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Pilot Watch: Eli Stone

With several new series set to premiere this Winter, I'm resurrecting my occasional pilot watch feature to share my first impressions of the upcoming shows. Up today: Eli Stone, which premieres after Lost this Thursday.

What's it about? A ruthless San Francisco attorney starts seeing visions of George Michael and learns that he's either 1) a prophet, or 2) dying of a brain aneurysm.

Who's in it? Jonny Lee Miller, Victor Garber, Loretta Devine, Natasha Henstride

The good: Eli Stone is the comfort food version of TV: easy to watch, not too challenging, and ultimately satisfying. The show's executive producer — Greg Berlanti of Brothers & Sisters and Dirty Sexy Money — knows how to make good television, and it shows in the way the first episode of Eli balances its weighty moments, comedy, and bizarre musical fantasies. Jonny Lee Miller, cleaned up since his Trainspotting days, is a total charmer as the conflicted main character having to face both his own mortality and the fact that he might need to do something besides screw the little guy out of millions.

The bad: Eli is pretty quirky — though not Pushing Daisies or even Ally McBeal quirky — and it won't be everyone's cup of tea. The show has the potential to get cheesy fast, though at least for now, the way it acknowledges its own cheesiness (part of the pilot revolves around Eli's stereotypical visits to a Chinese acupuncturist who later turns out not to be Chinese at all) is part of the fun. It's also a weird show to pair with Lost, though that isn't the show's fault.

Will I watch? Definitely. It's purely enjoyable: the TV equivalent of a nice, heaping plate of mashed potatoes or a hot grilled cheese on a cold night, which is just what I need in the midst of the writers' strike.

To check out a gallery of photos and clips from the premiere, just read more.

Photos copyright 2008 ABC, Inc.


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