Christmas Challenge: Gilmore Girls

GILMORE GIRLS
Santa’s Secret Stuff

Ok, I actually watched two episodes from the seventh season of Gilmore Girls, but the first was a bust (which is funny, considering that the one I’m reviewing is a post-Christmas Christmas episode). The only thing Christmasy about “Merry Fisticuffs” was the decorations in the town square as Christopher and Luke fought it out in the final scene. Not really my kind of Christmas episode.

But this one had it all: Christmas trees, Christmas decorations, gaudy sweaters, presents, lights — the works! So what if it took place after Christmas. That’s when Rory and Lorelai were celebrating. Still a holiday episode in my book.

Plus, it had all the good moments that a Gilmore Girls should. Not only a good back-and-forth with Rory and Lorelai, but also great interactions with supporting characters. My favorite had to be the very pregnant Lane, who is not only sick of hearing everyone fawn over her and her big belly, but who is also dealing with all of the things in her life that’s changing. Add in the sweet moment between her and Zack when he reassures her.

But in good Gilmore fashion, it’s not just all happiness. The bittersweet moment comes as Luke asks Lorelai to write a character reference for him in his custody battle for April. She’s struggling the entire episode, then finally spilled over her thoughts on the typewriter, then walks alone in the snow to mail the letter. We don’t find out in this episode what she says, but we can tell by the saddened tune of “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” that it’s anything but impersonal.

Recommendation: For a Gilmore fan, it’s a great one, despite the bittersweet ending. But for someone who just wants Luke and Lorelai together, this Christmas season, it’s one to watch and reminisce.

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My Review of Gilmore Girl — er, I mean Bunheads

BUNHEADS: 1.01 “Pilot”

I’m sure we’ve already had enough of the comparisons between Amy Sherman-Palladino’s new show Bunheads and her previously successful series Gilmore Girls. And I promise, I’ll get it out of my system quick. But I can’t help but compare the two: the small sleepy town with quirky characters, the recurring faces (did anyone else spy Gypsy in there?), and the fast talk. There were times that certain lines of Fanny’s could have been taken right out of Emily Gilmore’s living room. Heck, even the music was the same; I think I even heard Sam Phillips in there.

To be fair, many people probably tuned in to last night’s Bunheads because of the connection with the Gilmore Girls creator. I mean, that’s why I did. And in the end, we’ve got a brand-new series on our hands with a brand-new plot and brand-new characters.

So let’s look at that, and we’ll start with Michelle. Michelle, well, I can’t quite put my finger on whether I like her or not. There have been a lot of comparisons with Lorelai Gilmore (including a discussion I had with my own mother), but Lorelai, she is not. She’s ok, sure. But there’s a cuteness factor that I’m just kind-of missing. I don’t think she’s likable enough for my tastes, at least right now. My guess: She grows on you. Fortunately, I liked what I saw enough to feel like I want to see if that’s true.

The first episode was decent. I personally like Fanny, even in her Emily modes, and the scene at the end with Fanny and Michelle dancing together was genuinely fun. Seeing them relate to each other and their dancing careers was also interesting. These women have something they can build a relationship on.

Of course, all that is put on hold when Truly comes in with the news about Hubbell. In all honestly, I didn’t see Hubbell’s death coming. I didn’t really think he fit in with the show, so I’m ultimately not surprised, but I was imagining him to be more of a silent party, the husband that traveled and wasn’t around much. I was genuinely sad to hear about Hubbell’s accident, and I have no idea where it goes from here. Clearly, Michelle will be staying in town (after all, it’s only the start of the series), but why is still up in the air. It could be to help out Fanny. It could be to help out the girls. It could be that that moment in the bedroom put a mini-Hubbell in Michelle. I guess we’ll find out. All of these are just hypotheses. All I do know is that Michelle doesn’t really have all that much to return to.

As for the town, well, that’s my only issue with the show. It seems…too quirky? Is that possible? And I think that has to do with the names: Boo, Hubbell, Truly… I mean, really? You can still be quirky, even without the quirky names to match.

But there is some good room for growth, and personally, I want to see where it goes. Will it be more about Michelle and Fanny? How will the ballerinas play into their lives? Are they more just supporting characters like they were in this episode?

In other words, the episode offers something familiar (maybe too familiar) but still unique. It was a good introduction to a new series with a stunning end, but all arrows point to a hazy future we can’t yet see.

