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Warner Home Video presents
Gilmore Girls: The Complete Second Season (2001-2002)

Rory: Before I knew it, Grandma was telling me how important it is for a person to be properly presented to society.
Lorelai: Ugh!
Rory: And how every young girl dreams of this day.
Lorelai: Argh!
Rory: And how there are flowers.
Lorelai: Oh, Lord!
Rory: And music.
Lorelai: Please!
Rory: And cake.
Lorelai: Oh yeah, the cake's actually good.

- Alexis Bledel, Lauren Graham, in Presenting Lorelai Gilmore

Review By: Joel Cunningham  
Published: February 18, 2005

Stars: Alexis Bledel, Lauren Graham
Other Stars: Keiko Agena, Kelly Bishop, Sean Gunn, Edward Herrmann, Melissa McCarthy, Chad Michael Murray, Jared Padalecki, Scott Patterson, David Sutcliffe, Yanic Truesdale, Liza Weil
Director: Various

Manufacturer: WAMO
MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (mild language)
Run Time: Approx. 956 min.
Release Date: December 07, 2004
UPC: 012569590533
Genre: television

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer

DVD Review

Gilmore Girls is a rare beast, a family drama that's actually enjoyable and accessible to everyone, well written and intelligent without being cutesy or self-righteous (why is the theme song from 7th Heaven stuck in my head all of a sudden?). The saga of mother and daughter/best friends Lorelai (Lauren Graham) and Rory (Alexis Bledel) "Lorelai" Gilmore, now in its fifth season on the WB netlet, has long been one of the most underrated, unjustly overlooked shows on television.

Lorelai had Rory when she was 16, and the two have always been more like sisters than mother and daughter, but the relationship faces obstacles as Rory grows up and begins dating. Last season, bookish, aspiring journalist Rory got into Chilton, and exclusive prep school, which forced Lorelai to rebuild her relationship with her estranged parents, wealthy, blue-blooded Richard (Edward Herrmann) and Emily (Kelly Bishop). Lorelai and Emily bicker as intensely as Lorelai and Rory bond, and the two parental pairings provide a unique focal point for the entire series.

The series benefits from the constant care and attention of creator/executive producer Amy Sherman-Palladino (she and her husband Daniel Palladino have penned over half of the episodes to date, and a combined dozen in Season Two), and the writing is remarkably consistent. Even when the plots sag a bit, the rapid-fire dialogue remains characteristically sharp. The bantering and bickering would feel right at home in a screwball comedy, in fact, and is also generally cited as a polarizing element. If you can accept it, it becomes perhaps the primary reason to watch—Gilmore Girls walks and talks like almost nothing else on television (early seasons of The West Wing not withstanding). Some, however, find the wordplay contrived, cutesy, trite, or just plain annoying. If you're the kind of person whose primary complaint about Dawson's Creek is, "Nobody talks that way!" then you probably will have the same complaint about this show (meanwhile, I'll be wondering why that's your primary complaint about Dawson's, and not, well, everything else).

The younger Gilmores live in Stars Hollow, a small New England town packed with oddball characters. Of course, a side effect of quirky dialogue is a cast of quirky characters to spit it out, and Stars Hollow has a whole host of them. Rory's best friend Lane (Keiko Agena) is hiding her love of punk rock music from her ultra-strict Korean mother, while Luke (Scott Patterson), owner of the local diner and supplier of the Gilmores' much-needed daily caffeine fix, and Sookie (Melissa McCarthy), the chef at the inn Lorelai manages, are always there when Lorelai needs another adult to talk to.

Every couple of episodes, Lorelai and Rory get involved in some traditional Stars Hollow activity (like the basket bidding in A-Tisket, A-Tasket, in which men bid on picnic baskets and win lunch dates with the women who packed them). This gives them the opportunity to run into the whacky townies that usually aren't as funny as the writers (particularly Daniel Palladino, who features a town meeting in nearly every one of his scripts) seem to think they are. There's Babette (Sally Struthers), the Gilmores' nosy neighbor, Miss Patty (Liz Torres), the town's dance instructor and showbiz veteran, and Taylor (Michael Winters), the uptight town selectman always picking on Luke or planning some irritating festival (which we will inevitably have to watch later on in the episode), among others. Of course, there's always Kirk (Sean Gunn, brother of screenwriter James Gunn), the town's running gag—anytime the show needs someone to fill in for a job, be it repairman, store clerk, or dozens of others, Kirk is the man for the job. He's very funny, usually, because of his insecurity and literal sense of humor, and his regular appearances are always welcome. I wouldn't want to do his taxes, though. I'm also in love with Paris (Liza Weil), Rory's control-freak "friend" from Chilton, and possibly the only girl in the world who wants to go to Harvard more than Rory. Paris doesn't suffer fools gladly, and you can always count on her to deliver a crushing insult to someone wasting her time, just like I always wish I could do. Sigh.

Luckily, Season Two offers enough juicy storylines to keep even the most cartoonish townies at bay. It picks up right where Season One left off, with Lorelai engaged to Max (Scott Cohen) and Rory happily dating the picture-perfect Dean (Jared Padalecki). Soon enough, though, both relationships get rocky. Lorelai gets cold feet and runs off with Rory instead of getting married. The writers had obviously backed themselves into a corner with the proposal, and Lorelai's thoughtless road trip with her daughter (the two visit Harvard, Rory's dream college) in The Road Trip to Harvard presents the girls at their most frustratingly self-centered (it's like the characters know the show is called Gilmore Girls, since they make everything all about themselves). Meanwhile, aloof, brainy rebel Jess (Milo Ventimiglia), Luke's nephew, arrives in town in Nick & Nora/Sid & Nancy and immediately catches Rory's eye, putting a strain on her relationship with Dean, because there is no storyline like a love triangle for... dividing your fan base. That's what happened with this show, anyway, and the anti-Jess crowd has a lot to complain about, because the character is an ass.

