Saturday, August 30, 2008

Blog DVD Review: Eli Stone: The Complete First Season (Sept. 2)

It is Saturday, so that must mean it is time for the mini-DVD review...but wait! We're renaming the weekly mini-DVD review now to the weekly "Blog DVD Review." Sometimes our mini-DVD reviews are a bit long and we can't help it because we have a lot to share with you. I laugh sometimes, because sometimes the mini ones are longer than our normal full reviews for sitcoms. So effective today the mini-DVD review is now called the Blog DVD Review...it'll be the same concept, but just a new name. Bookmark the old label to see our past mini-DVD reviews because now we're using the new label for blog DVD reviews.
This week on the Blog DVD Review we take a look at ABC Studios/Buena Vista Home Entertainment's Eli Stone: The Complete 1st Season. Eli Stone is about a lawyer (Jonny Lee Miller) with a special gift of seeing visions of the future, but he has a brain aneurysm that medically says that is the reason why he is zoning out with visions. Is science correct or do you have faith? This show is so great and anything with Natasha Henstridge in it is worth watching! See my mini-DVD review of Eli Stone: The Complete 1st Season:

Eli Stone: The Complete 1st Season (Buena Vista, $39.99) brings the first season of the new legal drama with lots of comedy, music, science, law and faith on DVD for the first time! Follow Eli Stone on his quest for answers in this exciting and upbeat comedic drama. Basically the plot in a nutshell...Eli Stone is discovered to have an inoperable brain aneurysm which is causing hallucinations, according to his brother, Dr. Nathan Stone. However, he visits an acupuncturist named Dr. Chen, and he suggests that his hallucinations are actually divinely inspired visions of the future. These visions often predict future cases and events and are always right, leading Eli to go back and forth in his faith. Is he a prophet? One will have to keep watching and have faith in this series.
The series will air Tuesdays at 10PM, following Dancing with the Stars: The Results, on ABC this coming season and stars Jonny Lee Miller as Eli Stone, Natasha Henstridge as Taylor Wethersby, Loretta Devine as Patti Dellacroix, Matt Letscher as Nathan Stone, Sam Jaeger as Matt Dowd, James Saito as Dr. Chen, Julie Gonzalo as Maggie Dekker, Jason Winston George as Keith Bennett, and Victor Garber as Jordan Wethersby. With special appearances by singer George Michael as himself. Among the specials guests are Tom Cavanagh and Katey Sagal.
This first season is very good. 13 episodes aired this past mid-season during the writers' strike and followed Lost, so the show certainly got sampled. The great Greg Berlanti has done it again and I heavily enjoy his other shows such as Brothers & Sisters and Dirty Sexy Money. Some classic episodes include the series pilot, "Faith," where Eli begins having hallucinations (many of which involve singer George Michael) that may either be linked to a medical condition, or the bizarre chance that he is a modern-day prophet.In "Something to Save," after performing a song in the courtroom, Eli's capabilities to practice law have come under scrutiny and he appears before the State Bar of California for a hearing to determine whether he's fit to practice law. In "Heal the Pain," Eli's new position at the law firm means that he does not have an office, a secretary or the power to take cases. Eli has a vision of an earthquake in San Francisco, so Dr. Chen helps Eli realize that the quake is in the region where his client is planning on building a shopping mall by evicting the residents from their home, in "Praying for Time." In my very favorite episode of the series thus far, "Waiting for that Day," Eli has a vision of traveling in a car when all of a sudden an earthquake hits the Golden Gate Bridge...does it actually happen? Those episodes really stand out, but they are all very good. In the season finale, "Soul Free," Eli goes in for an operation to remove his aneurysm, but it doesn't go as planned and Nathan is left with a difficult decision. The episodes run usually close to 43 minutes or just above...unedited of course with all the great music intact. There are about 8 or 9 chapter stops per episode. The video is digitally mastered and is in widescreen and looks very good! The audio is great and sounds very good, as it is in Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound. This is from the 2007-08 season, so it had better be good.
Packaging has a a thin outer box that you can remove from the top or bottom. The outer box has the same cover and back as the case inside...I hate when they give us an outer thin box that is pointless. On the front cover we have a nice blue sky with clouds setting with Eli's head from the back side, and the show logo on his head...the back cover has information on the set and has some screen shots from episodes and a nice shot of the Golden Gate Bridge. There is also a section detailing the series and set, a special features box inside a briefcase with technical specifications also. Opening the case, we get two inserts (one for other ABC Studios DVDs and one for Blue-ray DVDs). There are only two panels, the left side holds discs one & two and the right side holds discs three & four...and they are overlapping. The left side, you have to remove disc two to get to disc one, I hate that. Each disc is in a blue color and has artwork that fits the show and Eli's illusions. Disc one has episodes 1-4 with artwork of a San Francisco Trolley. Disc two has episodes 5-8 and has artwork of a WW1 biplane. Disc three has episodes 9-12 and has artwork of the ocean on the Hawaiian beach with surfboards. Disc four has episode 13 and the bonus features with artwork of the Golden Gate Bridge. When you remove the discs, the left panel has disc-by-disc breakdown and three screenshots. The right side has the list of bonus features and three more screenshots.
