Ally McBeal-Season 1-Part 2-Episodes 12-22 (1997)

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Released 9-Apr-2002

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama None
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1997
Running Time 467:00 (Case: 495)
RSDL / Flipper No/No
Multi Disc Set (3)
Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Various
Studio
Distributor

Twentieth Century Fox
Starring Calista Flockhart
Greg Germann
Peter MacNicol
Gil Bellows
Courtney Thorne-Smith
Case Slip Case
RPI $79.95 Music Danny Lux
Vonda Shepard


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 2.0 (112Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.33:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles Dutch
English for the Hearing Impaired
French
Smoking Yes, cigars
Annoying Product Placement Yes, other Fox productions
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    As I stated in my review of the first half of the season, (which can be read here), 'Ally McBeal has been both a critical and commercial success from the very beginning, and the show is still running strongly today (with a new season about ready to kick off). The first season has now arrived on DVD, and fans of the series should be very happy with the box-set that has been released in Region 4.'

    Okay, so is there anything different plot-wise in the second half of season one? I would say that the series becomes a little more off-beat. A nine-year-old lawyer is added as a recurring character, the weird partners in the firm, Cage and Fish are given a lot more air-time, and there are a few elaborate dance numbers mimed to popular songs. Bobby (Dylan McDermott) from David E. Kelley's other show The Practice, makes a few cross-marketing appearances, and Tracey (Tracey Ullman) the wacky smile-therapist also joins the cast.

    The Season One, Part Two box-set contains three DVDs, with the following episodes:

    Volume 1:

    Episode 12: The Blame Game (41:46) -- Ally juggles a new relationship with a new case.

    Episode 13: Body Language (42:34) -- Fish asks Ally to flirt with a new client.

    Episode 14: Once In A Lifetime (43:30) -- Ally and Cage plan to date, but not all goes to plan.

    Episode 15: Forbidden Fruits (43:27) -- Ally becomes involved in a case that parallels her relationship with Billy. The Dancing Baby returns.

    Volume 2:

    Episode 16: Theme Of Life (43:22) -- Ally begins to consult a 'smile therapist'.

    Episode 17: The Playing Field (40:14) -- Ally has to face a nine-year-old lawyer after a car accident.

    Episode 18: Happy Birthday Baby (43:18) -- Ally is avoiding her birthday, but the firm has other plans.

   Episode 19: The Inmates (43:28) -- Ally's friend Renee is arrested on an assault charge, and Ally and Cage defend her.

    Volume 3:

    Episode 20: Being There (41:41) -- Renee's case continues, and it causes problems with Ally and Renee's friendship.

    Episode 21: Alone Again (41:11) -- Fish and Cage must both unexpectedly face their past in the courtroom.

    Episode 22: These Are The Days (42:54) -- Another cross-over episode, as Bobby from The Practice teams up with Ally on a case.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    As I stated in my review of the first half of season one, 'the show has very high production values all round. It features great photography and lighting by Billy Dickson, great editing, great set and costume design, great art direction, great casting and acting, and even great CGI effects. The transfer reflects this, and on the whole, for a television production, the transfer is very good.' It is also presented in the original aspect ratio of 1.33:1, full-frame.

    The sharpness again is a little variable, with the image often being soft and grainy. The black level and shadow detail are again reasonable but not great. For example, consider the lack of shadow detail in the dark office at Episode 14, 16:46, and the lack of shadow detail in the background of the courtroom at Episode 15, 27:38.

    The colour is again magnificent, and really makes the most of the aforementioned lighting, costume and art direction. The rich and beautifully saturated colours can be enjoyed, for example, with the flowers in the office at Episode 17, 19:22. Unlike the first half of season one, I did not spot any colour bleeding.

    Once again there are a few MPEG artefacts on display, but none that should cause too much anxiety. There is some mild pixelization, such as at Episode 18, 7:45, some mild posterization, such as on the witness' face during at Episode 12, 14:23, and Episode 17, 14:43. Again there is the frequent, but slight, macro-blocking, such as evident with the background walls at Episode 16, 14:38 and Episode 17, 9:41.

    While aliasing is never really a problem, there is a very slight shimmer on the buildings of the Boston City Scape at Episode 17, 11:47.

    There are a few film artefacts appearing, and clear examples of these tiny white dots can be found during Episode 14, 11:36 or at Episode 16, 34:57.

    There is also a little edge enhancement on display, and white halos around the characters are very evident during Episode 12, 39:57 and at Episode 14, 38:31.

    The DVD's content has been subtitled with Dutch, French and English (for the Hearing Impaired). The English subtitles are simplified, but present a clear impression of the dialogue.

    All the discs are dual layered, with the layer change placed between episodes. Each episode is a separate title on each DVD.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    There are two audio options: English Dolby Stereo-Surround, and French Dolby Stereo-Surround.

    The dialogue quality and audio sync are excellent on the default English audio track.

    The musical score is credited to Danny Lux, and it is fairly standard television scoring. Vonda Shepard provides the main theme music and most of the source music. Shepard often performs a number of well-known tunes, in her own style, which cleverly reflect plot lines and character dialogue, such as Dream Lover and Alone Again Naturally. There seems to be more recognisable music from the original recording artists used later in the season, and examples include the frequent use of Tom Jones' It's Not Unusual, The Supremes' Some Day We'll Be Together, and Barry White's Can't Get Enough Of Your Love Baby.

    The surround sound mix is again quite front-heavy, as one might expect for a dialogue-based television program. The rear speakers are subtly used for the occasional effect, such as the ambience during the bar scenes, as at Episode 14, 32:03. Shepard's theme music also gets piped to the rears.

    The subwoofer is very, very quiet throughout, but there were a few very rare examples of redirected bass, such as the boulder dropping at Episode 12, 2:22, and Georgia stomping her feet at Episode 22, 18:58.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

   As with the first half of the season, there are none.

Menu

    There are a series of themed but different non-animated menus, presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1. They are all static and silent.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    This box set has not been released in Region 1.

    However, a  two-disc box set entitled Ally McBeal: Ally On Sex And The Single Life was released in Region 1, in January 2000. It contains a 'random' selection of six episodes from Season One, but in no particular order. There has been nothing released since in Region 1.

    I should also note that, strangely, Season 4 (only) has been released as a box set in Region 2.

    It is clear that our Ally McBeal box set is vastly superior to the Region 1 'version'.

Summary

    To recap, 'Ally McBeal is a warm-hearted, idealistic show that has the same feel-good qualities of The Wonder Years. In fact, one may consider it an adult version of that show -- we have a central character who narrates the highs and lows of their turbulent life.'

    The video quality is very good for a television program.

    The audio quality is very front-heavy, but this is perfectly acceptable for a dialogue-based television program.

    There are NO extras!

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Brandon Robert Vogt (warning: bio hazard)
Friday, March 22, 2002
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-535, using S-Video output
DisplayGrundig Elegance 82-2101 (82cm, 16x9). Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationSony STR DE-545
SpeakersSony SS-V315 x5; Sony SA-WMS315 subwoofer

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