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In this half hour version of the FOX top rated show Ally McBeal, David E. Kelley adds un-aired scenes of the original show. Plus, he cut all the court stories, making the show about Ally's personal stories only.
Lisa Nicole Carson
Ally McBeal and Billy Thomas were going steady throughout their childhoods. Ally even followed Billy to Harvard law school despite having no interest in law. But when Billy chose to pursue a career in law away from Ally, their relationship came to an end. In the present, an old classmate of Ally's named Richard Fish gives Ally a job at his law firm, where Billy and his new wife are also working. This puts Ally in a predicament since she still has feelings for Billy which she's laboring to get over. At the office, Ally puts up with a nosy, gossiping secretary named Elaine, and an oddball lawyer named John Cage never seems to lose a case. At home, Ally's friend and house-mate Renée regularly advises her on her love life. The series follows Ally's trials and tribulations in life through her eyes, and caricaturizes her personal thoughts and fantasies. Written by
Ondre Lombard <firstname.lastname@example.org>
TV critics are supposed to use their experience and knowledge to map out the salient points of a TV series. Certainly on this side of the Pond, the TV critics seemed to have lost the plot - if they had found the plot in the first place. None of them liked Ally McBeal and they failed to find the essence of the programme.
What was interesting from my point of view is that it poked fun at the litigation culture which is prevalent in the USA, and is beginning to gather momentum in Britain, where people can sue one another often for the most ridiculous reasons. But if you had been fired for the most ridiculous reasons - for having orange skin or for seeing unicorns or for thinking you are Santa Claus - the team of lawyers at Cage and Fish would fight your case for you. However ridiculous the case, the programme took the legal arguments seriously, and John Cage's summations were a work of art, as they should have been after spending the night pacing round his office in his bare feet.
Some of the funniest moments in TV or cinematic history come from this show. The scene where John Cage's blowtorch erupts in the courtroom had me laughing so hard that I was literally fighting for breath.
Counterbalancing the humour was a great deal of pathos involving the characters whose entire lives are lived under the aegis of Cage and Fish - even the bar where Vonda Shepard performs is in the same building as the office.
Over the years, there were inevitable personnel changes in the cast. One of the most successful ones I thought was the introduction of Jackson Duper - one sane man in Cage and Fish's mad unisex toilet.
I know a little bit about acting - enough to know that much of the stuff the actors were doing is very difficult, so the cast are to be commended. Calista Flockhart made something outstanding out of a character that is essentially a cipher. She is a terrific dancer, too. It is a pity that so-called professional TV critics home in on her short skirts and her long, slender legs. They seem to be unaware that she is actually playing a role.
Peter McNicol's is just brilliant as John Cage, a man who jaywalks the border between genius and insanity. Greg Germann is excellent as Richard Fish.
Perhaps series 6 was a bit of a disaster. Certainly the inclusion of Dame Edna Everage is a good reason for reaching for the off switch. But I shed no tears over it: it just goes to show that there are two times that a classic series can end: too soon and too late.
And this series is a classic. So enjoy the 112 episodes. Like the Molly Maguires. "we'll never see the likes of them again."
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