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  • Blog

    TV Done Right Blog Hop – Ally McBeal

    8/26/2014

    This is my stop on the TV Done Right Blog Hope being hosted by the lovely Deb Name Krane.

    http://writtenbydeb.blogspot.com.au/2014/08/tv-done-right-coming-to-blog-near-you.html

    I really struggled to pick a show for this. I had lots of old-school options running through my brain.

    It seems like TV done right speaks to you at the age and stage you are at when it aired. Melrose Place speaks to the young single looking for love or The Gilmore Girls to the woman with kids who still wants to be smart and sassy while building a community while Buffy the Vampire Slayer makes us all want to go back to high school for a do-over, oh yeah, and to save the world while we’re there. (That was especially true when you had to wait a week for each new episode, before Netflix, pay per view and DVR players.)

    I had a lot of Australian examples I considered (I’m talking about you such as A Country Practice and E-Street) but I decided I’d pick a show that everyone could relate to. Just for your information, in Australia until about ten years ago we only had four television stations. It was a safe bet whatever you were watching your friends were watching. TV unified us probably more closely than in countries with wider choice. Our programming was drawn from the UK, the USA and Australia. We got foreign shows up to six months later so we waited and sweated on those new episodes even though word had long leaked out about what happened months earlier.

    In the end I’ve chosen to talk about Ally McBeal which began in 1997. My reasoning, apart from the fact I loved the show particularly in the early years is that it spoke to me at that time very loudly.

    If you didn’t watch it or are too young to remember it the show centred on a young lawyer called Ally McBeal and the antics or her friends and colleagues. She started working at a law firm, Cage and Fish and discovered her ex-boyfriend and his new wife worked there also. (Awkard!)

    Here are some of the reasons I loved the show:

    Unisex Bathrooms

    Lots of the action of the show took place in the unisex bathrooms of Cage and Fish. At the time unisex bathrooms were quite controversial. Conversations were over heard, people emerged from cubilces and clients were frequently astounded by the mere existence of the unisex nature of the bathrooms. The truth is lots of conversations in office do take place in the bathroom, you do need to check who is in there before you open your mouth, they are both a private and a very public space. Making them unisex just brought everyone into the conversation.

    Dancing babies or Ally’s imagination and having a theme song

    Ally had a habit of seeing things that weren’t really there. Mild hallucinations, or too vivid an imagination that she couldn’t quite control and while she tried to work out what was real or not it made her seem a tad bizarre. I enjoyed seeing a smart successful woman with an under-current of quirky imagination and it was a good reminder that even as we nod and smile we may be off in another place all together (By the way they use this device in very popular Australian series Offspring.)

    One of the ideas that haunted Ally was the need to have her own theme song and she struggled to find it. It was a problem that plagued here through legal cases, friendship dramas and a string of boyfriends (hello Robert Downey Jnr!) She was changing so pinning down just one song was too hard. I am still trying to find my own theme song.

    The bar downstairs

    These lucky characters worked in a law firm in Boston with a bar downstairs. It was pre-karaoke so they sometimes just stormed the stage and started singing. I loved the idea that at the end of the day these people, who were very quirky and flawed got together and had some fun.(There was also a regular singer at the bar Vonda Shepherd who appeared every week)

    Quirky characters

    This show had a rich cast of odd ball characters. I loved Richard Fish with his unique language and cadence and his penchant for older women. The Biscuit aka John Cage was a really fun, and somewhat absurd character and while I his improbable love for Ally was hard to watch sometimes he was smart and funny and despite his weirdness was always included in the group.

    Work was fun

    This show made going to work in a boring office job look like it was actually pretty fun. That’s probably why it spoke to me, I’d not long left college and I was growing up. I wanted to work with my friends, have our own language (Bygones anyone?) and go out drinking after work. It was a show about grown-ups doing a grown up job and yet it was sometimes hard to spot an adult in the room. That’s why the show worked. Ally and her colleagues were much crazier than the rest of us but what they were going through and struggling with was what most of us in our 20’s at the time were dealing with – office politics, friendship, romance and finding your place.

