Ally McBeal (FOX)
1998 | FOX, David E. Kelley Productions
Absurdist comedy. Gripping drama. Sexual politics. Quirks, smirks, jerks. Fox’s Ally McBeal has it all, thanks to the genius of creator/writer David E. Kelley. This utterly distinctive comedy-drama series became an almost instant “water cooler conversation” program in times when network TV series increasingly were hard-pressed to make a dent in the public consciousness. The loopy Boston law firm where Ally and her colleagues work is a triumph of Mr. Kelly’s fertile imagination. Anything can happen, and often does. Each episode is an unpredictable as the next week’s weather, although some sort of storm is usually brewing. For example, the appearance of frogs in the law firm’s co-ed bathroom toilets might seem a little far-fetched at first glance. But somehow Mr. Kelly makes it work, with help executive producers Jeffrey Kramer and Jonathan Pontell and producer Mike Listo. A stellar cast is headed by Calista Flockhart as Ally. The ensemble also includes Greg German, Courtney Thorne-Smith, Lisa Nicole Carson, Gil Bellows, Peter MacNichol, Jane Krakowski, Portia de Rossi, Vonda Shepard, Lucy Lui and, in a a recurring role as Ally’s decidedly unconventional therapist, Tracey Ullman. For creating the nerviest, swerviest series on network teleivsion, a Peabody goes to David E. Kelley Productions for Ally McBeal.
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