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Warner Home Video presents
Gilmore Girls: The Complete Fifth Season (2004-2005)

Sookie: I'm the most horrible, evil person in the entire world.
Lorelai: Well, my mother will be sad to hear she's been dethroned.

- Melissa McCarthy, Lauren Graham

Review By: Joel Cunningham  
Published: December 12, 2005

Stars: Lauren Graham, Alexis Bledel, Scott Patterson, Kelly Bishop, Edward Herrmann
Other Stars: Melissa McCarthy, Keiko Agena, Liz Torres, Yanic Truesdale, Liza Weil, Jared Padalecki, Matt Czuchry, Sean Gunn, Norman Mailer, Todd Lowe
Director: various

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (mild language, sexuality)
Run Time: Approx. 959 min.
Release Date: December 13, 2005
UPC: 012569706866
Genre: television


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
A AA-B C+

DVD Review

In the annals of television history, there's a little something known as Moonlighting Syndrome. That's what it's called when the two characters who've spent years battling simmering sexual tension finally get together, and subsequently drag the show down with them, resulting in either cancellation or a major casting change (see also: Cheers Vanishing Characteritis). When, at the end of Season Four of Gilmore Girls, long-time unrequited lovers Luke (Scott Patterson) and Lorelai (Lauren Graham) finally, finally got together it was very satisfying... and a little troubling. The show had righted itself after it's primary pairing, Lorelai and her daughter Rory (Alexis Bledel), separated when the latter headed off to Yale; could it do the same after finally allowing everyone's favorite baseball cap-wearing diner owner to smooch TV's most loveable motor mouth?

Thankfully, the answer is yes—if anything, Gilmore Girls is better than ever in year five. From the beginning, fans knew Luke and Lorelai were meant to be. With them finally together, the tertiary romantic subplots that so often carried the show off-course are now out of the picture. That doesn't mean it's smooth sailing for the happy couple, of course (where's the dramedy in that?), but it gives the show a focus that has, in the past, been somewhat lacking. The relationship provides plenty of good material, as Lorelai's blue blood parents, Richard (Edward Herrmann) and Emily (Kelly Bishop), don't approve of their daughter getting together with a lowbrow like Luke. As any longtime fan of the show knows, there's nothing better than a full-scale verbal sparring match between Emily and Lorelai, and this season has its share.

While it is great to see them together, the Luke/Lorelai romance doesn't take over the show. Rory, for instance, starts off the year dealing with fallout from her decision to sleep with ex-boyfriend Dean (Jared Padalecki), who happens to be married (not quite the perfect daughter anymore, eh, Lorelai?). Then, she finally gets some decent plotlines at Yale as she concentrates on becoming a star journalist for the student newspaper and meets blond bobblehead Logan Huntzburger (Matt Czuchry), heir to the Huntzburger newspaper conglomerate (apparently a modern-day Hearst of some sort). Spoiled, arrogant, and charming, Logan is a new kind of guy for the serious-minded, bookish Rory, and watching her struggle a bit is interesting after years of her perfect, charmed life.

The Season Four tension between Richard and Emily carries over into this year, and for the first part of the season, the couple struggles with being separated after decades of marriage. Meanwhile, the less-seen supporting characters have good storylines as well. Rory's best friend Lane (Keiko Agena) contemplates a relationship with a member of her band (Todd Lowe), while Paris (Liza Weil), who was last seen dating her much-older professor, gets involved with the editor of the Yale newspaper (Danny Strong). Lorelai's business partner Sookie (Melissa McCarthy) takes a break from working in the kitchen at the Dragonfly Inn to have a second child with husband Jackson (Jackson Douglas).

Of course, since this is Gilmore Girls, we also see more than enough of the familiar faces around Lorelai and Rory's house in Stars Hollow, and the townies continue to be the show's one weak area. In small doses, they're a lot of fun. But some episodes focus way too much on the small-town quirks, giving the regular cast the short end of the stick. Case in point: Tippercanoe and Taylor, Too, a meaningless election episode in which Jackson runs for town selectman against nosy busy-body Taylor (Michael Winters), only to give up the job a few episodes later after he emerges victorious. We are also tortured by the continued presence of T.J. (Michael DeLuise), Luke's loud-mouthed, lunkheaded brother-in-law, who has never been, and never will be, at all funny, despite the many whimsical situations in which he frequently finds himself. This year's top Stars Hollow events: the Revolutionary War re-enactment, a huge bike race, and the creation of a life-sized diorama of the town's founding (admittedly, that last one is pretty funny).

