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Fast-talking 'Gilmore Girls' returns; mad binging forecast

Posted November 21

— The familiar voices float softly from a black screen, as if in a dream.

There's Luke, gruffly: "How many cups have you had this morning?"

And this parent-child banter: "Did you do something slutty?" Rory teasingly asks her mom. "I'm not THAT happy," shoots back Lorelai.

Thankfully, it's not imagined. It's the reality of "Gilmore Girls," returning Friday after a nine-year absence, during which longtime fans pined for what they'd lost and newcomers discovered what they'd missed through reruns.

Opening-credit snippets of the show's hallmark dialogue kick off Netflix's sequel to the 2000-07 broadcast series with a promise: the characters, their snappy banter and the show's key notes will be honored.

But the four-part "Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life" is aimed at more than true believers, creator Amy Sherman-Palladino said in an interview.

"We want it to be something that fans are going to know, but if you haven't watched 'Gilmore' you can come to it fresh and take it on face value: It's a story of three women, an intergenerational, multigenerational story, and you are catching them at times that each of their lives is changing."

That trio around which the universe rotates consists of devoted single mom Lorelai Gilmore (Lauren Graham), her equally devoted daughter Rory (Alexis Bledel) and stern grandmother Emily (Kelly Bishop). As the first chapter opens, Lorelai and Rory are still the belles of fictional Connecticut hamlet Stars Hollow — so perfect, quips Lorelai, it belongs in a snow globe.

Luke (Scott Patterson), Lorelai's on-again, off-again love is here, as are the supporting characters who gave the show, well, character. That includes official town nudge Taylor (now lobbying for a sewer system); reliably idiosyncratic Kirk (he's just launched Ooober, a non-app version of Uber) and even, in one episode, buoyant chef Sookie (courtesy of film star Melissa McCarthy's return to her TV roots).

Whatever bliss viewers find in the girl-power dramedy's resurrection may be exceeded only by that of Sherman-Palladino, who wrote and produced it with Dan Palladino, her husband and creative partner on the sequel and the original.

"It was literally like no time had passed," Sherman-Palladino told a TV critics' news conference. "It was joyous. It was fun. It was exhilarating. It was the old show. ... It was just like it was meant to continue."

Graham sees "Gilmore Girls" as a welcome refuge from hard-edged TV and our prickly modern reality in general.

"I think it's because it's extremely comforting in a world that is lacking comfort and has a great choice of shows available that are stressful — great, but stressful, and so this kind of stands out in the way that it did then," she said.

There's a sad shadow, however, cast by the passing of family head Richard Gilmore. That reflects the December 2014 death of Edward Herrmann, the respected actor who played him in the original series.

"We all really felt his loss, and he would have loved it (working on the sequel) so much," Graham said in an interview. "But I think the way the story is handled is a really nice tribute to him."

The 90-minute episodes follow the seasons and are titled for each, starting with "Winter." While Lorelai and Emily face Richard's death in their own way, they also find their relationship affected by it.

Rory's romantic past is a factor as all of her ex-boyfriends appear in the series "one way or another," said Bledel. So is the character's journalism career, and while Bledel is aware that her character's love life intrigues viewers, she'd like them to consider the complete young woman.

"There is so much more to her character that it's great when people focus on those things, on her ambition and her accomplishments and her goals," the actress said.

Given that all the episodes will be made available at once on streaming service Netflix, Sherman-Palladino sees trouble on the horizon.

After holding close the four words she's long said should end the Gilmore saga (she wasn't in charge of the show's last season on the CW network), she wants viewers to avoid spoiling the experience, either by posting the phrase or by impatiently jumping to the final scene.

"It's going to mean a lot more if you've taken the journey, and it's going to mean a lot less if you just flip to the last page. ... It's a fun trip. It's worth it," she said.

And does it end with "A Year in the Life"? Sherman-Palladino plays verbal dodgeball with the question: "It's what it is right now. We put these together. We told these stories. And now we throw them out to the universe."

Leave it to Kirk — OK, actor Sean Gunn, who plays him — to provide a skewed ray of hope that, perhaps, there will be more "Gilmore Girls."

"I don't want to start any rumors, because I don't know," Gunn cautioned. "But to take a step back and address that as a fan of the show, if the interest is there and we can get the scheduling right and Amy and Dan want to do it, I don't know why we wouldn't be able to, really."

So the miniseries' ending leaves an opening?

"The Earth does not get destroyed by a meteor at the end," he said, wryly. "So the possibility of more must live out there somewhere."

___

Lynn Elber is a national television columnist for The Associated Press. She can be reached at lelber@ap.org and on Twitter at http://twitter.com/lynnelber.

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