Since I'm a huge fan of David Kelley it shouldn't come as a surprise that I was a massive fan of Ally Mcbeal too. Like many others, I think the first three seasons of the show were pretty much amazing.
In many ways, when I think of Ally Mcbeal, I can't help but to think that we haven't seen another show that is so full of love, compassion, kindness, dignity, soul, substance and entertainment at the same time.
There are many reasons why I think the show was so good - like for example the absurdist humor - but perhaps the biggest reason for its success was that the characters were so real and vulnerable (even though they admittedly were a bit weird too)
The show had a great balance between comedy and drama, between the characters being so determined and yet being so emotionally honest. From neurotic Ally to slutty Elaine, from eccentric Bisquit to chauvinistic Richard Fish. Even the cold Ling had a softer side to her.
A lot of the episodes were so well written that it kinda makes me wonder if there's going to be another show - and a writer like David Kelley - that's going to pull off 'human' stuff as well as it did on the show.
I have many favorite moments from the show, and even though the show was billed as a comedy, most of my favorite moments are actually dramatic and not funny at all. That is because these moments made us relate with the characters.
Moments like Billy's death while giving a closing argument in court, Haley Joel Osment's character dying from cancer with Ling's reaction to that, Ally hugging a dead transvestite prostitute are moments that defined the show and the characters.
Some other great moments were when the always cheerful office slut Elaine gets her feelings hurt when she's told she's 'easy', Billy and Georgia wondering if they were going to have a baby.. and so on.
Of course what made the show different from other comedies is that Ally Mcbeal was a one hour comedy instead of a half hour one. That gave the show a bit more leeway to deal with different sorts of issues.
Nevertheless, when I watch a pretty good show like Modern Family, I can't help but to think that we should see more episodes where the characters are a bit more vulnerable. That's something that in my opinion makes a good show great.