Show revivals are often huge mistakes for a series. You typically end up with a “home for the holidays” vibe or setup. The plot is often forced and all that remains is a sad reflection of what made the original show so successful. This is to be expected… most shows run their course and have little more to say. Actors age, writers change their styles, the producers and executives forget why they did the show in the first place and are focused on ad sales.
Thankfully, this 4 show series is the exception to the rule.
When Gilmore Girls first launched, I watched it out of pure curiosity. The launch of the show was covered in the news and its genesis was described as being designed by marketers. I just had to see what awfulness that wrought. What became clear very quickly was that Amy-Sherman Palladino and Daniel Palladino were the closest thing to Joss Whedon in TV at the time; about the highest praise I could heap on a show. (Amusingly, Amy got her start in the writer’s room for Roseanne… same as Joss… and I think just barely overlapped with him there.) The casting of Gilmore was superb, the dialogue snappy and fun, and the comic timing extraordinary. It was still designed by marketers, but that became secondary very quickly. It did have an added fun effect. In addition to just enjoying the story, the game we used to play was “spot the product placement” during the initial parts of the run. Certainly the show found itself challenged later in its run before finding its footing again for its final season, but overall I was sorry to see it end.
What the Palladinos did well for this relaunch was effectively pick up the story believably. Sure, some of the original cast and characters are shoehorned into the plot. The show goes out of its way to try and include everyone, even those who passed away before the revival. It works to varying degrees. The 4 episode arc is trademark Sherman-Palladino, however. Each bit and piece is crafted to come together to the (literally) final moment. Some of it you will see coming and some of it you won’t, but if you were a fan you will love this visit back to Stars Hollow.
There were other gifts in the story as well. For those that caught the Palladinos’ Bunheads, actors show up and comments are made just for you. If you haven’t caught Bunheads, find it. It is a natural sibling to Gilmore Girls, but with a story all its own and some incredible talent to boot. And, as always, there are a ton of topical cultural references to books, movies, shows, etc. These characters inhabit our world.
A Year in the Life is a sweet little gem. Complete unto itself, it, like life, does allow for more stories to be told… maybe… someday. But if they never are, that’s OK too. The tale is crafted to within an inch of its life and stands on its own beautifully. Whether it would work without knowing the previous series, I cannot say. But if you missed the original Gilmore Girls run, catch it streaming now and then come to this add-on. The original series is worth it for the dialogue alone, and the stories rarely shy away from human frailty and reality. Admittedly, the characters inhabit a rarefied world, but they are still people and you will love and hate and be frustrated with them as you would any other set of characters. But in the case of Gilmore, you are often left feeling a sense of possibility in your own life, which is the biggest gift the Palladinos always provide.