Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Inexplicable TV Review: The Inefficiency of Stars Hollow (and S1 Gilmore Girls wrap-up)

Warning: Spoilers follow for some episodes of the hit new original show Gilmore Girls.

A puzzling thing to me throughout the first season of Gilmore Girls is the commercial viability of Luke’s diner, as well as the other businesses in Stars Hollow, and the various background elements of each episode. The town is portrayed as quaint and tiny, but holy hell, every shot of the Main Street has throngs of people. Which one is it?

Predictably, Wikipedia has an entire page on the fictional town, which has a heck of a lot of stores. It’s a composite of different Connecticut towns, but mostly based on Washington, which has a population of 3,578. My hometown of Charlestown has a population of 7,827, and its main businesses are a Dunkin’ Donuts, three pizza places, a small general store and some specialty stores (a hardware place, a vet, etc.).

So, one of my favorite things to do when watching Gilmore Girls is to check out the various specials and deals on the Luke’s menu, and the background menus of other places. The menu board is a weird mixture of the traditional breakfast stuff, with pies, and boring dinner options like meatloaf. Then there is Luke’s stock room. He has about a million jars of pickles and canned tomatoes down there! Give these background elements a good eye next time you’re watching the show, and you won’t be able to turn it off. And by the way, Netflix is turning a bunch of cafes into Luke’s diners for a promotion, if you didn’t hear via FB share.

But oh yeah, the rest of the show! Karen and I finished watching season one, and we’re halfway into season two. I’ll write about S2 later this week, but the end of S1 was sweet, although I kept getting distracted by one aspect.

Maybe it’s just the feed Netflix is using, but the filming quality for the last episode of season one radically jumps up. My suspicion is that they got picked up for a second season during the middle of filming season one, and because of that, they filmed an entire arc that was broken up over the two seasons. i.e. They filmed episode 21 of S1, then four or five episodes of S2. However, I couldn’t find confirmation of this online.

I should probably listen to some of the DVD commentaries for the show, because some of the production details fascinate me. At various points, you can clearly see boom microphones peeking into the top of the screen – I paused and rewound at one point so Karen could see it. The lighting on the show is also pretty horrible in some scenes, as well as dubbed in dialogue. You can definitely tell that the show started as a low-budget project on the WB.

The actual episode content of the final few of episode one is still solid, just to be clear. The ending is a bit mushy, with Rory getting back with Dean and Lorelai (on the way to) agreeing to marry Max, but it works. Both of the guys are still annoying duds to me, but hey, my suspicion is that neither will be in the picture forever because 1) I don’t really remember them from my past experience with the series and 2) Gilmore Girls ran for seven seasons.

Other random odds and ends:

- Rachel, Luke’s girlfriend, doesn’t wear a bra in about half the scenes she’s in. It’s never explained why not, and I found it weird because she’s working in the diner and not like a super hippie. By the way, I thought she was an intriguing character, but they don’t really ever establish much of an identity for her besides Luke’s Ex.

- The extended cast of Stars Hollow still bugs the shit out of me. The most preposterous thing to me was the troubadour battle at the Town Hall meeting in the last or penultimate episode of the first season. Gaaaagggg.

- One other weird production thing: The title music is REALLY loud as compared to the dialogue and regular music in episodes. After the cold open of each show, we have to lower the volume for the title screen. Also, the song just kind of abruptly ends in the middle, as if the sound editor couldn’t be bothered to sync it to end as the opening credits end. When it comes to WB music, the earworm from Seventh Heaven sticks in my head way more.

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