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Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life (2016)

Warner Home Video
Blu-ray Disc Released: 11/28/2017

All Ratings out of

Show:
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Video:
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Audio:

Extras: No Extras

Review by Stephanie Long, Posted on 12/19/2017

Cult shows are aplenty, but few really cause an emotional connection like The Gilmore Girls did for seven years when it originally aired more than a decade ago. The show told the story of two really photogenic, pop-culture savants- mom as a teen Lorelai Gilmore (Lauren Graham) and her sixteen-year-old daughter Rory (Alexis Bledel). Together, they navigated the world around them through the most entertaining, fast-talking, coffee-loving mother-daughter relationship ever featured in a TV show. The original Gilmore Girls was a rare show that was both charming (seriously- Stars Hollow- the town where the story centered, was the epitome of lovable and endearingly quirky small-town characters wrapped inside the most cozy scenery which exuded the sense of being the most idyllic place to live) and touching without being too sickeningly sweet. It was so beloved that when the reboot was announced for Netflix, I too was one of those fans who could not wait to return to the world of all things Gilmore.

Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life takes place ten years after the original series ended. Lorelai is still the owner of her dream inn, the Dragonfly, with her trusty assistant manager Michele (the delightful Yanic Truesdale) still by her side, and living with her one true love Luke (Scott Peterson) who is still running his diner in town. Rory is now thirty-two, a freelance writer who has had some success with an article in the New Yorker, but is currently homeless as both she and her belongings are hopping around the world split between old loves Logan (Matt Czuchry), her best friend Lane (Keiko Agena), her college roommate Paris (scene-stealer Liza Weil), her mom’s house, and of course, most importantly at her grandmother Emily Gilmore’s (the fabulous Kelly Bishop) house. Rory’s transient existence, and her displaced belongings, makes it easy for some of the shows beloved characters to be reintroduced into the story as the year depicted shares what happened to its character in the ten years since season seven ended.

So, as a fan who got into the series a few years after it had already started and had to binge them in the old fashion way- on DVD sets for the first six seasons and then I read the transcripts of season seven because I couldn’t wait at that time for season seven to finally come out on DVD (I mean I had to know if Luke and Lorelai ended up together, right?), does this revival satisfy? I’m still not sure. I saw it the day it came on Netflix, and now seeing it again on the DVD sets I have to say it does some things well, but really veers off into some unnecessary areas that make it far less satisfying the second time around.

The format is genius- each episode is its own season of a year, and that helps add to the charm of the town of Stars Hollow as the sets are elaborately done to play up the quaintness of the town making the viewer feel like they have “come home again”. Another plus is that the show does feature many of its best background characters in small moments (like the always funny Sean Gunn who as Kirk, the town Ooober driver and amateur film-maker, provides some good comic moments) which make the viewer feel as if Star Hollows continued even after we left. The best cameo of beloved cast members comes from Melissa McCarthy as Sookie, Lorleai’s best friend and the cook of the Dragonfly who was not only Graham’s business partner in the life of the show, but also an equal in rapid-fire repartee that made them such a fun team to watch. It is also satisfying to see how they handled the death of Lorelai’s father Richard (Edward Hermann who died in 2014), and the scene in which Lorelai has her breakthrough moment in which she shares with her mother her favorite memory of her dad that she could not allow herself to share at his funeral is truly a heart-wrenching scene that should have been enough alone to garner Graham an Emmy nomination. And mentioning Emmys, one should have been given to Kelly Bishop as her portrayal of Emily dealing with death of her beloved husband is one of the more fleshed out parts of the revival.

With all of the gushing done, it does bear mentioning that there are parts of the four episodes that are not only pointless, but also out-of-character, awkward, and cringe-worthy at times. I am a musical aficionado, but the twenty minutes of Star Hollows puts-on-a show is a complete waste of viewer time. As is Rory’s odd steampunk-esque interlude with ex-Logan and his friends from Yale that does nothing to endure him, her, or their past at Yale to viewers. But perhaps the biggest disappointment is in how the storyline for Rory seems to be so contrived in order for some drama to be created that it makes her extremely unlikeable (if you want to see Alexis Bledel shine- binge The Handmaid’s Tale instead- a far superior although extremely different type of show to immerse yourself into). Rory comes across as self-centered and self-pitying, and it seems so out of character for a 32-year-old woman to be having such a crisis of faith in herself, her career, and her love interests that she would continue to sleep with her ex-boyfriend who is currently engaged to another woman, forget throughout to break up with her current boyfriend who the show treats as a one-note joke that when repeatedly done only highlights the fact that Rory is actually a bit of a self-absorbed bitch, and then decide to write the story of her relationship with her mom which Lorelai does not approve of and causes friction with the one person who has sacrificed the most to give Rory everything she could possibly ever need –especially emotionally (although, come on, there was always the Gilmore money there to fall back on anytime anything was ever needed like private school, Yale, and even Lorelai’s business expansion).

Most importantly, it is good that this came out right before the current administration took office and the claims against male sexual harassers in both Hollywood and politics took over the cultural landscape as this show could seem trivial in the current atmosphere. And that would have been a shame as these characters, the show, and this most recent incarnation are important to many people because it gives them the sense of safety, familiarity, warmth, and fondness that are desperately missing in these times of division. So even though there was a lot that was wrong with this revival, there was so much that was right that hopefully a second season will be made as the last four words heard in the season definitely blew the door wide open and left viewers wanting, no needing, to know what happens next. Here is hoping that if there is a second series that the creators give the characters storylines that are truer to their characters and more of an opportunity for the stories of other beloved characters such as Lane and Zach and Paris and Doyle to be more complete and satisfying to watch.

Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life could have used a lot more Sebastian Bach on Blu-ray Disc courtesy of Warner Home Video. The two-Disc set contains all four segments of the show. The show has been letterboxed at 1.78:1 and the Disc contains an AVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 36 Mbps. The image is very sharp and clear, showing no overt grain and no defects from the source materials. The colors look fantastic and the image is never overly dark or bright. The level of detail is very good, as we can see textures on objects, and the picture is rarely soft. Given that Netflix quality can vary based on someone's internet setup, this surpasses HD broadcast quality. The Disc carries a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 3.5 Mbps. The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. The show's opening features an audio montage which shows off impressive and detailed surround sound. That aside, we get consistently adequate sound for this kind of project, with the occasional stereo effect highlighting a sound coming from off-screen and surround sound from crowd noise. The all-important dialogue is always audible and clear.

The Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life Blu-ray Disc contains no extra features.

Review Copyright 2017 by Mike Long