Ally McBeal: The Official Guide

Ally McBeal: The Official Guide

by Tim Appelo



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Ally McBeal: The Official Guide by Tim Appelo

It's Ally World

Funny, charming, and smart, award-winning Ally McBeal stole the hearts of critics andviewers alike from its premiere episode in 1997. The "hippest, hottest show on television" (TV Guide), now in its third season, continues to cultivate and entertain growing legions offans. Illustrated with more than 400 photographs, this official full-color companion guide takesreaders on an engaging trip through the hilarious, intelligent, and sometimes heartbreakingworld of the endearingly odd Ally and her friends and colleagues. Chock-full of fascinatingfacts and tidbits, this insider's guide includes:

  • An exclusive, behind-the-scenes glimpse at the show and stag-from lifeon the set to the writers, crew, wardrobe, and special effects
  • A complete guide to each episode
  • An up close look at the show's creator and driving force, David E. Kelley
  • Judge "Whipper,'' the Dancing Twins, "Happy'' Boyle, Stefan the frog, and more
  • Fishisms, McBealisms, and Elaine's best inventions
  • The lowdown on the show's music and the spectacular success of Vonda Shepard
  • Interviews with the actors
  • Plus special sections on the personal and professional—from Ally's men,memorable cases and clients, to her relationship with Billy and Georgia, to life in the Unisex universe.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780060988135
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 09/22/1999
Pages: 208
Product dimensions: 7.37(w) x 9.25(h) x 0.40(d)

About the Author

Tim Appelo has written about television, pop culture, and Hollywood for Entertainment Weekly, People, TV Guide, Details, the New York Times, the Washington Post, and the Los Angeles Times. He lives in Seattle, Washington.

Read an Excerpt

Ally McBeal

She says what she thinks and especially what she feels, and though she passionately defends the passionate life, she often instantly regrets the words that fly out of her mouth like mischievous spirits. Just as often, she stands by the outrageous things she says. Busted by a judge for wearing short skirts, Ally demands the right to wear them on principle: No judge presumes to dictate men's attire, and besides, she's got an inalienable right to make guys talk about her legs. Asked for comment, she calls the judge a "pig."

She is emotionally exoskeletal, but mostly, she likes it that way. She can be an excellent lawyer in court-not quite as outrageous as her boss Cage, infinitely superior to her boss Fish-but her legal arguments almost invariably serve as a lens on her private life or on romance, her personal cause even when the romance in question doesn't concern her. As she exasperatedly tells Yorkin, a prison warden who is trying to block an inmate with a life sentence from wedding Ally's client: "Why are you insisting that it all make sense? If you want to be practical, would any marriage make sense? They love each other ... that's not just enough, it's everything."

We don't know everything about Ally's past, but we share the nuances of every instant of her present life, both inside and outside her teeming mind. Her dad is a lawyer, and after majoring in art history, she followed his career footsteps (and those of her childhood sweetheart and Harvard Law classmate Billy Thomas). In high school, she was thought a bit of a prude, if not a Julie Andrews in the making. She had a heartrending affair with a married professor atHarvard, and Billy sort of stepped on her aorta by transferring to Michigan and leaving her for another woman (his future wife, Georgia).

Billy was always too practical-minded to believe that he and Ally could've met their life partners in childhood (something he never confessed to her), until their unexpected reunion years later at their Boston law firm. Ally's hard-to-shake devotion to Billy (and her affair with her professor) could be related to her own parents' shaky liaison. When Ally was three, she caught her mother in bed with another man while Ally's dad was away. Ally's parents' marriage endured for life, though empty of love. That's why she's so picky, determined to find the real thing and make it stick.

Most people see things as they are and say, "That's the way it goes." Ally sees hallucinations and holds true out for dreams to come t Her visions put her in touch with the deep emotional undercurrents that run through everybody's lives. Her hallucination of the unicorn signifies hope and love to the pure and lonely' and that's Ally all over. Not that she's alone. Ally's lifeis rich with erotic collisions (see "Ally's Passionometer"). She could write dissertations on the various kinds of dancing and what they mean, the theory and practice of the kiss, and the importance of wearing your lucky underwear on a first date with a hot prospect.

On the playing field of romance and in the close, quarrelsome company of her friends, Ally proves she's got a big heart. She's not all heart, however. She can be selfish. She had a purely physical onenight stand with a snowboard dude and intimated to her friends that his prodigious private parts were all everyone thought they would be. When she throws a party, Billy lets her have it for being more concerned about her own reputation as a hostess than about how her pals are enjoying the party. Cage marvels at her gift for turning a conversation about someone else's problems into one about hers in six seconds flat, Georgia acidly asks the endlessly kvetching Ally what makes her problemsso much more important than anyone else's. "Because they're mine," Ally defiantly replies. Ally's temper has provoked her to yell at perfect strangers, and she's even tripped and tackled a couple of people who irked her, but it all made perfect sense in her emotional context, and besides, the targets of her ire started the arguments, more or less. And when, in a rare instance she spent the night in jail on a misdemeanor charge, it was mostly just bad luck.

Although Ally isn't the chief meddler at the office-that would be Elaine-she does her share of getting into other people's business.

When Fish cheats on Whipper by fingering Attorney General Janet Reno's wattle, Ally orders him to stop it. When Georgia has a false pregnancy and sobs alone in a Unisex stall, Ally is so curious that she peers over and falls on top of her. Later, Ally tongue-lashes Georgia fo hanging around an old boyfriend (Ray Brown) because Ally senses Georgia still has feelings for him.

Even when Ally tries to do the right thing, she often does it in the wrong way. When she's been courted by guys she doesn't want, instead of just rebuffing them gently and directly, she has attempted to turn them off with an elaborate act: She has imp impersonated a brainless makeup-obsessed narcissist, and a lesbian (twice). When Ally decides to play Good Samaritan to help a girl onthe street, the girl's ingratitude provokes Ally to attack her, attracting the police.

In short, Ally can turn the world on with her smile-but only when she damn well feels like it. In fact, she thinks smiling has its perils: When her twenty-eighth birthday is looming, Ally tells her roommate e Renee, that one's face starts to ',crack" by age thirty: "It loses moisture. The only reason I look as young as I do is because I had the good sense not to smile growing up.

Ally can nail an opponent with legal logic, but her true mission in life is to make the case for love. Bravely, she sails unruly seas of emotion, and in her world, emotions are matters of practical consequence. If Ally is with a guy who makes her feel like she's walking on air, her feet physically appear to rise above the floor. If she feels dumped, we feel for her as she's flung from a truck to a Dumpster. For every strange vision that confronts her, there is aperfectly reasonable explanation, even if Ally is the only one who can see it. She makes us see things her way, by the passion of her arguments, the purity of her visions, and the infectious melodies that fill her head.

Ally is her own woman-and she hopes this won't mean she winds up on her own forever. Not likely. Her charm and beauty will certainly win out.

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