• Network:
  • Series Premiere Date: Sep 8, 1997
  • Season #: 1 , 2 , 3 , 4 , 5
Ally McBeal Image
Metascore
73

Generally favorable reviews - based on 28 Critics What's this?

User Score
9.0

Universal acclaim- based on 7 Ratings

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  • Starring: Peter MacNicol, Lisa Nicole Carson, Calista Flockhart
  • Summary: FOX's hit dramatic and humorous show tells the story of the trials and tribulations of a 28-year-old lawyer by the name of Ally McBeal (Calista Flockhart), who is just fresh out of Harvard Law School. Ally was harassed at the firm where she was originally working, and when she told the firm's partners, she ended up losing her job. However, she then runs into an old friend and he offers her a new job at his brand new firm where she meets tons of new people and her old boyfriend, Billy with who she'll lead her new life full of cases and Ally's fantasies.Once the darling of the network, rumors of anorexia plagued star Calista Flockhart. The second and third seasons, therefore, introduced more and more eccentric characters who were given essentially "nothing" to do, and original seriesa regulars Gil Bellows and Courtney Thorne-Smith both left to pursue other projects.Ally McBeal was revitalized in its fourth season with the addition of Robert Downey Jr. as the lead character's love interest, Larry Paul. However, Downey's personal problems and numerous arrests, eventually wore out Kelley's patience and he was dropped. Lisa Nicole Carson, who played Ally's roommate, also left at the end of the fourth season following a brief stint in an institution and admitted problems with substance abuse.Without Downey, the fifth season had floundered more than ever; bringing in Jon Bon Jovi as a love interest, and giving Ally a daughter played by Hayden Panettiere) hadn't helped. Lucy Liu's character was dropped to a recurring role, while James LeGros left. James Marsden and Julianne Nicholson were added to the cast, only to be dropped a few weeks later. David E. Kelley decided then to cancel the show instead of having FOX executives do it for him.Awards/Nominations:EMMY AWARDS:> 1998 - Nominated - Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series [David E. Kelley; for episode "Theme Of Life"] > 1998 - Nominated - Outstanding Single Camera Picture Editing for a Series [Tom Moore; for episode "Cro-Magnon"] > 1998 - Nominated - Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series [Calista Flockhart] > 1998 - Nominated - Outstanding Directing for a Comedy Series [Allan Arkush; for episode "Cro-Magnon"] > 1998 - Nominated - Outstanding Directing for a Comedy Series [James Frawley; for episode 1] > 1998 - Nominated - Outstanding Costuming for a Series [for episode "Cro-magnon"] > 1998 - Nominated - Outstanding Comedy Series > 1998 - Nominated - Outstanding Casting for a Series > 1998 - Nominated - Outstanding Art Direction for a Series (for episode "Boy to the World") > 1998 - Won! - Outstanding Sound Mixing for a Comedy Series or a Special (for episode "Boy to the World") > 1999 - Nominated - Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series [David E. Kelley; for episode "Sideshow"] > 1999 - Nominated - Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series [Lucy Liu] > 1999 - Nominated - Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series [Peter MacNicol] > 1999 - Nominated - Outstanding Single Camera Picture Editing for a Series [Philip Carr Neel] > 1999 - Nominated - Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series [Calista Flockhart] > 1999 - Nominated - Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series [John Ritter; for episodes "George Madison"; "It's My Party" & "Story of Love"] > 1999 - Nominated - Outstanding Directing for a Comedy Series [Arlene Sanford; for episode "Those Lips, That Hand"] > 1999 - Nominated - Outstanding Costume Design for a Series [Rachael Stanley; for episode "Making Spirits Bright"] > 1999 - Nominated - Outstanding Casting for a Series > 1999 - Nominated - Outstanding Art Direction for a Series [for episode "Making Spirits Bright"] > 1999 - Won! - Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series [Tracey Ullman; for episodes "Tracy Clark" & "Sideshow"] > 1999 - Won! - Outstanding