Gilmore Girls: The Complete Fifth Season (US - DVD R1)
The fifth season of the show that most men (hetero or not) should be watching
Pop culture analysis/rock writer Chuck Klosterman once spoke of defending one’s guilty pleasures with the use of irony. To pretend to enjoy something ironically when in actuality you just enjoy it. I have used this technique many times with many different genres. It’s easy to defend your I-tunes play-list when you mix Motley Crue with John Coltrane and Roxy Music with irony. You give someone the wink and nudge when they see Motley Crue’s entire catalogue in your I-tunes and you share a laugh. Then they see the Twisted Sister and the Iron Maiden and they begin to see through the façade. Then it gets worse. Eventually they get into your DVD collection and you have to kick the irony in high gear. First they see your seven seasons of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Then they see your copy of Terms of Endearment. Then the coup de grace: all five seasons of The Gilmore Girls. Yes indeed, I love the escapades of the girls Gilmore. I wish I could say I like them in an ironic way but no, I love Lorelai and Rory Gilmore and the denizens of Stars Hollow.
With that embarrassing admission out of the way, allow me to introduce to you to a world that sits on the outskirts of Twin Peaks but rests firmly on the shoulders of Northern Exposure. The brainchild of creators Amy and Daniel Palladino, this sweet tale of a single mother and her highly ambitious daughter reeks, on the surface, of after school trudge that is not worthy of anyone’s adoration. However, the combination of writing and acting on the show has created something bordering on phenomenal. The chemistry between the actors should be bottled up and sold to lesser shows. Even the bit players, and they all have a history and story on the show, are solid and contribute to the everyday goings on in Stars Hollow. The most noteworthy performance this season in my mind goes to Lauren Graham, who plays Lorelai Gilmore.
She is required to give the widest range of performance, running the gamut from funny to sad to enraged to subtly enraged and succeeds with flying colours. Her character has a wide arch that starts with her butting heads with her daughter, pursuing a romance with her long-time best friend (dangerous in TV land as well as the real world), reconciles with her daughter, loses said romance with best friend, alienating her mother, reconciling romance with best friend, and then losing daughter in falling out over school issues. Is there a pattern here? Of course there is. Does this reek of jumping the shark? Kind of. It’s a credit to the writers that they are able to craft a series that jumps these pitfalls without plunging into clichés. Speaking of the writing, the scripts are probably the most talked about aspect of the show.
The dialogue is so laden with pop-culture references and moves so quickly that it threatens to alienate the less than stellar witted which serves up a critique I have of the show, being the non-partial reviewer that I am. This is an idealized world that the Gilmore’s live in. They speak in idealized dialogue. Personally, I enjoy all the references and it makes me feel a tad bit brighter when I pick up on some random literary reference. However, there are many instances when a whole diatribe of a character goes by and I am left clueless. The show may be a bit too smart for everyday viewing. Did I say smart? Perhaps I should say pretentious. Yes, some of the speeches and dialogues are so showy that it can put off any viewer. However, if you enjoy, say, Quentin Tarantino or Kevin Smith type writing, then you may be on board with this deliciously wicked style of speaking.
I wrote earlier of the citizens of Stars Hollow and the roles they play in the show. Eccentric, good-natured, and occasionally nude are great ways to describe the people that surround Lorelai and Rory. The standouts for me are Liza Weil, who plays Rory’s roommate Paris, and Scott Patterson, who plays Lorelai’s best-friend/lover, Luke Danes. Paris is the epitome of the neurotic, control freak that everyone knows. She plays it with a bit of tenderness simmering beneath her rough exterior which makes her as equally annoying as well as equally endearing. Luke is much the same as Paris, minus the neurosis. His everyman persona, he runs the local diner, is the glue of the show and I for one am ecstatic that he and Lorelai are continuing their burgeoning romance.
Given that there are twenty two episodes, the characters are actually given room and time to develop, which is another strength of the series. Of course, the argument can be made that the secondary characters never get to be more than one dimensional but who would have thought that Kirk, the quirky guy in town that works in every possible shop and played so well by Sean Gunn, would get a girlfriend? There is room to stretch for these bit players and I hope that in the future we get to see that happen.
The Gilmore Girls season five is presented in full frame in its original 1.33:1 ratio. The transfer itself is fairly weak and the colours tend to be muted and muddy throughout the season. There are episodes where the shadows tend to obscure the actors and contrast with the colours. I know there isn’t that much emphasis on crispness or quality for these box sets but the quality is notably bad so a little effort wouldn’t hurt the proceedings.
The Gilmore Girls season five is presented in Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround so don’t go expecting anything spectacular. Just like the video presentation, these sets aren’t recognized for their audio prowess but they work well for what they are. If you’re like me, you don’t mind not getting that annoying Carol King theme song blasted at you every time you put these discs in. By they way, I have never let the introduction do all the way as the theme song is gratingly annoying. At least in my eyes it is.
The past four seasons have been woefully thin on content and this season is no different. However, we are finally treated to a commentary track from the show’s creator’s Amy and Dan Palladino on the episode You Jump, I Jump, Jack. As can be expected both are very witty and chatty and the track contains enough anecdotal information to be a welcome addition to the extras. Unfortunately, they focus more on the genesis of their project rather than more up to date information which tended to get rather repetitious as all of that info can be found on the earlier discs. I can only hope that next seasons release has more where this came from.
Normally included in the box set is a guide to the many references that are strewn throughout the show. This time it’s notably absent from the proceedings but can be ‘conveniently’ downloaded from a website. I don’t know if the producers are being environmentally conscious but this was a welcomed extra and its absence was notable.
There are three featurettes included in the set. The first, ‘The Gilmore Girls turns 100’], is a retrospective bit which lets the cast reflect on five years of the show as well as comment on their character’s arcs for season five. The best bit comes when Melissa McCarthy offers her explanation on why and how the characters talk to fast. The second, ‘Behind the Scenes of the 100th Episode’, is exactly as advertised. Melissa McCarthy, who plays Sookie in the series, guides the viewer around the set during the filming of the 100th episode. Nothing that revelatory included here. More of a fluff piece that the first featurettes. The final featurette, ‘Who Wants to Talk Gilmore?’, is nothing but the ‘wittiest’ bits of dialogue from the season. All three featurettes are pretty weak in content and end up being nothing more than pat-on-the-back fluff sessions.
What more can I say? I am an addict. There is no irony when it comes to me and my Gilmore Girls. The combination of writing and acting have me pouring libations of milk and honey at the alter of the Palladino’s for creating such a righteous show. I can’t recommend this show enough, and the DVD releases are a great way to primer yourself for television greatness, even if they are a bit scant on the extras.
Review by Greg Dedrick
This product has not been rated
Release Date: 13th December 2005
Disc Type: Single side, dual layer
Aspect: 1.33:1 Full Frame
Audio: Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround English
Subtitles: English, Spanish, French
Extras: Commentary Track/Gilmore Girls Turn 100 Featurette/Behind the Scenes of Episode 100 Featurette/Who Wants to Talk Gilmore Featurette
Easter Egg: No
Cast: Lauren Graham, Alexis Bledel, Melissa McCarthy
Genre: Drama and Family
Length: 957 minutes
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