Tag Archives: Mae Whitman

The “Gilmore Girls” reunion movies: Lots of hits, lots of big misses. An NFL kicker sings an amazing “Ave Maria.” And a weekend at a hotel pool reminds me of how far we’ve come

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With the hindsight of about two hours, I’ll admit it:

There’s no way the “Gilmore Girls” reunion movies could’ve lived up to my full expectations. I’d loved this remarkable television series so much, and had been so excited when I heard creators Amy and Dan Palladino were making four 1.5 hour “episodes” to wrap the series up, that I knew when it finally arrived I’d probably be a little disappointed.

Lots, and lots of thoughts to share: Overall, I thought it was a little better than OK. Part 1 “Winter” and Part 4 “Fall” were very strong, and really delved deep into the old “Gilmore Girls” world. The middle two parts … horrible. Blech. Just bad in so many ways.

And now, a disclaimer so no one yells at me…

WARNING: I’M ABOUT TO TALK ABOUT SPECIFICS OF THE GILMORE GIRLS MOVIES. IF YOU HAVEN’T SEEN IT YET AND DON’T WANT TO KNOW ANYTHING, SKIP TO THE VIDEO BELOW.

Everybody still with me? Good. Here goes…

Things I loved about the reunion movies: Any time Emily and Lorelai were on screen together; they have such amazing chemistry. Particularly, the scenes where Emily was in jeans and getting rid of everything in her house, and the emotional power of Lorelai’s phone call to her mother during her “Wild” hike that wasn’t that talked about a day when she was 13, was amazing.

— Paris Gellar. Just fantastic. Every scene Liza Weil was in, reprising her role as Paris, was incredible. Paris as a fertility clinic matchmaker but still being a total mess emotionally? Gold. Her fights with ex-husband Doyle? Absolutely wonderful. I could not get enough Paris, I just wish she were in all four movies.

— The Life and Death Brigade: Yeah, I know Colin and Finn get annoying after a while, but I felt like their 15 minutes in the “Fall” episode was terrific. Just enough of them to remember how great they were.

— Kirk. Oh, how I love me some Kirk. The “Oober” storyline cracked me up, as did his playing soccer with Emily’s housekeeper’s kids. And the Kirk movie… Oscar-worthy.

— The Mae Whitman (Amber from “Parenthood” cameo). Yeah, I know it had no point except to show us both of Lauren Graham’s TV daughters at the same time. But I laughed and loved it. A great touch.

— Sutton Foster at the end of the musical: I hated just about everything else about the “Stars Hollow: The Musical” episode, the whole thing felt like it went on for 11 hours. But the Sutton Foster song at the end was terrific.

Things I hated about the reunion movies: Just about every single Rory storyline. Man, did the Palladinos blow this. They took a smart, career-motivated, intelligent young woman who left Yale ready to conquer the world and turned her into an indecisive, flailing quasi-pathetic woman who at age 32 is totally lost. Just impossible to root for or like, Rory turned into something unrecognizable.

— The musical numbers: Horrendous. Stupid. Not funny in the least. Just a complete waste of time.

— The “Summer” episode: By far the worst one. Who knew Stars Hollow even had a pool?

— The “Sandee Says” website storyline: OK so let me get this straight: This gossipy celebrity website chases Rory for a year, desperately wants to hire her, finally she agrees, and then the snotty boss basically acts like she has no idea who Rory is and doesn’t hire her? Completely stupid and unrealistic.

— The Rory “boyfriend” everyone forgets about: This also made no sense. We’re supposed to believe this guy “Paul” has been dating Rory for two years, except he’s never around and no one remembers anything about him? Lazy, silly writing.

And finally …

— The ending, and the “final four words” that the Palladinos had been guarding like a national security secret all these years? They were pretty shocking. But they make sense in a full circle kind of way. Series began with Lorelai having a daughter unexpectedly 16 years earlier, and now Rory apparently has gotten pregnant by Logan.
I really don’t know if I liked this or didn’t like it yet. Would love to hear any of your thoughts…

**And now, for something completely different. The Baltimore Ravens seem to have a knack for having players who have amazing talents outside of football. One of their offensive lineman, John Urschel, is a math genius from MIT. And their placekicker, maybe the best kicker in the game right now, can sing opera.

