The Setpiece Masterpiece

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Gilmore Girls had a lot going for it.  It had the script and the cast; the nuttiness and the budget.  The latter two led to some awesome setpieces – those big events that took planning and effort to pull off the way they did.  They made it look so easy, the effort might have gone unrecognised so I’m dishing out some recognition.  Examples include:

Lane’s cheerleading routine; Rory and Logan’s big jump; the bike race outside Luke’s; The Festival of Living Art; the haybale maze; Christopher and Luke’s fight in the town square; the big pizza etc.

There was Kirk’s black and white movie, ‘a film by kirk‘, screened as a pre-movie treat before Lorelai’s choice for the Movie In The Square night.

Kirk: I’ve made a short film that I’ve been working on for about five years now and if I rush, I can have done by Thursday night.

And who could forget his interpretive (and at times disturbing) dance, ‘The Journey Of Man‘.  I know it gave me nightmares for a week.

Ew.

My fave: Kirk singing ‘Do You Love Me’ as Tevye in the school production of Fiddler On The Roof opposite an amazing little Tess Helipern as his taciturn wife, Golde. I’m a sucker for musicals.

What were your favourite setpieces?  Which ones flopped?

Image(s) c/o TheWB

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Rich

Rich originally began contributing to GIlmore News as 'Dairyman' in 2013, a reference to the character Dairyman Dick in Tess of the D'Urbervilles, (call me Rich). Here in the UK we were late to the Gilmore party and I don't remember what made me watch my first episode - the one where Lorelai picks Rory up from the police station after she and Logan steal a yacht - but I remember watching it again immediately. And then again. Thankfully, the next show was on the next day and I watched that one three times too. And then the boat one again. I couldn't believe the dialogue was so quick and so funny and I pretended to myself that I was only watching it so I could figure out who I was more keen on - the mom or the daughter. I swore that Aaron Sorkin must have been involved but I couldn't find his name attached anywhere, even on the internet. So I watched and loved and laughed and cried and the day after the series finale, they ran the entire show from the beginning again and Rory turned into a baby so then I was all about Lorelai. Lauren Graham is astonishing ("Mother: Breathtaking") and the show was - and is - lightning in a bottle. It's a treasure for those who watch and get swept up in it, like I did and like the readers of Gilmore News. It's heartbreak and chicken soup, family dysfunction and blind optimism, lighthearted romanticism and balls-out brilliant. Thanks to Arieanna and gilmorenews.com for letting me squat and allowing my inner Gilmore Geek out for air. I worry how it would otherwise manifest.

13 thoughts on “The Setpiece Masterpiece

  • January 28, 2014 at 10:28 pm
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    I thought Lorelai and Emily’s fashion show on Like Mother, Like Daughter was very good. I liked the Bangles show on Concert Interruptus as well. And the festival of living arts was among my favorites (Kirk taking his role way too seriously and the fight with the troubadour, that was priceless). The setpieces were always funny, sometimes disturbing (The Journey Of Man was outrageous) and often the occasion to move the story forward (especially the Lorelai/Luke relationship, but I think it’s just that I paid more attention when those two were involved). I loved them.

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  • January 29, 2014 at 1:21 pm
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    i really love them all, they made a lot of the episodes so special. my all time favorit is the festival of living art, it was amazing!

    and, of course, kirks “dance”……what would GG have been without him? :D

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  • January 29, 2014 at 5:36 pm
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    I have to agree, festival of the living arts was definetly my favorite, and WHY? The kirk dance? You had to remind me. Im totally with you rich,and now i am going to get nightmares (again) about kirks quite disturbing dance and his short film….oh Kirk

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  • January 29, 2014 at 5:37 pm
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    Isnt it funny how half of the setpices mentioned have something to do with kirk?