The menu screen starts by showing us a law office (it looks like Dowd's office to me) and then we are behind the desk where see a flat screen monitor and on that monitor we see the menu options! How clever! But before I get to that, there is nice music playing in the background...it's the song "Feeling Good" which was hear in the season finale sung by the cast. You know, it starts off with the words, "Birds flying high, you know I feel..." Catchy! The options on the main menu are Play All, Episode Selection, Set Up, Bonus Features (discs three & four only), and Sneak Peeks (disc four only). But before the main menu screen comes on disc one, we get some auto sneak peeks of other DVDs: Private Practice, Samantha Who, Grey's Anatomy and Lost. Sneak Peeks option is only found on disc four on the main menu and has previews of many titles like Desperate Housewives Season 4 DVD and ABC promos of the new season of Eli Stone (Fall 2008) and Lost (2009). Set Up section takes us to the phone in that law office and the options on that menu are on the phone screen! We have the option of subtitles in English, French or Spanish. The Episodes option gives us the episode number, title and a screenshot all on a nice yellow folder type document. Bonus Features option is only on discs three & four and it has all the extras listed on a white filler paper style. All of the sub-menus have nice video transitions and different background music.
Moving on the bonus features. Two episodes get the audio commentary treatment, first on disc three is "I Want Your Sex," by reators/Executive Producers Greg Berlanti & Marc Guggenheim, Executive Producer Chris Misiano and Actors Jonny Lee Miller, Natasha Henstridge, Victor Garber, & Sam Jaeger and Writers Leila Gerstein and Wendy Mericle. We also get an audio commentary track for the finale "Soul Free," on disc four from Creators/Executive Producers Greg Berlanti & Marc Guggenheim and Actors Jonny Lee Miller, Natasha Henstridge, Matt Letscher & Sam Jaeger, Exec. Producer/Director Chris Misiano and Writers Andrew Kreisberg and Courtney Kemp Agboh. Wow! I never have seen that many people on one track. It was a crowd to listen, but still informative!
The next extra is an Extended Pilot Episode that runs 45:56, so we get nearly three more minutes of new footage. We also have optional commentary on this episode, that I recommend. Commenting are Creators/Executive Producers Greg Berlanti & Marc Guggenheim and Actors Jonny Lee Miller, Natasha Henstridge & Sam Jaeger and Director Ken Olin.
Then we have seven deleted scenes that are always interesting to see. Then we have three featurettes that are very good. First one is, "Turning a Prophet: The Creation of Eli Stone" (12:13) and it tells us everything we need to know and has interviews with Berlanti, Guggenheim, Miller, George Michael, Jaeger, Julie Gonzalo, Letscher, Loretta Devine, Jason George, Henstridge, Garber, and James Saito. Then we have "Acting on Faith: Eli & George Michael" (4:33) where we learn from Berlanti, Guggenheim, Jaeger, Henstridge, Garber and George Michael himself on how he got attached and what he brings. Then we have a neat visual effects featurette titled "Creating Vision: The Effects of Eli Stone" (5:35) where we see how the cool effects are done in CGI and how the actors have to deal with it. Discussing it are producers, actors, visual effects department, and other crew members: Guggenheim, Miller, Berlanti, Peter Vasquez, Timothy L. Lonsdale, David Petrarza and Tony Ocampo. We're not done yet...then we have "Inside the Firm: The Natasha Henstridge Tour" (4:58). The lovely luscious Natasha Henstridge gives us a tour of the set and does a good job. She is amazing and does this on her break from shooting. Finally, we have some "Eli Oops!" (3:28)...yes, bloopers! See all the swearing, goofs and play on the set!
I highly recommend this series and set. It is such a well-written and acted show that is greatly presented. The show got better and better it seemed to me as the episodes progressed, and that is a sign of greatness. The show only had 13 episodes and this DVD gives us 4 discs and tons of quality extras. ABC Studios did a marvelous job and I only have minor complaints that are not worth mentioning again. Catch up or discover the magic of Eli Stone with this DVD and hurry before the second season premieres October 14 at 10/9 central on ABC. Because... "Its a new dawn, It's a new day, Its a new life,
For me. And I'm feeling good..." You gotta have faith, so have faith in me and order the DVD below!
-- Reviewed by Pavan
(4.5/5 stars)

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Related links:
SitcomsOnline.com Full DVD Reviews Page
Official Website
Eli Stone TV.com Page


New on DVD/Blu-ray (June/July/August)

Father Knows Best - Season Six Diff'rent Strokes - The Complete Sixth Season Alice - The Complete Fifth Season Rhoda - Season Four Brooklyn Nine-Nine - Season Four