Seriously. This is Justin Tucker, NFL star, belting out one hell of an “Ave Maria.”

Amazing.

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**Finally today, a little riff on progress. The family and I went to Baltimore last week for Thanksgiving, and last Friday we took our 2-year-old downstairs to the hotel pool.

I swam with him for a bit, we splashed around, he laughed and had a great time. At one point, though, I looked around and noticed something. There were a few African-American kids in the pool, along with a handful of white children.

Several of them were playing together, some made-up game, and it struck me all at once: Fifty years ago, in many places, this scene would’ve been illegal.

Black children in a pool with white children? In Maryland, which is technically the South? Unheard of. Just five decades earlier, a scene like this would caused outrage and alarm.

And yet, such a short period of time later, it was the most normal thing in the world.
No big overarching point here, just a reminder to myself that we complain about how slow racial progress is in so many areas.

But in small ways, we’ve come so far from such a dark, segregationist past.

“Parenthood” ends a strong season with tears and awesomeness. The boy with Down’s Syndrome makes 3-pointers. And women finally allowed in combat? ‘Bout time

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There are times that I feel like about the NBC show “Parenthood” like I do about a friend who you love but get mad at sometimes: You just wish it could be as good as it is on its best moments, all the time. You wish the bad moments could be scrubbed away like last week’s graffiti, and you could celebrate how wonderful it makes you feel, all of the time.

Because like pizza, when “Parenthood” is good, it’s so, so good.

I know I’m babbling, but I just watched the season finale of “Parenthood” and it was beautiful. I get mad at the show quite a bit, and hate what they did to Sarah Braverman to maker her so damn unlikable, and laugh at the ridiculous leaps in logic the show makes, but the emotional power and wonderful story-telling win me over most every time.

This season was maybe its best yet, with emotional moments packed into every episode, and Tuesday’s season finale was dripping with heart and emotion. (It’s no surprise that Jason Katims, who created “Parenthood,” was involved heavily in the awesome “Friday Night Lights.”)

The acting on the show is strong in so many places, but especially Amber (Mae Whitman) and Zeke (Craig T. Nelson) are terrific.

I enjoyed the Amber/Ryan stuff this year, and the Victor/adoption storyline also felt real. I was amazed/astonished that the show had the balls to do a real abortion episode where a character (gasp!) actually had an abortion. And of course, the Adam/Kristina cancer storyline was fantastic, and so beautifully done.

Of course, the season finale had to tie everything into a neat bow, including the horrendous storyline I cared least about, the Sarah/Mr. Cyr/Hank love triangle of doom, where for some unknown reason two intelligent men are fighting over the clueless and immature Sarah Braverman.

“Parenthood” may not be renewed for another year, but it ought to be. Tuesday night’s episode, particularly the earned emotional payoff for Adam and Kristina, was the capper to a phenomenal year.

Please, NBC, you’ve got so many other crappy shows on your schedule. Keep “Parenthood” around: It’s one of the few things you can be proud of.

**This is a story that may require tissues. An 8th-grade boy named Owen Groesser is on the basketball team at Van Hoosen Junior High in Kentucky. Owen was born with Down’s Syndrome, and until Wednesday night, he hadn’t gotten a chance to play all season.

Then in the final minutes of the game, with the crowd chanting his name, Owen got in. And he drilled two three-pointers, bringing the crowd to its feet and making Owen’s teammates go nuts with excitement.

I know these stories happen often, but they get me choked up every time.

Grab a Kleenex when you get to the :58 part and the 2:58 part…

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**Finally, a few words of long-overdue praise on Good News Friday for the Pentagon, which has finally determined in 2013 that women are fit to serve in combat in the military.

I have no idea what took them so long, as women have proven to be exceptional soldiers in all areas of the armed forces for quite some time, and have been fighting and dying alongside men for this never-ending Afghanistan and Iraq wars we’re mucked up in. Women are every bit as worthy to serve in combat as men are, and it’s ridiculous it’s taken this long for the Pentagon to see that.

But hey, another barrier has fallen, and that’s a great thing.