    I don’t think Ally McBeal stands the test of time as well as some shows but for it’s time it was fun, it was innovative and it read it’s audience really, really well.

    P.S Apologies that the post isn’t very visual. We lost power in a storm and unfortunately the library internet is rather unreliable.

     

    Comments

    Kathryn
    8/27/2014 10:10:51 am

    Now I want to watch the whole series again! I lived in Boston while this was in in the early years, and loved any of the exterior shots for that reason. I also have strong feelings of nostalgia for Felicity, who was in college at the same time as I was, as well as for 90210, which we watched not only the re-runs on a daily basis, but watching the new episodes was a weekly ritual.
    Reply
    Monique
    8/27/2014 10:22:39 am

    Kathryn, I lived in Boston for a while and also loved the exterior shots as well. (I love Boston Legal as well right up to the end and I’m sure that was part of it.) I loved Felicity as well and was a huge 90210 fan. I developed CFS right out of college when 90210 was on and the gang at the Peach Pit were my substitute Friday night friends when all my real friends were out doing exciting things with their lives.

    Melissa A
    9/1/2014 12:09:24 pm

    I wrote this about Ally McBeal a while back. http://merrylandgirl.blogspot.com/2012/04/american-bridget-jones.html
    Reply
    Monique
    9/1/2014 01:12:57 pm

    Off to check it out Melissa A.

  • Blog

    How I Met Your Mother and why I needed a bit more HEA/TV Do-Over Blog Hop

    7/22/2014

    It’s my stop on the TV Do-Over Blog Hop and my TV show of choice is How I Met Your Mother.

    If you haven’t watched the final episode of How I Met Your Mother – SPOILER ALERT – okay, you were warned.

    Do you know what HEA is? It’s happily ever after. I’m a huge fan of HEA in movies, TV and books and I was a huge fan of How I Met Your Mother too, just not a great fan of their lack of HEA. And I know what you’re thinking “I just watched that scene and it looked like a HEA to me.” But was it? I don’t think so.

    I started watching How I Met our Mother when it first started airing. Australian TV programmers do a funny thing where they run a show in prime time but even if it’s rating well they sometimes move the time slot about – sometimes they do it a whole lot – and that happened with this show. That meant I had to work to find it. I had to check my TV guide and remember when it was on because it wasn’t consistent and in the start I didn’t have a DVR. It would come for a while and then vanish and then start running again at 11pm one week and 9.30pm the next. What I’m telling you is this – I was committed to the show.

    I was loyal because when the show started I was in my mid 30’s and I couldn’t hang out in bars with my friends anymore laughing and eating burgers and I really wanted to (I mean REALLY). I wanted Lily to be my friend and I wanted my husband and I to be the ‘couple friends’ she and Marshall sought to find through many seasons but never quite did. They were a great couple and I wanted both of them happy. I had friends like that, friends who struggled to find their place, stay together and have kids. They were my people. Heck we were probably them to an extent.

    I wanted to be involved in the minutia of my friends’ lives the way the characters in the show were. The truth is, I was home with a small child and I had a husband who travelled a whole lot for work and I was more than a bit lonely and didn’t feel I belonged in the suburbs. When Lily and Marshall moved to the suburbs and couldn’t cut it, I could relate. I missed the days when my friends all lived in apartments nearby each other and met for breakfast and shopping or a post-mortem of the night before. I missed that ability to get together on a whim.

    I also wanted a happily ever after for Ted. Yes he was annoyingly earnest, and he didn’t always have great taste in women, but I really liked that he kept going, kept looking, kept searching and to me that was romantic. I never especially wanted him to end up with Robyn because, even though I liked her character, she never struck me as a team player and to me it seemed Ted wanted desperately to be part of a team.

    As for Barney, I “wait for it” loved that character. I loved that he was fun and completely not realistic. I loved that despite working in an office, in a bank, in a soulless environment he didn’t change. He worked the system. And no, you wouldn’t want to date him, but hell yes, I’d love to have him as a friend. He was hilarious.

