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Life's a Blast With the 'Girls' Next Door


GILMORE GIRLS. Humor and heart in WB's two-hour season premiere. Tonight at

8 on WPIX/11.

'GILMORE GIRLS" is a witty whirlwind that can suck you in before you know

what hit you. And that's precisely what creator-writer Amy Sherman-Palladino

has happen to heroine Lorelai Gilmore in tonight's season premiere. She's swept

off her feet by romantic guest star Scott Cohen, much as this frisky hour

series charms us with its furious repartee and genuine relationships. Nimble

star Lauren Graham's down-to-earth single mom suddenly floats in the clouds of

could-have- been, should-have-been, oughta-be.

Why not? One of "Gilmore's" most whimsical treats is its picture-book

Connecticut village whose residents share their lives round the town gazebo

like siblings nestled together in the safety of mother's arms. It's fairy tale

time -except this smart show knows fairy tales are actually about gut-level

hurt and life experience. They also give us one more thing: happy endings.

So we know it will be in "Gilmore Girls," as Lorelai ponders the prospect

of marriage in league with her brainy teen daughter and best friend Rory

(Alexis Bledel). This is a quick-tongued woman who, amid talk of sweet wedding

scents, pipes up with "Pot roast!" so Lorelai can't possibly go conventional

now. She hasn't introduced the prospective groom to her judgmental rich

parents, whose home she left upon getting pregnant in high school, despite the

renewed opportunity of weekly dinners at their mansion. Over the past season,

we've grown to love these viscerally uneasy generational gatherings - Graham

desperately babbling, Bledel pragmatically coping, stuffy dad Edward Herrmann

clinging to his reserve, and wonderfully uptight mom Kelly Bishop yearning to

connect with her loosey- goose daughter. The mix blows up tonight when Rory

invites along bad-boy suitor Dean (new regular Jared Padalecki) and a can of

worms gets opened. Or is that reopened?

Talking on tangents is Lorelai's lifeline, her distractive way to skirt

heartache while she figures protective strategy. "Gilmore" scripts are twice as

thick and quick as most prime-timers', and tonight's skips around perhaps too

merrily, from Lorelai's "All in the Family" metaphors to clumsy chef-pal

Sookie's latest wound ("I'm a good clotter") to chatter of coupon drawers and

dental hygiene. Lorelai even decorates a hammer in frilly pink.

Moderating this double-strength dose of quirk is Sherman-Palladino's

underlying heart. The overkill might actually reflect her depth, as Lorelai

frantically masks her growing agony and anger. Emotions flip like a switch, up

to an explosive finale where even family fury is rendered funny. Equally deft

is a silly/serious subplot of Rory's all-American confidant Lane (Keiko Agena),

threatened with becoming a Connecticut Yankee in Korea. The way in which

"Gilmore Girls" digs lightly but firmly into deep-seated emotion is as magical

as the way Lorelai's yellow dream daisies end up scattered all over their town.

We weekly wish we were there.

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