by Kimberly Grams
I’m merrily skipping the commercials on my DVR back in January, and I see an ad for a show where a guy has a vision of George Michael performing the ‘80’s hit “Faith” ON HIS LIVING ROOM COFFEE TABLE. My most formative pop culture years were during High School. I graduated from High School in 1987, so if George Michael’s dancing on the coffee table, I’m SO there.
There are many reasons to try the legal dramedy, Eli Stone. It’s really funny. It talks about God as the Almighty and references Moses. The characters have emotional depth, believability, and snappy dialog. It has big, Broadway-style musical numbers and numerous pop culture references.
I present to you . . . favorite moments from Eli Stone:
Episode 104, “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go”
Opening scene . . .
Eli: You probably think you’ve heard it all, but trust me – this story’s different. It begins in pretty much the typical way: boy meets girl, boy proposes to girl, boy sees George Michael in his apartment, boy gets diagnosed with an inoperable brain aneurysm. Didn’t see THAT coming. Wait, it gets better. Boy meets acupuncturist who’s convinced the boy’s the 21st century equivalent of Moses. But instead of parting seas and smashing tablets, boy must somehow interpret and follow the visions he’s having (cut to Eli running from a bi-plane) and fix the world one lawsuit at a time. Needless to say it’s kind of put a little stress on, well, everything (cut to Eli jumping into the cake at his engagement party because he thinks he’s in a WWII battlefield) – but mostly boy’s relationship. Which is why I’m returning this. (cut to jewelry store, where Eli is trying to return engagement ring). It’s a sad story, right?
Clerk: Do you have a receipt or not?
My note: I LOVE this scene because you THINK it’s the “previously on Eli Stone” but he’s really telling his story to the jewelry store clerk. It encapsulates the show – high powered lawyer turned do-gooder – in a fun way. Throughout the show there are references to God as the Almighty and Moses as a servant of God. A main theme is: How do you know when God is trying to tell you something, and what is he trying to tell you. (We Lutherans would know to look in our Bibles perhaps, but this IS network TV – I think God as a theme is as far as it will go. And there’s no Jesus, but again, I wasn’t expecting that either).
Scene between Eli and his boss, Jordan (his would-have-been father-in-law) regarding a case defending a guy whose marriage was annulled while he was in a coma . . .
Jordan: Suing God now, are we, Eli?
Eli: Not the Almighty, sir, just His church. Actually, not an entire church, just a priest. People do it all the time these days – it’s like buying a hybrid.
My note: One of the ways Lutherans differ from some church bodies is that we don’t make rules where there aren’t any. “Annulment” is one of those rules from man, not God. The Bible outlines legitimate reasons for divorce, like adultery. But none of Jesus’ miracles was “proof” – that marriage never happened!
As Eli leaves Jordan’s office, everyone appears to him as coma-guy dressed in a hospital gown.
Coma guy 1 (singing): I was feelin’, so bad.
Coma guy 2: I asked my family doctor just what I had.
(Cue full on choreographed rendition of “Good Lovin’’ by The Rascals which ends with Eli dancing on a table in the lobby. Since the aneurysm is still, publicly, a secret, he just looks crazy).
My note: What makes this show special is the creative way they can use music without anything being over the top. Everyone gets to sing and dance in this show (I’m SO jealous)! Eli’s secretary is suddenly wearing a red evening dress and breaking into song, there’s a boys choir in the boardroom, or – have I mentioned – a George Michael number?
Episode 106, “Something to Save”
After the firms’ main players perform Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Who’ll Stop the Rain” featuring a solo by boss Jordan, Eli visits with his acupuncturist, Dr. Chen . . .
Eli: I’m getting rained on now. It’s not bad enough that I’m facing disbarment, but now I got my own personal weather front.
Chen: God used rain to wipe out his first draft of humanity. So did Hurukan – Mayan god.
Eli: You spend a lot of time on Wikipedia, don’t you?
Chen: So, this is the second time you’ve seen your boss singing to you, Eli. What does that tell you?
Eli: He should try out for American Idol?
Chen: You said he was performing “Who’ll Stop the Rain”. Maybe Jordan is the one who’ll stop the rain. What do you think the rain represents?
Eli: My disbarment hearing, obviously, but I don’t know how Jordan can stop it. He’s too busy holding a fire sale with my caseload.
Chen: Well he’s a powerful lawyer. Maybe he could exert some professional influence with the bar.
Eli: It’s too late for that. Holly Raines is prosecuting. She’s like my own personal Javert.
Chen: The lawyer prosecuting you is named Raines? As in “who will stop the”?
My note: Here is where subtlety in acting comes in. The way it’s played, to me, seems like “God flooded the world in Noah’s time” (fact) but the Mayan god – just a story. I watched several times and I feel it’s played as God the Almighty, with a capitol G, other historical myths – lowercase “g”. It’s also among my faves because it references American Idol and Les Miserables in the same conversation.
Scene between Eli and ex-fiancée, Taylor . . .
Eli: So I looked for a “thanks for getting your dad to represent me at my disbarment hearing” card, but I couldn’t find one.
Taylor: Did you look next to the “sorry I called off our wedding because of the guy from Wham!” display?
My note: How could I not love a show with random George Michael moments? They couldn’t have picked a better Pop music icon. The themes of his music, “Faith”, “Freedom”, “Father Figure” (Eli had issues with his alcoholic father who turned out to have the same aneurysm thingy) work with the themes of the show.
Episode 107, “Heal the Pain”
Eli: Yeah, well God and I enjoy a pretty complicated relationship. At least now I’m starting to believe in what He wants me to do. It’s like I see things now, you know. Things that were always there but that I never noticed before.
Maggie: Like people who need help.
Eli: Including high-anxiety, borderline incompetent, junior associates.
Maggie: At least I’m borderline now.
My note: Acknowledges God, spotlights the changes in Eli, and is funny on top of it.
CLASSIC scene where Taylor invites Eli to a $3,000/ticket charity event . . .
Announcer: Ladies and gentlemen, George Michael (appears on stage).
Eli: Oh, not now, please! (Eli thinks he’s having a vision but then realizes it’s ACTUALLY George Michael performing).
My note: Eli is a guy who’s always gone by the facts; now he’s learning to go by faith. He fought for big corporations to make rich guys richer; now he helps people. As with most Hollywood shows, there is no mention of Jesus, but they do acknowledge God as the Almighty.
Concluding thoughts: Is this a “Christian” show. No, not by any means. They do reference other gods, but in a more “text-booky” way as opposed to God, whom they seem to acknowledge and take seriously. Do I recommend it? Yes. It is funny, interesting, thought-provoking, and discussion-worthy, not to mention REALLY funny. I don’t think they’re even necessarily trying to promote God – but at least so far they are getting their facts straight (none of that garbage with shows where God is a woman or something that makes me want to hurl). I caught one more episode since writing this article, where Eli is having a “crisis” of faith and is unsure if he’s done the right thing – and they reference Martin Luther as an example of breaking the “rules” to do the right thing.
There will be a few more episodes, so you still have time to check it out, plus it’s on the fall schedule for mid-season. You can also go online (ABC) to watch previous episodes.
Kim Grams is a writer and pastor’s wife who lives in Scottsbluff, NE. A dancer and an avid reality TV viewer, she has also written many other Pop. Culture articles.
Created: March 26th, 2008