Ally McBeal is a comedy-drama television series created by David E. Kelley, premiered on September 8, 1997 on Fox network in the United States and ended on May 20, 2002. The show spans five seasons, consisting, in total, of 112 episodes. The episodes were approximately 45 minutes long, excluding commercials.
All seasons of Ally McBeal were released on DVD in the region 2 in 2002 and 2003, respectively. Until fall 2009, only several episodes of the first season of Ally McBeal were available in the United States, due to music rights issues. On October 6, 2009, Fox released a 6-disc set of all 23 season-one episodes, with their original music.
The series won the Emmy for Outstanding Comedy Series in 1999, one of seven Emmys and a slew of other major awards for its run. Ally McBeal was known for its strong ensemble cast, led by Flockhart and featuring Courtney Thorne-Smith, Greg Germann, Carson, Jane Krakowski, Peter MacNicol, Gil Bellows, Lucy Liu, Portia de Rossi as well as musician Vonda Shepard who rose to fame on the show. Additionally, the series gave Robert Downey Jr. one of his first big roles following his 1990s legal troubles en route to his blockbuster career comeback in Iron Man.
The First Season was good. Although, I never realized how horribly politically incorrect this show was. Personally, I am not into cancel culture and can take/see a joke for what it is. Not easily being offended.
Yet, I digress. 5th Season? Ally is literally 10 years older than James Marsden. Forgetting that she started to show age in the 5th. But at 32 she is all of sudden in love with a 22 year old? Where is Vonda? Where is Mark? Where is Renee? Where is Georgia form 2,3 Seasons ago? This is tiring! When Billy died it should have ended!
By the time she dumps Jon Bon Jovi, you really do find yourself disliking Ally!!! And how sad is that? I agree there was nothing the writers could do about losing Robert Downey, Jr., they could have given some of these characters a story line of how they left and why.
After Ally McBeal, Flockhart landed another lead role, this time on ABC's Brothers & Sisters, which ran for five seasons. She currently stars on Supergirl as media mogul Cat Grant. She and actor Harrison Ford have been together since 2002 and were married in 2010. They have an adopted 16-year-old son.
Coming off of her starring role on Melrose Place, Thorne-Smith initially auditioned for the title character on Ally McBeal, but was instead cast as attorney Georgia Thomas, the wife of Ally's ex, Billy. Georgia was written out of the show at the beginning of Season 4, but made occasional guest appearances for the remainder of the show's run.
After being fired from Ally McBeal, Downey was basically never heard from again. Just kidding! After a few more run-ins from the law, Downey got sober and was able to revive his acting career, with significant roles in films like Gothika, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang and Zodiac. He also got an Oscar nomination and a Golden Globe nod for the comedy Tropic Thunder. But most notably, in 2008 he made his debut as Iron Man, a role that cemented Marvel as a power player in the film industry and one he's reprised in several subsequent films, including Iron Man 2 and 3, Spider-Man: Homecoming, Captain America: Civil War and the Avengers franchise. In 2010, he won a Golden Globe for his portrayal of the legendary detective in Sherlock Holmes. He married producer Susan Levin in 2005 and they have two children together.
LeGros joined the cast at the end of Season 3 as Mark Albert, an eccentric new attorney hired to replace the deceased Billy. He was upped to a series regular in Season 4, and the character was rewritten to be a totally normal guy who went on to date Cindy and Elaine. LeGros never returned to the show after Season 4, and there was never an explanation provided for the disappearance of his character.
Hall's Corretta Lipp was originally brought on as a recurring character in Season 4 and upped to a series regular in Season 5. Her memorable moments on the show include giving John Cage a "man makeover."
Rounding out the additions to Ally McBeal's Season 5 cast was Hopkins' character, Raymond Millbury. A former colleague of new Cage/Fish associate Jenny Shaw, Raymond catches Ally's eye when he's opposing counsel on a case. But it's actually he and Jenny who embark on a romantic relationship.
Edelstein charted relatively new territory in television when she joined Ally McBeal in Season 4 for a brief arc as a transgender woman named Cindy McCauliff. Cindy dates Mark (James LeGros), who initially doesn't know she's transgender. Their relationship ends after he finds out.
In a 1998 ABC News sit-down, Barbara Walters, addressing the onslaught of headlines, rhetorically asked a then 34-year-old Flockhart, "Are you just naturally very slim? And you eat? We don't have to worry about you?"
"I guess I don't know the exact definition of anorexia," she told the magazine. "But I eat. I eat normally. I eat whatever I want, whenever I want. I don't have a messed-up relationship with food...Am I anorexic? I guess my answer would have to be no."
