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This month's featured animal is


Stefan the Frog - ALLY MCBEAL

Stefan is the personal pet of John Cage, an eccentric partner in the Boston law firm of Cage/Fish & Associates. The frog is an expert jumper and responds to John's commands. Sometimes John calls Stefan with a special frog whistle. To the bemusement of his coworkers, Cage let the tiny little frog sit on his head and wander over his face (John's way of releasing tension). On occasion, Cage serenades Stefan with the lyrics "Be a frog, be a frog." 

We first meet Stefan as he is brought to the office by John who is training him for an upcoming contest. When attorney Nelle Porter sees Stefan she screams, and swats at the frog with a folder. Stefan goes sailing across the room, but is caught by Richard Fish. Nelle apologizes, but says that "Frogs gross me out." 

Stefan the Frog n Toilet - ALLY MCBEALStefan's penchant for exploring gets him into trouble in the firm's unisex bathroom like the time attorney Georgia Thomas enters the stall and sees the frog sitting on the toilet seat that his master John likes to use. Fellow attorney Richard Fish tries to pick up the frog, but it jumps into the toilet. Now Georgia, her husband Billy and Richard argue over who has to get the frog out. Unexpectedly, the toilet flushes and down goes Stefan. Apparently, John likes a fresh bowl, so he pre-flushes with a remote control flusher before each use. His fetish unknowingly sends Stefan to his doom. Fish reluctantly tells John what happened. Brokenhearted, John circulates a memo announcing a memorial service for his tiny green friend. 

Sympathizing over the death of Stefan, Nelle shares a story with John about her beloved childhood pet hamster named Millie. Long ago, Nelle's brother put a frog into her terrarium and it ate her hamster. Thus her aversion to amphibians. Although still hurt by Stefan's death, John accepts Nelle's condolences. At the memorial service John plays the bagpipes and admits his part in the crime by equipping his toilet with a "stronger flush, since I like a fresh bowl, and remnants upset me." John expresses his hope that Stefan had a "fresh bowl" when he departed this world. The people at the event can't help but laugh. Later, Nelle presents John with a female American Tree Frog, and John names it Millie in memory of Nelle's hamster.

A few weeks pass, and miraculously Stefan reemerges into the unisex bathroom toilet being used by Georgia. When she hears a noise in the water below, she stands, and bends over for a better look inside the bowl. Suddenly, Stefan leaps from the water and lands on her nose. Georgia freaks and hurls the frog into Nelle’s hair. She, in turn, throws it back at Nelle. The frog finally splats against the stall door opened by Richard. Racked with guilt over their "game of killer catch," the women give the frog CPR. John enters the restroom and secretary Elaine Vassal hides the injured frog in her blouse. When John asks, "Why is your bosom beating?" She responds "It's my heart. I'm in love." 

Quickly, Stefan is spirited out of the firm and rushed to the hospital. A veterinarian stabilizes Stefan’s vital signs, but the frog lapses into a coma and is placed on a respirator for 24 hours. The attorneys debate amongst themselves if they should tell Cage about the frog’s reappearance. Luckily, it survived (diagnosed with swelling of the brain). When Cage was told what precipitated the frog throwing event, he inquired "Was it a clean bowl?" While Stefan recuperated, John visited the hospital with Millie by his side.

Once again safe, Stefan suffers another set back when Cage picks up a file folder and accidentally sends Stefan sailing out a window and onto a ledge. When the frog regains consciousness, the attorneys try to coax him back to safety. Attorney Ling Woo makes a little box and puts it on the ledge. John encourages the amphibian saying "If you hop in the box, Stefan, we can pull you to safety. You have to trust me, Stefan. Trust." His partner Richard comments "How can he trust the world, John? He's been flushed, filed, smacked. He's an abused frog." Stefan finally jumps into the box and is returned safely inside the office. 

To celebrate Stefan's rescue, Nelle invites Cage and her colleagues out to dinner at a Chinese restaurant. Cage asks if he can bring Stefan along and Nelle reluctantly agrees. 

While everyone settles in for a sumptuous meal, Ling talks to the waiter in Chinese and asks him to take the caged frog into the kitchen and feed him some lettuce. Unfortunately, the waiter mistakes Ling's orders and instead prepares Stefan as an appetizer for the table. While chowing down with chopsticks, Ling realizes what has happened to Stefan and tells John "The bad news is...Stefan is back. The good news is he's delicious. Hmm. Tastes like chicken..." At that, John is outraged, vents his anger and finally leaves. Meanwhile, Ling gets into a shouting match with the waiter threatening to sue him for his incompetence. 

Later, Nelle tells John that she didn’t find Stefan at all tasty. She describes the frog as tasting "a little tough." This confession makes John laugh and he starts to reminisce about Stefan's life. But the laughter once again turns to sadness as John became disgusted with the whole affair. 

Stefan the Frog - ALLY MCBEAL

Stefan the Frog. May he rest in peace.

TRIVIA NOTE: Stefan appeared in a story arc on the Fox Network's legal dramedy ALLY MCBEAL. It began on episode "Story of Love" (10/26/98) continued on "Worlds Without Love" (11/02/98) and ended on "Happy Trails" (11/09/98). The frogs used to play both Stefan and Millie were White's Tree Frogs (also known as Dumpies from New Guinea). Scenes where Stefan the frog was seen standing on tiptoe, bowling or hopping down the stairs were generated by computer animation. Mike Listo, the show's producer animated Stefan's wild special effects as well as Ally McBeal's "Dancing Baby." Because the real frogs used on the set had a tendency to turn gray when under bright lights, the frogs were kept in a cool environment prior to shooting a scene. Fake frogs were used in any situation were the real frogs might get hurt. Nine frogs were used on the show, eight of which were kept cool while one acted. 

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