SciFi Weekend Part III: Doctor Who, Torchwood, 24, and the Television Returns of Lorelai and Lizzy

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Part I reviewed the return of Battlestar Galactica and Part II featured information on Lost. I will conclude this expanded version of SciFi Weekend with briefer comments on additional shows, as usual moving beyond science fiction.

There is some information available on the next Doctor Who special, which will air around Easter.Tardis and Torchwood Treasures previously posted this information:

The name of the next special is Planet of the Dead and the episode itself has been written by both Russell T Davies and Gareth Roberts. It is expected to air around Easter and filming for the episode will begin on the nineteenth of January next year. The episode will feature two characters called Malcolm and Christina and U.N.I.T will also be making an appearance. Rumours also suggest that parts of the episode will be filmed abroad in Tunisia.

Additional information was provided by Russell T. Davies, who also says it is time to introduce new monsters after the last two episodes involved Daleks and Cybermen:

“After the events of Journey’s End and The Next Doctor, I think it’s time to get away from the past and have an adventure with lots of new elements. And lots of fun too! The next Special should be a nice antidote to Christmas, with a bit of sunshine if we’re lucky. And with not one but two alien races that you’ve never seen before.”

American viewers of Doctor Who either must wait months after episodes are broadcast on the BBC or illegally download the episodes. The third season of Torchwood will consist of only five episodes to be broadcast this summer on consecutive nights, but they have finally figured out the only way to reduce  illegal downloads. BBC America will broadcast the episodes a few hours after they are broadcast in the U.K.

24 returned but despite the decision to shut down CTU and move the show to Washington, the show rapidly returned to a similar format with Jack teaming up with Tony,  Bill Buchanan, and Chole. The twist is that they are working on their own due to conspiracies in the goverment which have infiltrated the White House and the FBI. There is more question this season as to whether Jack’s use of torture is right or wrong.

Sometimes viewers take the show too seriously, forgetting that it is only a television show. Media Matters notes that some conservatives even have tried to use a fictional show to justify their support for torture. On the other hand, I sometimes receive comments that I should not cover 24 due to its portrayal of torture. While liberals who argue this do have a point, they also must remember this is fiction, and that hopefully most people can still consider the real issues surrounding torture. Not even all conservatives blindly believe everything they see on the show. Conservative blogger Rick Moran has discussed the question of whether this television show increases the use of torture, and of whether torture works:

Jack Bauer may be the first fictional character ever to be accused of inspiring real life war crimes. This charge was not made by some obscure left wing blogger but by U.S. Army Brigadier General Patrick Finnegan, the dean of the United States Military Academy at West Point, along with several senior FBI and CIA agents who have conducted thousands of interrogations in their careers. Their verdict was simple and straightforward; the torture scenes in the show were affecting the way that cadets at West Point as well as troops in the field were approaching the interrogation of prisoners.

Finnegan said that he’d like to see a show “where torture backfired.” All the experts agreed that torture, even when used in the show’s “ticking bomb” context, would never work. They pointed out that the fanatics, knowing that the bomb would go off soon, would simply hold out, secure in the knowledge that their suffering couldn’t last much longer.

They also pointed out that terrorist prisoners actually looked forward to torture as the first step towards martyrdom. An interrogation professional would never use it and would, instead, take the opposite tack of trying to build a relationship with the prisoner, drawing him out gradually by gaining his trust. Besides, the “ticking bomb” scenario itself was totally unrealistic and would never happen in the real world.

It is a dubious proposition that a fictional TV character would cause our soldiers to forget their training and their upbringing just to imitate Jack Bauer. The evidence is purely anecdotal, presented by people with an obvious agenda. But that doesn’t mitigate the fact that they felt compelled to speak out against Bauer’s almost casual approach to violating the law and their concern that people get the wrong idea about the best way to interrogate prisoners.

As the show questions the fantasy of torture being effective, it also might even question the ultimate fantasy of the show–that Jack Bauer is invincible. Kristin reveals that there might only be one additional season of the show, there might be a movie after the eighth season, and that they might even blow up the whole world, and Jack Bauer with it.

dirty-sexy-money

24 might not be the only show which concludes with movies. A movie version of Jericho is in the works, and if it is a success perhaps the show will be brought back once again. Jericho was canceled after the first season but returned for a second season after protests from fans. Moonlighting might be returning as a television movie for its 20th anniversary.  Bryan Fuller is also hoping to have a movie of Pushing Daisies to wrap up the show. Meanwhile, fans of Pushing Daisies, Dirty Sexy Money, and Eli Stone will have to wait until summer to see the final episodes of these canceled series.

