From Ally's excessive self-examination to the cloistering of Ling, Caroline Kepnes details this season's biggest offenses
Lucy Liu, Ally McBeal
Credit: Ally Mcbeal: Doug Hyun/Fox’s five charges against ”Ally McBeal”

You might think that ”Ally McBeal” (Fox, Mondays 9 p.m.) ended when Robert Downey Jr. walked out. Or maybe you caught a glimpse and said, ”Huh? Who are all those people?” Yep, this season ”Ally” is guilty of some serious offenses against discriminating TV viewers. And, though we are excited about the upcoming guest stars (Jon Bon Jovi, Mariah Carey), we will not accept them in a plea bargain. There’s only one way for the show’s producers to atone for these TV violations — STOP THEM IMMEDIATELY! Read on to see if you agree.

PREDICTABLY REPEATING THE PAST I’m just going to say it: Jenny (Julianne Nicholson) and Glenn (James Marsden) are a poor man’s Georgia (Courtney Thorne-Smith) and Billy (Gil Bellows). Sure, Jenny kinda looks like Ally, but the way she’s a younger spirit, able to have her nice relationships rather than whine about them is totally Georgia. We already watched Ally adjust to being around a happy couple, and last season, we saw her be in the happy couple. It’s all very been there, done that.

INUNDATING VIEWERS WITH SHRINKAGE This season, Ally’s having too much therapy. I know her confidante, Renee, (Lisa Nicole Carson) is gone, but better that Ally make a new friend than force us to endure double doses of therapy! Ally spends so much time narrating her non-existent butt off that the show is morphing from a quirky ensemble to ”The Wonder Years: Minus Perspective, Nostalgia, and More.” In real life — and in good TV — neurotic singletons see their shrinks once a week. Not twice an episode!

LOSING TOUCH WITH LING Lucy Liu’s Ling is leaving the show. This sucks, but it’s no excuse to turn her into Judge Judy with great skin. I don’t want to watch a show within a show. Worse, I don’t want to watch Nelle (Portia DeRossi) watching the show within the show. And, above all, the job itself (wearing that icky robe as if she’s hiding her costume for ”Charlie’s Angels II” underneath) is way out of character for the capricious, haughty Ling, who once said her only reason for coming to work every day was to show off her outfits.

DISCRIMINATING AGAINST THE AGED One nubile newcomer is well and good. But four of them? It makes us want to file a complaint with AARP. Jenny, Glenn, Corretta (Regina Hall), and Raymond (Josh Hopkins) are interesting enough, but my gosh, why couldn’t they have introduced someone who didn’t get their J.D., like, two months ago? The bland beauties are even starting to cancel each other out. Corretta just stands around, and this whole ”Raymond is a pig” thing is passé compared to the evolved yet sexist genius of Richard Fish (Greg Germann). Remember when Ling used to blow fire at Ally? Well, these young ‘uns are so not Ling-like that they couldn’t even get a spitball across the conference table.

WRITING ELAINE INTO THE GROUND What’s happened to Elaine (Jane Krakowski)? With her off-beat inventions, her chutzpah (i.e. cheery promiscuity), and her lack of a law degree, Elaine is one of the most original and complex characters on prime time. Whether navigating friendship with her ”superiors” or getting over disappointments (men, failed projects, men), Elaine rounds out the cerebral playing field. But lately we find her whizzing around the office, acting with her face in response to other people’s lives. It’s as if we’re supposed to accept that she really is a sideshow secretary whose job is to agree to sing at the bar, show up, and sign. She used to be in the action — bring her back!

What do you think about ”Ally”?

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