The show is heavily serialized, so picking out the best episodes is tough, but some of my favorites include Presenting Lorelai Gilmore, in which Emily introduces Rory into high society, despite Lorelai's objections; The Bracebridge Dinner, in which a snowstorm strands guests planning a fancy dinner at the inn, prompting Lorelai to invite everyone in Stars Hollow; and Richard in Stars Hollow, in which Lorelai's stuffy father visits for a chance to see how his daughter spends her days (much to Lorelai's frustration and Rory's amusement).

The Jess/Rory/Dean conflict heats up in A-Tisket, A-Tasket when Jess wins the aforementioned auction for Rory's basket and is entitled to an afternoon with her alone. In It Should Have Been Lorelai, Rory's irresponsible father Christopher (David Sutcliffe) returns, suddenly mature, with a new car, a new job, and a new girlfriend, much to Emily's dismay (she may not like Christopher, but at least Lorelai would be with someone with "good breeding"). Emily discusses that, and many other things, in There's the Rub, in which she and Lorelai spend a weekend at a spa, and Lorelai finds it anything but relaxing.

Meanwhile, the newly-retired Richard is spending all his time at home and driving Emily crazy, prompting her to encourage him to go into business for himself (Back in the Saddle Again), and Sookie is getting married to local produce man Jackson (Jackson Douglas) and Emily meddles in the wedding plans for some reason (Dead Uncles and Vegetables). As the season ends, it's Sookie's big day, and Lorelai and her daughter are forced to make difficult choices about the men in their lives.

Though the love triangle gets a little soapy, and some moments feel a bit contrived (Christopher's surprise news at Sookie's wedding, for example), Gilmore Girls Season Two is still an engrossing, warm-hearted show, funnier than most out-and-out comedies and more compelling than any riddled corpse of the week procedural.

Rating for Style: A
Rating for Substance: A


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: Gilmore Girls is on par with most TV to DVD transfers—colors are strong, detail is good, despite a slight softness of the image (part of which has to do with the show's warm lighting), and shadow detail is fine. Some scenes tend to look a bit grainy (and the problem becomes more pronounced the larger your TV set), but it isn't distracting.

Image Transfer Grade: A-


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishyes

Audio Transfer Review: Audio is presented in a straightforward DD 2.0 mix, and since there isn't much more to the show than dialogue and incidental music, that's good enough (though the surrounds are occasionally active in crowd scenes or to punctuate the strummy la la music on the soundtrack).

Audio Transfer Grade: B+


Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 132 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, French, Spanish with remote access
4 Deleted Scenes
1 Featurette(s)
Packaging: Book Gatefold
Picture Disc
6 Discs
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extra Extras:
  1. Trivia track for A-Tisket, A-Tasket
  2. A Film by Kirk
  3. Who Wants to Argue? fight montage
Extras Review: These days, it seems many DVD releases of TV shows are almost as loaded as the latest theatrical hit special editions. Sadly, Rory and Lorelai's extras don't quite match up to, say, Buffy's or Jack Bauer's (still no episode commentaries), but Season Two includes some nice bonuses.

First up is another episode trivia track, filled with, and I quote, "Gilmore goodies and gossip." Episode 13, A-Tisket, A-Tasket, is repeated on Disc 6, with the track in place (why they didn't just put the track on the episode itself on Disc 4 is anyone's guess). The facts are kind of fun (a nice mix of general info and behind-the-scenes insights), but certainly not essential reading.

International Success: How Other Countries Welcome the Girls is a five-minute featurette that explores how the show has been translated to play around the world, a challenge considering the rapid fire dialogue, cultural references (some of which are left in English or dropped), and witty wordplay (some of which... doesn't exactly translate). Linguists give examples of some of these issues while Amy Sherman-Palladino reacts accordingly ("They've murdered my words! Blood everywhere!" and so on) in this amusing, unusual segment.

A Film by Kirk presents two minutes of the uncut footage of the film omnipresent townie Kirk debuted in the episode Teach Me Tonight. The black & white clip plays like a deleted scene from some obscure David Lynch movie, and it's pretty funny, provided you enjoy Kirk. Mary Lynn Rajskub, who plays Chloe on 24, appears also.

Who Wants to Argue? is a two-minute montage of fight scenes from throughout the season, and while it is edited well and is amusing, I don't really understand the point of making it an extra feature. The four deleted scenes, though (from Sadie, Sadie on Disc 1, Presenting Lorelai Gilmore on Disc 2, There's the Rub on Disc 4, and I Can't Get Started on Disc 6), I can get behind.

The package also includes a nice booklet that lists episode titles, descriptions, writers, and directors. A new bonus for Season Two is Your Guide to Gilmore-isms, an 18-page booklet that explains more than 150 of the series' trademark obscure cultural/historical references, from the Algonquin Roundtable, to Guy Fawkes Day, to Nick and Nora Charles, and Xuxa (you remember her, right, the Brazilian children's television host in the skimpy outfits?). The Palladinos offer occasional insight as to why they chose a specific reference also. Such a booklet didn't come with the first season release, but I hope they keep it up.

Extras Grade: C


Final Comments

Gilmore Girls introduces a divisive new character and submits to some soapy story arcs in Season Two, but remains a delight simply because the characters are so loveable (even when they're unlikable) and so well written.


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