    He and Robyn together…that kind of worked for me as well. I wanted them to be happy together. I always want that for people. Especially after spending the whole final season, it seemed, getting them down the aisle I wanted a HEA for them. And I thought what made that couple work was that they were honest with each other in a this-is-who-I-am kind of a way.

    So near the end it looked like finally Ted was going to get his happily ever after with ‘the mother”, Barney and Robin were married and yay Lily and Marshall would finally have couple friends. The gang evolves but stays together. Why not leave it there? That’s how I would have ended the show.

    It’s not that the mother got killed off that annoyed me, though I must say as a viewer it felt sudden, for us he’d spent 8 years looking and only had her for a month. (Plus it was a comedy show and I didn’t need to be by anyone’s hospital bed thank you very much!)

    Still, what annoyed me was that Ted got back to Robyn.

    Robyn who had married his friend and dumped him, Robyn who he’d chased for all those years, Robyn who had let Lily, her best friend, drift out of her life because it was easier than hanging in there. That was not a satisfying ending to me. It felt like the wrong girl got the guy.

    And because of that, because of all that history, because in the words of Maya Angelou “when people show you who they are, believe them” well I wasn’t convinced it would ever work for Ted and Robyn and so it didn’t feel HEA for me.

    So I still love that show, I just probably won’t watch that final episode again.

    That’s what I would do differently – I’d give that show a real happily ever after ending because that’s why we watch TV to escape to a world where the right couple gets together and still gets to hang out with their friends whenever they like – even if they have kids, get old and life knocks them about a little.

    ***

    Hop on over to Kerrie Olzak’s blog tomorrow for her TV Do-Over Blog Hop post.” http://www.kerrie-land.blogspot.com/

    For the full schedule of posts visit: http://www.carolinefardig.com/news/blog-hop-coming-soon-/

    Comments

    Linda Gauthier
    7/23/2014 11:11:47 am

    I completely agree. A friend of mine said it disturbed him that the finale basically turned the mother into a place holder, seat warmer, for Robyn. I could not agree more. They did a wonderful job casting and writing for the mother and then they betrayed her. Maybe if we had had more of the mother and ted it would have felt less abrupt and made more sense. At least Robyn got stuck in that awful wig.
    Reply
    Monique
    7/23/2014 11:26:36 am

    That’s how I felt. Robyn was worthy of the wig, you’re right. I didn’t dislike Robyn as a character. I like that she was upfront and unapologetic about who she was and what she wanted – her career, no kids, travel – but I didn’t want her for Ted. Lots of people wanted him to end up with Victoria…that would have been better because so much of love is luck and timing but Robyn had plenty of chances…like 8 years worth…

    Meredith Schorr
    8/5/2014 01:25:47 am

    I was so annoyed that the entire last season was spent on Barney and Robyn’s wedding only for them to break up within 5 minutes. It also seemed like a cop-out to me. The writers wanted Ted and Robyn together but we knew she couldn’t be “the mother” because the kids called her “Aunt” Robyn. So let’s find the “mother” but kill her off so that Ted can still end up with Robyn. UGH. What a waste.

    Carolyn Ridder Aspenson
    8/5/2014 08:45:38 am

    Who didn’t want the mother to be Robyn? From the first episode, which I watched, I wanted it to be her and when it was clear after that first season that we weren’t going to find out until the show ended, I stopped watching. I lack patience. I did periodically watch an episode here and there, and did watch the series ending. Even though I was not a dedicated fan, I was so annoyed that there was this huge build up that lasted YEARS, only for the girl to barely be around and then to end up having Robyn with him. Argh. They could have saved a lot of time just telling me that at the beginning like I wanted.

    Melissa A
    8/20/2014 02:40:21 am

    I was so let down from the finale. Ted and the mother were together long enough to have kids before she was killed off the show. I hated that they did that to her and had him go back to Robin. I loved Robin and all, but not for Ted. Not even for Barney. She needed someone outside of their circle. We never even got to see little Marvin grow up. The finale was so rushed and just so aggravating. They could have spent the whole season focused on the mother instead.