‘Gilmore Girls’ makes triumphant return to Netflix

Most of the original cast of the long-running ‘Gilmore Girls’ series returns for four new 90-minute episodes

Luaine Lee
Tribune News Service

Beverly Hills, Calif. — Just when we thought the Gilmore Girls had shuffled off to the TV bone yard, they are back, chatting like rappers on speed and proving you can go home again.

Creator-writer Amy Sherman-Palladino has assembled most of the original cast of the long-running “Gilmore Girls” series for four new 90-minute episodes. They transport the audience over the course of a year in “Gilmore Girls: a Year in the Life.” The series begins streaming Friday on Netflix.

It’s been 10 1/2 years since the young single mom (Lauren Graham) and her precocious daughter (Alexis Bledel) bonded their way into adulthood, while on-again-off-again boyfriend (Scott Patterson) bided his time.

“It’s not a story about a little girl anymore, who’s in high school,” says Graham, 49, who has since costarred in “Parenthood,” “Web Therapy,” “The Odd Couple.”

“It’s a story about a young woman and kind of the struggles she faces. Yet the dynamics ... between these two characters, they’ve grown up, but they’re the same. And that kind of foundation of ‘Here are the people you have to rely on’ can take you through any age. I think that’s what this show continues to tell us about family anyway,” she says.

Sherman-Palladino didn’t harbor much hope that her girls would ever see the quaint town of Stars Hollow again. “When Netflix popped up and decided to storm the world and just take over overnight, we thought, ‘Well, what a great opportunity to delve into a different form, to tell stories in a different way using beloved characters that we loved’ ” she says.

“And we get back in a room with these three actors and to be able to go at it again, but in a completely different way ... There was no grand Master Plan. It was just, ‘Hey, there’s a Netflix now, which means we could do a billion minutes because we have a lot of words, and ... it was a different form.

“You’re writing not to commercials or to sell soap or tampons. Nobody gives a s—. It’s really just there to tell stories. And it was just such an exciting challenge, and form, and a way to get us all back together again and put on a show.”

Bledel, who’s 25 and has since costarred in “Mad Men,” “Us & Them,” “Jenny’s Wedding,” says falling back into the role was like riding a bike. “It really was as if no time had passed,” she says.

“It’s all on the page. Amy’s writing just informs you right away. You know how it’s supposed to be said, and it’s all there for you ... It’s amazing to know that people are eagerly awaiting the release of these episodes, and that they have loved the show all these years ... It’s why we do this, to be able to communicate something that people are going to love and talk about and enjoy it together.”

It’s more than just enjoyment, says Patterson, 58, who has costarred in “Aliens in America,” “Meth Head,” “The Event.” He says the original show has left its indelible mark on those we least expect.

“I was walking through the Austin airport, and a fellow walked up to me and just started crying, and he said he was in a sniper battalion in Iraq, in Fallujah, and he had done four tours. And they watched ‘Gilmore Girls’ obsessively. It’s a safe place for them. It’s like nothing bad can happen while they’re watching that show. He even got his commanding officer on the cell phone, who was in Fort Bragg and about to be shipped back over. And he said, ‘I’m standing here with Luke.’ And he goes, ‘F— no!’ I mean, it was just this huge reaction. It was kind of amazing.”

“I do want to say what was so great about this (project) is I really feel like we got to do it together,” says Sherman-Palladino.

“The first show was, like: You cast. You get on a plane. You don’t know anyone. You’re in Canada. It’s cold. You’re wandering around. It’s like you’re exhausted. There’s elevensies. I don’t know what it is, it’s like ‘Lord of the Rings.’ And then you’re in this whirlwind of production, and you’re tired, and you’re sick, and you don’t feel well, and you’re throwing up, and you don’t remember when you got your hair done last, and then it’s over.

“And this time I felt like, because we would talk, and we were all in contact, and it felt like we got to sit and say, ‘Do we want to go on this journey together? Do we want to band together and like — Mickey Rooney-Judy Garland, this s —?’ And for me ... there will be nothing else in my career like what we got to do.”