06/13 - The Andy Griffith Show - Return to Mayberry
06/13 - That's My Mama - The Complete Series
06/20 - Workaholics - The Final (Seventh) Season
06/20 - Workaholics - The Complete Series
06/27 - The Jamie Foxx Show - The Complete Third Season
07/04 - Superstore - Season Two
07/18 - Father Knows Best - Season Six
07/25 - Diff'ernt Strokes - The Complete Sixth Season
07/25 - Girls - The Final (Sixth) Season (Blu-ray)
08/01 - Alice - The Complete Fifth Season (WBShop.com)
08/01 - Crashing - The Complete First Season (Blu-ray)
08/15 - Rhoda - Season Four
08/22 - Brooklyn Nine-Nine - Season Four
08/29 - Will & Grace - Season One (Universal)
More TV DVD Releases / DVD Reviews Archive / SitcomsOnline Digest


Sitcoms Airing Tonight

Monday, August 21

Kevin Can Wait - "Unholy War" (CBS, 8:00PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
After reluctantly settling on a date for Kendra’s wedding, Kevin learns that his childhood nemesis, Terry (Kim Coates), is trying to reserve the church on the same day. As the two battle for Father Phillip’s (Jim Breuer) approval by becoming more involved in the church, Kevin’s drive to get the church for Kendra becomes an insatiable desire to get revenge on his old rival.

Superior Donuts - "Man Without a Health Plan" (CBS, 8:30PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
The group decides to take up a collection to pay for Franco’s medical expenses when he’s hurt at work and doesn’t have insurance. Also, Tush experiences unusual side effects when he participates in an experimental drug trial.

Mom - "Cornbread and a Cashmere Onesie" (CBS, 9:00PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
Christy and Bonnie worry about Jill after her cry for help on the anniversary of her mother’s suicide.

Life in Pieces - "Babysit Argument Invention Butterfly" (CBS, 9:30PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
Matt and Colleen have a disastrous time babysitting Lark while Jen is at work. Also, Sophia is far from pleased when John buys her a butterfly kit for her birthday; Tim and Heather rehash an old fight from the early days of their relationship; and Greg gives Samantha questionable advice about being an entrepreneur for her school project.

American Dad - "Kloger" (TBS, 10:00PM ET/PT)
Roger and Klaus start having a secret affair after they accidentally end up on an online date together; Steve tries to catch Hayley's pink eye to get out of doing a fitness test at school.

People of Earth - "Why Can't We Be Friends?" (TBS, 10:30PM ET/PT)
Ozzie confronts Walsh about being an alien; Richard gets fired from his job and joins Agent Foster on her search for Walsh.

Complete TV Listings


Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows (Week of August 21)

Monday, August 21

  • Nick Kroll (The League/Cavemen) - Watch Nick on a repeat of The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon at 11:34pm on NBC.
  • Sutton Foster (Younger) - Sutton appears on a repeat of The Late Show with Stephen Colbert at 11:35pm on CBS. She will also be on LIVE! with Kelly and Ryan, so check your listings.
  • Kumail Nanjiani (Silicon Valley) - Kumail is a guest on a repeat of Late Night with Seth Meyers at 12:36am on NBC.
  • Hank Azaria (Brockmire/The Simpsons/Free Agents) - Hank appears on a repeat of Last Call with Carson Daly at 1:35am on NBC.
  • Al Madrigal (About a Boy/Welcome to The Captain/Gary Unmarried) - Al is a guest on a repeat of Last Call with Carson Daly at 1:35am on NBC.
  • Matt LeBlanc (Man with a Plan/Episodes/Friends) - Matt stops by Conan at 11pm on TBS.
  • Amy Poehler (Parks and Recreation) - Amy chats with the ladies of The View on a repeat on ABC at 11am ET/10am CT-PT.
  • Aziz Ansari (Master of None/Parks and Recreation) - Aziz drops by LIVE! with Kelly and Ryan, so check your listings.
  • Sabrina Carpenter (Girl Meets World) - Sabrina appears on LIVE! with Kelly and Ryan, so check your listings.
  • Rachel Dratch (Imaginary Mary) and Jenna Elfman (Imaginary Mary/1600 Penn/Accidentally on Purpose/Courting Alex/Dharma & Greg) - Rachel and Jenna are guests on a repeat of Harry, so check your local listings.
  • Yara Shahidi (black-ish) - Yara opens up about beauty standards in Hollywood on People Now at 8:30am.
  • Marlon Wayans (Marlon/The Wayans Bros.) - Marlon talks about Marlon on New York Live on WNBC in New York at 11:30am ET.
  • Lilla Crawford, Taylor Louderman and Elan Luz Rivera (Sunny Day) - The stars of Nickelodeon's upcoming series Sunny Day are guests on PIX11 Morning News on WPIX in New York at 8:45am.