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A return to Stars Hollow

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(L-R) Scott Patterson, Lauren Graham and Alexis Bledel appear in a scene from, "Gilmore Girls: A Year In The Life."   (L-R) Scott Patterson, Lauren Graham and Alexis Bledel appear in a scene from, "Gilmore Girls: A Year In The Life." (Saeed Adyani/Netflix via AP)

'Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life'

Lorelai and Rory, Luke and Emily, Logan and Michel and Taylor and Paris and Kirk and the whole quirky crew have made a triumphant voyage back to the picturesque village of Stars Hollow.

'Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life' recently made its way to Netflix. The four-episode, six-plus-hour series served to revisit the original television series, which ran for seven seasons and over 150 episodes from 2000 through 2007 and focused on the relationship between single mother Lorelai Gilmore, her teenaged daughter Rory and the many people who came in and out of their lives.

It also gave me the opportunity to, after nearly five years of marriage, find a way to surprise my wife.

See, she didn't know that I was familiar with the show. And not just passing familiar, either ' I know all about Lorelai's complicated relationship with her parents and Rory's dating struggles. I know about the will they/won't they of Lorelai and Luke (but seriously ' it was always Luke). I know about the Dragonfly and the dance school and Kirk's entrepreneurial weirdness.

I've been to Stars Hollow, is what I'm saying.

And so we watched these new installments together. While I'll admit that some of my memories were a bit hazy ' I had to ask a few questions here and there to figure out who someone was or confirm that I was remembering something correctly (I hadn't watched for years, while my wife had seen some episodes more recently) ' I think I was more than adequately prepared.

'A Year in the Life' is precisely what it says it is. The four episodes line up with the four seasons (the order is winter, spring, summer and fall) and check back in with Lorelai (Lauren Graham) and Rory (Alexis Bledel) Gilmore.

Lorelai is still running the Dragonfly Inn. She's still with Luke (Scott Patterson) and they're living together. Her father has recently passed away, leaving her mother Emily (Kelly Bishop) struggling to deal with the loss. Rory has achieved a degree of success as a writer, with a piece published in The New Yorker, but can't quite figure out how to take the next step.

We're still spending plenty of time in Stars Hollow ' local characters like Kirk (Sean Gunn), Michel (Yanic Truesdale) and Taylor (Michael Winters) get a lot of play, but really, pretty much everyone you remember from the series returns for at least a brief moment ' and we get reintroduced to Rory's school friend Paris (Liza Weil) and her town friend Lane (Keiko Agena) and love interests Jess (Milo Ventimigila) and Logan (Matt Czuchry).

And'that's it. We watch Lorelai navigate her way through feelings of stagnation and do battle once again in her ongoing relationship war with her mom. Rory keeps bumping into obstacles both professional and personal and can't seem to make the decisions that she needs to. Both of them make big leaps that steer them in the proper direction, though perhaps not in the manner in which they anticipated.

I'm not going to rehash the narrative here, because ultimately, it doesn't really matter. Not that the story isn't engaging ' it is, for the most part, though some bits (the town musical, for example) maybe don't land as well as they might have ' but the truth is that we're here for, well'the Gilmore Girls. No matter what actually happened, either in the past or in this current incarnation, what made this show work was that central relationship.

The snappy, high-speed dialogue, laced as it is with pop culture references and laugh lines, certainly helps. In fact, one of the nice things about the extended nature of these episodes (all of them come in at around an hour-and-a-half) is that moments got a little more room to breathe.

Show creator Amy Sherman-Palladino has a strong grasp on what made her show work in the first place; she clearly had no intention of reinventing the wheel here. And why would she? The focus on relationship dynamics by way of clever dialogue is why so many people love the show in the first place.

'Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life' is a rarity; this sort of revisiting almost never truly captures the spirit of what came before. But 'AYITL' does just that, giving us a chance to see how some people we connected with have grown and changed in the near-decade since we last spent time with them ' all while celebrating rather than sullying the memory of what was so beloved in the first place.

I was never a superfan of the show, but even I have to admit that Sherman-Palladino, Netflix and the committed cast have given us one of the best examples yet of nostalgic exploration done right.


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