I’ll be checking it out again next week because, let’s be honest, I just need to know what’s going to happen next. Will you be watching? And what did you think?

Looking Back on Gilmore Girls, Season 5 Finale

GILMORE GIRLS: 5.22 “A House Is Not a Home”

Once great thing about summer is that I get to spend some time watching some old favorites. I’ve been walking JC through Gilmore Girls. We’ve just finished season five, and I haven’t seen that finale since it was first aired. I kind-of forgot the shock it brings.

I’ve spent some time discussing Rory on this site (well, at least one blog post). While she had some reckless decisions this season from someone we typically think of as rational and down-to-earth, I contend that her actions aren’t all that out of character for her. But that’s not the real point here.

The real point is how much this episode was really a punch in the stomach for our favorite characters, namely, Lorelai. After Rory stole the boat (and got caught), she decided that she wasn’t going back to Yale. Lorelai wouldn’t have it, and she went to her parents for help. After all we’ve gone through this season, we’ve finally moved through our ups and downs with Emily and Richard. Lorelai and Richard are probably experiencing the best father/daughter relationship they’ve ever had, and Emily and Lorelai are frankly getting along (which is all you can really ask for, considering). So you almost forget who they are when they agree to help Lorelai point Rory back in the right direction.

But then, we forget that soft spot in Richard’s heart when he sees Rory cry. Suddenly, at Friday night dinner, Lorelai is blindsided by the two people she trusted — her supposed allies — turning against her. They’ve decided: Rory will take a break from Yale. She will live in the pool house with them. And they will piece her life back together.

The look on Lorelai’s face. The shock and disbelief. It was the same experience we all were feeling as we felt that moment. This was taking Rory off-track. This wasn’t right. And it was the ultimate betrayal.

But the worst? Seeing Rory unpacking her belongings, not even telling her mother what she’s chosen to do. Rory’s moving in with her grandparents, choosing the life that Lorelai never wanted from her, another betrayal.

It was certainly a twist that no one saw coming, Lorelai and viewers alike. There was only one thing that could help that moment of darkness and disappointment, that hollowed out feeling in the viewers’ chests as they saw the mother and daughter break apart. And that was five little words:

Luke, will you marry me?

Thursday Open Thread: Favorite Vacation Episodes

And we’re back! After a fantastic trip to London and Paris, I’m back to the good ol’ U.S. of A. and back to watching the usual TV suspects. Thanks for your patients and for those who read in my absence! Now, let’s move on to an open thread!

To keep with the journey theme, how about we talk about those crazy vacations our favorite characters take?

What is your favorite vacation-themed episode?

Now, I’m going to be as lenient and open to interpretation as possible in this. “Vacation” could harken back to those TGIF series that all seemed to go to Disney World at one point or another. Or maybe it’s a day trip away from the office (yes, The Office, I’m looking at you). Maybe it’s a “vacation” that actually turned into work in some procedural when a dead body turned up at the hotel (there have been a lot of those). Maybe it’s a weekend away from the city. Or maybe you want to reference a stay-cation or a soap opera. Who knows!

While I can’t pick just one, I am currently thinking of Rory and her grandmother in Europe. Sure, this was a very brief part of a Gilmore Girls episode (at the beginning of season five) and the overall plot was blah, but I just love seeing Emily complain that her view has changed as she looks over her hotel window, as if they had the gall to change something in 30 years.

But really, I think I’ll go with Friends in London. Yes, I have a soft spot for London, but it was just entertaining. Monica and Chandler got together. We had the big name flub in the wedding. But the scenery was fantastic and the jokes were good. I’ll go with it.

What’s yours?

Back-to-School Recap Review: Rory Goes to Yale

GILMORE GIRLS: 4.02 “The Lorelais’ First Day at Yale”

Despite being in New Jersey for “Hurricane” Irene with no power, I couldn’t help but watch some Gilmore Girls. Fortunately, through the awesome nature of JC, I just recently got a portable DVD player for my birthday, so while I couldn’t access the internet or, you know, a light switch, I could watch one of my favorite co-eds move into her dorm room.

Of course, I’ve seen the episode before. And it’s a good one to rewatch. Especially now as people are heading back to school. After all, why not align a Recap Review with the times? We already did with an open thread.

