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What It Means to Live in Berkeley Parade.
November 23rd, 1999

Ally McBeal
As someone who hasn't owned a television set for most of his life and who has assumed with advancing age that he would find less and less of interest on the tube, I have to admit more than just a fondness for Ally McBeal. It is, um, wonderful. The writing is wonderful, the music is wonderful, the madness is wonderful, the juxtaposition of story lines is wonderful. It's a fairy tale fantasy for adults. People break into song while arguing their cases in court. They're lawyers. Maybe as lawyers they argue their place in the overall scramble, each championing their part in the firm, the firm itself representing the whole and complete individual. Then again, maybe they don't. I'm not much into that kind of analysis, but multiple personalities seem to be the rage at the moment. Everyone is experiencing one of life's little crises at about eight hundred miles an hour: sexual roles, sexual congress, marriage making, marriage breaking, courting and career, fatherhood, motherhood, sisterhood, brotherhood and the search for Right, Mr. and Ms., often in the firm's unisex restroom where most of their business seems to be transacted.

I'm not sure how to describe it: the rhythm's right. Ally's psychiatrist in last night's episode: A standard caricature, I think, but how nicely done. The attitudes and passions and prejudices that are examined, how could you do it in any other way and still hold an audience? (Well, all the other ways you hold an audience.)

There are lots of ways for McBeal to fail. All the women are rather What It Means To Live in Berkeley Parade. spectacularly good looking, for example. This is not slice of life. How do you keep it from becoming another Boobs, er, Baywatch? I wonder if the creator and writers are predominantly men. (The neurotic male nebbish character is not only surrounded by beautiful women, but finds them all unnaturally attracted to him.) Just a male writer's fantasy turned into an hour on Fox Monday nights? Could be, but I know more than one woman friend who's thoroughly hooked. (With some exceptions. In reading her journal, Xeney can't stand it.) Ah, well. Next Monday. Here I am touting a television program. If I find this embarrassing later, I can always come back and erase it. Substitute The Simpsons. Or This Week in Washington.

Tomorrow I think I'll go by Ratto's and buy some cheese for the long weekend. Carry it home in the nap sack. Something tasty. A Stilton. A Swiss. Something yellow and nasty to nibble while I'm working. I really do have to do something with this journal design.

The photographs were taken at the What It Means to Live in Berkeley Parade.