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The Long Morrow: Has "Gilmore Girls" Returned to Form?

It was with some trepidation that I sat down last night to watch the season premiere of Gilmore Girls. After all, creator Amy Sherman Palladino and hubby Daniel Palladino are gone now and their departure cast a rather large pall over this once mighty series and I hadn't exactly had a lot of confidence in their replacement, David Rosenthal, whose two episodes to date had left me cold. Could this be a fresh start for the Gilmore Girls that I knew and loved? Perhaps.

I'll admit that I was a little concerned during beginning of the Girls' seventh season premiere ("The Long Morrow") last night. The opening scenes seemed weak, ineffectual, and clunky and, even worse, they seemed vaguely similar to the frustrating, hot mess that was Season Six. (Look, it's Amy and Daniel... and they're running out the door and taking any narrative sense with them!) We've seen Lorelai sleep with the wrong guy and then sulk and pout before, we've seen Sookie babble on endlessly, we've seen Michel... have nothing to do. So there was definitely a sense of been-there-done-that that made me feel more than a little uneasy.

But then something happened.

The characters started to behave like themselves again, in a way that they hadn't for most of last season (if you can't already tell, I'm a huge Gilmore fan who was crushed by the lack of cohesion and, well, common sense of last season). Lorelai was Lorelai again: quixotic and spunky, with a fierce inner spirit and an absolute failure at cooking (I loved the riff on not having any ice in the house). Rory was Rory, completely bonded with her mother, at ease with one another, headstrong and intelligent. And both were filled with the spirit of that dearly departed wit, Dorothy Parker, who would have been proud at the zingers and bon mots casually tossed off by these two intelligent and stylish women.

If you couldn't tell, I might just be falling in love with my Gilmore girls all over again. I absolutely loved the racquetball scene between the two of them: both the sitting on the floor of the court and gabbing and the actual 5 second racquetball game, which promptly ends when the opening stroke ricochets right into Lorelai's face. The dialogue, as written by newly minted Gilmore Girls showrunner David Rosenthal, was filled with a lightness and verve sorely missing of late. It was fast and furious (but not overly so), filled with some pop cultural references (I never thought I'd hear the words "Fast and the Furious 3: Tokyo Drift" uttered on the show), but never overwrought or overdone. Simply put: it made sense, it made me laugh out loud (something I haven't been able to do in quite some time whilst watching Gilmore Girls), and it didn't reinvent the wheel. It stuck to what the show does best: plot the relationship between Lorelai and Rory, their kooky neighbors in Stars Hollow, the current men in their lives, and remain tartly sweet and smartly savvy.

I thought that the red light traffic cam installation scene was right on the money. Any more and it would have been over the top, but as is, it was just zany enough to work. Same with Luke's reaction after Kirk crashes Taylor's beloved T-bird into the diner's wall. I half expected him to begin freaking out and ranting about Lorelai and how this has broken down the walls around him (the metaphor was beginning to make me a little uneasy), but Rosenthal pulled it off by making it more about everyone forcing Luke to make a decision. It was also helped by some fine acting on Scott Patterson's part and not once did he never mention Lorelai by name. So, bravo, for pulling off something that could have been hokey and fondue-like and instead having it fit in with the tradition of bizarro Stars Hollow stories on the series and ring true to their characters and their situations.

I liked Rory and Logan's long distance interactions and the rocket ship gift he sent to her (I love when the girls attempt to solve relationship-related mysteries) and was especially pleased with the twist that, while Logan is sending her a plane ticket to London, Rory won't be seeing her beau until Christmas-time. At least, unless she has anything to say about it. I love how Logan can be so savvy and so stupid at the same time and so utterly clueless about Rory's feelings. Which is why I love their current situation. Will Logan wait "40 years" for Rory? And better yet: will Rory do the same for him?

