Best Television Ever?

By clarencecarter | REVERSEBLOG: the reverse shot blog February 1, 2006 at 3:45AM

Best Television Ever?
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No, not you fuckface.

It took me a good few episodes of The Gilmore Girls to actually "get it." The first few times I was annoyed--"Why are they talking so fast?" I wondered. The next few deepened my interest, but I still vacillated--"Isn't this all a little too cute?" It wasn't long before I was eagerly awaiting each new episode. Lorelei and Rory had won, button-cute whipsmart banter and all. I owe this turnaround partially to my Gilmore Girls enabler, filmenthusiast, who helped me realize that all the traits that first grated were nothing more than a modern take on the screwball, and placed within a specific lineage, the whole enterprise made a great deal more sense. I can’t believe it took me so long to figure it out.

But, last night…nothing I’ve seen on the show thus far could have prepared me for the concluding scenes of last night’s episode, truly one of the more radical formal interventions I’ve seen on television. In a season which has felt (at times) like one long tease, to find something as satisfyingly conclusive for the narrative presented like a lost sequence from Alain Resnais’s Muriel (not kidding) was sweet stuff indeed. The mayhem begins as the four Gilmores, Lorelei (Lauren Graham), Rory (Alexis Bledel), Emily (Kelly Bishop) and Richard (Edward Herrmann) assemble at the family mansion to fight out conflicts that have simmered underneath the surface all season.

Over dinner, a jerky handheld camera swishes tennis-style back and forth between the combatants: Rory-Emily-Rory-Richard-Emily-Richard-Lorelei. Finally, a cut, and all is oddly calm at the table with everyone seemingly fascinated by dishes of melon sorbet. What the fuck happened? Another cut, the fight is back on. Cut again to the four, artfully posed, laughing and swilling cognac. And so on—each jump in time offering a new tableau and completely different mood than the last setup. Jarring yet totally accessible, the only thing I can imagine Resnais doing differently might be an abrupt shift from night to day, or color to B&W. By the time Lorelei and Rory stumble from the house, hair mussed and exhausted, the editing has fully suggested the length and breadth of the hours-long fight and pushed the audience through similar highs and lows only in a more television-digestible seven minutes. For whoever dreamt the construction of this brilliance up, it may have been nothing less than a cute idea, but somehow I doubt that creators whose entire project seems to be filtering an acute eye on “now” through a sensibility borrowed from another time wouldn’t know their precedents. Kudos!

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