Monday, March 13, 2017

Gilmore Girls A Year in the Life: a review

I’ve been a fan of Gilmore Girls almost from the beginning when the show premiered in 2000. After seven seasons, the show ended, leaving fans unsatisfied with how the characters and storylines were left. On November 26, 2016, Netflix released Gilmore Girls a year in the life a four episode season which was supposed to tie up loose ends and give fans a glimpse into the lives of their beloved characters. I waited eagerly as I counted down the days until the new episode were released. When I was finally able to sit down and watch the first episode left me confused and bewildered. I tried to watch the second episode when I gave up. Recently, I decided to give the new episodes another glance. After two more viewings, to write down thoughts and reactions, I decided to write my review. The return to Stars Hollow had its hits and misses.

The first episode entitled “Winter” (written and directed by Amy Sherman-Palladino, one of the show’s co-founders) and opens with a black scene as some of the show’s most memorable lines are played quietly as first and get louder as we get to the title shot. The first scene opens to reveal a snow covered Stars Hollow and Lorelai (played by Lauren Graham) sitting on the gazebo’s steps waiting for Rory (played by Alexis Bledel) who is back for the day. The episode focuses on Rory’s career to this point, the passing of patriarch, Richard Gilmore (originally played by the late Edward Hermann) and ends with Lorelai agreeing to join her mother, Emily (played by Kelly Bishop) in therapy.

The second episode, “Spring” (written and directed by Daniel Palladino, the show’s co-founder) and opens with Emily and Lorelai in a very tense and quiet therapy session. Rory is at a Chilton Alumni Day when she encounters her own school enemies (i.e. Francie) and Paris’ old crush (i.e. Tristian). Rory is insulted that Headmaster Charleston suggests that she go back to school to get her Master’s so she can teach. Determined not to fall into that pitfall, Rory decides to be proactive about her journalism career. Unfortunately, many doors are closing around her and her dream is slowing coming to an end. Where will she do from here? She moves back home, of course!

The third episode, “Summer” (written and directed by Daniel Palladino) opens with Lorelai and Rory at the pool and everyone congratulates on being back which Rory vehemently insists she’s not back. In this episode, the Palladino makes fun of the college students who end up moving home. They are called the Thirtysomething Gang and they are creepy. She ends up editing the town’s newspaper and decides to write her story (an idea given to her by Jess, played by Milo Ventimiglia). And poor Emily, once again, finds fault with Richard’s grave story. It’s an idea Lorelai is not crazy about and refuses to give her permission for Rory to use her story.

Lastly, “Fall” (written and directed by Amy Sherman-Palladino) has everyone questioning what the next step in their lives will be. Lorelai travels to California to participate in a hike to recreate Into The Wild while Emily vacations on Nantucket and considers selling her house in Hartford. And Rory decides to write her book in the hopes that opening chapters will help convince Lorelai to let her finish it. Lorelai comes home from her hike and decides that she and Luke have waited too long to get married. So the wedding plans are full steam ahead. At the end of the show, Lorelai and Rory are sitting on the gazebo steps, basking in the happiness of the wedding and Lorelai jokes about Rory’s turn to get married. Rory’s face is very telling and then she finally confesses something. The episode ends with four little words.

I loved about these episodes, yeah, let’s start with what I loved is the nostalgia. Seeing the town in which I spent many years living in during the show’s run as well as in reruns. I loved the deep impact of Richard’s death has on Lorelai, Rory and especially Emily. I loved how the writers wrote Emily’s grief. It felt real and substantial like a real wife who lost her husband of 50 years. I loved Lorelai’s favorite memory of Richard, which she finally shares with Emily. It was such a tearjerker. I loved Sookie’s return to the show, so classic Sookie and Melissa McCarthy played her as if she never left. I loved seeing Jess on the show and his influence on Rory. I must admit, I didn’t like Jess in the original series and didn’t want him and Rory together. However, Jess has matured and is a great fit for Rory. And there is a scene which shows so clear that Jess is still in love with her.

Now what I hated about these episodes. First, some of the humor just didn’t work. In the beginning, there is a gag with Rory running around Stars Hollow looking for a cell signal when cell phones worked fine before. And the town’s WiFi works but not the phones. Oh! The town’s first musical was very painful to watch. Oh so painful! And the four words that Amy Sherman-Palladino has been saying is how she wanted to end the show 10 years ago? I’m not going to say what they were for anyone who has not seen the new episodes. However, I will say that I say it coming. Throughout the episodes, there were signs that led me to believe that something was off and I could tell the writers were trying to build up to it. To me, it wasn’t as much of a shock that the writers were hoping. Maybe there were fans who were surprised at the ending; however, I was not.

Overall, it was great to see the return to Star Hollows. Despite my dislikes, I wouldn’t mind to see more episodes especially with Rory’s confession. I’d like to see where they take it. I’d also like to see them tone down the over-eccentric-isms (I know that’s not a word but it’s the best way to describe it) of Taylor and some of the other townspeople. I know it was a part of the original show but in these episodes, it was so over-the-top. I would rather see the focus be on Lorelai and Rory and their lives between their small town and the world outside. I’d rather them focus on the relationships instead of the sights.  To get back to the premise of the original show, the story of a unique mother-daughter relationship. If you are a fan of the original show, you may or may not enjoy Gilmore Girls A Year in the Life