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Ally McBeal: Season 1
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Ally McBeal rocketed Flockhart to stardom when it first aired in 1997, and rightly so. Her Ally is nervous, hard on herself, yearning, vulnerable, a girl's girl still secretly (and not so secretly) hoping for Mr. Right. As a young associate at the law firm of Cage & Fish (Peter MacNicol and Greg Germann), Ally has to navigate around working with her first true love, Billy Campbell (Gil Bellows), who's now married to yet another associate, Georgia Thomas (Courtney Thorne-Smith). The entire cast throw themselves into their comic/serious/absurd roles and stemwinders--many of which take place in the now-infamous single-sex restroom.
Ally McBeal also launched the careers of Jane Krakowski (30 Rock), Lucy Liu (Charlie's Angels), and Portia de Rossi (Arrested Development). Additionally, it shone the spotlight on a crazy-talented singer-songwriter named Vonda Shepard, whose music provides the theme song ("Searchin' My Soul") and who anchors most of the episodes as a local bar singer reinterpreting '60s soul through a late-'90s prism--brilliantly. The boxed set has not only every episode, but every memorable Shepherd song from the first season for the true fan. Bring on the dancing babies! --A.T. Hurley
Stills from Ally McBeal: The Complete First Season (Click for larger image)
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Top Customer Reviews
Ally McBeal is a well put-together show, shinily produced, and the actors are all terrific, but going back and revisiting the show years later was definitely a shock. I'd remembered thoroughly enjoying some episodes, while becoming increasingly dissatisfied as it went along, so it's interesting to go back and re-view the pilot and early episodes and wow, everything I disliked is right there up front after all.
I realize I'm one of the few, so feel free to click "not helpful" and I will totally understand.
But hear me out.
The show is cute on the surface but the farther down you go, the meaner its spirit and less deep it becomes (a real paradox). Dig deep and there's no "there" there.
The show's premise is that Ally is this sweet, hapless waif who just wants love (specifically, the guy who dumped her), and who also wants to be seen as a good person -- while consistently making a neverending series of questionable, shallow, egotistical or downright disturbing choices. The law firm is supposed to be cool, edgy and awesome, but eight hours at that firm and the harrassment suits would be flying. Most of the men are not conventionally handsome, which is fine, except that they're also generally painted as massive entitled jerks who are nevertheless incessantly desired and/or pursued by the firm's females, almost all of whom are gorgeous ice-queen types. The more imperfect the man on this show? The more perfect the actress playing his love interest is guaranteed to be. The show's supposed to be be this single-girl fantasy comedy but in fact is much more a man's fantasy at heart (which is unfortunately where too many of Kelley's shows seem to end up).Read more ›
Calista is radiant. She is not quite beautiful, not exactly pretty, no raging sex-pot; but the total combination is irresistible. You can't keep your eyes off her. She can be a waif, then a courtroom shark, with no time and no transition. And she pulls it off. She is Ally McBeal, and she changed the culture in the process.
The show is outrageous. The music, the graphics illustrating hilariously how Ally feels from moment to moment; Cage, Fish, the sexiest woman ever on television--roommate Renee, played to mouthwatering perfect by Lisa Nicole Carson; Elaine--a whole new category of character. It was such a high-wire act that only pure genius could have kept it up for five seasons.
I loved every minute of it. I miss it. I can't wait to own it.
If you haven't seen it, see it. If you have, it's time to get reacquainted with these quirky old friends.
Now, pardon me, please. I'm going to watch Episode 2.
Ally had once dated one of the other lawyers who works at the firm with his current wife which sets the mood for a lot of sexual tension. Ally is supposedly still in love with him though she manages to fall in love with most other hunky men who walk through her door.
As we move through the subsequent seasons we follow the loves and losses of most all of the Firms oddball ensemble cast. I can understand how the feminist movement pointed to this series with disdain. Ally was not an "I can do" female. In fact she was kind of an "I'm falling apart" type of gal. Sort of like me. Maybe that's why I'm so fascinated by this series.
It's too bad the music licensing issue keep this funny show out of the market for so long. There is a large current group of the purchasing public who will probably not buy this series because it's now just too old. I'm giving the same review to each year of the series because they're pretty much alike with interchangeable boyfriends and co-workers - but they're all good.....bg
But by episode 5 or the show and the character finds it's stride. If it doesn't quite measure up to the best 'grown up' TV of today, it deserves praise for being one of the series that broke the mold of what a TV show was supposed to be like.
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 American TV in the years since.
I'll admit, with years of even braver shows since, Ally McBeal no longer feels quite as unique. 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 be more apparent.
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 in any series in memory.
The writing is sharp and full of wit and pathos.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Ally McBeal is something I missed the first time around. She was so neurotic and annoying, I almost gave up. Read morePublished 8 months ago by Racinga
As a slapstick comedy I'd give it five stars. Unfortunately while this IS a comedy it also tries to be serious at times and that totally ruins the show. Read morePublished 8 months ago by Ruth
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