Thursday, September 28, 2006

Straggling Premiere

Gilmore Girls
Lots of hay has been made over the fact that this season of Gilmore Girls is the first produced without the show's singular voice, it's creator and writer of many episodes, Amy Sherman-Palladino. And lots of critics (see Alan Sepinwall's blog for a sample) are saying that in the premier episode the magic is gone - that new showrunner David Rosenthal's attempts to replicate the fast-talkin', pop culture-alludin', singular style of Sherman-Palladino's dialogue are impressive but in the end obviously an imitation of the real thing. But I wonder. I wonder if Sepinwall and many of his fellow critics would feel the same way if they hadn't been writing reams and reams about the Palladinos exit over the last six months, if they weren't so focused on the fact that the creators are new, if they didn't know all of this backstage stuff so well. After all, it's worth remembering that the average viewer has no idea who is in charge of a show, or who is writing it - the average viewer most likely doesn't know anything about the change. My guess is that if they didn't know the writers and creators were different they wouldn't have a problem with the premiere - it's a case of not being able to get around preconceived notions.

Because I thought the premiere was very, very sharp, with some classic-level GG dialogue and interactions. The whole raquetball thing, in particular, was wonderfully written and played, and very true to these characters. But most impressive for me was how Rosenthal handled the big mess he was handed - the seemingly needless (and repetitive--we've already done the Luke-Lorelai breakup thing) Luke-Lorelai breakup. And he handled it by addressing it head on. Lorelai slept with Christopher, she felt horrible about it, but she wasn't running back to Luke either. I actually was waiting at one point halfway through the episode, when Luke first came to Lorelai to apologize, for Luke to ask Lorelai to marry him right then and there. And then at the end of the episode, he did. And she said no - that it was really over. And, panicked, he insisted that it couldn't be. And she told him she had slept with Christopher. And he stormed off, obviously as devastated, angry, and hurt as he's ever been. Let me tell you, that scene right there was as well-written and acted as anything I've ever seen on this show. Kudos to Rosenthal--this is one fan who ain't going anywhere.


Roger Owen Green said...

I'll have to remember to read this post later, after I actually watch the show.

Tosy And Cosh said...

Yes, definitely watch first. But then definitely come back and read. And comment. ;)

Alan Sepinwall said...

To answer the question you asked at my place, yes, I could tell the difference between when Amy was writing and when she wasn't long before this happened. Daniel's scripts, for instance, had such a distinct rhythm (about 1.5 more words per minute compared to Amy's) that I could spot a Daniel episode by the time the opening credits rolled. And I could recognize the Written & Directed by Amy Sherman-Palladino episodes even without seeing that particular credit.

Maybe the key difference is this: for an average, middle of the season, non-sweeps episode of the show, "The Long Morrow" was passable. It still would have felt off, but I would have shrugged it off knowing that an Amy episode was coming up soon.

But that's not going to happen anymore. If this episode represents the best of Rosenthal's ability to write for this show (given the straightjacket Amy put him in), then I don't know if it's worth it anymore.

Tosy And Cosh said...

I don't doubt you, it's just that I didn't notice any substantive differences, and I was wondering how much of what you and othe rcritics were seeing was potentially colored by preconceived notions. All that aside, I'm glad I don't see a difference, since I enjoyed the premiere immensely. That is, for me, it's still entirely worth it, even if I remain doubtful that any down-the-road Luke Lorelai resolution will feel at all organic.

Roger Owen Green said...

The previous season ended with the old team seemingly writing the new team into a corner. It came off remarkably well. My wife said, "Why did she tell him?" I said, "Because he'd keep asking" to get married." I TOTALLY bought Lorelai's reaction to Christopher on the phone, and for that matter, the young couple's phone miscommunication. The wrecked diner was totally consistent with Taylor and Kirk.

I think L&L CAN get back together "organically". He has to get over his hurt, and she'll have to acknowledge that she should have been more assertive over the April thing (she was SUCH a wuss at times). Somehow, I think April will be the key to them getting back together.