Heroes returns with a new chapter, and after problems with the last chapter Tim Kring is hoping viewers will return. The next chapter. Fugitives, was written so as not to require knowledge of previous stories. Fringe is also returning, and Sci FI Wire has some spoilers on the conclusion of the season.

Previously Mad Men had been renewed but series creat0r Matthew Weiner had been holding out on returning. After months of negotiations a deal was reached in which Weiner will return for two seasons for a seven figure deal.

Lauren Graham of Gilmore Girls will be returning to television. Entertainment Weekly reports:

We’re one step closer to getting another weekly TV date with Gilmore Girls‘ Lauren Graham. (Pause for cheers. And… we’re back.) Though we were under the impression NBC was developing a comedy for the actress, Variety reports that ABC has greenlit production on an untitled half-hour pilot in which Graham will play “a self-help guru who teaches women how to live a stress-free life — but struggles to follow her own advice when her boyfriend dumps her.” The show, which features Will & Grace‘s Alex Herschlag and Arrested Development‘s Mitchell Hurwitz among its exec producers, sounds promising, right? I know we can’t let our Gilmore love lead us blindly into TiVo season passes (see: Amy Sherman-Palladino’s ill-fated The Return of Jezebel James), but this set-up could give us Lauren the way we like her: smart, supportive, sarcastic, self-deprecating, slightly neurotic, seriously funny, and above all, at the center of the story. In movies, she’s been “the wife.” On stage, she’ll be “the girlfriend.” (She’s expected to make her Broadway debut as Miss Adelaide in a spring revival of Guys and Dolls.) But on TV, she’ll always be “the star.” Make her self-help guru a fast-talking pop-culture connoisseur, and it’s my favorite show.

Hilary Duff also returns to television in Barely Legal. It sounds like the concept is something along the lines of Lizzy McGuire goes to law school so she can sue Doogey Houser.

Several characters from Veronica Mars are being reunited in Rob Thomas’  new series Party Down, and Kristen Bell might even make an appearance.

SciFi Weekend: David Tennant Leaving Doctor Who; Liz Lemon to Date Don Draper; Weak Economy Helps Weak Shows; Lorelei Gilmore Becomes a Doll; and The Planet Vulcan Discovered

After months of speculation, David Tennant has announced he will leave the role of The Doctor after the upcoming series of four Doctor Who specials are completed. BBC News reports:

Tennant stepped into the Tardis in 2005, and will leave the role after four special episodes are broadcast next year.

He made the announcement after winning the outstanding drama performance prize at the National Television Awards.

“When Doctor Who returns in 2010 it won’t be with me,” he said.

“Now don’t make me cry,” he added. “I love this part, and I love this show so much that if I don’t take a deep breath and move on now I never will, and you’ll be wheeling me out of the Tardis in my bath chair.”

‘I’ll miss it’

Three years was “about the right time” to play the role, he told the BBC in an exclusive interview.

“I think it’s better to go when there’s a chance that people might miss you, rather than to hang around and outstay your welcome,” he said.

His stint in the show had been “the most extraordinary time, it’s been bewildering, life changing, very exciting”, he said.

“And just so much fun, such a great show to work on.

“That’s one of the reasons I think it’s right to take a deep breath and bow out when it’s still fun, when it’s a novelty.

“I don’t ever want it to feel like a job, so I want to move on when it still feels exciting and fresh and that means I’ll miss it.”

Liz Lemon to date Don Draper? Tina Fey and Jon Hamm will have something in common besides both appearing on Saturday Night Live recently. Jon Hamm of Mad Men might appear in a multi-episode arc of 30 Rock as Liz Lemon’s new love interest.Video of two of Hamm’s skits on SNL were posted here.

With all the subplots on Heroes, a lot has happened, including the return of Kristen Bell as Elle. Perhaps the most interesting development was seeing Sylar’s role get even more complex as his father got him to turn on his mother, but he still decided to save  his brother Peter’s life. His character is certainly different from previous years when he was motivated by little more than killing others with super powers in order to obtain their powers. Ultimately we saw him as a pure family man in a possible future shown earlier in the season.

There might be an unexpected benefit from the bad economy. I’ve often felt that, compared to several years ago, television shows are canceled too quickly if they are not doing well in the ratings, not giving them a chance to build an audience. The Hollywood Reporter believes that the bad economy might be responsible for some shows such as Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles being renewed:

Industry observers say the recent cluster of low-rated shows granted full-season orders might have something to do with network executives watching the plunging Dow rather than their shows’ falling Nielsens.

