- Ally McBeal
Original title card
Genre Legal Dramedy Created by David E. Kelley Starring Calista Flockhart
Courtney Thorne Smith
Lisa Nicole Carson
Portia de Rossi
with Peter MacNicol
then Robert Downey Jr.
and Gil Bellows
Theme music composer Vonda Shepard Opening theme "Searchin' My Soul" performed by Vonda Shepard Composer(s) Danny Lux
Country of origin United States Language(s) English No. of seasons 5 No. of episodes 112 (List of episodes) Production Executive producer(s) David E. Kelley
Producer(s) Kayla Alpert
Pamela J. Wisne
Cinematography Thomas F. Denove
David A. Harp
Camera setup Single-camera Running time 45–48 minutes Production company(s) 20th Century Fox Television
David E. Kelley Productions
Broadcast Original channel Fox Picture format 4:3 (broadcast)
16:9 (seasons 2–5)
Original run September 8, 1997– May 20, 2002
Ally McBeal is an American legal comedy-drama series which aired on the Fox network from 1997 to 2002. The series was created by David E. Kelley, who also served as the executive producer, along with Bill D'Elia. The series stars Calista Flockhart in the title role as a young lawyer working in the fictional Boston law firm Cage and Fish, with other young lawyers whose lives and loves were eccentric, humorous and dramatic.
The show focused on the romantic and personal lives of the main characters, often using legal proceedings as plot devices to contrast or reinforce a character's drama. For example, bitter divorce litigation of a client might provide a backdrop for Ally's decision to break up with a boyfriend. Legal arguments were also frequently used to explore multiple sides of various social issues.
Cage & Fish (which becomes Cage/Fish & McBeal or Cage, Fish, & Associates towards the end of the series), the fictional law firm where most of the characters work, is depicted as a highly sexualized environment, symbolized by its unisex restroom. Lawyers and secretaries in the firm routinely date, flirt with, or have a romantic history with each other, and frequently run into former or potential romantic interests in the courtroom or on the street outside.
The show had many offbeat and frequently surreal running gags and themes, such as Ally's tendency to immediately fall over whenever she met somebody she found attractive, or Richard Fish's wattle fetish and humorous mottos ("Fishisms" & "Bygones"), or John's gymnastic dismounts out of the office's unisex bathroom stalls, that ran through the series. The show used vivid, dramatic fantasy sequences for Ally's and other characters' wishful thinking; particularly notable is the dancing baby.
The show also featured regular visits to a local bar where singer Vonda Shepard regularly performed (though occasionally handing over the microphone to the characters). The series also took place in the same continuity as David E. Kelley's legal drama The Practice (which aired on ABC), as the two shows crossed over with one another on occasion, a very rare occurrence for two shows that aired on different networks.
- Calista Flockhart – Ally McBeal
- Greg Germann – Richard Fish
- Jane Krakowski – Elaine Vassal
- Peter MacNicol – John Cage (episode 2–103; recurring afterwards)
- Lisa Nicole Carson – Renée Raddick (seasons 1–4; one guest appearance in series finale)
- Gil Bellows – Billy Allen Thomas (seasons 1–3; recurring afterwards)
- Courtney Thorne-Smith – Georgia Thomas (seasons 1–3; recurring afterwards)
- Vonda Shepard – Herself (seasons 1–5; recurring previously)
- Portia de Rossi – Nelle Porter (seasons 2–5; recurring previously)
- Lucy Liu – Ling Woo (episodes 32–96; 103; recurring previously)
- James LeGros – Mark Albert (season 4; recurring previously)
- Robert Downey, Jr. – Larry Paul (season 4; uncredited appearances afterwards)
- Regina Hall – Corretta Lipp (season 5; recurring previously)
- Julianne Nicholson – Jenny Shaw (episodes 91–103)
- James Marsden – Glenn Foy (episodes 91–103)
- Josh Hopkins – Raymond Millbury (season 5)
- Hayden Panettiere – Maddie Harrington (episodes 5.11–5.22)
The show's ratings began to decline in the third season, but stabilized in the fourth season after Robert Downey Jr. joined the regular cast as Ally's boyfriend Larry Paul. However, Downey's character was written out after the end of the season due to the actor's troubles with drug addiction.
