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 on 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 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.
As the season begins, Gary’s hotel room gets burned to the ground, so it’s time to relocate. Other than that, the stories are pretty much the same general idea with the exact same cast. The season includes some outstanding episodes, to be sure. When a young man is killed, a young nun thinks about abandoning her mission to help the inner city youth until Gary and the paper step in to help. You’ll find that rather heartwarming story, Angels And Devils, at the beginning of the season. Nia Peeples stars as Sister Mary, the sister in crisis. In Redfellas, the paper arrives written in Russian. Gary’s not sure how to proceed until a cabdriver he rescues translates the article for him. In March In Time, Gary faces a moral dilemma. He knows that a militant race leader is going to be killed, but that same leader will be responsible for violent attacks, which include his friends at McGinty’s. Gary’s not so sure he wants to stop the assassination. A Regular Joe finds Gary deciding to take off Sundays from working with the paper. Unfortunately it’s not a decision he’ll be able to keep. Where or When is basically Alfred Hitchcock’s Rear Window. Gary is injured and spends his homebound time spying on the rest of the apartment building. That’s how he solves a 50 year old murder. Gary’s trapped, so his parents and Detective Crumb work the paper for a day in The Fourth Carpathian. Finally, in A Hot Time In The Old Town, a bump on the head transports Gary to Chicago just days before the famous fire.
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?
This quirky little show kind of grows on you. It’s a little odd watching Kyle Chandler play this part when I have come to associate him so much with Coach Taylor on Friday Night Lights. He’s got more range than I might have imagined and this series puts him in enough different kinds of situations to bring out the best in the actor. It’s also kind of fun watching Fisher Stevens, who I first noticed as a Steven Spielberg type killer on one of the 80’s Columbo films. A smart cast and a nice off the wall series. You could do worse. “Trust me, I know what I’m doing.”