Calista Flockhart, Ally McBeal
Credit: Larry Watson/FOX

Ally McBeal: The Complete Series

Gosh, it seems longer than 12 years since Ally McBeal debuted. It’s not that the show feels dated — that original snap is still there in the long-awaited set (season 1 also sells separately) — it’s just that TV’s come a long way, baby. Funny, complex lawyer Ally (Calista Flockhart) was a revelation, thanks to creator David E. Kelley’s gender-neutral writing, long before Glenn Close, Kyra Sedgwick, or Jill Scott ever saw TV scripts with now-common strong female leads. Kelley was a master at sexual politics — of course, it helps to have Peter MacNicol, Greg Germann (”Bygones!”), and Jane Krakowski interpreting the lines. Yes, Ally had flaws: Fans suffered through Gil Bellows’ cancer plot and Hayden Panettiere’s dreaded final-season ”cute kid.” And while we’re griping, MacNicol is sorely missed in the spare EXTRAS, which include interviews with all key players except the Biscuit and Lisa Nicole Carson — who is also MIA on the enclosed soundtrack. Too bad; she and Vonda Shepard sang stellar duets and, like Ally itself, captured inspired moments. B+

Ally McBeal: The Complete Series
  • TV Show