Thorne-Smith actually left the show in its third season after realizing that the pressure she felt to be thin had taken over her life. Her severe dieting and exercise routine at one point landed her name in an article about actresses who looked too thin (the other side of the body-shaming coin). "I thought, I hate the thought of a 12, 13 or 14 year-old girl seeing a picture of me and thinking she'll do what I did," she recalled on Good Morning America in 2001.
"One friend of mine said to me, 'You look like a normal, healthy woman, and those three words really sent me into shock. Normal? Who wants to be normal? Who wants to be normal weight range?" de Rossi told Oprah Winfrey when the book came out, recalling an anecdote from the time she was on the show. "'Healthy' suggested that I was kind of, like, pudgy. 'Woman' suggested curvy. I wanted to be a skinny, straight up and down girl."
Bruner, a communications professor at Humboldt University, researched the politics of gender irony and weight loss circa present day. He looked specifically into the case of Rachel Frederickson, who won The Biggest Loser in 2014 by going from 260 to 105 pounds. Her startling transformation was widely criticized, and as Bruner's research found, it showed some support for his "Women Can't Win" thesis.
Bear with me, this context is important. Because it turns out that I have basically seen All Of The Televisual Things, I ended up buying stuff that was a bit older than my usual fare or a bit left of centre to my usual viewing tastes. Some of it I'd watched at least partially in its original run: Frasier (1993-2004); Murder One (1995-1997); Ally McBeal (1997-2002). Others looked gung-ho silly enough (JAG, 1995-2005), whimsical enough (Northern Exposure, 1990-1995), or were eminently consumable procedurals to have on in the background whilst actually attending to the business of life (NCIS, 2003-present). First, some viewer notes:
I grew up with the VHS format, a now obsolete format using cassettes of magnetic tape for storing films and taping stuff of the TV. It took forever to interact with the cassette itself - make it fast forward, or rewind, say. And "rewind" was literal - the tape had to be physically re-spooled by your VHS machine to get it back to a desired point. This was a pain. So much so that the now-defunct video rental chain Blockbuster emblazoned their cassettes with the phrase "Be kind rewind". This maxim urged renters to do the annoying work of hitting "rewind" on their machines before returning the tape to the store. Otherwise, store-workers or new renters would have to do it themselves, because the tape did not automatically start at the beginning whenever you put it into the machine.
Then comes DVDs in the late 1990s, wheeeee! These shiny little discs are amazing, not just because they're so much smaller than VHS cassettes. Interacting with the film - fast-forwarding or (now non-literal) rewinding - is so much easier. And you don't even have to "rewind" a DVD when you finish the movie: it just automatically re-starts at the beginning. Film "chapters" are introduced too, which splits up the film into easily-navigable chunks of narrative action. Now, viewers no longer have to "play all" - put up with a clunky viewing mode or deal with the hassles of trying to make VHS do what you want. Instead, the DVD format offers more spectatorial power, as viewers can flit about the DVD content as much as they'd like. This is a positive thing, right? Absolutely for film viewing. And the ability for viewers to easily select different units of content - episodes - meant DVDs seemed extraordinarily suited to distributing TV shows, given DVDs could hold multiple episodes of a given series. And perhaps that was indeed true for a while, and still is for a few people. But the potential of the DVD format provoked a new kind of engagement with TV: binge-watching. (The eagle-eyed amongst you will already have cottoned on to the fact that my preponderous usage of gifs - endlessly looping video clips - to illustrate this post is a conscious decision to reflect the binge-watching format and experience. Also, I
Playing episodes sequentially by navigating through DVD menus introduces the viewer to the delights of binge-watching, creating a new kind of independent - and hungry - TV audience. With the introduction of the slick "play all" feature, binge-watching becomes de rigueur, normalised further by the DVD feature-set itself. The "play all" feature delivers on the smooth effortless binge-watching experience with which earlier DVDs tantalised the audience. The latter were stuffed with TV episodes, but provided only a staccato spectatorial experience, punctuated by viewer navigation through DVD menu hierarchies.
Given that the series themselves are of older pedigree, from the 1990s to early 2000s, then it makes sense that the boxsets were produced according to the expectations that initially governed DVD production. My inchoate grah at the DVD's set up lies in the collision of one spectatorial paradigm with another, how the DVD says I should watch and how I want to watch. Producers and distributors certainly do re-release DVDs, after adding extra special features including the trusty "play all" button (see e.g.) But re-releasing the shows which I purchased would likely be a waste of money. They're notable, but not cult, and so have relatively poor marketability. They're historically popular too, with the emphasis on historical: popular with people who likely are less rankled by the lack of "play all" as they're more used to pre-streaming and pre-binging consumption forms. Really, they might even prefer the single-serve option. I'm so entrenched in my devotion to "play all" I cannot fathom that, but I write in good faith and with an open mind. 2b1af7f3a8