Comedy Series > 1999 - Won! - Outstanding Sound Mixing for a Comedy Series or a Special [for episode "Love's Illusion"] > 2000 - Nominated - Outstanding Directing for a Comedy Series [Bill D'Elia; for episode "Ally McBeal: The Musical"] > 2000 - Nominated - Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series [Peter Macnicol] > 2000 - Won! - Outstanding Sound Mixing for a Comedy Series or a Special [for episode "Car Wash"] > 2001 - Nominated - Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series [Robert Downey Jr.] > 2001 - Nominated - Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series [Calista Flockhart] > 2001 - Nominated - Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series [Bernadette Peters; for episode "Cassandra Lewis"] > 2001 - Nominated - Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series [jami gertz; for episode "Kimmy Bishop"] > 2001 - Nominated - Outstanding Cinematography for a Single Camera Series [Billy Dickinson; for episode "Cloudy Skies, Chance Of Parade"] > 2001 - Won! - Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series [Peter MacNicol] > 2001 - Won! - Outstanding Casting for a Comedy Series > 2002 - Nominated - Outstanding Cinematography for a Single Camera Series [Billy Dickinson; for episode "Reality Bites"]GOLDEN GLOBE AWARDS:> 1998 - Won! - Best TV-Series - Comedy/Musical > 1998 - Won! - Best Performance by an Actress in a TV-Series - Comedy/Musical [Calista Flockhart] > 1999 - Nominated - Best Performance by an Actress in a TV-Series - Comedy/Musical [Calista Flockhart] > 1999 - Nominated - Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Series, Mini-Series or Motion Picture [jane Krakowski] > 1999 - Won! - Best TV-Series - Comedy/Musical > 2000 - Nominated - Best Performance by an Actress in a TV-Series - Comedy/Musical [Calista Flockhart] > 2000 - Nominated - Best TV-Series - Comedy/Musical > 2001 - Nominated - Best Performance by an Actress in a TV-Series - Comedy/Musical [Calista Flockhart] > 2001 - Nominated - Best TV-Series - Comedy/Musical > 2000 - Won! - Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Series, Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for TV [Robert Downey Jr.] > 2002 - Nominated - Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series - Musical or Comedy [Calista Flockhart] > 2002 - Nominated - Best Television Series - Musical or ComedyTheme Song: "Searching My Soul" by Vonda ShepardFOX Broadcast History September 1997 - May 2002 -- Mondays 9:00 PM Expand
  • Genre(s): Comedy, Drama
Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 23 out of 28
  2. Negative: 3 out of 28
  1. Reviewed by: Hal Boedeker
    Jul 24, 2013
    100
    Unlike so many new series, Ally McBeal has a voice, a smart point of view and a promising conflict. [7 Sep 1997]
  2. Reviewed by: John Levesque
    Jul 24, 2013
    91
    In the wrong hands, it would be hopelessly hokey. In Kelley's hands, it's hokey and somehow meaningful, thanks mainly to his deft writing touch. [8 Sep 1997]
  3. Reviewed by: Mike Duffy
    Jul 24, 2013
    90
    This smart, imaginative romantic drama about a female attorney has quickly established itself as one of the most interesting new series in years. [29 Sep 1997]
  4. Reviewed by: Marvin Kitman
    Jul 12, 2013
    80
    As a law show, "McBeal" is not as good as "The Practice." It has a lot of unrealistic, implausible, even surrealistic law. What it does well is show the compassionate, human side of the law profession, outside the courtroom. [9 Feb 1998]
  5. Reviewed by: Ed Bark
    Jul 24, 2013
    75
    Mr. Kelley otherwise fills too much time with extraneous law cases and Ally's narrative meanderings and fantasies. ... There are sparks, though. Ms. Flockhart is an actress of considerable promise, and some of the dialogue zings home while Mr. Kelley walks his latest high wire. [7 Sep 1997]
  6. Reviewed by: Irv Letofsky
    Jul 24, 2013
    70
    It's thin fantasy material that often stumbles over the line of cute, but it's snappy and cleverly fresh. [8 Sep 1997]
  7. Reviewed by: Tom Shales
    Jul 24, 2013
    20
    Silly McDumb. [14 Sep 1997]

See all 28 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 0 out of
  2. Mixed: 0 out of
  3. Negative: 0 out of