Ally McBeal
The Man With The Bag

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The Man With The Bag

We're immediately given the lay of the land within the first few minutes this week. Nelle strolls into John's office in her '40s-wannabe trenchcoat and asks him to represent her father in a wrongful-termination suit. Her dad was a lawyer until he was sixty-five, when he became a teacher. He believes he's Santa Claus, so he got fired. Nelle doesn't know anyone better than John to handle such a case. Her dad walks into John's office all set up in his red fur suit. John greets him as "Mr. Claus." "Call me Kris," Nelle's dad invites cordially. Wow. I was worried that the writers wouldn't be able to think of another Christmas-themed lawsuit. They pulled through again, though.

Nelle is absent from the morning meeting, presumably because she's working on her dad's case. Everyone eats what looks like a buffet of fruitcakes. Ling uses chopsticks. I think that's pretty funny, considering that Lucy Liu hosted Saturday Night Live this week and satirized Hollywood stereotypes of Asians in her monologue. Richard announces that the company holiday party will be -- guess where -- at The Bar, but that after last year's fiasco, no one will be allowed to sing. Mark asks what happened last year. "Ally sang," says Richard. Blam! Ally protests that she sang well, but no one wants to relive that trauma. Elaine comes in to tell John that Nelle needs him urgently in the other room.

The urgency springs from the fact that Nelle's dad is all set to attend his injunction in Santa gear. John tactfully explains why this can't happen, and Daddy Claus leaves to change into a suit and tie. John takes the opportunity to ask Nelle if she's sure her father doesn't have Alzheimer's Disease. The doctor says that it's "some kind of weird schizophrenia" that's triggered at Christmastime. John wonders if Nelle should just accept her father's being fired. She can't, because teaching is his life ever since her stepmother died. I can't believe David E. Kelley isn't taking this opportunity to rail against the over-prescription of Prozac. You know how psychiatrists like Betty White are always wanting to give antidepressants to schizophrenics like Ally...

Larry Paul shows off his over-the-top holiday office décor to Ally. It is, of course, remotely controlled. There are strobe lights, music, flying reindeer -- all kinds of crap. Then Larry clicks the remote and the lights dim. A song from the Charlie Brown Christmas special plays as Larry and Ally kiss. Then Famke Janssen walks in rude as hell in a bow-printed dress and says, "Hi, Larry." Larry says, "Jamie!" and accidentally clicks back to the noisier room theme. Then Ally clicks it all off and Jamie says, "This is your office?" What a weird, stupid question to ask when she obviously sought out his office and then obviously found it. Larry introduces her to Ally as "an old girlfriend." Jamie points out that Ally must be the new one. It turns out that Jamie is a lawyer as well as Sam's mom. (You'll remember that Sam is Larry's son.) Jamie invites Larry and Ally out for coffee but Ally begs off. She and Larry kiss goodbye a million times for Jamie's benefit. "She seems really sweet," Jamie says after Ally leaves. I'm taking this as a forewarning that Jamie is a super-self-centered, psychotic über bitch. I mean, who else would find Ally sweet? She asks if Larry's happy and we get the soap-opera style "long stare in lieu of an answer" until the scene ends.

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Ally McBeal

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