The show was canceled after a significant ratings drop during its fifth season, which saw many regular characters disappear from the series without explanation (also a problem with David E. Kelley's shows Boston Public, Chicago Hope, The Practice and Boston Legal [to an extent]).
Season U.S. ratings Network Rank 1 1997–98 11.4 million Fox #59 2 1998–99 13.8 million Fox #20 3 1999–2000 12.4 million Fox #35 4 2000–01 12.0 million Fox #40 5 2001–02 9.4 million Fox #65
Despite its success, Ally McBeal did receive some negative criticism from TV critics and feminists who found the title character annoying and demeaning to women (specifically professional women) because of her perceived flightiness, lack of demonstrated legal knowledge, short skirts, and extreme emotional instability. Perhaps the most notorious example of the debate sparked by the show was the June 29, 1998 cover story of Time magazine, which juxtaposed McBeal with three pioneering feminists (Susan B. Anthony, Betty Friedan, Gloria Steinem) and asked "Is Feminism Dead?" In episode 12 of the second season of the show, Ally talks to her co-worker John Cage about a dream she had, saying "You know, I had a dream that they put my face on the cover of Time magazine as 'the face of feminism'."
Ally McBeal was a heavily music-oriented show. Vonda Shepard, a virtually unknown artist at the time, was featured continually on the show. Her song "Searchin' My Soul" became the show's theme song. Many of the songs Shepard performed were established hits with lyrics that paralleled the events of the episode, including "Both Sides Now", "Hooked on a Feeling", and "Tell Him". Besides recording background music for the show, Shepard frequently appeared at the ends of episodes as a musician performing at a local piano bar frequented by the main characters. On rare occasions, her character would have conventional dialogue. A portion of "Searchin' My Soul" was played at the beginning of each episode, but oddly enough, the song was never heard in its entirety.
Due to the popularity of the show and Shepard's music, a soundtrack titled Songs from Ally McBeal was released in 1998, as well as a successor soundtrack titled Heart and Soul: New Songs From Ally McBeal in 1999. Two compilation albums from the show featuring Shepard were also released in 2000 and 2001. Other artists featured on the show include Barry White, Al Green, Tina Turner, Anastacia and Elton John. Josh Groban played the role of Malcolm Wyatt in the May 2001 season finale, performing "You're Still You." The series creator, David E. Kelley, was impressed with Groban's performance at The Family Celebration event, and based on the audience reaction to Groban's singing, Kelley created a character for Groban in this finale. The background score for the show was composed by Danny Lux.
Soundtrack name Tk# Release date Songs from Ally McBeal 14 May 5, 1998 Heart and Soul: New Songs from Ally McBeal 14 November 9, 1999 Ally McBeal: A Very Ally Christmas 14 November 7, 2000 Ally McBeal: For Once in My Life 14 April 24, 2001 The Best of Ally McBeal 12 October 6, 2009
Due to music licensing issues, none of the seasons of Ally McBeal were available on DVD in the United States (only 6 random episodes can be found on the R1 edition) until 2009, though it has been available in Italy, Belgium, the Netherlands, Japan, Hong Kong, Portugal, Spain, France, Germany, the UK, Mexico, Taiwan, Australia, Brazil, and the Czech Republic with all the show's music intact since 2005. In the UK, Ireland and Spain all seasons are available in a complete boxset.
20th Century Fox released the complete first season on DVD in Region 1 on October 6, 2009. They also released a special complete series edition on the same day. Season 1 does not contain any special features, the complete series set however does contain several bonus features including featurettes, an all-new retrospective, the episode of The Practice that Calista Flockhart guest starred in and a bonus disc entitled "The Best of Ally McBeal Soundtrack". In addition, both releases contain all of the original music. Season 2 was released on April 6, 2010. Seasons 3, 4 and 5 were all released on October 5, 2010. Season 1 and 2 are also available on the U.S iTunes Store.
