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At 8th September of 1997, "Ally McBeal" premiered on FOX. The series originally aired on FOX from September 8, 1997 to May 20, 2002. Created by David E. Kelley, the series stars Calista Flockhart in the title role as a young lawyer working in the fictional Boston law firm Cage and Fish, with other young lawyers whose lives and loves were eccentric, humorous and dramatic. The series received critical acclaim in its early seasons, winning the Golden Globe Award for Best Television Series, Musical or Comedy in 1997 and 1998, and also winning the Emmy Award for Outstanding Comedy Series in 1999.

Few shows have run quite as hot and as cold as "Ally McBeal." The comedy-drama, about a neurotic lawyer working in a wacky law firm, made stars of Calista Flockhart, Jane Krakowski, Portia de Rossi and Lucy Liu and revitalized the career of Peter MacNicol. This series are about love, about family, about friendship. Really well directed with memorable scenes.

Throughout the late 90's, TV producer/director David E. Kelley was best known for his successful courtroom drama "The Practice". While that series delved into the darker and purely dramatic, intense aspects of criminal law, "Ally Mcbeal" came as a lighter yet meaningful surprise. The show lasted about 5 seasons on Fox 11 from 1997 to January of 2002, its sudden cancellation (due to low ratings) making the last season a hurried and messy affair. It was Fox 11's biggest hit after "Married With Children".

Ally Mcbeal (portrayed by Calista Flockhart) was a pretty big figure of the late 90's. She encompassed all that the 90's "working middle class women's empowerment" stood for - the career woman who is nevertheless beautiful, romantic, strong but also vulnerable, modern and forward-looking. She was the Mary Tyler Moore of the late 90's.

The premise: Ally Mcbeal, a Harvard-educated lawyer is dumped by her childhood sweetheart Billy Thomas (Gil Bellows) and, despite going their separate ways, end up working in the same Boston law firm, Cage and Fish, headed by the cocky, money-loving, horny but hilarious yuppie Richard Fish (Greg Germann).

The first season dealt with Ally having to settle into the new law firm with a colorful bunch of characters. John Cage (Peter McNicols), Richard's partner, a meek, eccentric, funny but loving person, Elaine (Jane Krakowski) Ally's nosy, gossipy, oversexed secretary and even Georgia (Courtney Thorne Smith) Billy's wife. In later seasons, secretaries Nell Porter (Portia De Rossi) and Ling (Lucy Liu) - two cold, ambitious bitchy women come into the firm.

While the antics of all of these was at the heart of the show, the emotional and thought-provoking moments are found in Ally's complex psychology, accentuated not only by Vonda Shepard songs but by computer graphics such as the iconic "Dancing Baby". She searches for meaning and love in her life, starts and ends relationships (the other great love of her life is psychiatrist Larry Paul who was played by Robert Downey Jr. fresh from drug rehab) and ultimately, while she never finds the man of her dreams, finds a daughter she can parent, moves up in the law firm but decides to relocate to New York City.

The episodes were full of magic, wistfulness, drama and heart. Some were very moving, like the episode in which guest star Haley Joel Osment sues God for having cancer which he dies of and the ever popular "Billy's Death" episode.

Since it was a highly rated show, dozens of stars made cameos - Jon Bon Jovi as one of Ally's later boyfriends, Tracy Ullman as her wacky therapist, Rosie O'Donnell, Dame Edna, Jason Gedrick, Barry White, Barry Manilowe, Chubby Checker, Sting, singer Josh Groban made his debut in the show, Al Green, Jacqueline Bissett, Bernadette Peters, Taye Diggs and many others.

The show was a massive hit upon its premiere in the 1997-98 season and won the Emmy Award for Best Comedy Series after just its second season. (Kelley had quite a 1998-99 TV season, writing every episode of Ally McBeal‘s second season and every episode of the third season of The Practice. Ally McBeal won the Emmy for Best Comedy and The Practice won the Emmy for Best Drama.

Along with "Dharma & Greg", "Ally McBeal" was one of the last two surviving shows to debut during the 1997-98 season, one of the weakest in United States television history for new shows. (Only seven shows to debut would be picked up for a second season, and only "Dharma & Greg" and "Ally McBeal" would last longer than three seasons, each providing enough episodes for syndication.) Both shows ended at the end of the 2001-02 season, five years after their debut. Coincidentally, both shows were produced by 20th Century Fox Television.

Much attention went to Calista Flockhart at this time, and the degree of celebrity she earned Flockhart will never see again as she seems to be cursed with the one-hit wonder thing much like the cast of "Seinfeld" or "Friends". The media attacked her for being too thin or "anorexic" although she always claimed she was frail due to the exhaustion and stress of doing the show.

Other thin women appeared on TV at any rate at this time - Lara Flynn Boyle on "The Practice" and even Flockhart's co-stars Portia De Rossi and Lucy Liu. Despite all this, Ally Mcbeal was a wonderful character to follow: smart, sassy, insecure, picky, neurotic and lovable. This is a time capsule of late 90's TV.

#AllyMcBeal #CalistaFlockhart
#CourtroomDrama #LegalDrama
#Sitcom #TVShows #90sTVShows
#TVSeries #ComedyDrama
#TVShow #TV #FOX
#Onthisday #ComedySeries
#Television #Comedy
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