Warner Bros. // 2005 // 957 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Kerry Birmingham (Retired) // December 13th, 2005
"The penal system is not something we enjoy. It's something with a name that makes us giggle."
In the interest of fairness, I should point out that I'm already a fan of this series; giddily, unapologetically so. On paper, this series is a tough sell: they're mother and daughter, they're wacky, and they just love each other sooooo much! (Tee-hee!) That is it was created, in part, with the aid of something called the "Family Friendly Forum" doesn't change the impression that this show is best viewed while painting your toenails and playing Truth or Dare. The fact is that writing this series off as sub-Dawson's Creek filler is a disservice to series full of genuine warmth and wit that defies its gooey premise.
For those coming in late (in brief, since anyone watching the fifth season is likely to be caught up): Lorelai Gilmore (Lauren Graham, Bad Santa), at age 16, becomes pregnant. Alienated by her scandalized, wealthy parents, Richard and Emily (Kelly Bishop, Wonder Boys, and Edward Herrmann, The Cat's Meow), Lorelai moves to Stars Hollow, a strange little town with an even stranger array of quirky residents. Lorelai raises her daughter, Rory (Alexis Bledel, Sin City, Tuck Everlasting) by herself. When brilliant Rory, now 16 herself, is given a chance at an expensive and presumably better education, prodigal Lorelai returns to her parents looking for the money to make it happen. Richard and Emily want something in return: time with the daughter and granddaughter they barely know.
By its fifth year, wunderkind Rory has been attending Yale, while Lorelai, after years of working at a local bed and breakfast, has opened an inn of her own with her friend, Sookie (Melissa McCarthy, The Life of David Gale), as head chef. Taciturn diner owner Luke (Scott Patterson) has finally declared his intentions to Lorelai, and Rory comes out of a tumultuous romantic period into the arms of old flame Dean (Jared Padalecki, House of Wax).
Gilmore Girls: The Complete Fifth Season features all 22 episodes of the popular WB show's 2004-2005 season, including:
* "Say Goodbye to Daisy Miller"
Picking up just before the conclusion to the previous season's finale, Rory tells Lorelai that she's lost her virginity -- to very married former beau, Dean. This doesn't sit well with Lorelai, who has just taken the first tenuous steps of a romance of her own with Luke.
* "A Messenger, Nothing More"
Rory, in Europe with Emily, writes a letter for Lorelai to give to Dean, whose wife finds the letter. She doesn't take it well. Lorelai then experiences firsthand another popular aphorism regarding messengers when she runs into the spurned wife's mother.
* "Written in the Stars"
Luke and Lorelai, after four-plus seasons of verbal foreplay, finally go on their first date. It is a(n) (a)rousing success. When they are inadvertently outed as a couple to the generally gossipy town, things are suspiciously quiet (with good reason, it turns out).
* "Tippecanoe and Taylor, Too"
Lorelai has second thoughts about supporting Sookie's husband, Jackson, in his bid for public office. Meanwhile, Rory and Dean are shocked to discover that it's difficult for a pair of on-the-go adulterers to get together.
* "We Got Us a Pippi Virgin"
Luke and Lorelai go on a double date with Rory and Dean in an attempt to smooth things over between Lorelai and Dean. However, Luke's paternal instincts towards Rory kick in over the course of a screening of Pippi Longstocking and an unusually aggressive game of BopIt!
* "Norman Mailer, I'm Pregnant!"
Guest star Norman Mailer as himself inadvertently leads to a revelation for Sookie. Rory, meanwhile, investigates a Yale secret society for her school paper. Norman Mailer is not involved in the secret society, however.
* "You Jump, I Jump, Jack"
Emily finally learns Lorelai is dating Luke, and demands to get reacquainted with him over a passive-aggressive dinner. Rory finally tracks down the secret "Life and Death Brigade," which mostly entails pretentious word games, spending money, and jumping off of things.
* "The Party's Over"
Richard and Emily, separated since last season, briefly reunite to throw a party for Rory full of eligible, wealthy young men in an attempt to break up Rory and Dean. Luke and Lorelai's romantic evening comes to a halt when they get caught in a domestic dispute between Luke's sister and her husband.
* "Emily Says 'Hello'"
Emily begins to date again. What was supposed to be a casual lunch turns ugly when Lorelai has lunch with Rory and her erstwhile father, Christopher (David Sutcliffe, Happy Endings).
* "But Not as Cute as Pushkin"
Rory plays host to a girl from her old high school who is considering going to Yale, but her interests are less academic and more of the Girls Gone Wild variety. Lorelai discovers that Luke mysteriously disappears on the same date every year and she tries to find out why.
* "Women of Questionable Morals"
Stars Hollow's annual Revolutionary War re-enactment adds some verisimilitude with the inclusion of a prostitute. Richard and Emily reconcile long enough to care for a lost dog.
* "Come Home"
Richard and Emily finally get back together, and Rory is frustrated with her uncertain relationship with Yale dilettante Logan (Matt Czuchry, Eight Legged Freaks).
* "Wedding Bell Blues"
Richard and Emily renew their wedding vows, with Lorelai as Maid of Honor and Rory as best "man." Things go badly when Luke and Christopher meet up, and Rory has an unexpected encounter with Logan.
* "Say Something"
In the wake of the "Wedding Bell Blues" dust-up, Luke and Lorelai split -- and the town takes sides. Rory has just enough time to get some mixed signals from Logan before running to comfort her mother.
* "Jews and Chinese Food"
Knowing Lorelai is involved, Luke volunteers to crew for a student production of Fiddler on the Roof. Logan intrudes on another potential romance for Rory.
