There's probably no other show that has influenced me more than David Kelley's Emmy winning comedy series Ally Mcbeal. It's very likely the single biggest reason that I wanted to become a television writer myself.
There are many reasons why the show has had such a huge impact on me. One of the most important reasons is the fact that Ally Mcbeal showed how it's possible for one person to be responsible for pretty much all of the content on the show.
As far as I know, David E. Kelley almost single-handedly wrote the whole first season of the show. Considering that he also had other shows on air at that time made the feat almost impossible to pull off. He managed to write like twenty episodes all by himself.
In any case, what made Ally Mcbeal in my opinion so good is that it rather seamlessly managed to combine different aspects of peoples' lives into one show. It was about how we - as Ally and the rest - try to manage our professional and our personal lives at the same time.
The central theme of the show was how the main character and protagonist Ally tried to be as good lawyer as possible while she tried to find her soul mate in life. This, as we saw, was much easier said than done.
Indeed, the show was a lot about dreams - and how things wouldn't always go as we hoped they would. In Ally's case, her soul mate, Billy, was already married to another person, Georgia, and they both also happened to work at the same law firm with her.
The series had these characters representing their clients in cases that ranged from anything between suing God to trying to get the judge to agree to a three-way marriage. Very few things were off-limits for the show when it came to tackling social issues.
The series was very good at showing both sides of the argument. In most cases it was difficult to tell who was right and who was wrong. This is what made the court cases so intriguing. You wanted to know how the storylines and the cases would be solved.
Let's also not forget the supporting characters. One of the show's biggest strengths was that just about every supporting character was interesting too. From Ling to John and Richard. Everyone had qualities that made you root for them.
This of course didn't mean that they were perfect. All the characters had not only good qualities but they also had some distinct character flaws. Richard was a sexist, Ally got easily frustrated, Elaine was nosy, Ling was too blunt and John stuttered.
The show was also famous for its over-the-top moments. There were a lot of dance sequences, Ally would hallucinate, John Cage's nose would whistle, they all shared the same huge bathroom, the judges were bizarre and so on.
There were so many things why the series shouldn't have worked. Yet, for some reason everything just clicked. The show was an absurdist romantic comedy mixed with some very dramatic moments. It was something that we had never seen before.
In my opinion, Ally Mcbeal worked because it was a series that managed to make you think and feel. It would make you laugh and cry. There was soul, substance and entertainment in almost every episode - well at least during the first three seasons.
In the end, that is a something that is extremely rare when it comes to television entertainment - and it's something that makes me miss the show very much. I honestly don't think we're going to have a show like Ally Mcbeal on tv anytime soon.