DVD name Ep# Region 1 Region 2 Region 4 The Complete First Season 23 October 6, 2009 February 21, 2005 April 26, 2006 The Complete Second Season 23 April 6, 2010 February 21, 2005 April 26, 2006 The Complete Third Season 21 October 5, 2010 February 21, 2005 April 26, 2006 The Complete Fourth Season 23 October 5, 2010 May 9, 2005 April 26, 2006 The Complete Fifth Season 22 October 5, 2010 May 9, 2005 April 26, 2006 The Complete Series 112 October 6, 2009 October 30, 2006 TBA
Ally the sitcom
In 1999, at the height of the show's popularity, a half-hour version entitled Ally began airing in parallel to the main program. This version, designed in a sitcom format, used re-edited scenes from the main program, as well as previously unseen footage. The intention was to further develop the plots in the comedy-drama in a sitcom style. It also focused only on Ally's personal life, cutting all the courtroom plots. The repackaged show did not catch on and was canceled partway through its initial run. While 13 episodes of Ally were created, only 10 of those 13 were actually broadcast.
In popular culture
Country TV network Arab World MBC4 Argentina Fox Australia Seven Network, FX (Now W. Channel) 111 Hits and Channel Ten Austria ORF1 Belarus Belsat Belgium 2 BE, vtm, Plug tv (French), La Deux (French) Brazil Fox Life (cable) Bulgaria BTV and Fox Life Canada CTV (English), ARTV (French), TVA (French) Chile Canal 13, Fox Life (cable) Colombia RCN, Citytv Bogotá, Fox Life (cable) Croatia Nova TV, HRT Czech Republic Česká televize, Prima love Denmark TV 2 Zulu Estonia TV3 Finland MTV3 France Téva, M6, Série Club Germany VOX, Comedy Central, EinsFestival Guatemala Fox Life Hong Kong aTV world Hungary Viasat 3 India STAR World, Zee Cafe Indonesia RCTI Ireland originally screened on RTÉ Two, repeats air on TV3 Israel Channel 2, Channel 3 Italy Canale 5, Italia 1, Fox Life, Mya, Iris Japan NHK Kenya Kenya Television Network Latvia LNT Lebanon LBCI Lithuania TV3 Macedonia Fox Life (cable) Malaysia STAR World, NTV7 Mexico Canal 5, Fox & repeats air on Fox Life Morocco 2M Netherlands RTL 8 New Zealand TV2, Prime (New Zealand) Norway TV 2 Pakistan STAR World Philippines RPN-9 (1998–2001), 2nd Avenue (2009) Poland Polsat, TV4, Fox Life Portugal TVI, Fox Life, SIC Romania PRO TV, Pro Cinema Russia Ren-TV Serbia RTS, RTV BK Telecom, Fox Life (cable) Slovakia TV Markiza, Doma Slovenia POP TV, Kanal A, TV Pika Singapore STAR World, MediaCorp TV Channel 5 South Africa SABC 3 South Korea Home CGV Spain Telecinco (former broadcaster), Cuatro, Fox Sweden TV4 Switzerland TSR1 (French area), SF zwei (German area), TSI1 (Italian area) Taiwan Eracom Thailand True Series Turkey CNBC-E and Fox Life United Kingdom Channel 4, Paramount Comedy 1, Paramount Comedy 2, TMF, Zone Romantica United States Reelz Channel Fox Venezuela Televen
Awards and nominations
Primetime Emmy Awards
- 1998 Nomination for Outstanding Comedy Series
- 1998 Nomination for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series (Calista Flockhart)
- 1999 Award for Outstanding Comedy Series
- 1999 Nomination for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series (Calista Flockhart)
- 1999 Nomination for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series (Peter MacNicol)
- 1999 Nomination for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series (Lucy Liu)
- 1999 Nomination for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series (John Ritter)
- 1999 Award for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series (Tracey Ullman)
- 2000 Nomination for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series (Peter MacNicol)
- 2001 Nomination for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series (Calista Flockhart)
- 2001 Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series (Peter MacNicol)
- 2001 Nomination for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series (Robert Downey Jr.)
