Back before you could basically stay on the internet during all waking hours I was forced to spend time watching TV with my sig-other. And when you watch TV with your gf you watch what she wants to watch and you shut up about the stupidity of it if you want peace and harmony. One such show was Abby McBeal, whom my gf adored and emulated. I saw about 4 seasons before she lost interest and I was free.
Recently a person I watch shows (in the background now, while we work and do other things online) pulled up a season of Ally. Must be a later one because Billy is dead. One thing that jumped out at me is the terribleness of Vonda Sheppard.
First off, she sings in that gospelly style favored by black singers, where you add acrobatic vocal swoops throughout the song, not even bothering to state the real melody before going off with all the “yeah yeah yeahs” and “wo-ooh-ooh ohhs!” obliterating the melody until it’s unrecognizable. I’ve noticed that she is unable to sing a melody even when she’s singing straight. She ill-advisedly tries off-genre songs that she apparently doesn’t know intrinsically, having heard them many times, but had to learn. One was “Mr. Bojangles”- the arrangement didn’t help, but her melody was unrecognizable. For R&B and soul songs it’s not so egregious because a lot of those songs don’t have a strong melody and rely on oooing and ahhing to fill in the blank spaces.
Another failing she has, besides butchering the melody of many songs with strong, recognizable melodies is she can’t hold a note to save her life. She wavers and quavers and vibratos torturing the note in and out of key like a wayward digital chorus. People used to use it in the studio before the now ubiquitous pitch corrector so that notes would glide up and down, in key at least 50% of the time no matter how off the singer was. She can’t just hit a strong note in-key and hold it. She is purportedly a belter, like Linda Ronstadt, but unlike her Sheppard has no tone control at all. I heard her singing “Only You” and she was off-key even on notes she didn’t have to hold.
I detest the way she butchers phrasing and her delivery often doesn’t scan correctly, forcing her to adlib moans and groans to fill in the lines.
Yet another failing is the timbre of voice. Nasally and flat, with a brassy, braying quality that doesn’t translate well when she’s not belting. She has a comfortable range of about an octave, outside of that she’s all over the place, hence she often sings a harmony of the melody instead of the melody or jumps from melody to a different voicing to stay in her comfort zone. Of course, this further butchers the melod.
When singing a song with a wide range, originated by a great singer like, say, Karen Carpenter, “Goodbye to Love” sounds like a Karaoke bar drunk hamming it up instead of a professional singer.
On top of that, I don’t know if she plays all the piano she’s miming, but the style is insipid and trite. If Boots Randolph were a piano player, he’d play like she does. Floyd Cramer comes to mind. She has none of the jazzy chordings or flair of Diana Krall (someone once mixed the 2 up and I remarked well, they both are women with blonde hair, but the comparison should end there). Sheppard gets away with all this bullshit because she is a ‘stylist’ and does her interpretation of the song and you’re supposed to enjoy it on those terms, however, finding her a poor singer I cannot do this.
Then we come to her ‘acting’. Ally McBeal obviously had a director telling the various females on the show how to mug for the camera to make the best impression. They told Calista Flockhart to constantly push her lips out in a duck-face to emphasize the weird ass mouth she has that was supposed to be either sexy or charming or I don’t know what the hell. Probably just striking and notable, because it damn sure wasn’t attractive.
Well this person would stand in front of Sheppard and while she was singing keep trying to get her attention and when Sheppard looked up she’d remember she was supposed to smile while singing. In many songs you see her singing with her usual dopy moronic stare and all the sudden out of the blue she pops a big toothy grin for no reason.
And her ‘dancing’ or even swaying to the music is artificial, inconsistent with the beat and just awkward. They usually only focus on her for a second or 2, I think mostly because, not to get personal, oh what the hell, she has a big-ass cowhead. She’s not attractive and not novel or strange looking like many of the other females on the show. I never found any of them but Courtney Thorne-Smith to be conventionally beautiful of even pretty, but they were meant to be iconic or striking in a kind of TV way. Ally herself acted mostly with her hair, mugging, posing constantly for the camera, pouting, moueing etc.
Lucy Liu looked like an automaton. She was about as sexy as a robot. Ally’s gaptoothed roommate, terrible, heavy body and giant, scary mouth. Jane Krawhatever, terrible body, overly-made up face arching her eyebrows and rolling her eyes (at least her or whoever dubbed her could sing, albeit in that annoying Broadway manner). The big girl who married Ellen Degenerus, I dunno, she mostly had her hair pulled back flat on her head and looked weird. When her hair was down she looked presentable. Too big-boned to be conventionally attractive.
The firm would take and argue idiotic cases, I’ve never seen a show so terribly fucked up about court-room procedure and what a judge would allow in the way of stunts. And of course they would always win, unless they were on the wrong side of a PC issue. Trans people always won, feminists always beat chauvenists (and all the men were chauvenists), a woman could sue for harassment for the most ridiculous thing and they’d of course win. The lefty cause always won and took a self-righteous swipe against religion, priests, nuns etc. Left wing radical positions were presented as the moral and correct position, conservatives were not only ridiculed but held up as immoral, hateful, bigoted, sexist and all would get their come-uppance, no matter how ridiculous the case.
Abby’s recurrent jungle fever and black roommate were further nods to leftwing “tolerance” (although I doubt any self-respecting black man would put up with Ally’s shit for a minute, she jerks one of them around to the point it becomes stupid) but they were behind the curve on trans tolerance and the staff single guy couldn’t get his mind around dating a shemale who still had her “dumbstick” (the word for penis on the show as they constantly denigrated men as idiots led around by their dicks). To rectify this they did find a hubby for Sweet Loretta Modern and won the case allowing her to marry.
The show was even terrible at context for their songs, which were held to be a huge part of the show. In an episode with Pee Wee Herman, the horrid Cheri Oteri and a subdued and seemingly embarrassed Sting they sing “Every Breath You Take” as a love song, which Sting has repeatedly pointed out is just the opposite, a paeon to stalking.
Don’t even get me started on the baby-voiced black gospel singer with the bad wigs and giant square jaw who butchered several Beatles songs (putting Beatles songs in the mouths of singers at a black church seems pretty unlikely but par for the course for a tone-deaf white liberal like David whatshisname, the creator and writer). And of course the reverend at this black church was fucking everyone of the big fat black women in his choir, causing them to sing antagonistic Beatles songs at one another like “Run for your life if you can little girl”). This same episode had Christine Lahti as a supposed Queen Bee sex goddess who fucked all her employees, coming off about as sexy as Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction, as in, like a transvestite with a big veiny penis and an Adam’s Apple and giant man hands. The creator of this series seemed to have no grasp on what or who was sexy. They spend all their time talking about fucking and sex and it’s the un-sexiest show you ever want to see. It’s a beta-male’s idea of what would turn on women, I guess. He ends up being sexy to noone in the real world.
I could go on about this show, mostly because at the time I had to forebear criticizing all this crap or risk the wrath of my gf, who took any criticism of her shows, music or movies of choice personally. Now I’ve vented, I’m done with the show. It’s truly terrible, and one of its main features, Vonda Sheppard, is probably the focus of this horror. Avoid.