Yet another show that squanders such estimable talent is Ally McBeal, which boasts Robert Downey Jr. as a semi-regular; turns out he's just gone from prison to a different hellhole. Not having seen a single episode since midway through the first season, I was astonished to discover just how wretched Ally McBeal really is and how little the heroine has evolved since David E. Kelley birthed her three seasons ago. She's as whiny and solipsistic as ever--the drama queen, in search of a little drama. Downey enters as Ally's new love interest, or so the season premiere hints (more episodes were available for previewing, but life's too short). Ally's boyfriend of six months has asked her to move in, but she's unsure and in need of a little counsel; she goes to her therapist's office only to discover that Downey occupies it. Within a matter of seconds, she's spilling her guts and taking his advice; only later does she discover that he is, in fact, a lawyer (hope this doesn't give away a, gulp, surprise).
Downey is horribly out of place here: He belongs in the movies, while Calista Flockhart and the rest of this show's cast belong on television; he's big-timing it among career small-screeners. Even with Kelley's clumsy dialogue spilling from his mouth at such a rapid rate that his words become a vowel, Downey possesses a presence these people do not because he transcends such mundane material, while Flockhart and her cast mates revel in it. You can't help but feel Downey's speeding through his speeches, hoping to get none of the stink on him.
Good luck with all that.