Car Wash

Season: 3

Episode: 1

Production Code: #3M01

First Air Date: October 25, 1999

Writer: David E. Kelley

Director: Billy Dickson

# of Times Richard said Bygones: 0

Guest Stars:

Jason Gedrick as Joel (the groom)
Tracy Middendorf as Ressa Helms (the bride)
Albert Hall as Judge Seymore Walsh
Dyan Cannon as Judge Jennifer "Whipper" Cone
Ray Walston as Minister Bryer
Barry White as himself
Edith Varon as Joel's Mother
Richmond Shepard as Joel's Father
Lillian Byrd as Mrs. Helms
Alec Murdock as Mr. Helms
Freeman Micheals as Daniel
Scott Turney as Heckler #1
Irene White as Heckler #2
Laura Henry as Heckler #3


A sprightly young-ish female bounces in the sunlight to the giddy soundtrack of an erstwhile a.m. radio songstress. Kind of familiar?

Not so fast McBeal obsessives, for a couple minutes at least it seems like someone’s been erratically morphing from Laura Ashley romantic to a Gap wearing, Gucci in disguise, vulgar-verber. Ally is drenched to her sinewy bones, she’s (gasp!) donning flat shoes, and the dead give-away has to be that usually limp hair that now sports rippled ‘Ray of Light’ strands. Hmmm.

As John Cage succinctly puts it, in this third season opener there seems to be a rash of over-sexed woman. First Ally gets deliciously soapy with an anonymous George Stephanopolous (minus the buoyant hair) ringer, Breck-girl in training Nelle craves phone sex; and new law partners Renee and The Whip interview prospective colleagues based on the men’s abilities to ‘Shake their Bon Bon.’

This of course is meant to insight the age old watercooler vibe: How come Mick Jagger’s walking coat hanger fetish deems him a god while Madonna’s healthy interest in Latinos is taboo?

As for that sudsy rendezvous in the car-wash, didn’t that steam up the windows quicker than anything you’ve ever seen on network television?

With a bare shoulder here, a slice of torso there, the director made it seem as though we’d been privy to a lot more information than was actually shown. It was sort of like the way everyone totally believes they saw the knife plunging into Janet Leigh during that infamous Psycho shower, when in fact they saw next to nothing.

Sadly with such a snappy start the show immediately back-peddled onto old stomping grounds. Ally’s client Resa, a blonde deb in Tea Leoni pearls, was caught by her minister while experiencing some bliss with a man other than her intended. Naturally, Ally mops up this mess in record time and becomes a bride’s maid in an atypically horrendous turquoise dress.

Here’s where it all becomes some cutesy television cliché, best known as the Three’s Company coincidence. Resa’s fiancé Joel, just happens to be the guy Ally got mad, passionate with. We were treated to the obligatory soap opera “suspense” as we wait for her to blurt out the truth, which of course she did.

Wasn’t it strange when she spoke into a microphone to announce she had sex with Joel, strangely shading Ellen Degeneres’ outing at the airport?

Admittedly, that was a funny scene, but it was disappointing in the same breath. If they were trying to portray Ally as having acquired a new attitude, then why not just let her have her two-minute stand, like a man would, instead of making her turn all noble about it?

We’ve traveled through the good and the bad, now here comes the ugly part. Elaine and John’s dirty dancing in front of the mirror to revive his inner Barry White was utterly ridiculous. These two characters are degenerating into one-dimensional cartoons at such a rapid pace, that, as the hot little biscuit would put it, “ it’s troubling.”

Pushing buttons seems to be Fox and David E. Kelley’s sole reason for existing, but wouldn’t it be nice if there was a little more earth-shattering filler to compliment the Entertainment Tonight headlines?

©1999 Almost Human