Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Gilmore Girls: Not quite right

This morning's review of the "Gilmore Girls" season premiere:

"I woke up one morning and looked around the room. Something wasn't right. I realized that someone had broken in the night before and replaced everything in my apartment with an exact replica! I couldn't believe it. I got my roommate and showed him. I said, 'Look at this -- everything's been replaced with an exact replica!' He said, 'Do I know you?'" -- Steven Wright

Watching the season premiere of "Gilmore Girls," I couldn't stop thinking of that bit of vintage Wright. The show looks the same, the actors are the same, they're behaving in a consistent fashion, and yet... exact replicas.

To read the full column, click here. And if that's not enough reviewin' for one morning, my column on Ted Danson's "Help Me Help You" is here.

UPDATE: Now that "Gilmore" has aired, what sayeth the rest of you?


Anonymous said...

Paris's last name is "Geller" not "Gellar." Only Sarah Michelle spells it with an "A" but apparently her name has become so well-known that everyone now assumes that's the correct spelling. (Sorry if this is nitpicky, but I have a friend named Geller who is driven crazy by this.)

As for the rest...I don't know about anyone else, but I frankly think a fresh voice is exactly what this show needs. No matter how talented ASP is, she badly botched the show 3 years ago when Rory started Yale and absolutely drove it into the ground last season. The long-lost daughter storyline is one of the absolute worst in tv history and the fact that she actually tried to defend it shows that she's completely lost all perspective when it comes to this show. Plus, the quick-witted, rapid-fire dialogue is her trademark, but near the end it was coming off like verbal diarrhea. The show's strength was always its characters, but by the end she'd turned them into caricatures. Frankly, I think we'd all have been better off if they'd ended the show a few seasons ago.

Anonymous said...

God, I love that Wright bit.

Joel said...

Alan, I've watched the season premiere twice now, and I think you were looking for any shred of evidence that something had changed in the transfer from Team Palladino to Rosenthal. To me, it sounded the same, had the same humor and the same pacing as most pre-season six Gilmore episodes. I didn't even think of the non-bustling kitchen and some of the other details you mentioned until I saw your review. So it makes me wonder if you're just looking for reasons not to like it because AS-P isn't there anymore. Doesn't mean Rosenthal-itis won't infiltrate later on, but for now, it sounds like classic GG.

Heck, even #1 GG fan Mike Ausiello thought the episode didn't lose anything. If it passed his sniff test, I'm surprised it didn't pass yours.

As far as the story is concerned, though, I agree with you. Luke and Lorelai should be together, and if Luke comes back to Lor after this, something isn't going to ring true. I'm just sick of seeing Lor do another relationship post-mortem. It's gotten old at this point.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Hey, I wanted to like it. Really, I did. Rosenthal seems like a nice guy (his Crazy period excepted), we had a great conversation about the show back at press tour, and I'd rather see a show I like stay good than find reasons to complain about it.

But it felt off, and I wasn't the only one who thought so. In fact, some critics were even harsher than I was. Melanie McFarland called it "what may be the worst hour of network prime time you'll experience this fall, if you don't count Fox's Thursday night comedy block." Robert Bianco says Lauren Graham looks like a prisoner, Rich Heldenfels also said it was slower, and I could list several others.

I lent the premiere to a co-worker who loves to watch the show with her teenage daughter, and this morning she reported in that both she and her daughter felt like it was off. In particular, she said, where it used to feel like the characters were dancing around as they talked, now it felt to her as if actors were walking to their marks and coming to a complete and full stop before delivering a line.

I'm not saying that we're all right and you and Ausiello are wrong, but I didn't write this out of any grudge against Rosenthal or bitterness over Amy and Dan leaving. If anything, I'd rather they had left a year earlier and spared us April and all she hath wrought.

Joel said...

I think Heldenfels' sentiments are pretty close to what I said in my review of the episode. In case you're curious, here it is.

(For those who are watching the episode right now, my review has spoilers, since it's supposed to be posted at 9:00).

Anonymous said...

It was definitely different. Not that it wasn't funny, but could you ever see a car crash into Luke's diner on the old show? I don't think the characters are going to drastically alter or anything. I think it'll still be funny, but in a slightly more conventional TV sense.

David J. Loehr said...

It felt a little off to me, too. But we burned out on it as a weekly event back in season three. My wife sometimes puts it on when it airs in blocks on ABC Family, but even then, it's background noise instead of absolutely compelling tv.

Maybe if some of the Palladinos' time had been spent training more people to write their show their way, the transition would have been more seamless, they might have had more time to develop their other series ideas, etc. There might also have been someone to stand up and say hey, that's not a good storyline, that's not worth wasting a season on, etc.

I mean, I like the stuff I write at first and third glance, but the second and fourth always lead to fine tuning. And then when I show it to my actors or director, I fine-tine a little more, because I have another voice or two that I trust to tell me something's off.

I do love the cast, I have loved the hyper-intelligent and dense dialogues, I've just found the plotting exhausting and repetitive for too long. And I don't think Lauren was the only one who looked like a prisoner.

Anonymous said...

I'm a long time fan of the show, but I've never cared a jot about the relationships. To me, the plotting was just a framework to hang the witty reparte on. If I find the dialogue entertaining, I'm satisfied.

And this episode delivered on that more than the majority of the last season did.

Dramatic relationship stuff on TV always rings false to me, it's not something that's well experienced vicariously in my opinion. The only romance on TV that never made me cringe was Beecher and Keller on Oz.

So beyond the melodrama, I enjoyed the premiere, it's convinced me to stick it out.

Tosy And Cosh said...

I liked the premiere very much - the last scene between Luke and Lorelai was as well-written, well-acted, and real-feeling as anything the show's done. As far as the feel being off, I didn't feel it to be so. I wonder how much is simple sensitivity to the new situation, especially for TV writers who cover these things so closely and in so much detail and who have MET the folks in question. I guess what I'm wondering is (and I realize there's no way to know the answer), if you didn't KNOW this was not Palladino-written, would you have had the same "off" feeling?

Anonymous said...

I think the problem is that ASP wrote them into a corner with April and Lorelai sleeping with Christopher, and no one--not even the ghost of Dorothy Parker--can get the show out of that. Nothing about this breakup feels real. It's more like the producers decided, "well, TV can't have healthy, long-term relationships, let's break them up! it'll be great!"

And, well, you know the results.