What's really amazing about Season Five is the fact that it's not only on par with previous years, but even better—few shows are this good so late in the game. I give the majority of the credit to creator/executive producer Amy Sherman-Palladino and her husband, Daniel Palladino. Together, the two have written more episodes of the show than all the other writers put together, and they ensure the characters are consistent and the trademark lightning-fast, quip-filled dialogue stays funny. Even "bad" episodes of Gilmore Girls are fun to watch because the characters are a blast even when the storylines are dull. When they're really working, as almost all of them are in Season Five, then it's better than most anything else on television.

Rating for Style: A
Rating for Substance: A

 

Image Transfer

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


Image Transfer Review: This time around, episodes are, as usual, presented in a fine full-frame transfer, and look good, with warm colors, nice, detail, solid blacks, and only a bit of grain.

Image Transfer Grade: A-

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0English Stereono


Audio Transfer Review: Episodes are presented in English stereo mix and, for the most part, present the dialogue clearly. Dialogue can be a little tough to make out over the background bustle in some busier crowd scenes (a 2.0 mix might help matters). Still, overall, stereo gets the job done.

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
3 Featurette(s)
1 Feature/Episode commentary by creator/executive producer Amy Sherman-Palladino and Daniel Palladino on I Jump, You Jump, Jack
Packaging: Book Gatefold
Picture Disc
6 Discs
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: RSDL

Extras Review: Finally, after four sets of trivia tracks and montages, the Gilmore Girls get some real extras. Sadly, there still isn't much to get excited about. Though there are some nice bonuses, the set lacks some of the touches that I quite liked about earlier releases, and the overall volume of content is still pretty lacking.

The presentation is still the same: classy menus, plenty of chapter stops per episode, and subtitles. The familiar episode guide is included in the book-like packaging, but instead of another Guild to Gilmore-isms booklet, there's an insert telling you this seasons Gilmore-isms can be found online. I don't know if this was done because the set was produced more quickly this time around (the DVD releases have finally caught up with the broadcast airings) and there wasn't time to put the books together and print them up, or what, but I'm sorry to see it go (then again, Season One didn't have one either).

That aside, I am very happy someone finally sat series' creator Amy Sherman-Palladino down in front of a microphone to record a commentary track (with the added bonus that, aurally, we aren't distracted by her trademark ludicrous hats). She talks over I Jump, You Jump, Jack on Disc 2 with her husband (and the episode's writer) Daniel Palladino. Together, the Palladinos have written around two-thirds of the series' 100-plus episodes, and its nice to hear their insights, though for the most part, they aren't that insightful, just entertaining. They talk about the series as a whole, but focus on the Season Five storylines—the Lorelai and Luke and Rory and Logan romances—and offer some chatter about the cast and crew in general. Fans should enjoy it (I did), even if I would have preferred a few more tracks (or at least that they'd chosen a better episode, as this is one of the season's weaker installments).

Over on Disc 6, you'll find the rest of the extras. Perhaps I let my imagination run away with me after reading the press release, but I was sorely disappointed by the pair of featurettes, the first such extras included on any Gilmore release. Gilmore Girls Turns 100 is 15 minutes of talking-head interviews with the cast (Alexis Bledel, Kelly Bishop, Edward Herrmann, Melissa McCarthy, Keiko Agena, Yanic Truesdale... pretty much all the majors save Lauren Graham and Scott Patterson, likely due to scheduling conflicts). All involved offer fond memories of the series' first 100 episodes, and praise the writers to the heavens, and talk about all the ingredients coming together and whatnot. It's not boring or anything (Melissa McCarthy gets in some very funny lines), but I would have liked something a little more in-depth.

Something, say, unlike the five-minute Behind the Scenes of the 100th Episode featurette, which is basically a tour of the sets, hosted by Melissa McCarthy. You catch a few glimpses of on-set goofing, and it's cool to see the sets from a different angle, so to speak, but this would be a lot better at, say, quadruple the length, and with more (read: any) input from the behind the camera talent.

Closing out the set is another montage, Who Wants to Talk Gilmore?: The Season's Wittiest Wordplay Moments. This time around, as with Season Three, there's no Gilmore Goodies and Gossip subtitle trivia track episode, not that I particularly miss it, and for the first time ever, there are no deleted scenes.

Extras Grade: C+

 

Final Comments

The Gilmore Girls' fifth season is their best, a satisfying emotional ride that proves that paying off all that simmering sexual tension between Luke and Lorelai did not harm the show, but actually reinvigorated it after two uneven seasons. Of course, if you're already an honorary citizen of Star's Hollow, you don't need me to convince you (though I pity you for having to put up with those neighbors). The DVDs are a little nicer this time around, but the series itself is still the real prize.

 


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