Ally McBeal - Everywoman (sort of)

By Torri McEntire (UltimateTV Writer)

You know someone like Ally McBeal. You might even be Ally McBeal. She's a young, attractive career woman (in this case, lawyer) who knows how to handle her job, but not her love life. She says the right thing, but thinks something entirely different. She is fun, but sometimes depressed, mostly because she has to work with her ex-boyfriend, who married someone else. A gorgeous and smart someone else.

That's the premise for Fox's new one-hour drama "Ally McBeal," the latest brainchild of multiple Emmy Award-winner David E. Kelley ("Chicago Hope," "Picket Fences," "The Practice").

Kelley, who confirmed he will try to write most every episode this first season himself, breaks new ground with the program, which mixes humor with strong storylines in a unique format that is highlighted by the judicious use of fantasy sequences, flashbacks and voiceovers.

Billed as the perfect companion piece to "Melrose Place" and scheduled right after MP, "Ally McBeal" stars Calista Flockhart as Ally; Gil Bellows as her ex-lover, Billy; Courtney Thorne-Smith as Billy's wife (formerly 'Allison' on "Melrose Place"), and Greg Germann as a law firm co-worker Richard.

"Fox was looking for a show to go up against Monday Night Football," Kelley said, "one intended more for women viewers. That sort of was the seed for the show originally, and I had this idea of 'woman' in my head."

Kelley said he believes the show is innovative because of the special effects and the effect on the story whenever Ally's inner thoughts are revealed. In one scene, when she finds out her ex is married, she is pierced through the heart with a number of arrows. In another segment, she tunes out a boastful secretary by picturing the woman with an extremely large head that just keeps growing and growing.

It's easy to wonder, then, what Ally will think about taking on not just Monday night football, but the Ladies of Monday Night on NBC's schedule as well as the female-friendly "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" on WB. Perhaps she will muster up a fantasy sequence that makes the competition completely disappear? Kelley, take note. Perhaps you can work it into episode No. 2.

"Ally McBeal" premieres Monday, Sept. 8, from 9-10 p.m.