I really should recap the first three episodes of season four together. After all, the season opener was really when Rory discovered that she was moving in a mere two days, and the third episode featured her first day of classes, or “shopping week,” as they so nerdily call it. (By the way, I seriously doubt that Russian Economics was a bust, despite what one of Rory’s colleagues yelled as he hurried down the dorm room hall. Nor do I think Rory — or any freshman — could get into Japanese Literature in their freshman year at school. Those electives are usually for upperclassmen.)

Anyway, we’ll focus on Rory’s move-in day, which I was pleased to see was a lot more humorous than I remember. The best part was the fact that Luke really played a large role in the episode, not in his dealings with his divorce, but in his interaction with Lorelai and his truck. The banter on the truck and the mattress were fantastic, and overall, I just enjoyed it.

Rory was Rory in her usual tunnel-vision fashion, and Lorelai’s excitement was the great counterbalance to that. After all, Lorelai never went to an ivy league school with her own dorm room. This was her first exposure as much as it was Rory’s. So Lorelai’s small reminders to enjoy herself and actually experience walking into her dorm room for the first (well, technically second) time was nice.

So was the mother/daughter good-byes. It all seemed too easy to just drop her off, and we know that Lorelai would have a pretty heavy empty-nest syndrome (the final scene was a great one). My own experience at being dropped off at my undergrad for the first time was not nearly as strong as Rory’s, so it was refreshing to see her freak out and ask her mom to come back. The dorm suite that Rory was to live in may not have been all too realistic, but the feelings around leaving home behind certainly were.

But it wasn’t all mattresses, trucks, and homesickness. I loved seeing Lorelai ordering everything in delivery distance. In fact, if I had unlimited funds, I’d love to do that myself one day. She certainly got along with the other girls, but in good “mom” fashion still had that moment where she embarrassingly tried to sing in a hair brush that no one else wanted to. It was a good first night at Yale that really acquainted Rory with people, and it was fun.

Other thoughts? Paris and Tawney were a joy to watch interact, and ultimately, I loved Tawney in these few first impressions that we got. I really would never order Mexican food for delivery, though I adore it (wouldn’t everything just slide around?), and sorry, Lorelai, I’d never order the cheese quesadilla. I can make that on my own.

And the disco ball? Yeah, Rory was right. She probably didn’t need that, party or not.

A Back-to-School Open Thread

I can tell by all the new Facebook photos of kiddies in backpacks and statuses groaning about grad school that it’s back-to-school time. Of course, the numerous commercials promoting markers, crayons, and glitter — lots of glitter — gave it away, too. So in the spirit of scholarly wisdom, let’s talk TV.

What’s your favorite campus-based series?

There are so many options here. My first thought, of course, was Saved by the Bell. After all, by the time I get my books and I give myself a look, I’m at the corner just in time to watch the bus fly by. When your theme song chats buses, school bells, and general tardiness, it’s all about the high school. Plus, you’ve got cheerleaders, lockers, and one Zack Morris speaking to the camera.

But you know, there is another favorite — one of my all-time TV shows. Hello, can we get a Buf-fay? That’s right. Buffy the Vampire Slayer was, in fact, a story about high school (then college). Definitely a keeper.

Finally, let’s give a hand for Gilmore Girls. The whole series is built on the premise of Rory going to Chilton. Definitely quality.

So I’ve run the gamut. From directly high school to premises to the background for demon slaying. So what’s your favorite? Can I get a rah rah rah for your favorite campus-based TV show?

Oh, Saved by the Bell. If only I could find the Tiger cheer. But hey, if you want more cheerleading, check this out from Buffy (the movie).

Thursday Open Thread (Late, but Not Forgotten): What Show Has You Hooked?

Bah! It wasn’t until my drive home from work that I realized I had no Thursday Open Thread this week. Summer’s rough, I tell you. So now, while I wait for my sushi to be delivered, I ask you…

What show has you hooked?

Naturally, I’m hooked on Falling Skies (just renewed for a second season — whoo hoo!!!), but this summer, I realized I’ve sure been watching (or, more accurately, re-watching) Gilmore Girls. When nothing’s on, that’s what I’m stuffing into my DVD player. I only have the first three seasons, and I’m almost through season three, so I’m not sure what I’m going to do.

But I can’t be the only one hooked on a show. After all, JC seems rather involved with Mad Men. It’s been on his mind since he was first introduced to it last weekend.

What about you? What’re you hooked on?

image from Yahoo! TV