Wednesday, July 7, 2010

The many faces of "Ally McBeal"

I have been in a nostalgic mood, and am watching TV series that I remember loving but need a refresher on.  This week I watched Season 1 of "Ally McBeal," and, in part, I'm glad I did.  I had forgotten just how cooky Calista Flockhart is in the show, but I also forgot how much I relate to her character, Ally.

Flockhart plays the title character, who is anything but graceful and poised.  This role had to be non-stop fun for the Flockhart as she rarely made it through a complete episode on her feet.  Her character was just normal enough to be believable, and just crazy enough to be lovable.  Ally spends most of Season 1 trying to get over her ex-boyfriend, Billy, played by Gil Bellows.  Billy was the love of her life who left her to go to law school.  Since then Ally became a lawyer and, as luck would have it, winds up working at the same firm Billy and his new wife Georgia (brilliantly played by Courtney Thorne-Smith).  The owners of the firm, Richard Fish and John Cage, are who really make the show.  Greg Germann and Peter MacNicol play these roles respectively, and the character nuances they bring to the screen are never-ending.  I love watching them work, and I love watching the cast together.  They are truly a team, and it is easy to see that each member of the cast trusts the others completely, enough to let them take their characters and each scene as far as it can go.  We see the human side of each character throughout the season, endearing some of them more to the audience than even Ally.

While the show is set in a lawyer's office, it does anything but tackle big political issues.  This firm takes simple cases that most would assume are easy losses, and they win.  We see the way the law is twisted to fit each individual, and the arguments given to support their ridiculous cases actually make you think.  A woman sues her boss for sexual harrassment because he didn't ask her to sleep with him after asking all the other women in the office; a man is sued for breaking into his girlfriend's house and fondeling her toes, but the lawyer's chalk it up to his zealous love her her and actually win; and a woman sues her ex-fiance for leaving her at the altar, and he is brought before the judge for questionning.  They really make you think, but in a quirky enough way to keep you interested.

I highly recommend giving this series a chance.  If you need to get used to it, try just the first season.  Or, if you already have a love of these characters and the show, get Ally McBeal: The Complete Series (Includes Soundtrack).  Give it a few episodes - you'll be surprised how much you laugh!

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