Saturday, February 23, 2008

Good Bye Gilmore Girls

This is a blog about, wait for it!, Gilmore Girls. Anybody who's not a fan of the show and its characters: get out of here and wait for the next blog entry.

For the rest of you...

So, we finally got around to watching Episodes 709-722, downloaded through my trusty p2p network sometime last year, but we'd never quite gotten around to them for any number of reasons. We watched them in the space of four evenings, which makes for some serious GG watching. It was like, "oh, why don't we watch just one more; it's only..." and that was that. We went through the last four a couple of evenings ago. Serious dedication.

Here, for memory refreshment, is the Wikpedia summary, to save you having to read it on another page:

The show follows single mother Lorelai Victoria Gilmore (Graham) and her daughter Lorelai "Rory" Leigh Gilmore (Bledel) in the fictional town of Stars Hollow, Connecticut, a close-knit small town with many quirky characters, located roughly thirty minutes from Hartford. The series explores family, friendship, generational divides, and social class.

Gilmore Girls features intricate, extremely fast-paced dialogue, with frequent popular-culturepolitics and high culture. It also features social commentary, which is manifest most clearly in Lorelai's difficult relationship with her wealthy upper class parents. Lorelai also has relationship problems with Luke Danes (Scott Patterson) who owns the local diner.

Cast from an earlier set of Seasons.

Season 7 was potentially flawed because of a change at the helm of the how and its writing. Amy Sherman-Palladino, creator, writer and producer, wanted a renewal from Warner Brothers for two more seaons. They agreed to one season only. Amy declined to accept the offer. Warner Brothers said, "well, we'll do it with a different writer/producer team", and they did. Amy, for reasons that might have included spite, made the last episodes of Season Six possibly the darkest ones in the series and left the final episode with a knot that was almost like "see how you can untangle that one, you bastards" for the writers that came after her.

Anybody watching Season 7 soon after Season 6 would have been, as I was, instantly struck by a discontinuity in tone, plot, dialogue, etc. Unavoidably so, because Palladino was gone and the dialogue n Seasons 1-6 was inimitably Palladino. And now, nomore Palladino, and so what's gonna happen now? A recipe for potential disaster not just in terms of rating, but also of integrity of story and character and that kind of thing. You kind of expected that to happen, it did happen, one noticed it, and things became kind of difficult. People are comfortable with the expected and don't like being led somewhere else when they just want to go that way.

That's what happened, even to 'fans' like us. Enthusiasm waned, even as the the writers of Season 7 did their best to make something sensible out of Palladino's leftovers. I could see them struggling with just about every aspect of the show.

These people were with the show all the way through.

The best part of a year later, and with distance, I realized that they actually did very well. Truth is, the words 'fresh air' comes to mind. Fresh air without actually adding new characters or story-lines, which is what series-writers usually do when they run out of ideas. They had to wrap up the story in this final season, and I do admire the way they cut the knots. I doubt that Palladino would have been so flexible and put the story back together, after the fracas of Episode 622, as they did. It was different, all right, but I think it was good and involving, and the characters all were better off for it ; as were the viewers. Those who still hankered after Season 1 and Season 2--and a lot of people didn't like how the story developed and couldn't really cope with people growing up and 'growing in general--would have been disappointed.

I wasn't. All was good and after the final shot of Episode 722 had faded it was sad. Good and nice and fitting and all, but sad. A nice kind of sad. Reminded me of the way I felt when the last episode of Ed had been played.

I know, I know, for some of you hard-nosed cynics it's all too syrupy and crappy and white-American and for some it's too much US-Liberal; and, yes, the fawning over the New York Times and idols of the US political left was occasionally distracting, though that also was tuned down in Season 7, despite the Rory and the NYT plotline. But for those who can restrain their aversion to 'sentimentality', in the sense in which it is used by Robert Solomon in In Defense of Sentimentality, Gilmore Girls is an immensely enjoyable treat. And Season 7, for all the same reasons that might have made it into a disaster, actually became a better final season than it might have been under Palladino, who often went overboard in her scripts with the pop-culture references and Democrat politics.

Sometimes change is good. Better than you're inclined to give it credit for. Sometimes especially when it's goodness is not expected. And sometimes, and this is something we learned from this, is that one sees things much more clearly, and appreciates them more, from a distance; in this a distance in time.

The incomparable Mrs. Kim.

And, of course, the even more incomparable Paris.

So we say good-bye to Lorelai and Rory and the cast of 'characters' that we grew to know and like--Or not, for some of them!--during a total of over 150 episodes; which at about 45 minutes/episode would make that over 110 hours of TV watching. 110 hours of one's life. 110 hours that I would not rather have spent on anything else--which is all good.

More characters we grew to love.

I'll miss them; not acutely, but when I do happen think of them, as is likely, every now and then, as one does think of things at random, I will continue to wish the show hadn't ended; knowing that it is good that it has, because it ended on that 'right' open-ended note with good things inthe offing. Pretty much, again, the way I feel about Ed. All of which is almost prompting me to start a spiel about the relationships between fictional characters and those at the receiving end of the fiction, and, even more so, those creating it. But I'll spare you the trauma for today.

Three Generations of Gilmores. Dysfunctional but somehow holding it together.

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