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After 4 fantastic, original, heartwarming and highly amusing seasons of Ally McBeal, it's a shame that the show ended with such a dismal fifth season. The series seemed to completely lose its way, and although there are still some funny lines and sweet moments, it's generally a big disappointment.
The loss of John Cage (played by Peter MacNicol), who had been one of the main characters for the first 4 seasons and had lightened every episode with his sweetness and oddness, is a major blow (he appears here only as an occasional guest star). The absence of Larry (Robert Downey Jr) is also a shame, as he was one of the major reasons that season 4 was such a success. Added to the lack of Billy and Georgia who both left after season 3, and the decreased presence of Renee who now hardly appears, this means that the cast is severely depleted, and the attempts to fill the void with some irritating and insipid new characters (Jenny, Glenn etc) are failures.
The focus of the series also changes - the producers obviously decided that 4 seasons of Ally-trying-to-find-a-man were enough, and so here Ally is faced with a new problem - a teenage daughter who turns up on her doorstep. This doesn't fit in with the rest of the show and doesn't really work. Also, the new man that Ally does find, played by Jon Bon Jovi, is quite likeable, but is no replacement for Downey Jr and doesn't have much chemistry with Ally.
It's almost a relief when the season ends, even though the ending itelf is pretty much a non-entity and a bit of let down after all this time.
Boxset-wise, there are again no special features which is a shame, and the cheap-looking white plastic case isn't a huge turn on. But the picture and sound quality are crystal clear, so no worries there.
Anyway, I give it 3 stars as the acting standard is still high, and it's still a polished show. Its worth buying if you're a big fan of Ally, to complete your collection and to see how it all ends, but if you're a casual viewer then give it a miss and just fondly remember the first 4 seasons, all of which I highly recommend.
(review also posted on amazon.co.uk)