1. “Atlanta” (Season 1, FX) – Donald Glover’s brainchild is a crazy mix of “Curb Your Enthusiasm”-esque wry observations (Earn’s inability to order a kids’ meal), envelope-pushing storytelling choices (the pundit roundtable parody) and outright horrific violence (Earn witnesses a murder, then moves on like it’s just another day in the ATL). It comes together as an on-point – albeit still crazy — portrait of being a dead-broke young adult on the backstreets of a collapsing American city.
Amy Sherman-Palladino and Daniel Palladino warmly invite fans back into Lorelai and Rory’s world in “Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life,” four 90-minute episodes that hit Netflix last week. I had always been satisfied with the seven seasons of “Gilmore Girls” (the cancellation of “Bunheads” after one season left a much bigger void), but by the end of these six hours, I realized that this bow was indeed needed to tie up the saga in a more perfect way.
The Fall 2016 season is Exhibit A in the case that TV is running low on original ideas: “MacGyver”(8 p.m. Fridays, CBS, Sept. 23) is a straight-up relaunch with a new cast, hoping to capture some of the popularity of the ’80s hit. Even though the movie franchise petered to a close 18 years ago with the fourth entry, “Lethal Weapon” (8 p.m. Wednesdays, Fox, Sept. 21) is coming to TV, complete with the movie’s logo flashed across the trailer every few seconds, apparently to bring up warm thoughts of the films.
Here are some movies and TV shows on my radar in the year ahead:
“The 5th Wave” (movie, Jan. 22) – Chloe Grace Moretz stars in this “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” riff. While the preview – as with most movies nowadays — gives too much away, this still looks like a compelling family survival drama amid an alien invasion. “It Follows” breakthrough star Maika Monroe is in the cast, too, and she’ll also be in the year’s other big alien film, “Independence Day: Resurgence” (see below).
“Gilmore Girls” Season 7 (2006-07, The CW) was maligned from the get-go by many viewers simply because Amy Sherman-Palladino and Dan Palladino weren’t involved anymore. To me, that makes new executive producer David S. Rosenthal’s accomplishment all the more impressive: The final season has that classic “Gilmore Girls” rhythm from start to finish despite having only two returning writers (Rosenthal and Rebecca Rand Kirshner).
“Gilmore Girls” Season 6 (2005-06, The WB) is the season I remembered the least about. Even though I watched every episode when it aired, there were entire hours that felt new to me on this re-watching. While Season 6 is not as good as the glory years of Seasons 1-4, it marks a nice recovery from the over-the-top Season 5 and a respectable farewell for executive producers Amy Sherman-Palladino and Daniel Palladino, who would end up sitting out the seventh and final season.
In my head, I had subtitled “Gilmore Girls” Season 5 (2004-05, The WB) “The Destruction of Rory’s Character,” as it starts with her sleeping with married man Dean and ends with her stealing a yacht and dropping out of Yale. And I mentally blamed her new boyfriend Logan – whose primary crime is that he’s not Dean or Jess – for a lot of that. After this rewatching, though, I see that Season 5’s problems run deeper.
“Gilmore Girls” Season 4 (2003-04, The WB) was the best of seasons and the worst of seasons. Although the first half is wonderful, it ultimately ranks as the most flawed season up to this point, but not for the reason one might assume.
Following the Season of Dean and the Season of Jess, “Gilmore Girls” Season 3 (2002-03, The WB) resists being defined by a relationship, or at least not a functional one. As is often the case in senior-year-of-high-school seasons, “Gilmore Girls” grows up and gets complicated (Jess instead of Dean, Yale over Harvard, the Independence Inn swapped out for the Dragonfly). While the plots and characters are numerous, the nostalgic end-of-an-era theme and tone dominate.
I don’t mean to reduce “Gilmore Girls” to a teen romance show and have my analysis of Season 2 (2001-02, WB) read like a review of “Gossip Girl” or “The O.C.” Certainly, Season 2 features serious issues like Lorelai and Sookie planning to open their own inn, Richard dealing with retirement, and Lane trying to find an identity that she doesn’t have to hide under the floorboards.