Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Gilmore Girls: 'S'Wonderful, S'Marvelous' (7x04)

Another week, another solid, but unexceptional episode. When Aaron Sorkin left The West Wing, you could sense that the entire show had changed, the voice and style were gone. Watching these Gilmore Girls, I don't think you'd immediately notice the change in leadership. Yes, there are more closeups, and a slightly slower pace, but what stands out most is the lack of vision at the top. I feel like the Palladinos had a very specific idea of where these characters were going, where Rosenthal is merely trying to keep the show interesting. He's succeeding, but this show used to be a lot more than just interesting.

Rory's scenes felt like she'd wandered into Six Feet Under seasons three and four. There's certainly some interesting territory to cover with her getting some new friends, people who she actually likes, unlike every other group of people she's hung out with over the years. It was odd to see Steve Guttenberg's daughter from Veronica Mars crossing over into the Gilmore world. I think these characters could work if they're developed and made to push Rory out of her comfort zone, in the same way that early Logan sstories did.

I think the Lorelai/Christopher relationship is entertaining, but it feels too much like fanfic. It would have been more interesting to keep Lorelai single for a little while. I feel like the Christopher storyline is too obviously headed to some sort of catastrophe, yet the way the show's constructed now, it's making Chris very sympathetic. So, there'll either have to be a sharp turn in his character or an unmotivated breakup. I feel like we're supposed to think that Lorelai and Luke are still the show's great love, but the actual episode makes Christopher seem like the right choice.

Ultimately, my big issue is that the season is not following up on Lorelai's character arc from last season, they addressed the narrative consequences, but not examined the deeper sadness that underlied her breakup with Luke. What they could do is explore the idea that she's just with Chris to fight her fear that she can't have a satisfying relationship. Chris is the ultimate comfortable guy, wealthy, known and clearly devoted to her. But, their uneven levels of affection will presumably undermine the relationship down the line.

That said, the Luke storyline was very good. April is stretching him a bit, and it's always good to see Sherilyn Fenn back. I'm surprised she didn't even broach the idea of Luke getting back together with her mom, I assume that will come up at some point. On the whole, Luke has been the character with the strongest sense of direction during the season, a nice feat considering the way he got messed with at the end of last year.

So, I'm enjoying it still, but the show isn't as strong as it was in the past two years when there was real examination of these characters and development of their world.

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