STUDIO: Warner
MSRP: $59.98
RATED: not rated
RUNNING TIME: 945 min.
• Season 7 promo
• Bonus CW premiere disc

The Pitch

If you lead, I will follow. Especially in those jeans.”

The Humans

Lauren Graham (Bad Santa), Alexis Bledel (Tuck Everlasting), Melissa McCarthy (that bank commercial with the bar-code scanners), Scott Patterson (Little Big League), Keiko Agena, Yanic Truesdale, Liza Weil (Whatever), Sean Gunn (The Specials), Matt Czuchry (Eight Legged Freaks), Kelly Bishop (Solarbabies), Edward Herrmann (The Lost Boys)

"Yeah? Well I can see right through you too."

The Nutshell

CHUD somehow neglected to review Season 5 (click the numbers for seasons 1, 2, 3, and 4), so to catch up: Rory finished ruining Dean’s marriage, then fell in with uber-preppie Logan and his secret college society; Lorelai and Luke awkwardly navigated their way from being friends to being lovers; Lane developed an irrational crush on her flaky bandmate Zach; Richard and Emily’s attempts to bring Christopher back into the picture backfired terribly; Rory landed an internship at Logan’s father’s newspaper, only to react badly to an honest appraisal of her work and drop out of school; Lorelai, unmoored by the growing rift between herself and her daughter, proposed to Luke. End season 5.

And they laughed when I said I wanted to come back as a chair.

The Lowdown

Season 6 starts off in unfamiliar territory. For five years, the whole show has revolved around the snappy banter between the two stars, but guess what? Lorelai and Rory aren’t talking, and don’t reconcile until Episode 9. In the meantime, we see Lorelai finding an all-too-willing substitute chatmate in Rory’s neurotic roommate Paris while Rory pays the debt to society she incurred at the end of Season 5 while experiencing life under Emily’s smothering roof firsthand. The Prodigal Daughter Returns marks a return to form as Rory goes back to college. That same episode also sets up the drama that will dominate the rest of the year: Luke learns he has a daughter, April, by old girlfriend Anna (Twin Peaks’ Sherilyn Fenn, ever the hottie), and the wedding is postponed.

The April subplot has a lot of potential, and there’s an unusual dynamic in the way that the emotional conflict is all on Luke’s side: the girl isn’t looking for a father figure, and the mother isn’t asking for support. It’s too bad the show can’t really explore this storyline since neither of the lead actresses are involved, but more on that later.

The season climaxes with Episode 13, Friday Night’s Alright For Fighting. Longtime viewers may suspect that the title refers to the weekly dinners at Richard and Emily’s house, a key story point since the series began, and they’d be right. For five years Emily has held a financial obligation over the girls’ heads in exchange for their company, and now a cash windfall has eliminated it. In a tour-de-force sequence, everything the characters have been holding back from each other comes out. It’s a blast from the past, with interest accrued.

The pleasure’s all mine, ladies.

It also points up a problem with the show—our heroines constantly acquire infusions of funds just in time to maintain the flashy clothes and high-tech toys we see them enjoy week in and week out. The implication, intended or not, is that Lorelai and Rory only play at being poor; they may occasionally clip coupons or cancel their cable but there always seems to be an inheritance, an insurance settlement, a rich boyfriend or father standing by, ready to boost them over the next narrative hump. Even Luke, that ball-capped, beflannelled burger-slinger, appears able to move serious amounts of cash without having to, say, take out a mortgage on his property. It’s incongruous in what is supposed to be a show about sisters doing it for themselves.

"I know you’ll enjoy this concoction. Just a little something I learned in Sunnydale."

The rest of the season consists of Rory working out commitment issues with Logan, interspersed with a rather drawn-out account of Lorelai feeling left out of Luke’s life but not talking to him about it. In episode 20, Super Cool Party People (well-written by current showrunner David S. Rosenthal) Lorelai seizes an opportunity to bond with April, only to get chewed out by Anna for overstepping her bounds. It’s devastating: We understand that Lorelai wants to form a family with Luke, but Anna is completely right not to want a virtual stranger running around with her kid. It reminds us that Lorelai is not supposed to be a perfect person.

She’s not supposed to be flat-out dumb, either, and her behavior in the season finale will leave many viewers disappointed.

"I thought you should know what you’re getting into."

The Package

As the fans well know, the big news for Season 7 is that Amy Sherman-Palladino and David Palladino, who created Gilmore Girls and also wrote and directed a majority of episodes, have left the show. So how amicable was their departure? Check this out: zero supplements. The GG box sets have always been half-assed in this department, with their silly Who Wants To…? montages and too-short interview segments, but at least the deleted scenes were interesting and the trivia booklets were cute. This time the only additional content is an ad for the fledgling CW Network, whose flagship this show now is. Even the box design is cut-rate, abandoning the previous sets’ attractive and convenient ‘book’ style for the fold-out cardboard holder my colleague Rob aptly described HERE as toilet paper for robots.

The show’s heading into the home stretch. The cast is still up for it, and still doing great work– I can’t recall another show that’s had so little turnover in six years. The big question is the writing. It’s too early to tell whether next season’s relief team will be able to maintain its quality, or bring back the fun of the early years. I hope so.

7 out of 10