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  • January 29, 2014 at 9:25 pm
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    Hi Rich-

    Setpiece Masterpiece… Interesting term. When I first saw it and before reading the content of the post, I had an overwhelming image of a great setpiece to come this summer. Envision a World Cup game in stoppage time of the first knockout round. Then picture a sharply struck corner kick, followed by a deftly headed ball to the far post, and a goalie flailing with no chance to prevent the goal. As it goes in, an entire host nation goes into mourning, the soccer world goes apoplectic, and the world’s bookie’s all cash in their bitcoin accounts to cover their losses. USA beating Brazil of course probably belongs more on the 1 in a 1000 sports fantasy blog than at Gilmore News, but that was my first thought.

    Just goes to show that setpiece means different things to different people. Suspect the principals of the show would consider setpieces to be the old standbys; i.e. funny opening prologues, a theme variation to a Friday night dinner, junk food at will, theatrics at the diner or in the classroom. Seems like even these old standbys would require exquisite planning and editing to pull them off in a way that flows with such apparent ease.

    But if we are going to only talk about the one-off “big events” that looked so effortless, there were several that I really liked. The cumulative sequence in “you jump jack”; from the posh campsite, to the fashion excess, to the maharishi polo mimic, to the paint ball skeet shoot, all culminating with the bungee tower sequence, and a final cut so smooth you would swear Matt and Alexis actually made the jump. The other one I particularly liked was the multi-episode setup in season three involving the student council ambush politics that eventually led to the great Rory/Paris fencing grudge match and the final disciplinary harangue from the old HMC.

    There were of course other great one-offs involving crowds of people. Rory’s SH birthday party, Cinnamon’s wake at Babette’s, the Chilton dance, the Bangles concert, the debutante ball, the SH dance marathon, Spring Break hyjinks, the Grandparents reenactment, and Rory’s USO party all come to mind. And many of the opening prologues were brilliant one-offs, none more so than the alarm clock massacre, the rhoomba dance, and Madeline Albright subbing for Lorelai in Rory’s birthday dream.

    As to setpieces that were less successful. A few through the first six seasons where the concept was reasonable but then beat into the ground [The real Paul Anka, Troubadours everywhere, and Kirk’s ye-hah political mimicry during the easter egg hunt cleanup]. And don’t get me started on season seven where most of the setpieces seemed tone-deaf [particularly with respect to Lorelai and Chris].

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  • January 30, 2014 at 12:48 am
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    For me, my absolute favourite is Kim’s Antiques.

    It was a great juxtaposition against Mrs Kim strict and organised rules for Lane (eg. Knowing exactly how long it takes for her to walk from Lukes to her home).

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  • January 31, 2014 at 4:09 am
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    Just finished the entire series on DVD. This series took me by surprise. I never thought
    I’d like it so much. I’ll rewatch it for years to come…..

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  • January 31, 2014 at 11:34 pm
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    Same thing for me. If someone told me years ago that I would love a comedy/drama tv show about a mother and a daughter so much, I probably would have laughed at him until I fainted. And yet, somehow…..

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  • February 1, 2014 at 10:21 am
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    I realised I’d left out the Dance Marathon after I posted and I was hoping someone would pick it up. Thanks Mcityrk! And Claudizzaa, I was always waiting for some stack of chairs to come toppling down at Mrs Kim’s!!

    Dan, welcome to the flock and thanks for commenting. What or who got you into it?

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  • February 3, 2014 at 7:11 am
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    Thanks for the welcome, Rich. I was just perusing the videos at the library, and saw The Gilmore Girls some years ago. I looked at the cover, and thought to myself, “Nahhhhhhh.” Fast forward a couple years, and I happened to pick up the same 1st season DVD at the library once again, and gave it a go. It didn’t take many episodes for me to realize I was hooked. I promptly returned the DVD to the library and ordered my own set from Amazon.

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  • February 3, 2014 at 10:45 pm
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    Yes! How could we forget the Dance Marathon!!

    Also, one of my favorite scenes, even though I wasn’t a Max fan – the 1000 daisy proposal!

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  • February 4, 2014 at 7:15 am
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    I really wish Lorelai would have worked it out with Chris. I’m not a big fan of the Lorelai/Luke dynamic, at all. If they wanted to do so, I think Chris and Lorelai would have been much better together…..

    Reply
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