Ally McBeal

1997 | United States

Stylish, subtle, witty, thoughtful, insightful. Yet paradoxically - manic, in your face, full-on- lunacy on a hilariously epic scale simultaneously, Ally McBeal was US television's mid-nineties love affair with the navel gazing, self-absorbed inner lives of 30 something professional baby-boomers given a slick, hallucinogenic make-over for the millennial MTV bred generation. Created by the brilliantly innovative David E. Kelley, (one time co-collaborator on some of Steven Bochco's greatest triumphs such as LA Law and Doogie Howser, MD), the series chronicles the complexly intertwined lives, loves, obsessions and working relationships of the lawyers working for the firm of Fish and Cage, and in particular, the titular heroine of the series, Ally McBeal herself. 

Played to stunning perfection by the amazing and aptly named Callista Flockhart, Ally was a tangled mass of conflicting emotional traumas barely managing to keep afloat in a hurricane tossed sea of intermingling fantasy vs. reality, a wide-eyed designer dressed Alice who somehow took a wrong turn and found herself lost in a hyperactive Neverland, whose God had taken-but never completed-a crash course in world design from Tex Avery.

Creator/producer/writer Kelley's true masterstroke of brilliance in this series was in the perfect dovetailing of fantasy sequences, razor sharp dialogue and expertly chosen music to counterpoint and illuminate the inner conflicts and outer dilemmas of the characters. The acid laced icing on this particular cake was an ensemble cast of highly talented performers at the zenith of their craft, who obviously relished each new opportunity to shine that the consistently outstanding scripts for the series afforded them. Special mention should go to the ever excellent Peter McNicol's inspired, seemingly effortless, and outright brilliant performance as the strange, endearingly weird, Barry White fixated, senior partner, John Cage. In any other show, Cage would be worthy of central character; here he's merely an essential component in a slick and expertly designed machine. Ally McBeal was that rarest of beasts, an instant television classic. Now if you'll excuse me, I think I need to 'take a moment...' 

Published on November 27th, 2018. SRH.