A Bittersweet Celebration of Life and Love

" Often we try to seduce the audience at the beginning that this is going to be fun, a romp or a ride, and then once the ride has begun, to reveal some serious subject matter for them to think about."
David E. Kelley, Producer, Director and Writer of Ally McBeal, Boston Legal,  and numerous TV series.

Ally McBeal

Occasionally I like to take off my analytical TV glasses, sit back and just enjoy a zany TV series.

That's easy to do with Ally McBeal.

Not only did the series win numerous awards but the star of the series, Calista Flockhart, raised the bar for comedic and even dramatic performances.  

The term "inspirational" doesn't seem appropriate for a comedic series; but Ally McBeal was often just that: inspirational.

That notwithstanding, to enjoy the show (possibly for the first time via DVDs) it's best not to read the reviews, many of which took the show much too seriously. (Ally McBeal is a total, off-the-wall comedy, not a documentary about women in the work place!)

Some viewers not only objected to the show's sexual themes (which seem much less risqué with the passing decade), but were uncomfortable with how the show anticipated some key social issues. 

Ally McBeal ran for five seasons on Fox and ended in 2001. Just last year the whole series was finally released on DVDs with the original music intact. It apparently took that long to get clearance on all of the music.

For the people who listen to the series with a good sound system the show's extensive use of "live" music was worth the wait. And watching (and listening) to the series uninterrupted by commercials is a very different experience than watching the network broadcasts.

Well-known actors and musical performers were regularly featured, plus the series had high production values -- not easy for complex shows that must be churned out each week.

" You've got to honor your relationship with your audience—that they sit down because they want to be entertained. And that doesn't mean you can't provoke them and antagonize them and challenge them in the course of the entertainment as long as you keep the entertainment part of the equation alive."
David E. Kelley, Producer, Director and Writer of Ally McBeal, Boston Legal,  and other TV series.

Coming back to the word inspirational, I agree with those who say that watching the  engaging and slightly whacky reruns of Ally McBeal can often lift your spirits and be a bittersweet celebration of life and love.  Sometimes we desperately need that.

-Ron Whittaker


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