Tuesday, May 09, 2006

The trouble with Gilmores

Okay, it's happened, so let's talk "Gilmore Girls" season finale, after the jump for the benefit of the tape-delayed.

Well, they did it. Amy and Dan blew up the show on the way out the door. They may not see it that way, but they just did something even dumber and more character-ruining than Rory losing her virginity to a married man. As the British guy in the same timeslot on that other network might say, Whoopeee!

Look, given where the story has gone for the last half-season, I can buy Lorelai angrily storming out on Luke and having comfort sex with Christopher. Given all the crap Amy and Dan did to her/made her do, this is exactly what she would do. What pisses me off is how much they had to contrive to push their main character into a position where she would turn her baby daddy into her fuck buddy.

I liked April as a character, but as a plot device, she ranks down there with Rosalind Shays going down the elevator shaft, "The X-Files" movie and, yes, Arthur Fonzarelli jumping over the damn shark for show-ruining ability. The Lorelai Gilmore we've known for the previous five-plus seasons would have never put up with Luke's keep-your-distance bullshit, just as the Luke Danes we knew over the same span would have told the woman of his dreams the truth in the first place. (He might have then gotten all knuckle-draggingly protective of April, but Lorelai would have slapped him back into line PDQ.)

So we suffered through a half-season of our hero and heroine being uncommunicative, out-of-character dumbasses, and for what? To drag out a wedding that the show has been leading towards ever since the end of the pilot? To pretend like the show needs long dramatic story arcs, even they almost always suck? To recreate all those warm and fuzzy feelings America has about the words "We were on a break!"? To spare Lauren Graham and/or Scott Patterson the awkwardness of having to, you know, act like they love someone they can't stand? (If you believe the rumors, that is. If they really get along, then this is even more ridiculous.) To branch off into some bizarre new direction where Lorelai winds up with Christopher, even though Amy and Dan have spent so much time in previous seasons pointing out exactly why they would never work as a couple long-term? Someone, please explain it to me like I'm a five-year-old, because it makes no sense to me -- not unless Amy's hats are all laced with some kind of hallucinogen that's absorbed through the scalp.

I'm not especially wild about what's going on with Lorelai the younger, but at least it didn't make me want to throw a brick at the TV. (Really, that's just an excuse so I can finally go out and buy that plasma screen I've been eyeing.) As I wrote a few weeks back after one of Rory's passive-agressive snits, Amy and Dan found a way to make Logan seem sympathetic: by making Rory the hateable half of this couple. Hey, Rory? Logan does not want to go into the newspaper business. He could not have made this any clearer over and over and over again. I know you want your manchild jerkhole boyfriend to grow up, but falling into lockstep with the family destiny isn't the only way to do that. How about suggesting he blow off his mean old daddy and seek his own future, even if that means giving up mean old daddy's fortune? If having to pay his own way in the world is too harsh a transition, maybe you could get your goofball daddy to give him a hand-out (just as soon as he's done ruining your mom's relationship, of course).

Really, the only part of the finale I enjoyed was the troubador subplot. I have to confess that the only people I recognized were Mr. Rosso, Chloe O'Brien and Kim and Thurston from Sonic Youth (and who I have to assume is their daughter on bass), but the image of all these alt-rock musicians invading Stars Hollow (and Taylor's increasingly flummoxed reaction to them) was hilarious, and the songs worked well as a Greek chorus for the idiot plots going on around them. (Anyone who wants to take a stab at identifying all the musicians -- preferably with some kind of physical description so I can keep track -- I'll owe you a cookie.)

The troubador story is the kind of thing this show has always done best. Like I said before, the drawn-out weepy arcs rarely worked (or, at least, it's been so long since we've had a good one that it's been buried under memories of Rory the homewrecker, Rory the drop-out, April the cousin Oliver, etc., etc.). This show's money has always been the smaller stuff, Lorelai bantering with whoever's in the frame, Emily's attempts to seem human, Sebastian Bach joining Hep Alien, etc. I've joked in the past that there have been seasons where it seemed like the writing staff had a pool going to see who could write the most plotless episode, but you know what? The episodes where nothing happens are infinitely preferable to the sturm und drang we've had to deal with for the last season-plus -- and that we'll have to deal with in the fall when crazy David Rosenthal has to clean up this mess Amy and Dan left behind.

