TV Review: Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life - 'Spring'
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*Spoilers within for Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life - Spring*
Much like the season in which it is based, the second episode of Gilmore Girls: A Year In The Life is a time of transition, as the Gilmore women seek a sense of purpose and structure in their ever-changing lives.
Rory struggles in her career as doors seem to close around her, trapping her back in Stars Hollow. Similarly Lorelai has lost her passion for the Dragonfly Inn, as well as her confidence in her relationship. Both women seek comfort in this time as they deal with the blows and try to prepare themselves for change, to no avail.
Spring flawlessly returns the revival to the Gilmore Girls we know and love after (what this reviewer would consider) a slightly bumpy first episode. More comfortable in its new skin, the show is more fluid in Spring and the characters and town itself seem more reticent of the original show, appeasing some fans who were unsettled by the strange fit of the first episode.
Stars Hollow once again feels like home as it celebrates one of its many yearly events - the international food festival, organised by Taylor in a desperate attempt to put Stars Hollow on the map. Taylor and Kirk are as hilarious as ever in their frantic and neurotic handling of the show, as they treat it as seriously as a red carpet event. The effortless flow between Lorelai, Luke and Rory is also back in this episode as they banter back and forth, seamlessly bridging the past and present as they do.
Emily and Lorelai remain in that odd war we know so well as they enter the world of therapy, with results that are certainly not surprising for fans of the original show. Somewhere in between the varying din of these emotional arguments, the scenes are both hilarious and heartbreaking, as we see the walls these women have built up between them since we met them finally begin to crumble.
In a charming, if slightly useless scene, we see a throwback to the original show as Lorelai buys someones basket after feeling nostalgic about her and Luke’s roots as a couple. Yet while this scene reminds audience members of some of Luke and Lorelais' best moments and the episode itself initially suggests the two are happily committed, problems soon arise. Lorelai and Luke’s relationship is stuck when we meet them, as they continue on in the same way as before and fail to grow and develop past that point.This leads to awkward moments where they seem more like strangers than a couple of nine years; clearly uncomfortable in the place they now find themselves.
Unfortunately it is not just in her love life that Lorelai seems unhappy, as she drifts through The Dragonfly Inn that once was her dream, lost without her best friend. Unable to expand the inn due to issues with the area and thus unable to develop and improve her business, she fears that Michel - her closest friend after Sookie - will leave her too as she is unable to give him worthwhile work. These fears lead to anxiety dreams, and as a consequence Gilmore Girls fans see the return of the real Paul Anka, who has previously replaced Lorelai’s dog in her dreams in moments of significant change or fear.
Richard Gilmore reaches out from the dead in this episode as he seeks to secure his daughter’s future. Ever the over-protective and interfering father - though these traits are born out of love - he leaves Luke a considerable sum in the hopes that he would expand and franchise Luke’s diner, thus attaining enough wealth to comfortably provide for Lorelai and Rory. Meanwhile Emily continues to struggle to cope with his loss, behaving strangely as a result. She still has the same maid, making it a record length for any of her house staff.
Rory and Paris shine in this episode as their alumni visit to Chilton provides the audience with many laughs, largely at Paris or her victims' expense. However their interactions quickly become more personal as we see Paris revert to her high school self after seeing her old flame Tristan back in the halls flirting with yet another girl. For the first time in this revival we see a more emotional side to Paris, as she embraces her old insecurities, strangely seeming more upset about Tristan’s presence than her own divorce. While Rory thrives back at her old school she suffers in the real world, flailing in her career and failing to score even the most unworthy of jobs. Ultimately this leads her to move back into her old room, surprisingly unsuccessful in her life, both in regards to relationships and work.
While most of this episode works very well, there are the unmistakable parts that remind us this revival is different from the original Gilmore Girls. Edward Herrmann’s absence is still felt very strongly in this episode, as his character’s, witty humour and love for his family leaves an undeniable hole in the show.
Similarly Melissa McCarthy’s absence is also apparent, as the scenes between Lorelai and Sookie which fans loved so much in the original show are noticeably missing, and with them some of the Gilmore Girls spark. However this absence is easier to accept as fans are aware that she will make an appearance somewhere in the show, though sadly only for one scene.
Another way in which the revival feels different to the original show is that while most of the humour is quick and witty, other parts seem forced and fall flat. The first film by Kirk was hilarious and the second film wasn’t bad, however it failed to live up to its predecessor, as well as failing to add much of a comedic factor to the scene. Furthermore, the relationship drama towards the end of the episode seems pointless, and unless it has some significance to the last four words, it has no relevance to the show.
The most forced attempt at humour in this episode is undoubtedly the town meeting. While the quirky characters are familiar and their outrage at being unable to ‘borrow’ fellow neighbouring towns' gay inhabitants is rather amusing, the sudden and not so subtle implication that Taylor is gay fails to hit the comedic note as it jars the scene and has little humourous value.
Ultimately the second episode leaves the audience feeling mixed, as it has both clear strengths and weaknesses. While the humour is still there, it sometimes feels like the writers are not so comfortable in their setting, leading to forced jokes and awkward scenes. On top of this, some parts of the story seem pointless and many things, such as whether Paris is or is not still in love with Tristan, are left unanswered.
The big losses of the show are also strongly felt in this episode, as the absence of two key characters leaves audience members missing something intangible, and yet indispensable, from the show. The sense of the original Gilmore Girls is there, and the fit is more comfortable than the previous episode, yet there are still missteps made that betray the writers' lack of confidence in what they are writing.
Gilmore Girls: A Year In The Life is available to watch on Netflix now.