* "So...Good Talk"
The Gilmores are in disarray: Lorelai isn't speaking to Emily following the events of "Wedding Bell Blues," and Rory makes sure her grandparents know she agrees. Luke takes out his misery on his customers by burning food and being even surlier than usual.
* "Pulp Friction"
Rory and Logan advance their relationship while attending a Quentin Tarantino-themed party. Luke and Lorelai reunite, but it doesn't ease tensions with Emily.
* "To Live and Let Diorama"
Luke volunteers to renovate an old Stars Hollow house into a historical museum, much to everyone's surprise, and romantic woes lead Rory and her intoxicated friends to the always-deadly practice of "drunk dialing."
* "But I'm a Gilmore"
Rory has a disastrous encounter with Logan's elitist family when meeting them for the first time. Pregnant Sookie is ordered to bed rest, while Luke temporarily takes over the kitchen -- but Sookie won't go quietly.
* "How Many Kropogs to Cape Cod?"
The tables are turned as Logan meets Emily and Richard for dinner, and Rory begins work as an intern at one of Logan's father's newspapers.
* "Blame Booze and Melville"
Luke and Lorelai get a little out of hand while celebrating the publication of an article on the inn, and Rory gets some bad news in her performance review at the paper. She copes by committing a felony.
* "A House Is Not a Home"
Lorelai picks Rory up from the police station, and things get worse from there. Rory makes some life-changing decisions and, in the show's first-ever cliffhanger, so does Lorelai.
Looking at the episode synopses above is like looking at the contents page of a book: it tells you the broadest possible information while revealing none of the minutiae. While all roads lead back to the Gilmores, between Stars Hollow, Yale, Hartford, the inn, and all points between, there must be dozens of supporting and incidental characters that interact and overlap, with their own histories and storylines that touch upon the main plots but move of their own accord. It's a lot of characters and a lot of stories, like the X-Men in cute sweaters. The Gilmores might exist in a slightly exaggerated world where town weirdoes are quaint and not creepy, and everyone seems to have had a dedicated liberal arts education, but the strength of the writing and performances make even unlikable characters dimensional, or at the very least clever. I haven't even mentioned Rory's neurotic roommate Paris, fresh out of being the "May" in a May-December romance; Rory's oppressed best friend Lane and her band; or Marty (poor Marty!)...the list goes on and on. There's a lot to discover here, and the fun of the series is in the interactions.
It's not a show for everyone, but it's a show for more people than you might think. Whatever knee-jerk chick-flick misgivings the male audience might have towards this show, they're unfounded; in the end it's a likable, literate show. If, like me, you lack a second X chromosome and are initially unable to justify watching a show where the commercials aired during it are mainly for things biologically impossible for you to use, there's an easy way around this. Watch one episode under the pretense that you're in it for the pretty girls; if you like it, watch the second under the pretense that the dialogue is kind of funny. If by week three you're not saying things like, "I can't believe what Miss Patty said to Lorelai in Doose's Market!" then...well, I'm sure According to Jim is on somewhere...
Warner Bros. presents Gilmore Girls: The Complete Fifth Season in its original full frame picture, as broadcast. This season being only months old at the time of its release, there's little to complain about as far as picture quality goes and the audio is just as sharp. Extras include a sole commentary (the first for the series) by series co-conspirators Amy Sherman-Palladino and Daniel Palladino. It's not nearly as entertaining as you might think, however, as the dual Palladinos spend too much time commenting on the commentary and the novelty thereof. For the next season release Warner should have them do four or five commentaries to get them up to the quality of wit previous interviews have shown them to have. The "Behind the Scenes of the 100th Episode" featurette is a pleasant making-of on "Wedding Bell Blues," while "Gilmore Girls Turns 100" is a too-brief retrospective with cast interviews. A clip montage (always useless) called "Who Wants to Talk Gilmore?" rounds out the extras. The previous season sets (excluding the first) included a booklet providing definitions for many of the pop culture items referenced throughout the season, handy for the culturally impaired, but this season includes only an insert directing users to The WB's website for this season's "Gilmore-isms." Way to cheap out, Warner.
The strengths of Gilmore Girls are also its weaknesses. Individual viewer temperance may vary depending on their tolerance for the near-constant references, willfully quirky townsfolk, coy relationships, and the lifestyles of wealthy New Englanders. This is the show that MADtv parodied as "Gabmore Girls," after all (and who doesn't trust the incisive wit of MADtv?), and viewers should be duly warned. Season Five marks Rory's turn towards being unlikable after four seasons of Pollyanna perfection, which may alienate some viewers. Season Five also exemplifies the show's tendency to manufacture plot developments around sweeps airing, whether it makes sense or not; one can almost tell when these episodes aired based solely on who's getting together, who's breaking up, who's getting married, and who's giving birth. There's a lot going on, and a lot of things seem to get lost in the shuffle (Jackson's political post seems to have vanished by the end of the season, for example).
The final word on Gilmore Girls as a series is this: you either like it or you don't, but you won't know until you've actually given it a chance. Season Five is a heavy contender for the series's best, and it may not be the best place to start for new viewers, but it's a great place to wind up for longtime fans.
Oh, I can't stay mad at you girls! Case dismissed. See you at Luke's.
Review content copyright © 2005 Kerry Birmingham; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: Warner Bros.
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround (English)
Running Time: 957 Minutes
Release Year: 2005
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Commentary on "You Jump, I Jump, Jack" by executive producers/writers Amy Sherman-Palladino and Daniel Palladino
* "Who Wants to Talk Gilmore?" Featurette
* "Gilmore Girls Turns 100" Featurette
* "Behind the Scenes of the 100th Episode" Featurette
* Official Site
* Season 1 Review
* Season 2 Review
* Season 4 Review
* Fan Site