Soon, my Tuesday nights will be free for the first time in years. GILMORE GIRLS wrapped up a seven-season run last week and tonight a cancelled VERONICA MARS signs off after three.
I watched GILMORE GIRLS from the very first episode: intrigued by a few positive reviews and the promise of incidental music from Sam Phillips on the soundtrack, I was immediately smitten. At its best, the show was steeped with whimsy, yet wry and intelligent. It took place in the small town New England of our wildest dreams, yet it rarely felt false (especially in its earlier seasons), so enticing and rare was its hard-to-pull-off blend of female-bonding/coming-of-age drama and fizzy, screwball humor. I didn’t even particularly notice the trademark, rapid-fire dialogue until someone pointed it out to me in the fourth season; I just naturally took it in as part of the show’s overall allure.
Originally airing on Thursdays against FRIENDS and the still-fairly-new SURVIVOR, I gave GILMORE thirteen episodes to live, at most. However, it survived and prospered (pretty miraculous when you consider the fates of other likeminded low-rated series), moving to Tuesdays the following year and eventually becoming one of the WB’s top-rated shows.
It wasn’t always perfect—one could argue that the rot set in at the start of season six when Lorelei and Rory stopped speaking to one another for eight episodes, and no one could argue that the show didn’t seriously decline a year later when creator Amy Sherman-Palladino abruptly left. But even the final, much-maligned season wasn’t all that bad; on occasion, the simple endurance and resonance of these characters and storylines we had grown to know and love was enough, especially in the show’s sweet, melancholic, true-to-itself finale. Although it was sad to say goodbye to Stars Hollow, the timing was right (lest the show drag on and on past its sell-by-date). Sherman-Palladino has a promising new sitcom premiering in January on Fox starring Parker Posey and Lauren Ambrose; it had better be at least half as good as GG was at its peak.
I didn’t see VERONICA MARS until the first season made its way to DVD. Admittedly, the first few episodes left me a little skeptical (and how could it not with Paris Hilton appearing in the second one?). Midway through the season, however, I was suddenly, absolutely hooked. VM’s first round was a masterful tapestry of teenage noir, father-daughter comradeship, class differences, boy troubles and a nagging, complex (and continually perplexing) mystery. It may have superficially looked like an average WB show, but it sure didn’t feel like one.
The second season let those complexities develop into convolutions (somewhat diminishing the visceral impact that was so integral to the first) while the third season nearly did away with them altogether, struggling along with its heroine to adapt to a different setting. But the show was still always worth watching for the potential of its great, flawed characters. Unfortunately, it was a little too unique to get any more support from its network, hence its inevitable demise. Tonight, I will watch VM’s final two episodes with the friend who initially encouraged me to check out the show, and languidly wish that Veronica, Keith, Wallace, Logan and Mac will all live on tomorrow somehow… perhaps as a comic book?