It's Ally's birthday and she's upset because she's alone. Not alone alone, but alone with somebody else. While everybody is planning their song choice for her party, Larry is in a deposition. Sting ...
With Larry gone, Richard assigns Ally to a case. A high school boy is seeking a court order to force a girl to take him to the prom. It's a long shot, but Ally wants to help the boy out, and she also...
A free spirited yoga instructor finds true love in a conservative lawyer and they got married on the first date. Though they are polar opposites; her need of stability is fulfilled with him, his need of optimism is fulfilled with her.
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>
During the third season, Fox executives heavily edited several season one and season two episodes of Ally McBeal into thirty minute episodes called "Ally". 13 episodes were edited in this fashion, with just about all courtroom scenes removed so as to focus mainly on the personal lives of the main characters and the various comedy-themed story lines at the law firm and the episodes airing out of order from their original sequence. After airing ten episodes, Fox canceled "Ally" do to extremely low ratings and shelved plans to sell the thirty minute version of the series into syndication. See more »
I had forgotten that the early episodes of this series were a bit creaky. and at first Ally seemed so young, goofy and nervous that she felt more like a teenager than a smart 27 year old lawyer.
But by episode 5 or so the show and the character finds it's stride. And if it doesn't quite measure up to the best 'grown up' TV of today, it still deserves praise for being one of the series that broke the mold of what a TV show was supposed to be.
It had an openness to complicated tones that seamlessly mixed wild, sometimes surreal humor, more subtle humor and drama, to long story arcs and not easily solved once a week problems, and to being more about character than event, making TV a more novelistic and sometimes cinematic medium in the process.
Certainly Ally McBeal wasn't the first show to do any of these things, but it was one of the first shows that was a big success with these new approaches, and that helped paved the way for many of the best dramas dramadies and comedies on TV in the years since.
I'll admit, with years of even braver shows since, Ally McBeal no longer feels quite as special, and in fact now feels a little limited. Especially with DVDs allowing more than once a week viewing, a certain sameness to Ally's constantly fearful, broken heart and her funny/sad attempts to overcome it starts to plague the show.
But there's still a lot to enjoy here. The performances are terrific from top to bottom, and every 'silly' character is given their serious and moving moments, and every 'serious' character is allowed to be laugh-out-loud funny at times. Special mention has to be made of Peter MacNichol's 'The Biscuit', one of the oddest, funniest characters to actually work brilliantly in any series.
The writing is sharp and full of wit and pathos. The music is integrated in a way that was rare for TV before, but much imitated since, with montages to songs played and sung by Vonda Shepard (a great voice) who often also appears in the series as a singer at the lead characters favorite after hours watering hole.
I do have to say, some of the music now feels, in retrospect, too on the nose. The songs chosen (or written) almost always have lyrics that are too spot on, too obvious a commentary on the action, That good and bad side to the music sort of sums up my perspective on the series looking at it again in 2011. I appreciate and admire it for what it gave us and TV, I still enjoy it, but I'm no longer just blown away by it. Not in a world of Breaking Bad, Weeds, Mad Men, Nurse Jackie, Arrested Development, etc. etc.
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