Original title card
|Created by||David E. Kelley|
Courtney Thorne Smith
Lisa Nicole Carson
Portia de Rossi
|Theme music composer||Vonda Shepard|
|Opening theme||"Searchin' My Soul" performed by Vonda Shepard|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||5|
|No. of episodes||112 (List of episodes)|
|Executive producer(s)||David E. Kelley
Pamela J. Wisne
|Cinematography||Thomas F. Denove
David A. Harp
|Running time||45–48 minutes|
|Production company(s)||20th Century Fox Television
David E. Kelley Productions
|Picture format||4:3 (broadcast)
16:9 (seasons 2-5)
|Original run||September 28, 1997– May 20, 2002|
Ally McBeal is an American 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, Fish and Associates 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. Opposing 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 public 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"), 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 which aired on different networks.
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 was written out after the end of the season due to his 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, and The Practice), and the novelty of the show wore off.
|2||1998–1999||13.8 million||Fox||#20 |
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, and 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 25, 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 Vonda recorded for the show were covers of old songs with lyrics that paralleled what was happening in the title character's life onscreen. Old songs recorded for the show include "Both Sides Now", "Hooked on a Feeling", and "Tell Him". Besides recording background music for the show, Vonda would also appear in the show (usually near the end of the episode). Vonda would be seen playing at the local bar in which Ally and her fellow workmates regularly visited after work and would even have dialogue in some episodes. Due to the popularity of the show and Vonda'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 Vonda were also released in 2000 and 2001. Other artists featured on the show include Barry White, Al Green, and Tina Turner. 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, 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 and Ireland all seasons are available in a complete boxset.
It has recently been announced that the first season will be released in North America by 20th Century Fox in October 6, 2009. Also, a special complete series edition will also be released on the same day as the first season set. On July 3, 2009 TVShowsonDVD.com announced that both sets would be released on October 6, 2009. There will be no special features included on the first season set however, the second last disc on the complete series set will be composed of special features (including the episode of The Practice that Calista Flockhart guest starred in) with the last disc titled "The Best of Ally McBeal Soundtrack". It has been confirmed that all of the original music will remain intact on both releases. Season 2 will be released on April 6, 2010.
|DVD Name||Ep#||Region 1||Region 2|
|The Complete First Season||23||October 6, 2009||February 21, 2005|
|The Complete Second Season||23||April 6, 2010||February 21, 2005|
|The Complete Third Season||21||TBA||February 21, 2005|
|The Complete Fourth Season||23||TBA||May 9, 2005|
|The Complete Fifth Season||22||TBA||May 9, 2005|
|The Complete Series||112||October 6, 2009||October 30, 2006|
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 shot, only 10 of those thirteen were actually broadcast.
|Australia||Seven Network, FX (Now W. Channel) and 111 Hits|
|Belgium||Kanaal Twee, 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|
|France||Téva, M6, Série Club|
|Germany||VOX, Comedy Central|
|Hong Kong||aTV world|
|India||STAR World, Zee Cafe|
|Ireland||originally screened on RTE Two repeats air on TV3|
|Israel||Channel 2, Channel 3|
|Italy||Canale 5, Italia 1, Fox Life, Mya, Iris|
|Kenya||Kenya Television Network|
|Mexico||Canal 5, Fox & repeats air on Fox Life|
|Philippines||RPN-9 (1998–2001), 2nd Avenue (2009)|
|Poland||Polsat, TV4, Fox Life|
|Portugal||TVI, Fox Life|
|Romania||PRO TV, Pro Cinema|
|Serbia||RTS, RTV BK Telecom, Fox Life (cable)|
|Slovenia||POP TV, Kanal A, TV Pika|
|Singapore||MediaCorp TV Channel 5|
|South Africa||SABC 3|
|South Korea||Home CGV|
|Spain||Telecinco (former broadcaster), Cuatro, Fox|
|Switzerland||TSR1 (French area), SF zwei (German area), TSI1 (Italian area)|
|Turkey||CNBC-E and Fox Life|
|United Kingdom||Channel 4, Paramount Comedy 1, Paramount Comedy 2, TMF, Zone Romantica|
Ally McBeal was an American television legal comedy-drama starring Calista Flockhart. The show ran on the FOX network from 1997 to 2002.