What Could Have Been… The Unaired Pilot Script

Floating around eBay and the Internet is the ‘revised writer’s draft’ of the Gilmore Girls pilot episode script, written by Amy Sherman-Palladino back in January 2000. It offers a glimpse into what might have been, demonstrates a gutsy assuredness in key scenes and shows the difference a little spit and polish made to the final pilot.

please luke

The big differences are shocking:

In celebration of Rory getting a place at Chilton, Lorelai cooks a celebratory meal of meatloaf, mac and cheese, and a salad that Rory likes with sugared walnuts and blue cheese. Lorelai COOKS. And they eat salad. It’s just wrong.

Dean is handsome (“the beautiful stranger”) but doesn’t come off as smart. He *doesn’t* identify the Ruth Gordon reference from Rosemary’s Baby. In fact he doesn’t do much at all. There’s no scene where he and Rory walk over to Miss Patty’s where Rory talks about circular cakes and he monologues about noticing seeing her reading Moby Dick with ridiculous concentration. He never tells her that he thought “I have to meet that girl”. It’s an important scene because it makes their connection stronger – he smoulders and she loses her smart girl focus – so much that she loses her enthusiasm for Chilton.

Luke’s is called Luke’s Cup. Luke is often referred to as Duke. There’s no Drella (the harpist with the attitude as big as her harp) – which makes sense if this was written when Alex Borstein was still slated to play Sookie. The Inn is bigger and has more staff, who are more involved: a ditzy girl named Judy is a desk clerk at the Independence Inn, working alongside Michel the concierge. Judy’s aunt and uncle own the Inn but she’s hopeless. A guy called Dereck is the valet parker and is smitten with Lorelai. Lorelai has her own back office.

All the references to “ass” in the script change to “butt” in the show. A reference to Kid Rock becomes Eminem. Christopher goes from being a lawyer with his own practice to having an internet startup that went public. Rory shrinks an inch from five-eight to five-seven and the buses from Stars Hollow to Hartford run ten minutes quicker, taking forty minutes on the page but thirty minutes in the episode.

Lane’s outfit is weirdly identical to the script:

[Lane] opens her backpack, takes out a “Woodstock ’99′” tee shirt, and puts it on over her pink thermal tee.

woodstock man

Guess who these descriptions are:

? is a scruffy though handsome man in his thirties with the body of a fireman under than apron.

? is a distinguished looking woman in her early sixties. Her dress is impeccable, her hair is perfect and the pearls are real.

Her forearm’s bandaged, there’s a splint on her left little finger and Band-Aids all over her arms.

? is a very intense looking, dark eyed, weirdly amazing looking guy.

? is a very attractive, extremely intolerant black man in his late thirties.

? is a very attractive, vibrant, thirty three year old woman, though she could easily pass for twenties.

There’s a weird line where Richard addresses Lorelai as Rory. The transcriber Gaby notes that this might be an accident in the script itself.

A couple of the scenes are merged together but despite the differences above, it’s pretty much all there. Some of the lines are made less clunky or quicker with the addition of quickfire banter. A noticeable omission is Lorelai’s funny line here, that isn’t in the pilot script:

Richard: I’ll get the checkbook.
Lorelai: Thank you. I can’t tell you… thank you.
Emily: On one condition.
Lorelai: So close.

In the script, she just says “A condition?”

But the Marco-Polo-ing around Kim’s Antiques is there – check. Macy Gray on their CD players – check. Coffeecoffeecoffee – checkcheckcheck (opening begging scene, building up Dutch courage outside Richard and Emily’s both times, in the diner at the end).

The dinner scene, with the four of them finally at the table, is practically identical and three of my favourite laugh-out-loud moments are all there on paper: Lorelai putting her coffee cup in the ‘forbidden’ dustbin, Richard handing Rory the newspaper without looking and the camera panning to him having fallen asleep.

If you haven’t read it, it’s fairly enlightening and an excuse to re-watch how well they nailed the feel of the show and the characters from the get-go. Well, except Dean but maybe this was before Jess was a twinkle in someone’s eye and they were doing what they needed to do to get the studio and an audience on board.

The whole unaired transcription is available here:


… and people seem to be selling the same thing on eBay with dummy autographs of the cast on the front cover.

