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October 10, 2015

Jane After Dark: Ally McBeal, season one

by Jane Boursaw, posted Oct 25th 2009 3:03PM
Ally McBeal, season oneIt's always interesting when you've been hearing about a series for years and then finally sit down to watch it. All the little pieces and pop references of Ally McBeal are starting to come together, like Fishisms, The Biscuit, dancing babies and Vonda Shepard. I have seen the light. Well, at least season one of the light.

I mentioned in my preview last week that Ally McBeal seems like a mix of The Days and Nights of Molly Dodd and My World and Welcome To It. Having reached the end of season one, I still feel that way, with maybe a little Buffy the Vampire Slayer thrown in (hey, don't throw things at me, Ally looks like Buffy).

Molly Dodd because Ally is funny, desperate, strong and cute. My World because of all her fantasies, though not always in cartoon form as was the case with John Monroe / James Thurber.

And the creds of the cast and crew on Ally McBeal are nothing short of amazing (Dyan Cannon!). David E. Kelley, of course, is like the godfather of TV dramedies, starting with L.A. Law and Doogie Howser through Chicago Hope, The Practice and Boston Legal. Other cast members have continued to snag nice roles:

  • James LeGros (Mark Albert) - now plays Dr. Dan Harris on Mercy
  • Courtney Thorne-Smith (Georgia Thomas) - now plays Cheryl on According to Jim
  • Jane Krakowski (Elaine Vassal) - now plays Jenna Maroney on 30 Rock
  • Calista Flockhart (Ally McBeal) - now plays Kitty McCallister on Brothers & Sisters
  • Peter MacNicol (John Cage) - now plays Dr. Larry Fleinhart on Numb3rs

I've heard that the last season of Ally McBeal isn't as good as the earlier ones, but as for season one, it's creative and fun and lighthearted, even dealing with storylines like the death of Ally's former professor/love interest and a homeless guy who wants to give his heart to a friend who helped him.

It's a show about lawyers, but the funny little fantasies make it something different from other shows, both then and now. Well, sort of. You can see a lot of Ally in Boston Legal. I could totally see a lawyer obsessed with teeth on Boston Legal.

Now I'm wondering where things go with Ally's former sweetheart Billy Thomas (Gill Bellows). The writers avoid cliches, like making Billy's wife Georgia a shrew who'd make Billy want to run back to Ally. I mean, Georgia seems nice, and she and Ally get along fairly well, but I would imagine having Ally call Billy in the middle of the night will get old after a while.

Then there's the last episode, where Billy seems jealous that Ally kissed Bobby (Dylan McDermott), but is actually projecting his jealousy onto Georgia. But then they end up having sex in the conference room after everyone leaves at night, and Ally ends up finding them there, buck naked on the conference table (save for Georgia's shoes). You can't really gauge where Ally stories will go, because they keep you guessing.

I guess I'll have to watch the rest of the series to find out. Or you can just give me hints in the comments below.

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yes, ally mcbeal (http://www.dvdshop88.com/en/tv-series-dvd-boxset/ally-mcbeal-seasons-1-5-dvd-boxset.html) is my fav tv show
it is interesting .

December 18 2009 at 9:10 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I have just finished watching Boston Legal dvd. It's weird. But it's fun! I love it!


November 05 2009 at 2:14 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

There are weak seasons of Ally McBeal, but season one is definitely the best, I'd say. I actually really enjoyed season 6--not the entire season as a whole, but it had some great stand-out episodes. I love this series, and actually, I just finished season 1 last night, so great timing! And I love all the guest stars. Who knew Richard Schiff had a life before his West Wing beard?!

October 26 2009 at 11:23 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Peter MacNicol was great as John Cage. So weird. Didn't he have some weird thing about having a fresh bowl? It's been a while since I've seen the show.

But for me, the show didn't really start being great until Lucy Liu came on as Ling Woo.

October 25 2009 at 8:26 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

as a huge fan of Ally (it's in my top 3 favorite shows, but my VHS tapes didn't copy well to DVD so I haven't seen it in a few years -till it was release)

it's more of a cross between Grey's Anatomy and Scrubs - without the hospitals.
There's some heavy (Grey's Season 2) triangles and there's the fantasy and voiceover (which didn't last). I only saw a little Molly Dodd, so I don't have enough to remember to compare.

Seasons 1, 2, parts of 3, and 4 are good. The Ally/Billy/Georgia triangle was good while it lasted but couldn't last forever - and losing it, the show lost something. RDJ was great in season 4, but, as I expected, he screwed up and that had a bad effect on my show. But at least we got Josh Groban in place of a wedding.

Ally was great at her job but not so great at life. Growing up in a world where women on TV seemed to always have to be perfect (and never cry) I *loved* Ally (I was very Ally - except for the sleeping around, but it turns out I am more Meredith Grey - again without the sleeping around. Ally had few to no parental issues.)
Both are characters who seem quite self-involved - until you hurt their friends, and then they are the most loyal friends you could ever want.

And it's amazing how much prettier Calista is at whatever age she is now, than she was then. I expected I wouldn't like her in a role that was not Ally, but I was wrong.

So go, get the entire series. Last I saw, it was $100 at Target and Amazon. And David E Kelley is a great writer: Ally is in some way, less silly than Boston Legal.

October 25 2009 at 5:18 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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