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Eli Stone: The Fate of the Last Episodes and TV Show’s Co-Creator Still Has Hope

Eli StoneAs fans of the quirky Eli Stone TV show know by now, ABC decided not to order any more episodes, effectively cancelling the series. While the network has abandoned the show, co-creator Marc Guggenheim is still hoping for season three. Will it happen? Will we even get to see the remaining four episodes of season two?

Eli Stone centers around a San Francisco attorney (Jonny Lee Miller) with a promising future. He’s engaged to fellow lawyer Taylor Wethersby (Natasha Henstridge), the daughter of his prestigious boss (Victor Garber). Eli’s idyllic life is turned upside down when he begins to have strange hallucinations. Is he a prophet or sick? With the help of his brother Nathan (Matt Letscher) and an acupuncturist, Dr. Chen (James Saito), Eli learns the truth about his condition and starts to understand his new life. Other series performers include Loretta Devine, Sam Jaeger, Julie Gonzalo, Jason Winston George, and Tom Amandes.

The show debuted in January 2008 as a midseason replacement series on ABC. The Eli premiere attracted 11.83 million viewers and a 4.2/12 rating /share in the 18-49 demographic. The ratings for the subsequent episodes fell as low as 5.88 million and a 1.6/4 rating/share towards the end of the season. Still, ABC decided to show faith in the show and renewed Eli for a second season of 13 episodes.

Season two’s debut numbers were pretty high, thanks mostly to its Dancing with the Stars lead-in. Unfortunately, the ratings began to fall in subsequent weeks and the show lost 60% of its lead-in audience. As a result, ABC decided not to order any additional installments and the cast and crew were informed on November 20th.

Guggenheim has maintained that the series has not actually been cancelled and recently told Newsarama, “I hold a hope that Eli comes back for a third season. Is it a thin hope? Yes. Is it a hope? Yes. But it’s not impossible at this point… And by ‘not impossible,’ I mean that the sets are still standing and the actors are still under contract. It’s possible. I mean, in television, anything is possible.”

As is often the case in series television these days, the writers didn’t know the show’s fate as they were writing the last episode of the season. As a result, they had to write it to work as either a mid-season finale or a series finale. Guggenheim says, “Because of the way the show was on the bubble last year, we’re kind of experienced with that kind of episode so we knew how to do that. And we did write episode 13 to work both ways.”

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Guggenheim continues, “After word came down that they weren’t ordering additional episodes, I went in and just wrote in a little extra piece of information regarding Katie Holmes’ character [Grace]. We’re going to find out what happened to her after she flew out of Eli’s life at the end of the second episode this season. It relates to an idea that I had for the back nine episodes. But that was really the only change I made to that last episode that was influenced by the network’s decision.”

What else happens in the unaired four episodes? Guggenheim shares that viewers will see a resolution of the cliffhanger from the December 30th episode, some resolution to the flirtations between Eli and Maggie, some new info about and Matt and Taylor’s relationship, and the fate of the Wethersby, Posner & Klein law firm. Guggenheim says the four episodes “wrap up a lot of things. There’s a laundry list of things that are taken care of by the time episode 13 ends. And we really did end with a bang.”

Though fans may be upset by the network’s decision not to continue the show, Guggenheim believes ABC gave Eli a lot of support. When ABC Entertainment president Stephen McPherson called him to give him the bad news, Guggenheim told him that he was thankful that the show had been brought back for a second season. He said, “The show wasn’t doing great in ratings at the end of the first season, so [McPherson] would have been justified in not bringing it back, but he did. I think that was an extraordinarily high show of faith in the show. And I think it was an extraordinarily brave thing to do.”

As to why the show didn’t attract a larger audience, Guggenheim believes it’s a very difficult series to market. He says, “It’s hard to distill a show like Eli Stone down to a marketing slogan. I think that’s what makes it special, and I think that’s why the people who like the show like it so much. But, they like the show because they sampled it. They checked it out and watched it and fell in love with it. If you don’t check out the show, it’s hard to figure out what it is. So I have no complaints with how the network marketed the show. I honestly don’t know what they could have done differently.”

Eli StoneThe co-creator also believes that, if the economy wasn’t in such bad shape, the network might have been able to afford to keep the show going. He also thinks that Eli might have been just a little ahead of its time. Guggenheim says, “Eli is a very hopeful show. And we’re starting to see this era of hope get inaugurated – no pun intended – with the start of Barack Obama’s administration. Everyone’s starting to feel hopeful again and everything’s feeling more positive again. But this show premiered in the waning years of the Bush administration, and I don’t mean to take a political stance here, I’m just speaking from an opinion poll perspective, but the country was not in a very hopeful place when the series started. The country was not feeling too good about itself. It’s possible that Eli was the right show, but just at the wrong time. You never know.”

While the remaining four episodes haven’t been scheduled by the network as yet, they have been filmed and Guggenheim’s been wrapping up the post-production work on the final two.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t sound like ABC will be airing the final four episodes any time soon — if at all. At the recent Television Critics Association press tour, McPherson said that he’d like to air the final episodes of Eli, Dirty Sexy Money, and Pushing Daisies but there are financial complications.

