The new ABC drama Eli Stone premiered last night -- it's on ABC.com if you're curious and missed it. It's about a big-firm lawyer who starts to see visions. I'd seen the original pilot and loved it -- just watched last night's premiere on ABC.com and was surprised that they made a couple of noticeable changes. They recast Eli's mother, from Joanna Gleason to someone I didn't recognize, basically making her warmer-seeming but less sophisticated. I wonder if that was partly an availability thing -- if they decided the character will come back, Joanna Gleason may be harder to get/pay than someone else. And, more critically, in the original, his fiancee basically dumps him and we're left to believe he's going to start seeing the woman he represents in the episode, who he had once slept with, in college. But in the version that aired, they trimmed the lines with the woman he represents so it's not as clear they'll ever see each other again, and they had the fiancee come back, tell Eli she loves him, and they go off and have lunch. I wonder if it's because Natasha Henstridge tested well (or at least better than the actress playing the plaintiff, Laura Benanti (from The Wedding Singer on Broadway)), so they wanted to switch it around so he keeps her... I don't know.
Anyway, I didn't think either change necessarily made the pilot *better* but I like the show, and it was definitely my favorite pilot script that I read coming into this TV season, so I'm hoping the rest of the episodes are also good.