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Short skirts return: 'Ally' now on DVD

The cast, clockwise: Courtney Thorne-Smith, Gil Bellows, Calista Flockhart, Jane Krakowski, Lisa Nicole Carson, Greg Germann.


The cast, clockwise: Courtney Thorne-Smith, Gil Bellows, Calista Flockhart, Jane Krakowski, Lisa Nicole Carson, Greg Germann.

Good news for fans of short skirts, unisex bathrooms and dancing babies: Ally McBeal is back.

The Fox dramedy about a soulmate-seeking Boston lawyer, played by Calista Flockhart, is finally out on DVD. Ally McBeal: The Complete Series — a $200 package of more than 30 discs — had been held up for years over legal fights over music issues.

During its run from 1997 to 2002, Ally ignited tongue-wagging on magazine covers and by watercoolers nationwide on questions that ranged from "Is Ally McBeal a true feminist?" to "Unisex bathrooms: freaky or excellent opportunities for office bonding?"

(We vote "just freaky.")

Here are some other enduring memories from Ally mania:

Killer cast: Gil Bellows was cast opposite Flockhart as the one who got away (with Courtney Thorne-Smith as his wife). But it was the supporting cast that got all the love. Greg Germann's credo-spouting Richard Fish and Portia di Rossi's intimidating Nelle Porter were always fan favorites. Who can forget Peter MacNicol as "the Biscuit." And Robert Downey Jr., then still remaking his career in Hollywood, got a boost (and a few award statues) for his appearances in Season Four.

Kiss-off: Remember when a girl-girl kiss was a big thing on TV? On Ally, it was a much-hyped smooch between Flockhart and icy co-star Lucy Liu.

Signature songstress: Few had heard of Vonda Shepard before McBeal. The singer-songwriter's stock shot up after penning and performing the show's title track, Searchin' My Soul. "I'm really grateful to have a career because of the show," Shepard, who often appeared performing live in the show, told the Wall Street Journal this week.

And what's with the dancing baby? Sometimes known as the "Ooga-Chaka Baby," the computer-animated video of a dancing baby was already an Internet phenom (even though the Internet was still pretty new) when it hit Ally McBeal. It served as a recurring hallucination — prancing along to Shepard's cover Hooked on a Feeling — to remind Ally of her biological clock.

Its impact on TV today: Those fantasy song-and-dance numbers that we all love today in shows like Glee (another Fox creation … hmm)? Credit the minds at Ally with coming up with that a decade ago.

The extras: Hoping for more insight in the DVD extras? According to the Washington Post, the only extra feature worth checking out is "Bygone Days: An 'Ally McBeal' Retrospective," a 40-minute look at the show featuring commentary from Flockhart, creator David Kelley and others.

This report contains material from the Washington Post and Wall Street Journal.

Short skirts return: 'Ally' now on DVD 10/06/09 [Last modified: Tuesday, October 6, 2009 7:47pm]
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