Can you see them going for coffee at Duke’s Cup? Would Lorelai have been that different if she cooked – and the girls willingly ate salad? What do you think was intended for Judy and Dereck? Maybe the Inn was meant as a comedic focal point, like Everybody Loves Raymond’s house or the Cheers bar – but they were able to expand to more locations, like Miss Patty’s and the town square.

What do you think?

What is Gilmore Girls – In a word?

There are people out there who’ve never experienced Gilmore Girls. There are those who think I blog about The Golden Girls. People who’ve never known the frivolities of Stars Hollow, never laughed out loud at spaghetti-related behaviour and not once heard Lorelai Gilmore saying something simultaneously funny, caring and sexy.

Actors at the top of their game, delivering comedy or melodrama like spun gold.  That these moments were captured on film to be enjoyed by all is a luxurious serendipity.

To those people, how would you sum up Gilmore Girls – in one word?  Could you even?

Pic c/o TheWB

The ‘Real’ Stars Hollow(s)

I’m itching to visit the ‘real’ Stars Hollow. But we kinda have a choice of three. Which one do you think should host the first Gilmore Girls Convention?

there she goes

1. Washington Depot, Connecticut.

The story goes that the Palladinos passed through the place on vacation and were so taken by the place, they based the show in it. There are town meetings, the residents go serve themselves coffee from behind the diner counter. On the plus-side, we could make daytrips to Woodbury and Danbury, both within a half hour’s drive.

2. Unionville, Ontario

The pilot was shot in Main Street, Unionville, Ontario. Remember Lorelai in her woolly hat, crossing the street to The La’s ‘There She Goes’ and then this:

Lorelai: Please, Luke. Please please please.
Luke: How many cups have you had this morning?
Lorelai: None.
Luke: Plus?
Lorelai: …five, but yours is better.

This one’s cool, because it was actually on the show. Also cool because it’s Canada and Canada’s cold.

3. Burbank, California

Aside from the pilot episode, the Stars Hollow we saw every week was filmed on the Warner Brothers Studio backlot. The studio tour takes you down those very streets and I propose we leave the tour at that point and raid the surrounding buildings for any remaining memorabilia. I have dibs on the entire counter at Luke’s including any scribbled orders, butt napkins and faulty toasters.

There’s an unintentionally helpful review of the studio tour on Tripadvisor from 2010, user ‘chrose07′ commenting that:

While we did enjoy the tour, we all agreed that the tour was too heavily skewed towards the tv shows currently in production or recently shot at Warner Bros… [I] walked away from the studio scratching my head and wondering if Gilmore Girls was now being considered as some of the studio’s best work!

Yes, my friend, it was.

In that case, I better run out and buy the seasons on DVD!

You should have bought it in the shop on the way out, asshat.

I just read this back to my girlfriend and she says I did not put enough emphasis on just how much they focused on Gilmore Girls during our tour. So there, now you know.

Wheels up in 5, grab your bag and let’s go.

Pic c/o TheWB 

What’s that? Geek up.

Time to let your OCD Geek out.

bad burger

There’s an episode in series 5 where Rory’s working in the Stars Hollow bookshop and Lane brings over a burger from Luke’s.  It’s terrible.  While they talk about how bad it is and Luke’s appalling mood we can see a couple through the window, a man in a dark blue jacket and a woman in a white coat.  The woman leans down and picks up a periodical from the rack.

As Lane and Rory talk, we see the same couple approach the rack from out-of-shot four separate times and the woman leans and picks up a periodical from the rack for three of those. It’s a bit Twilight Zone, a bit glitch-in-the-Matrix.  (For reference, it’s from s05e16 So… Good Talk)

Anyone else notice stuff like this?  

I thought I had a series-spanning continuity gaffe when the camera whizzes around Lorelai’s re-decoration of Luke’s in series 1 and reveals some empty shelves where TJ puts up shelves in series 6.  But they are indeed different shelves.  To whit, TJ’s masterpiece of engineering (s06e02 Fight Face):

TJ's magnum opus

And the original (s01e15 Christopher Returns):


Didn’t the place look spiffy after Lorelai’s paint job?  But man, it really didn’t wear well over the years.

Pics c/o The WB

My First Time

My first episode of Gilmore Girls was the one where Lorelai picks Rory up from the police station for stealing a yacht.  I’d recorded it on the PVR but why I chose it eludes me…  Perhaps, after finishing Joss Whedon’s and Aaron Sorkin’s back catalogues I wanted to watch something good and it was on someone’s list alongside The West Wing and Buffy…  I do that to find good books, so maybe.

