This week marks 19 years since the legal dramedy Ally McBeal first burst on to television screens. The David E. Kelley series was an instant hit, winning several Golden Globe and Emmy awards and made a star out of its leading lady. Before she was Cat Grant on Supergirl, Calista Flockhart became a household name for her performance as the title character on Ally McBeal. The show ran for five seasons and came to an end in 2002.
In a time when TV revivals are bigger than ever, it is rather odd that such an iconic show has not been given the esteemed honor of a revival. With the return of fan favorites like Gilmore Girls and Prison Break mere months away, allow me to highlight why Ally McBeal should be next in line.
How Would Ally Deal With Approaching 50?
Throughout Ally McBeal's five seasons, Ally was extremely focused on her looks and feared the idea of getting older. Every time her birthday occurred, she would analyze her face for potential wrinkles. The fifth season did see the character get her priorities in order when her biological daughter became her primary responsibility, but nevertheless, Ally McBeal was a rather vain person.
A revival would find Ally at a different time in her life — she would be much older now and it would be incredibly interesting to see how she would deal with this. The age of 50 is a huge landmark and one that many people dread — we know that Ally would hate the thought of being 50 years old. Moreover, would she have achieved all that she'd hoped for by the time she reaches this landmark age? Although Flockhart still looks relatively the same today — as seen on Supergirl — I can't help but wonder how Ally would cope with life as a much older woman.
Ally's fantasies and hallucinations were also very much a product of their time and it would be intriguing to find out what her fantasies would entail in today's world. The dancing baby fantasy is widely renowned as one of the greatest TV moments in history and it skyrocketed Blue Swede's "Hooked On A Feeling" back into the limelight — long before Guardians of The Galaxy did so. The dancing baby was meant to symbolize Ally's biological clock ticking, which makes me wonder if she would still see the baby now that she's in her late forties.
What Is Everyone Up To Today?
The series ended with everyone at Cage, Fish & McBeal experiencing some kind of change. Richard left behind his neanderthal sexist ways and finally committed to someone — Liza (played by Christina Ricci) — Nelle mellowed and showed her softer side, John had left the firm as a full-time partner, Elaine was open to pursuing her theater dreams, Ling had become a TV judge and Ally left Boston to help out her daughter. In terms of the characters' storylines, a lot was deliberately left open. However, it's been 14 years since Ally McBeal came to an end and I'd love to know what happened to these lovable characters. For example, did Elaine find success on stage?
What was unusual about the last few seasons of the show was that Georgia, Renee, Ling, Whipper, Mark and Jackson all disappeared — I'd love to know what they are up to now. Georgia and Renee did return for the final episode, but no detail was given as to what they were doing with their lives. Did they continue to work as colleagues at Renee's law firm? Is Whipper still there?
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Ally departed Boston, gave up her partnership and headed for New York because it's what her ten year old daughter Maddie (played by Hayden Panettiere) needed. Now that Maddie is all grown up, perhaps Ally could return to Cage & Fish in Boston. It would be the perfect storyline to resurrect the Emmy winning dramedy.
Ally McBeal Broke The Rules and Redefined The Leading Lady
The character of Ally McBeal was met with some criticism, specifically from feminists, which led to the character being featured on the cover of Time with the caption "Is Feminism Dead?" The important thing is, however, is that Ally McBeal wasn't trying to send a message — she wasn't a feminist nor was she an anti-feminist, she was just Ally. Nothing ever felt out of the ordinary for the character — she was David E. Kelley's invention and that's all she was.
Today, a lot of programming gets caught up in the idea of putting out a positive message and, unless you're on cable, many shows aren't allowed to venture into certain territory. Ally McBeal dared to be different in a time when people were not used to it and as we can see from the success of the show, its unique qualities were adored by audiences worldwide. David E. Kelley penned almost every episode of the hit series and thus everything that happened to the character during all five seasons was the creator's vision.
The Musical Elements Of Ally McBeal Would be A Perfect Fit For Modern TV
Although many shows feature popular music, there is no doubt that Ally McBeal was one of the first to put such a focus on it. Singer-songwriter Vonda Shepard not only sang the catchy theme tune "Searchin' My Soul," but she was credited as a cast member on the show, appearing at the bar frequented by the characters, performing popular songs. Shepard's contribution to Ally McBeal was huge and her covers of hit songs — including "Hooked On A Feeling" and "Tell Him" — were extremely popular. Shepard released several compilation albums such as "Songs From Ally McBeal" featuring several of the songs that were featured on the show.
Not only did Shepard provide the music, but cast members Jane Krakowski and Lisa Nicole Carson performed regularly on the show — including on a special musical episode. John Cage's bathroom dances to Barry White's "You're The First, The Last, My Everything" were also unforgettable. Music was a key feature of Ally McBeal and the show itself became a base for singers to promote their then upcoming albums — Tina Turner, Barry White, Elton John and many more all appeared throughout the show's run.
A show that so heavily features music is perfect for today's society — many of Vonda Shepard's greatest songs from the show remain unreleased due to the non-digital music formats of the late '90s. If Ally McBeal was to be revived, all of Shepard's songs could be made available for release via iTunes or Amazon Music.
With a wide range of musical artists in today's market, Ally McBeal would once again be the perfect show for singers to promote their albums. I can already imagine the likes of Adele appearing in the bar.
Let Ally Find Her Perfect Man
Much of Ally McBeal focused on the title character searching for the perfect guy and although she encountered several men who came close, there was really only one guy for her: Larry Paul. During the fourth season, Ally met the eccentric, comedic lawyer Larry Paul, played by Robert Downey Jr. and it was made clear that the two characters connected on an emotional level. Simply put, they "got" each other. Downey's presence reinvigorated the show and stablitized the dropping ratings.
As Ally and Larry moved in together, it appeared as if Ally had finally found her man, only to have her hopes dashed by Larry's incapability to commit. In reality, Larry was written out of the show because of Robert Downey Jr.'s personal and legal issues at the time. The following season took a completely different turn as David E. Kelley built up the long lost daughter arc so that Ally could say farewell to Boston. Despite the fact that the series got a fitting conclusion, Ally never found her man. After five years of wanting her "happily ever after," she was still single at the series' conclusion.
Today, Robert Downey Jr. is one of the biggest actors in the world, mostly known for his role as Iron Man in the films of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Flockhart is also currently starring on a superhero drama too and we'd love to see Larry and Ally reunite — the fact that they are both playing comic book characters would make this reunion that much more wonderful. Ally deserves her happy ending and now there is no reason to stop Flockhart and Downey Jr. from reuniting once more to make it happen.
Ally McBeal changed the television landscape and it left quite a legacy behind, from "Ooga Chaka" babies to the unisex bathroom dance sequences. The series was definitely a product of its time, which is why a revival would be much appreciated. I yearn for the opportunity to see what Ally and her friends are up to in 2016 or later.
It's been 19 years since Ally McBeal first aired, meaning that next year will mark its twentieth anniversary — the perfect time for a revival. It could be revived by FOX or perhaps by a streaming service, which seems to be the norm today. With the series currently available on Netflix, it would be foolish for the streaming service to miss out on bringing Ally McBeal into the modern world.
Would you like to see Ally McBeal revived? Tell me in the comment section below.