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Silver Bells is the 11th episode of Season One of Ally McBeal.


Ally tries the case of a 'throuple' wishing to make it legal. Elaine goes all in on the office Christmas party, while Fish's relationship with Whipper takes a turn.


As Elaine recruits singers for the firm's musical Christmas party, Fish asks Ally to take the case of James, Mindy and Pattie Horton, who would like to be a legally-married threesome. Ally is uncomfortable with the idea and so is Whipper, who nonetheless agrees to hear the Hortons' testimony.

Fish rehearses 'I Love You More Today Than Yesterday' for the Christmas party. Elaine tells him Whipper would rather have a ring than a song. Back in court, James Horton testifies that his marriage to Mindy was becoming dull until he met Pattie then his new love helped revive his relationship with Mindy as well. The next day, Mindy says that taking Pattie into their home eliminated the secrecy of James' double life and that it's nice to have a second mother around for the kids. Later, Georgia tells Billy that the Hortons have made her realize that Billy, too, has been more open and intimate since Ally came back into the picture. Billy denies this, but realizes it's true. Cage tells Ally that James bringing Pattie home reminds him of when his parents brought home his new baby brother when Cage was 13 months old. Cage felt it was an invasion at first, but grew to love the new baby. Ally says no one can remember things from when they were 13 months old.

As Elaine rehearses her 'Ikette' backup singers, Billy recounts to Ally what Georgia said about their relationship. Ally says she never wanted to break up Billy and Georgia's marriage but doesn't want to be the best thing that ever happened to it either. That night, Whipper tells Fish she is going home alone. Fish tells her people should stop taking stock of their lives at Christmas as it only leads to misery. He also asks whether marriage is really all that important. She says it must be, to scare him so much.

The next day, in court, Pattie testifies that she never expected to be in a polygamous relationship but it makes having both a career and kids much easier. Later, Fish asks Cage what to do about Whipper, but Cage is still preoccupied with his growing attraction to Ally. Finally, Georgia confronts Billy and Ally. She is angry that Ally makes Billy a better person, angry that Billy's friendship with Ally makes Billy and Georgia's marriage stronger and even angry that she likes Ally. Ally ducks out, saying the issue is between Georgia and Billy. Back in court, the opposing counsel argues that marriage, a once sacred institution, is becoming trivialized today. Cage says it is not trivial to protect and honor a solid, loving home like the Hortons. That night, Whipper visits the Hortons' home and sees more stability there than she had in either of her two marriages.

The next day, Georgia finally gets Billy to understand that his intimacies with Ally represent less than total fidelity to Georgia. Cage steels himself to ask Ally out and, although he goes into the conversation with an open fly and Ally turns him down, saying she cannot date her boss. The Christmas party then starts. As Elaine sings with the 'Ikettes,' Fish is paged with the Horton verdict. Whipper rules that although the Hortons do have a successful relationship, the three-way marriage cannot be supported legally. Later, Fish picks Whipper up for the party and admits to her he is afraid of marriage. He says he loves her, but doesn't want to turn out like his own bickering parents. Back at the party, Vonda and Renee sing a duet. Ally finds Cage alone in his office. He asks how old she was at her first memory. She says 15 months and that she will go out with him after all. This time, though he declines. Down in the bar, Fish sings as the others dance. Up in the office, Ally and Cage share memories of Santa over a bottle of wine. Then they share a slow dance as the party winds down downstairs.


Full transcript can be found here.


Jane Krakowski's character Elaine Vassal was not suppose to sing. However, after David E. Kelley hear her sing a Broadway song on the radio, she got her chance to sing in this episode and later episodes.


More Today Than Yesterday (cover) | GREG GERMANN
I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus (cover) | JANE KRAKOWSKI
Let's Get It On | MARVIN GAYE
Santa Claus Is Coming to Town (cover) | LISA NICOLE CARSON & SHEPARD
Please Come Home for Christmas (cover) | VONDA SHEPARD

See also list of songs in the episode.



Calista Flockhart as Ally McBeal
Courtney Thorne-Smith as Georgia Thomas
Greg Germann as Richard Fish
Lisa Nicole Carson as Renée Raddick
Jane Krakowski as Elaine Vassal
and Gil Bellows as Billy Thomas

Special Appearance By

Peter MacNicol as John Cage
Dyan Cannon as Whipper Cone

Guest starring

Eric Pierpoint as James Horton
Katie Mitchell as 'Patti Horton
Amanda Carlin as Mindy Horton
Vonda Shepard as Herself