End rant. What say you?


Anonymous said...

Agreed! I was so depressed and disinterested while watching that I made cookies. From scratch! So disappointing!(the show not the cookies.)Sigh.

dirtgirl said...

No comment from me. I was going to watch tje episode after the Veronica Mars finale tonight, but I read your review instead. Most of this season I've fast-forwarded through more and more storylines (first the Suki scenes, then anything with Lane, and eventually even Rory). It's to the point that all I really want to watch anymore are Emily and Richard.

I really wish the CW would cancel the Girls and make room for another season of VM. This show is over.

Joel said...

Alan, I agree in spades. Though I think AS-P gave Rosenthal an out with the "oh shit, what did I just do?" look Lorelai had at the end of the episode. But otherwise, the season was just one depressing storyline after another.

Ironically enough, while I enjoyed the troubador plot, I didn't think it had any place here. I just wanted them to get on with it (you know, the Chris/Lor fuck buddy thing). Why go light at this point?

Oh, and you didn't recognize Yo La Tengo? Come on, Alan, I thought any non-Bruce-loving Jersey music fan had their faces memorized!

vance said...

Really? I kinda enjoyed the episode, though probably because I'm trying to will myself to relive the highs of Gilmore Girls past (well, I AM still watching Alias for the same reason, I'm an optimist I guess). However I totally agree as I've been complaining that Lorelai and Luke have been totally out of character for the last half of the season. Luke would NEVER have kept April away from Lorelai and Lorelai would NEVER had kept quiet even if he did.

Laura Holt said...

I could not agree more. I have never felt like crying during a Gilmore Girls teaser before. brutal. Lorelei's dead-eyed stare into the camera with Sookie and Jackson bantering about her depression in the background was . . . horrifying. And then to end the season with the same dead-eyed stare in Christopher's bed . . . brutal. Why did they do that to her?

A.j. said...

I want to have your babies for laying out exactly everything I wanted to say, but with clarity and a non-"AAAAAAAAAAAAAARG!!!" flail reaction. You pretty much hit all my reactions to this show, save for the absolute and total Christopher hatred what runs through my veins. Watching this season - which I kind of stopped about six to eight weeks ago - has been a trial in frustration. It has been tragic.

Daniel said...

Regarding Christopher, the Sherman-Palladino's dedicated much of this season to redeeming the character, at least to some degree. Of course, his redemption came from the strangest of directions: Suddenly freed from the need to ever work again, Christopher began vaguely responsible, entirely decent and, out of nowhere, a good match for Loralei again. Somewhat. So they went with the very rare, "Money actually does buy happiness and satisfaction" loop.

Logan leaving and leaving Rory with the apartment for a year was VERY strange. Does that make her a kept woman? Very odd.

And I was amazed down the stretch with how much of the episode relied entirely on how magnificent an actress Lauren Graham is. Her performances over the years have generally been something of an equal partnership with Amy, or else Amy has seemed like she was carrying the majority of the weight. Tonight, Amy had Loralei doing some ridiculous things and delivering some painfully bad dialogue and yet Lauren Graham made every second of it believable.

But yes, they blew up the series on their way out. But it may still be rebuildable. Maybe. Maybe. Maybe.

L.B. said...

Yes. Yes, you put it much more eloquently than I ever could. I will be the one in the corner with the weird theories and the "that just did not happen!" comments.

I don't get the not communicating. That is the biggest problems between L/L and they could have done something to take steps to fix it this season instead of letting it drag on and become unbelievable.

I had this whole thing about how Amy and Dan self-destructed the show in a scene that spanned 30 seconds, but I don't want to get into it. I've talked about it all evening and I just wanted to comment on the genius of your post. I agree whole heartedly.

Marsha said...

I'll respectfully disagree. As I've said before, I actually find Lorelai's behavior this season believeable (although not Luke's, really). And I found her final freak out to be the proper culmination of it. But she knows Luke well enough to know that he isn't going to take the ultimatum well, and I don't buy her "now or never" crap - she wants him, and what she did was designed to make him say no. Bah. And I'm really annoyed that she ended up in bed with Christopher. really, really annoyed.

