionally hilarious portrayal of a law firm I've ever seen.

March 01 2008 at 1:30 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Suetu

As much as I love the musical numbers (and I really do!), I'm finding this show somewhat ho hum.

I actually really like Patti. I have a relationship somewhat like that with my boss. However, unlike the reviewer, I found it incredibly implausable that Posner would have a thing for Patti. It just seems wildly out of character for him.

I agree that I like how they're making both Taylor and Matt Dowd more interesting and sympathetic characters. This is the best work I've seen Henstridge do. I do think the writing is getting better, so there's hope for the show.

The one character I still hate is Maggie. She's incredibly naive, ignorant of the practice of law, and irritating. Every time she opens her mouth, it feels like fingernails on a chalkboard to me.

Criticisms aside, I'll continue to watch this show. It falls in a good timeslot. It's a scripted drama with a talented and appealing cast. And I've seen much, much worse!

We haven't seen Laura Benanti much since the pilot. It's time to bring her back for a big production number...

February 29 2008 at 2:36 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Robyn

Patti is the quintessential secondary character, the strong willed secretary/housekeeper/administrative assistant (think david Spade in "Just Shoot Me") who moves the action forward, with tongue in cheek and toilet brush in hand.

February 29 2008 at 12:38 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Joey Geraci

Taylor is my favorite character on the show, period. Eli is fine, but I wasn't expecting much from Natasha Henstridge, and she has performed pretty magnificently.

This episode was actually kind of disappointing for me. I guess I just have to get used to the fact that this series is so blunt with it's themes that you have to get used to the headache watching the show of it hitting you over the head with the whole (being a lawyer for bad clients is bad, no really, even though that is the antithesis of our legal system) thing. Specifically, Eli's whole guilt trip and the shunning he received from Maggie and Patti after he grilled the wife in court. Except he didn't do anything wrong, at all. He made a very valid point in court, and although it can certainly be disconcerting to be grilling someone who is in that position, it is necessary for our justice system to work.

It really seems like the writers for this show are living in some fantasy land that I'd like to live in.

Patti is so disappointing as well. I loved her so much in Boston Public, but she get absolutely nothing to do, of note in this show. Even her moment to shine in this episode, sounded false, as she so unbelievably doesn't seem like the type for that lawyer (for many reasons beyond the obvious).

February 29 2008 at 12:17 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Joey Geraci's comment
Josephine

Who is the actor that plays "Adam Mitchell" in this episode?

Yeah the guy from last week joined the firm.

February 29 2008 at 1:22 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
jesjem

This was not much of a recap. I missed last nights show and was hoping to catch up. What did Posner do to Eli? What was Matt's case about? What was Eli's case about? And did they guy from last week join the firm?

February 29 2008 at 11:26 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Gordon Werner

The previous episodes where Eli recaps the story thus far ... are him trying to explain his way out of situations (like why his car shouldn't be towed, etc ...)

February 29 2008 at 11:10 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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