As soon as the episode finished, I played it again.  Then again.  I was already addicted.  There was some black magic in the air, something about the quickfire banter, the optimism and the wackiness that became more like alchemy.  They were so generous with the funniness, jokes would spill over jokes and I’d have to stop myself laughing so I could hear them out.  It was like trying to hold in hiccups and the end I’d be in a weird meditative state, sated and content like after one of their massive takeout dinners.

pretty pretty girls

Of course it didn’t hurt that that the mum and the daughter were stunningly attractive.  For a good few episodes I couldn’t decide who I fancied more, the mum or the daughter.  That felt kinda awkward when the show ended and they re-ran it again from the beginning.  I was that guy in the diner, chatting up a suddenly underage Rory.  But then I got to enjoy it all over again, watch them both grow up, watch Rory graduate and Lorelai become a success, see their relationships with boys (and Lorelai’s parents) blossom and fade.  I laughed like they were in the room with me. My eyes started prickling whenever I heard the la-la-la’s starting up, it got Pavlovian.  

This was about five years ago, when they’d already wrapped the final season.  There wouldn’t be any more.  When I got back round to the yacht episode, I watched the whole run twice more.  Then I started grasping for whatever information I could get my hands on.  I just needed more because nothing else seemed to fill that void.  

So I learned why the last season seemed to just replay the highlights from the other seasons.  I followed the exploits of the cast members as they went their separate ways, saw their movies and TV appearances.  I watched some of the DVD extras but I haven’t seen all of them – it’s like I’m keeping some for an emergency when I really, really need it and nothing else will do.  

Then I needed to vent and share this mania, so I ended up right here, on GilmoreNews.com.  I posted a couple of comments, then Bunheads turned up and I started contributing and now we’re where we are.  You see, for me, Gilmore Girls is a unique chicken soup for the soul, beamed direct from brain of the Mad Hatter herself, Amy Sherman-Palladino.  Thank you, Amy.  And for creating this site and letting me write, thanks Arieanna!

All this is a very long-winded way of welcoming the recent spate of new commenters who’ve posted in the last few weeks and also to set up this question:

How was your first time?  What was your first episode?  Who introduced you?  Did you gorge on it?  Or were you an original viewer, having to wait each week for the next episode, then months in between seasons?

Pic c/o TheWB

The Setpiece Masterpiece

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.


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

Pet Hates (and Loves)

Pop Quiz! Favourite / most pointless appearance of an animal in Gilmore Girls?

Did you love or were you kinda meh for the fortune-telling Doggy Swami AKA Paul Anka?  How about the swans that heralded Kirk’s grand entrance – back when we knew him only as ‘Swan Guy’?  Perhaps Case Study number 12 AKA Stella the chick tickled your fancy – the little bird escapee who might or might not be an excuse to invite a boy over.

Sookie: Well when you call someone and say ‘can you come over and help me look for my loose chick’ it’s a little…
Lorelai: A little what?
Sookie: It sounds a little like the code for ‘I’m not wearing any underwear’.

My personal favourite: Cyrus.

my left or yours?

Jason: I taught him very special commands that only my dog could know.
Lorelai: Like what?
Jason: Uh, like… A little to the left.
Lorelai: Shut up.

Lorelai: Can he move a little to the right?
Jason: No, not yet. We just do a little to the left until he hits the wall, and then I turn him around.
Lorelai: You and your dog are extremely weird.

Babette’s cat Cinnamon in a bassinet?  How about the girls’ one-time hamster Skippy, who laughed at Lorelai and ended up being returned in house stuffed full of Kleenex?  Or Buttercup the rescue dog?

Rory (reading from label): Buttercup is a special dog. She’s extremely skittish and tends to react badly towards blonde haired females, brunette males, children of either sex, other animals, red clothing, cabbage or anyone in a uniform.
Lorelai (to Luke): Hey, we just found the doggy version of you.

It has been oft said that those in entertainment should never work with children or animals.  Do you think the animals of Gilmore Girls acquainted themselves well?  Either the writers and producers were gluttons for punishment or they enjoyed the challenge – there were plenty of ‘em.  Ooh, there was that big cat that wouldn’t move off the step from the cat-themed bed and breakfast too, remember?  And does young Gigi count?

Favourites?  Waste of times?  Ooh there were those two horses at the Dragonfly Inn too.  Points to anyone who can name more ;O)

Pic c/o The WB