- 2001 Nomination for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series (Jami Gertz)
- 2001 Nomination for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series (Bernadette Peters)
Golden Globe Awards
- 1997 Award for Best Comedy Series
- 1997 Award for Best Actress in a Comedy Series (Calista Flockhart)
- 1998 Award for Best Comedy Series
- 1998 Nomination for Best Actress in a Comedy Series (Calista Flockhart)
- 1998 Nomination for Best Supporting Actress in a Series, Miniseries, or TV Movie (Jane Krakowski)
- 1999 Nomination for Best Comedy Series
- 1999 Nomination for Best Actress in a Comedy Series (Calista Flockhart)
- 2000 Nomination for Best Comedy Series
- 2000 Nomination for Best Actress in a Comedy Series (Calista Flockhart)
- 2000 Award for Best Supporting Actor in a Series, Miniseries, or TV Movie (Robert Downey Jr.)
- 2001 Nomination for Best Comedy Series
- 2001 Nomination for Best Actress in a Comedy Series (Calista Flockhart)
- 1997 Nomination for Outstanding Ensemble in a Comedy Series
- 1997 Nomination for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Comedy Series (Calista Flockhart)
- 1998 Award for Outstanding Ensemble in a Comedy Series
- 1998 Nomination for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Comedy Series (Calista Flockhart)
- 1998 Nomination for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Comedy Series (Peter MacNicol)
- 1999 Nomination for Outstanding Ensemble in a Comedy Series
- 1999 Nomination for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Comedy Series (Peter MacNicol)
- 1999 Nomination for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Comedy Series (Calista Flockhart)
- 1999 Nomination for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Comedy Series (Lucy Liu)
- 2000 Nomination for Outstanding Ensemble in a Comedy Series
- 2000 Nomination for Outstanding Male Actor in a Comedy Series (Peter MacNicol)
- 2000 Nomination for Outstanding Female Actor in a Comedy Series (Calista Flockhart)
- 1998 Nomination for Best Actress in a Comedy Series (Calista Flockhart)
- 1999 Nomination for Best Actress in a Comedy Series (Calista Flockhart)
- 2000 Nomination for Best Actress in a Comedy Series (Jane Krakowski)
- 2002 Nomination for Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series (Peter MacNicol)
Television Critics Association Awards
- 1998 Program of the Year
- 1998 Outstanding Achievement in Comedy
- 1998 Outstanding New Program of the Year
- 1998 Individual Achievement in Comedy (Calista Flockhart)
- 1999 Outstanding Achievement in Comedy
- 1999 Individual Achievement in Comedy (Calista Flockhart)
- 2001 Individual Achievement in Comedy (Robert Downey Jr.)
- ^ "The Final Countdown". ew.com. 1998-05-29. http://www.ew.com/ew/article/0,,283382,00.html.
- ^ "Final ratings for the 1998–1999 TV season". Archived from the original on 2009-10-23. http://www.webcitation.org/query?id=1256269806923508.
- ^ "TV Ratings 1999–2000". fbibler.chez.com. http://fbibler.chez.com/tvstats/by_5_yr_period/1999-00.html.
- ^ "The Bitter End". ew.com. 2001-06-01. http://www.ew.com/ew/article/0,,256435,00.html.
- ^ "How Did Your Favorite Show Rate?". usatoday.com. 2002-05-28. http://www.usatoday.com/life/television/2002/2002-05-28-year-end-chart.htm.
- ^ Michelle L. Hammers, "Cautionary Tales of Liberation and Female Professionalism: The Case Against Ally McBeal" Western Journal of Communication 69 2, April (2005): 168. "The ease with which McBeals depictions of women are reincorporated into dominant masculinist discourses ... is particularly problematic for professional women. The increased danger that co-optation poses for professional women is due to the complex ways in which the discursive sedimentation that surrounds the female body, particularly as it has been traditionally sexualized and linked to emotionality, operates as a barrier to women's full and effective participation in professional spheres. Thus, McBeal operates as a cautionary tale about the dangers presented by the co-optation of postfeminist and third-wave feminist discourses as they relate to current professional discourses surrounding the female body.