He said, “We’re looking at ways of amortizing our whole schedule. There are a lot of different things in terms of what shows we’re repeating, which shows we have runs of. As far as Saturday night, on the one hand, fine, we’ll just burn [the unaired episodes] off. On the other hand, we have affiliates and we’re supposed to be scheduling the strongest schedule we can… I love that there are passionate fans, but unfortunately the shows didn’t have enough fans to work”

McPherson said that he’d like to get them posted online but that would require negotiating for online rights without broadcasting them.

As it now stands it looks like the final four episodes of Eli won’t be aired until Summer, if at all. On the positive side, it’s very likely that the complete second season of Eli will be released on DVD at some point in the future. Apparently, like Eli, it seems like viewers are expected to just have faith.

 

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{ 33 comments… read them below or add one }

Sal Cerniglia September 20, 2009 at 8:27 am

It figures! Another great show gets cancelled! And yet I continue to see more and more of these stupid “reality” type RIDICULOUS drama shows or shows that choose what type of clothes somebody should wear that seem to air forever! C’mon people, give me a break, will ya? Or, how about shows like Bridezilla????!!!!! Crap like that continuously continues to air endlessly yet shows like Ely Stone, Life on Mars, Jericho, and Boston Public that put out a positive message, have good humor, and have a good story line are always dropped off the air within the first year or two because it seems like people either don’t “understand” it or it doesn’t have enough make believe, Real Life drama! Give me a break! These surveys are taken not from the Rich and Famous but from the Lame and Lazy or by several individuals hired to fill out a stack of them just for the sake of completing a survey! How come NOT ONCE have I ever recieved a survey on a TV show in my 59 years of living on this planet???

Please leave Ely Stone and other future shows on the air by mailing me a box of these “surveys” to fill out, ok?
Thank you, just my .02 cents!

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subzerohf July 11, 2009 at 12:33 pm

For the cancellation of the series we have nobody to blame except for ourselves (the general viewers). Because the viewers obviously prefer crappy reality shows over shows with substance.

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Missy June 24, 2009 at 11:03 am

Why Why Why? This is a great show. I do not understand why that happened to the Game. I hope that they take considerations and re-air some new episodes.

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THIRA June 24, 2009 at 11:01 am

THE GAME IS A GOOD SHOW. I LOVE IT AND I DO NOT UNDERSTAND HOW THIS SHOW GET CANCELLED AND NOT EVERYBODY HATES CHRIS

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Celso June 24, 2009 at 9:10 am

How can yo just keep canceling GREAT SHOWS like Eli Stone… Doesnt make any sense to me.. Be SMART EXECS … PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE KEEP THIS SHOW!!!!

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Steve June 10, 2009 at 10:51 pm

ABC showing faith by ordering season 2….Yeah…right…bouncing it around to another night..losing a score of fans in the process…geeze this isn’t difficult folks. Just throw us another reality doldrum …maybe we can have one where we put TV execs on an Island and actually make them come up with a show that original, fun, thought provoking….Oh yeah..that’s Eli Stone.. Never mind they’ll just cancel it.

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Robin Ellis April 15, 2009 at 5:38 am

Eli Stone is a breath of fresh air — we love it — our friends love it — Eli is not ahead of its time — the USA is just way behind — There are a whole lot of countries beside the USA who grock this show and appreciate it — please Mr Guggenheim — bring the whole kit and caboodle to Australia — make it over here — surely someone like Tom Cruise could help you to make that happen.

We seriously love Eli Stone. Please make it continue.

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Mary W April 10, 2009 at 5:34 pm

Keep Eli Stone and get rid of the Bachelor-Bachelorette. It’s a waste of money they don’t stay together anyway. Save the money for heavens sakes!

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Helen James April 10, 2009 at 2:20 pm

I am really upset that Eli Stone is being cancelled. This was a human story and it gave you food for thought. Why is the show Family on?

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paola April 9, 2009 at 8:44 pm

i can’t believe they are cancelling this show…it is so well written and such a feel good show…my husband and i looked forward to watching this…stupid shows like the bachelor and rock of love are on for 4-5 seasons…yet good shows like this get cancelled…it’s sad

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Anya Darr April 7, 2009 at 4:11 pm

Couldn’t agree more…all these trashy reality TV shows showing people of the lowest intelligence, that or cop shows…boring……finally something a bit more imagiantive and they take it off…also sick of wasting my time watching series where they pull the plug without tying up all the loose ends. Please reconsider this series.

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Kathy M. April 6, 2009 at 12:05 pm

ABC, at least show the last 4 episodes, and at least let us know in advance when that will be!

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colleen March 4, 2009 at 1:58 pm

I am also so disappointed. What a great show. Always looked forward to watching Eli Stone . Hopefully with a little faith the series can continue.

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Ned Ive March 2, 2009 at 5:36 am

Would be nice to have Eli on the air again. Great show! Put smile on the face…:)

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Matty February 27, 2009 at 3:15 pm

What a shame for the many viewers of Eli Stone and many other Good clean and wholesome tv shows that ABC have been taking off the air. With all the crappy reality shows that are on ( they should be the ones taken off the air ) not the clean family type shows. If ABC continues with this kind of practice I will stop watching everything and anything from ABC in the future. If all the fans for these great clean shows stop watching anything from ABC maybe just maybe ABC will change there mind a start showing the good clean shows for the families to watch.

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