Additionally, I'm especially glad that Lorelai didn't elope with Luke (though glad that the big lunk finally proposed to her) and that Lorelai didn't conceal the fact that she slept with Christopher from him. His reaction was right on the money, both for Luke and men in general. Personally, I'm happy to see Luke and Lorelai apart for a while, even though I was rooting for them for many years, as I think that she and Christopher are actually a really good couple. He's matured significantly in the last few seasons and is finally as adult as Lorelai but their shared past and, um, shared daughter, make them a good fit. It will be interesting to see where this goes in the next few episodes, but the scenes for next week do make it seem as though we'll be seeing Lorelai and Chris as a couple. At least for a little while, anyway.

So, was it a return to the glory days of Gilmore Girls? Well, it's definitely a step in the right direction. And while it's still way too soon to tell whether the show will keep on the path it's on or whether it will again lose its footing, I do have to say that I am impressed with how much I enjoyed the episode and the direction under the previously much maligned David Rosenthal. As for the future of Gilmore Girls, there's a part of me that's cautiously optimistic about this season. But at the same time, there's another side of me that just can't wait to get back to Stars Hollow again next week.

Next week on Gilmore Girls ("That's What You Get, Folks, for Makin' Whoopee"): Lorelei tries to cheer up Rory, upset about calling off her trip to Asia with Logan, by transforming the house into the Stars Hollow version of, um, Asia, in this episode written by Rebecca Rand Kirshner.

What's On Tonight

8 pm: Jericho (CBS); The Biggest Loser (NBC; 8-10 pm); America's Next Top Model (CW); Dancing with the Stars (ABC); Bones (FOX); Desire (MyNet)

9 pm: Criminal Minds (CBS); One Tree Hill (CW); Lost (ABC); Justice (FOX); Fashion House (MyNet)

10 pm: CSI: New York (CBS); Kidnapped (NBC); 20/20 (ABC)

What I'll Be Watching

8 pm: Jericho.

I'm really on the fence about this series, which is just way too maudlin and depressing for me to tune into on a weekly basis. Plus, I've got enough stress from Lost at 9 pm. On tonight's episode ("Fallout"), Jake discovers that the fallout shelter is unusable... an hour before fallout from the blast is about to hit the town. Day-um.

9 pm: Lost.

Yes, it's yet another Lost recap show ("A Tale of Survival") before next week's third season premiere. Will I tune in or will it just wind up sitting on my TiVo's hard drive for the next few weeks? Only Desmond knows...

10 pm: Kidnapped.

It's the second episode of NBC's fall kidnapping drama (not to be confused with FOX's). On tonight's episode ("Special Delivery"), the Cains receive a package that implies that their other children might be in danger, while Knapp (Jeremy Sisto) heads to Brown University to search out missing daughter Aubrey. Unless the ratings improve for this drama, something tells me that the only thing missing will soon be this series from the schedule...

10 pm: Project Runway on Bravo.

On tonight's episode, it's finally down to the final four contestants. (Yes, really, this time.) Who will be booted off the runway next? Just please don't let it be Michael.

Comments

Anonymous said…
It was with some trepidation....

...that I came to your blog this morning. See, I pretty much felt as you did, and I was worried that I'd come here and find you hated it. Phew!

I only laughed out loud twice (both at Rory things - she was GREAT last night), but I smiled a lot.
Vance said…
Im hopeful, I wasnt totally wowed but I dont think I could have been since they had to fix the mess left from Aprilgate. Still, most of it was great and Im happy Luke finally proposed (or muttered something to that point) and it made sense for her to blurt out Christopher... still... bring back more happiness to Stars Hollow!
Unknown said…
I was disappointed in the episode for the most part. Thought it lacked snap. I liked the racquetball scene and the scene where Rory explained the rocket gift to Lorelai. Thought the Luke/Lorelai scenes were very clunky.
Anonymous said…
While this episode certainly didn't live up to the brilliance of the first few Gilmore seasons, I thought that it was a lot more interesting than most of last season which felt sluggish and self-indulgent.

I loved the raquetball scene and the mystery of the rocket and Luke's reaction to Lorelai sleeping with Christopher. I definitely think there's a glimmer of potenial here and am keeping my fingers crossed that Rosenthal will be able to keep it moving in the right direction.

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