<>Imagine waking up one morning to find a newspaper on your front porch. Here in Tampa, the fact that the paper is actually on your front porch is miracle enough. Imagine further that this ordinary looking paper isn’t today’s paper at all, but rather tomorrow’s edition. If you could trust that what you held was the genuine article, so to speak, just think of the possibilities. For most of us our thoughts turn to the myriad ways in which we could enrich ourselves: sports scores, lottery numbers, even stock tips.<> If, however, you’re less selfish, there is an equally endless number of ways in which you could help your fellow man, or woman as the case may be. You would have advance knowledge of tragic accidents, crimes, and other unfortunate events about to befall your fellow human travelers. That’s the essence of Early Edition.
Gary Hobson (Chandler) is having some bad luck. His wife kicks him out of the house, on their wedding anniversary, no less. He ends up forced to live in a cheap hotel room. One morning he discovers that a mysterious orange tabby has left a gift by his door. Instead of the usual rodent surprise, Gary finds a copy of the local newspaper. This paper happens to be dated tomorrow. At first Gary doesn’t even notice the odd date as he attempts to go about his busy stockbroker life. It isn’t until Gary’s attempt to follow the price of wheat that he is finally alerted to his special edition of the paper. His buddy Chuck (Stevens) wants to use the paper to check out a few sports results. Gary avoids the temptation and refuses to allow his friend to have the paper. Instead he uses the information to assist another friend, Marissa (Davis – Williams), who’s in desperate need of a windfall. Together they become a team. As the event repeats itself, the three work to find ways to help others with their advance knowledge. There’s a little comedic tension, as Chuck is always trying to get his own taste out of the information. Marissa, grateful for the help she received, is far more keen in passing the good deed along.
The relationship of the characters is as quirky as the show itself tends to be. You really have to watch the thing pretty much tongue in cheek. While a few clues pop up as to the origin of the paper and its kitty, none of it gets pinned down, at least not here in the first season. In a lot of ways the recent series Pushing Daisies reminds me of this older series. There is the often humorous narration and almost a wink of the eye with each new story that comes along. There are some serious stories dealt with here, but the strange and comedic elements are never truly that far away. I found the series to be a lot of fun, in moderation. Too many episodes at a time tend to get a little weary for me. Mostly it’s very clever and, of course, the “what would you do” factor is irresistible. Kyle Chandler is best known these days as Coach Taylor on the critically acclaimed Friday Night Lights. It’s a bit awkward for me to see him in a lighter role and looking considerably younger. He’s quite good in the role. His somewhat uneven performance fits the piece rather nicely.
Many of the season’s episodes delight in the dilemma. In The Choice Gary can either stop a plane from crashing or save a little girl. This episode perfectly sets up the weight of the premise and puts us into that world far better than the pilot. The show enters the sports arena in Hoops with the paper revealing that a basketball star has a weak heart and will die if he plays. It’s very much like the later Dead Zone episode where Johnny tries to stop a hockey player with a similar condition from playing. The episode stars Hill Street Blues’ own Michael Warren. The consequences of playing with the future reveal themselves in the excellent episode, Gun. When Gary tries to stop a kid from shooting his brother, his action could result in the murder of their mother instead. Gary must put his own feelings aside in order to do the right thing in The Wrong Man. His wife is about to marry his old boss, but the paper reveals his boss is about to be murdered. What to do. What to do. Christmas is a heartwarming episode that finds M. Emmit Walsh playing a guy who believes he’s Santa. Santa and Chuck are planning a prison break. Another great episode is Mob Wife. After Gary stops a mob wife from getting clipped, the mobster wants to show his appreciation, Godfather style. It’s a nice collection of escapist episodes submitted for your approval.
Each episode of Early Edition is presented in its original broadcast full frame format. There might be a lot to love about the show, but unfortunately there isn’t a lot to love about the transfer. There isn’t any evidence of restoration here. Colors fade and return at times. Black levels are fairly poor. Colors are always soft and very much muted. While this isn’t exactly an ancient show, it looks older than its 10 years would indicate.
The Dolby Digital 2.0 track delivers exactly what you are looking for and nothing more. The dialog is clear, and that’s all you’re going to get out of this minimalist presentation.
Promos: Each episode comes with the option of viewing a 20 second preview. Why?
The concept’s not that original, but it works. I wrote a short story years ago in which a character encounters the very same dilemma though a deal with the Devil. In my version the character, Jake Martin, is influenced to make the wrong use of his paper and, naturally, pays for it. In short fiction we want to see people make bad decisions and suffer for them. In a television series, however, we need a hero. Gary is the perfect unlikely hero who doesn’t give in to pressure to misuse the gift. “The point is there’s opportunity for everyone, especially a guy with tomorrow’s newspaper.”