Friday Night Dinner 9: The Movie Edition
The ninth in a weekly look at the progress of The Gilmore Girls Companion as we round the bend on this 2+ year adventure.
Sure, I could sit here and go on yet again about the tiny little details of finalizing this book, but let’s face it — that type of navel gazing has gone on long enough. Until there’s something more interesting to report (such as a sample page or two, which should be coming along fairly soon), I thought we’d take a look at the recent firestorm of media attention generated by that Vanity Fair interview with Lauren Graham.
Gilmore gang, may I refer you to:
At the time of this posting, there were no fewer than 40 articles, all paraphrasing the few lines in the Vanity Fair piece suggesting that a Gilmore movie may be on the way. While I took a stab at tackling the movie rumors more than a year ago, it suddenly occurs to me to ask if a movie is really a good idea.
A Gilmore Movie: Really?
While I’d be at the theater opening night if such a thing came to the big screen, I have to wonder if a two-hour movie would ultimately be any more of a satisfying end to this series than Season 7’s attempt to wind things up. Leaving aside the whole question of where a movie should pick up the story — the end of Season 6 or Season 7 — the real challenge is saying anything meaningful in such a short period of time.
Before we go any further, you should understand that one of the reasons Amy & Dan left in the first place was because the network would never give them more than one season’s notice about whether or not the series would be renewed. This isn’t entirely unreasonable on The CW’s part, of course. After all, if the series suddenly lost a lot of viewers (and hence advertising revenue) one year, it wouldn’t make much sense to carry it an additional year at a financial loss.
Yet, artistically, a two-year commitment from the network was necessary, in Amy’s eyes, to have enough episodes to get from where the story was to where it had to be to have a satisfying ending. That being the case, how on earth could she be expected to wind it all up in just two hours?
Gilmore Girls Season 8
A Gilmore movie would be extremely appealing from a business standpoint. It would be relatively inexpensive to make in terms of location shooting and distribution, it has a built-in audience worldwide, and could conceivably be spun into a movie franchise of its own. But taking a quick look at the prime time TV schedule in America, the greater possibility is that any return to Stars Hollow will be in the form of a Season 8, though probably a 13-episode one rather than a full 22 episodes.
The great TV success stories of the 21st century have, with the exception of Lost, been all about reality TV series, leaving quasi-networks such as The CW even more ratings-challenged than The WB was in its heyday. A new season of Gilmore Girls would probably be the biggest thing to happen to The CW since its formation. There’s just one problem, and ironically, it’s the same problem Gilmore faced the first time around: the availability of Lauren Graham.
From the very beginning, Gilmore Girls faced an up-hill battle. Amy and executive producer Gavin Polone were so intent on getting the show off the ground, Polone made a virtually unprecedented deal with The WB for the pilot. (For details, please pick up a copy of The Gilmore Girls Companion….how’s THAT for a plug ;-).
After that, nearly every major role was cast before the network asked Lauren to read for the part. Even after they agreed on her for Lorelai, they had to wait a good two weeks to see if her present series, NBC’s MYOB, would be picked up. If it was, they would have to recast Lorelai.
Today, of course, Lauren is the face of another NBC series, Parenthood. For her to have the time to tackle the enormous scripts a new Gilmore Girls series would bring, something catastrophic would have to happen to Parenthood. Considering how successful that series has been, and Lauren’s own eagerness to branch out from Gilmore, the only other prospect we’re faced with is a Season 8 with the occasional Lorelai cameo. In other words, this series would have to be all about Rory. As delightful as Alexis Bledel is, the reason Gilmore Girls is so beloved is because it’s an ensemble show — remove any of its characters and your chances of success dip exponentially. (The test footage for the Jess spin-off Windward Circle still making the rounds on YouTube doesn’t exactly inspire confidence, either.)
All of which means what exactly? Maybe that part of Gilmore‘s charm can be attributed to its lack of true completion. With so many question marks remaining, we still think about it, dream about what might have been, and some even write fan fiction to address those dreams. Attempt to wind it all up with a two-hour movie or a truncated Season 8, and you risk committing the gravest of all TV/film crimes: making fans question the value of the original.