But my worst annoyance here is reserved for the !@#$%^&* network. Why, why, WHY would you put on - RIGHT BEFORE THE EPISODE BEGINS - a "tonight on Gilmore Girls" that shows Lorelai's ultimatum, Logan in the elevator, and Lorelai showing up at Chris's door? That's the whole episode! That's what you show next season as 'previously on." NOT RIGHT BEFORE YOU AIR THE EPSIODE! AAAARGH!

Thank you for letting me vent. That was awful.

CM said...

Lorelai isn't a good communicator. It's true that she's a strong woman, but when has she ever stood up for what she needed in a relationship? Not with Max -- she never brought herself to talk to him until after their wedding day. Not with Rory, during those months when Rory was living in the poolhouse and they stopped speaking to each other. Rarely with her parents -- and when she does, she gets shot down. So I think it's entirely believable, although frustrating, that she would let things with Luke degenerate to this point.

Jon said...

Some of the musicians were FoAS-P, like Dave Rygalski (no, not Adam Brody making a surreptitious cameo) playing bass on the "girl with no thumbs" song and some guy named Daniel Palladino.

Augie De Blieck Jr. said...

Marsha -- I agree with you completely on the coming attractions bit of last night's episode. I work hard enough to avoid them at the END of each week's episode -- having them on at the beginning just ruins everything. At every step of the way in this episode, my girlfriend and I were just counting down the minutes until Lorelei showed up at her Baby's Daddy's door. Talk about anti-climactic.

Now, who was the actress playing the oh-so-convenient plot-pushing shrink character on the episode? What did I see her on last season? That was another distraction for me -- where do I know her from?

Tracy said...

I thought it was a fitting ending to the season. To me, the show seemed to have totally different writers than the previous season already. It was all weird. And don't make me like Logan. I don't want to like Logan. Why are they trying to make me like Logan?

Someone said that Emily and Richard are the best part of the show, I think them and Michele are the best small characters. Love them!

But if Lorelei running to Chris is foreshadowing Rory running to whats-his-face the writer.

zozanee said...

Melora Hardin played the shrink. She's played Jan Levinson on "The Office" several times this season, and also did a guest spot on "Without a Trace" this year.

Anonymous said...

I have been a loyal fan of Gilmore Girls since episode 1. It's a shame this is how it's ending. Luke would never take Lor back now and eventually he would find out. I just don't see a happy ending in sight. One season left and so we know Rory is ending up with Logan--he's gone for two years.

My beloved show is ending like Dharma and Greg. Does anyone remember that show? The last season the made D&G questions their marriage, think about cheating and in the last episode when they didn't know "where to go from here" they were in a horrific car accident" to be continued. The show was suppose to have another season, but alas, it never did. The network bought out the contracts to make way for something new. So we never knew how it was suppose to end. So sad. I feel like that's happening here.

Anonymous said...

Augie, the actress is Jan on 'the office' and I was distracted with knowing that while watching her show interest in Christopher.

My tape cut off just as C was getting into bed with L .. but I figured as with the opening scene there was the dead eyed stare. What a DEPRESSING season end.

L.G. is truly an excellent actress. I believe this depression she seems to be in. It makes me unhappy!

I was so jazzed when the town troubadour came back to the season so I really felt the aggravation of the masses invading the town.

I'm all jumbled with Rory and Jess, the kept woman feeling behind Logan ...

I disliked Luke very much at the end when he couldn't handle the thought of eloping and L was very pointed with "it s/b how April fits in our lives, not the other way around." His, "you weren't supposed to do talk to April's mom" really was neanderthal. Bah.

I hope they do some serious damage control next season! I need more Suki, Lane and Michel too! (the "pickle" episode sub-plot was hilarious)

lesliem-d said...

Melora Hardin also plays Monk's deceased wife, Trudy, on that show. For anyone who can recall the oh-so-brief TV series of "Dirty Dancing," she played Baby.

Richard Harland Smith said...

Add to the roster of indie walk-ons the mighty, mighty Sam Phillips.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Melora Hardin was also the female lead in "Lambada: The Movie" (not to be confused with "The Forbidden Dance") and played the wife on "Cover Me," an underrated little Shaun Cassidy-written gem from the USA Network about an FBI agent who took his family undercover with him.

But the best/worst story about her is what happened with "Back to the Future." When the movie was originally shot with Eric Stoltz as the lead, she played Marty's girlfriend. When Stoltz got canned and replaced by Michael J. Fox, Hardin was let go, too, for the simple sin of being much too tall for Fox to kiss. Makes me glad she finally has a good job with something like "The Office."

