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Downey's "Ally" portrayal of lawyer Larry Paul is one of the high points of current television. He takes the romantic byplay David E. Kelly has written for Larry and Calista Flockhart's Ally and runs with it.
That's what's so confounding about Robert Downey Jr. This guy seems like the world's biggest screw-up, and yet he's been turning in some of the most winning performances seen on TV all season.
Mr. Downey's astonishing work on ''Ally McBeal'' may be as good as anything anyone has done on a television series
Fortunately, the arrival of Downey to play Flockhart's new guy provides an instant change of course that's much easier to accept... Downey brings, dare one say, sanity and stability to a series that has been revelling in inane nuttiness.
The Fox series Ally McBeal, after an offputting, oddball last season, is back in the romantic comedy groove, helped in no small part by the temporary addition of rehabbing actor Robert Downey Jr. to an already great cast.
Creator David E. Kelley's slapstick musical paean to the modern working woman reached a pinnacle of excellence in its fourth season... a study in how to push your series' lead to her breaking point without ringing a single false note.
Oh, it's still over-the-top and tacky... But "Ally" is offbeat and loony again instead of just plain stupid and tawdry. And Downey deserves a great deal of credit for the show's revival.
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