- ^ "Is Feminism Dead? (Chat Transcript – Phyllis Chesler)". Time Magazine. June 29, 1998. http://www.time.com/time/community/transcripts/chattr062598.html.
- ^ "Is Feminism Dead? (Chat Transcript)". Time Magazine. June 25, 1998. http://www.time.com/time/community/transcripts/chattr062598.html.
- ^ "Ally McBeal, episode 12, season 2". 20th Century Fox. August 22, 2009. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TdHSOF6gVwo.
- ^ "Amazon Posts Date for Season 1 & Complete Series". TVShowsonDVD. July 3, 2009. http://tvshowsondvd.com/news/Ally-McBeal-Season-1-Complete-Series-Dates/12247.
- ^ "Fox's Press Release for The Complete Series Confirms ALL ORIGINAL MUSIC!". TVShowsonDVD. August 7, 2009. http://tvshowsondvd.com/news/Ally-McBeal-Press-Release/12444.
- ^ "Ally McBeal DVD news: Release Date and More for Individual Sets of Seasons 3, 4 and 5". TVShowsOnDVD.com. http://www.tvshowsondvd.com/news/Ally-McBeal-Seasons-3-4-5/14076. Retrieved 2010-07-14.
- ^ "Ally" (1999) at IMDB
- Ally McBeal at the Internet Movie Database
- Ally McBeal at TV.com
- Ally at the Internet Movie Database
- Ally McBeal: Woman of the '90s or Retro Airhead
- Ally McBeal on Paramount Comedy
Ally McBeal SeasonsSeason 1 · Season 2 · Season 3 · Season 4 · Season 5 · List of episodes Characters Related Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Comedy Series (1976–2000)
The Mary Tyler Moore Show (1976) · The Mary Tyler Moore Show (1977) · All in the Family (1978) · Taxi (1979) · Taxi (1980) · Taxi (1981) · Barney Miller (1982) · Cheers (1983) · Cheers (1984) · The Cosby Show (1985) · The Golden Girls (1986) · The Golden Girls (1987) · The Wonder Years (1988) · Cheers (1989) · Murphy Brown (1990) · Cheers (1991) · Murphy Brown (1992) · Seinfeld (1993) · Frasier (1994) · Frasier (1995) · Frasier (1996) · Frasier (1997) · Frasier (1998) · Ally McBeal (1999) · Will & Grace (2000)
Complete List · (1952–1975) · (1976–2000) · (2001–2025) Golden Globe Award for Best Television Series – Musical or Comedy (1990–2009)
Cheers (1990) · Brooklyn Bridge (1991) · Roseanne (1992) · Seinfeld (1993) · Frasier & Mad About You (1994) · Cybill (1995) · 3rd Rock from the Sun (1996) · Ally McBeal (1997) · Ally McBeal (1998) · Sex and the City (1999) · Sex and the City (2000) · Sex and the City (2001) · Curb Your Enthusiasm (2002) · The Office (UK) (2003) · Desperate Housewives (2004) · Desperate Housewives (2005) · Ugly Betty (2006) · Extras (2007) · 30 Rock (2008) · Glee (2009) ·
Complete List · (1969–1989) · (1990–2009) · (2010–2029) Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series (1994–2009)
Seinfeld (1994) · Friends (1995) · Seinfeld (1996) · Seinfeld (1997) · Ally McBeal (1998) · Frasier (1999) · Will & Grace (2000) · Sex and the City (2001) · Everybody Loves Raymond (2002) · Sex and the City (2003) · Desperate Housewives (2004) · Desperate Housewives (2005) · The Office (2006) · The Office (2007) · 30 Rock (2008) · Glee (2009)
Complete list · (1994–2009) · (2010–2029) TV series created or produced by David E. Kelley 1980s 1990s 2000s 2010sLegally Mad (2010) • Harry's Law (2011–present)
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