Anon said...

Just a quick note:

The man in the opening scene was Joe Pernice.

The man singing "the beaver ate my thumb" was Dan Palladino, right?

Sam Phillips was the woman singing with the violinist. (Her website has a picture.)

Stars Hollow's resident troubadour is Grant Lee Phillips, of (the late) Grant Lee Buffalo.

The duo with the synthesizer was Sparks.

I believe Jason Mraz was among the throng in the park -- at least I thought I heard his voice.

And I think you caught most of the rest -- minus Yo La Tengo, which you should have caught.

Augie De Blieck Jr. said...

zozanee - Ah, thanks. That makes more sense.

Alan - I'm often called a font of useless knowledge at work. I think you have me beat, but in a very good way. ;-) I never knew that BTTF story. Cool.

Dark Tyler said...

Not a long time has passed since Lorelai found herself in a serious rift between her and Rory-- those are the kind of things that make you afraid to speak up when you feel you must. For the first time in her life, Lorelai fell in love, with Luke, and wasn't speaking her mind, in fear of losing him, just like earlier when she almost lost Rory.

Luke spent his entire adult life having no-one else to care for, until Jess showed up in need of a father figure. Jess ended up almost ruining his life, and Luke blamed himself. Cut to this year, where Luke suddenly has to be father again, and of course he fears that Lorelai is going to totally steal his thunder. Of course she was going to click with April, and I completely understand Luke's reaction to the whole situation. Mistaken, but understandable.

I don't see what the big deal is with the cliffhanger, and why everyone is so upset. It was a grim year for Lorelai, next year will be better. She and Luke are going to ride in the sunset together, and it was planned all along. What? Because they've had it rough for some time now? What we just saw is what will probably be the trigger for the two coming to gether again.

Just because two people are in love for some time before they actually end up together, doesn't mean that everything is going to fall in its place.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Darktyler, I appreciate your defense of this season, but Luke and Lorelai are not going to be okay after this. They may get back together, but they're not going to be okay. When you wait approximately 30 seconds after a break-up -- assuming Luke even thought that was a break-up -- to go and nail the second most important man in your life and the guy your true love is rightfully jealous of, that is not something that's going to be smoothed over with a few clever bon mots. Luke has always been afraid that Lorelai was going to leave him for Christopher, and she just proved him right.

Dark Tyler said...

Yeah, you definately have a point there, and Lorelai would probably agree with you; her horrified stare at the end of this episode indicates that.

I guess that this is where it gets weird, even for me. I would of course wait and see how the Palladinos would get Luke and Lorelai together again, and I bet that they could pull it off. But if David Rosenthal fails, then am I supposed to think of this week's episode as the Real Finale? Because it was not designed to be a finale of any kind of story.

Ugh, the timing of the whole thing is just a mess. Unless, of course, if the new guy manages to actually write a very good follow-up story. We wait and see, I guess.

CM said...

Wait, Lorelai didn't necessarily "nail" Christopher. We don't see them in bed together at the beginning, we only know that he walks into the room. He does get in bed with her and put his arm around her -- which, okay, is a little sketchy because she's naked -- but it's possible that nothing happened the night before.

Gianna said...

Actually, I agree with CM, we dont get to see them in bed, so they could resolve this by saying they got REALLY drunk and all kind of stuff and got in bed together but no sex... It's been done before.... that way there it's ounce of chance of resolving this threesome.

velvetcannibal said...

I don't know if you'll see this if it's so late, but I was watching the Teach Me Tonight episode of S2. I realized that Mary Lou was in A Film by Kirk! Ha. I really enjoyed that little tidbit and thought I'd share.

Anonymous said...

i like logan. no he is not jess, but he is not supposed to be. he is a much stronger character than either one of her previous paramours. and he is changing for the better the longer he spends with rory. you have to remember that rory likes her grandparents, much to the chagrin of lorelai, but then rory didn't grow up in their household so she sees them differently than lorelai does. logan fits more in that lifestyle than either jess or the other one, whose name presently escapes me.

i too, agree that lorelai and christopher did not necessarily sleep together, and knowing christopher the way we do he is probably taking advantage of a precarious situation.

this is definitely a wait and see situation.