Was there ever a show that was more turbulent then this one? While I hadn’t watched it during its original airing, I can remember the controversy it caused (at, at the very least, remembering it causing controversy, not so much that it was actually about anything) and the ratings juggernaut that it was for its first couple seasons. Its first season was quite a success, averaging 11.4 million viewers on average. By its second it had been bumped to 13.8 million but, as with the quality of the series itself, it began to decline in seasons three through four. The show had a tumultuous end, but there were plenty of fans who stood by it…and eagerly awaited the DVDs of it. Sadly if you were in North America you were pretty much screwed until recently, as Fox was busy acquiring the musical rights for the entire series so it could be distributed in the U.S. and Canada. Now the entire series is in stores, but for those who want only a few of the seasons you needn’t fret either—Fox is rolling out individual season sets as well, with the first season already out and seasons two and three to follow in December.
Get your fix of love, laughter and lunacy with the award-winning show that made Calista Flockhart a household favorite. With engaging story lines, hip music and appearances by some of the world’s biggest stars, including Robert Downey Jr., Elton John, Christina Ricci, Jon Bon Jovi, Mariah Carey, Taye Diggs, Tracey Ullman and Barry White, Ally McBeal transformed TV for women and raised the comedy-drama genre to an outrageous new level!
Just about the only thing I remember about this show was Robert Downey Jr.’s involvement in it…which doesn’t occur until season four, so I’m out of luck there. But hey, this first season is supposedly one of its best, so I was game to check it out. I wasn’t necessarily a major fan of Flockhart, but I did enjoy ABC’s Eli Stone which I heard was similar to this (merely in the way that it was a law show and had quirky scenarios, that is). In any case this first season was certainly interesting…but I can’t say I really wanted to watch anymore after it was over.
The problem lies with me, rather than the show. I’m simply not in its audience. I didn’t mind the quirky sight gags or the hyper reality that this show lived in (the law office of Cage & Fish seemed to be one big sex pen as everyone was involved with someone at some point or another and they all shared a unisex bathroom…which was kind of strange in of itself, but whatever. I went with it), but as much as it requires you to give in good faith to believe any of this could happen…I just didn’t feel that it gave me much back as a result.
I don’t have any specific examples as watching the entire series in the span of a day or so will cause the whole thing to run together, but just the overall sense of the season was a little too…flighty to me. Or more appropriately, a prime time soap opera. I know I’ve watched plenty of shows like that, but the injection of feminism (or lack of it, according to some of its critics) into the series just made for a show that seemed to cherry pick its viewers; either you bought into the concept or you didn’t.
Still there are some humorous segments to be had throughout the series, but at the same time I kept getting the feeling that I was watching a less serious Grey’s Anatomy, which I also don’t watch for the same reason I didn’t enjoy this series. It’s clearly meant for the female audience and while it certainly has moments that are as unisex as the bathroom in the series, for the most part it’s just very skewed in one direction. I’m sure there are those out there now yelling at me for saying that, but honestly I can’t help the way that I feel about this show. It’s smartly written and highly entertaining…but it just isn’t my cup of tea. That may have more to do with David E. Kelly creating/writing it, as I didn’t enjoy his Life on Mars series either. Hell, I haven’t enjoyed any of his series now that I think about it…
I did enjoy the way the legal proceedings got mixed in with the relationship issues in the series, but that was a very limited area to find enjoyment in as well. This series is quite literally about nothing else other than the relationships and I grew to be a bit tired of that by the end of the set. And while I’ll definitely give the second season a shot when that hits DVD, I don’t know how interested I am in watching the remainder of the series…especially since most of its fans seemed to jump ship by the fifth and final season.
Honestly I would love to recommend this series to everyone, but it really works best if you’re of the female gender. So in that regard this is Recommended for that sex…but other than that, I’d have to say Rent It first. Who knows, maybe it’s a guilty pleasure.
As previously mentioned Fox is giving fans options: purchase the big ol’ 32 disc box set with all of the seasons and bonus features now…or get the individual seasons as they come out. Now granted I don’t know if those two bonus discs will remain exclusive to the big set or not, so if you’re a die-hard fan you’ll want to go for the big set anyway. But for those who just want to watch the seasons they enjoy then the individuals may be the way to go. This first season arrives in a standard width Amaray Viva Multi-Pak case that houses the six individual discs. Video is a standard 4×3 picture that looks good for its age and the DD2.0 track sounds solid as well…and with all of the original music! Kudos to Fox for getting that done.
Extras? Nada. As previously mentioned the extras are all on the big set, so the individual seasons are barebones. The disc-by-disc breakdown is as follows:
Disc 1 (180 minutes):
Disc 2 (180 minutes):
•“One Hundred Tears Away”
•“Drawing The Lines”
Disc 3 (180 minutes):
•“The Dirty Joke”
•“Boy To The World”
Disc 4 (180 minutes):
•“The Blame Game”
•“Once In A Lifetime”
Disc 5 (180 minutes):
•“Theme Of Life”
•“The Playing Field”
•“Happy Birthday Baby”
Disc 6 (135 minutes):
•“These Are The Days”
Fans should Skip this release and just for the big set. For newcomers who think they’ll enjoy the series but aren’t sure…well, that’s really what this release was made for. For that crowd this is Recommended as it’s a relatively cheap way to dip our feet into the series without splurging on the big set.
Ally McBeal – Season One is now available on DVD.