No execs would talk on the record, but the economic crisis, combined with the cost of marketing a new series, the lack of new programming inventory because of the WGA strike and the anticipated difficulty of locking down new advertiser commitments, has networks inclined to play it safe.

“Most years there would be more cancellations than there have been to date,” said John Rash, senior vp/director of media negotiations at Campbell Mithun. “But the dual dynamics of schedule stability keeping ad dollars in place is combining with delayed programming development from last season’s writers strike.”

NBC’s “Knight Rider,” ABC’s “Private Practice” and Fox’s “Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles” recently received orders for an additional nine episodes apiece. Such a move typically indicates a network’s confidence in a show’s performance and signals the inclination to keep a series on the air for the duration of the season.

Life on Mars at least has received well deserved improvements in the ratings. Last week Sam came to the assistance of his mother, learning far more about her than he probably wants to know, and also got the opportunity to meet Jim Croce and Joe Namath (Joe the Quarterback?). In upcoming episodes he gets involved in his father as well as someone who was/will become his mentor.

Bradley Whitford of The West Wing and Studio 60 on The Sunset Strip is producing and staring in a sitcom for NBC named Off Duty about a once-legendary police detective (Whitford) on his way down who complicates the life of his new partner, both on duty and off.

Lauren Graham of Gilmore Girls will be appearong on Broadway as the female lead in a new revival of Guys and Dolls.

J. Michael Straczynski, creator of Babylon 5, is working on a script for a remake of the 1956 classic Forbidden Planet.

And finally, the planet Vulcan might have been discovered.

Amy Sherman-Palladino And The Real Ending To Gilmore Girls

Amy Sherman-Palladino isn’t revealing her planned ending, and four final words, for The Gilmore Girls yet. If this is true, it will be worth waiting to find out what those words are. Michael Ausiello reports in Wednesday’s column that she is looking at making a two-hour movie to properly tie up the series. From the column:

OK, here’s the deal: Yes, I tracked her down, but, no, she did not cough up those elusive four words. But wait — there’s more. And it’s good. No, amazing. No, un-frakkin’-believable. Amazing, even. Wait, did I say that already? Well, it’s true. Because just as I was about to brand her a big ol’ promise-breaker right there in front of all those industry types, Amy explained why she couldn’t divulge her long-ago-planned Gilmore ending. (Gilmore fanatics: This is the time in Sprockets when you either lean on a heavy object or just sit down.) In the next year or two, she hopes to make — wait for it — a two-hour Gilmore Girls TV-movie that ties up all those loose threads! I nearly fell over when she said it — especially given what she told me back in December. (BTW, lest you think Amy was pulling my leg, her partner in life and in showbiz, Dan Palladino, confirmed that a GG reunion pic is something they’re interested in pursuing.) And I wasn’t the only one floored by this development. “She said what?” gasped Scott Patterson after I relayed the information to him over the phone. “I didn’t think she would be interested in doing something like that. But if she says she is, I would seriously consider it.” Alexis Bledel was equally stunned. “A Gilmore Girls reunion?” she said with a laugh. “That’s certainly not something I had thought of doing. That’s really funny, I have no idea how I would feel in a few years. I don’t know, I’m sure the script Amy would write would be great, but I guess I’d have to read it and see how I felt at the time.” Last but not least, Lauren Graham e-mailed me late last night to say, “Could be a fun idea if everyone wanted to do it. I would do it just to get the four final words out of Amy. They torture me.”

Update: One possibility for the final four words is posted here.

Update II: The status of a possible movie and Amy Sherman Palladino’s vague comments on taking Rory on a different path (November 2009).

Farewell to Stars Hollow

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Tonight, sadly, will be our last visit to Stars Hollow, which ranks with Cicely, Alaska and Stuckeyville, Ohio among the top quirky fictional towns to live in. After seven years, Gilmore Girls will have its final episode tonight. There is some irony in having the show end as the Republicans debate. While I’ve had previous posts on the show, and Amy Sherman-Palladino’s amazing dialog, on blogs before Liberal Values, my first post on the show here was in August. The Washington Post had run a story on the declining support for Republicans in the Northeast. I used Stars Hollow as an example of a Northeast town where George Bush is disliked, quoting from Lorelei Gilmore:

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Lorelei has been blunt about her feelings about George Bush. “I hate President Bush! He’s stupid, and his face is too small for his head. I just want to toss him out.” She also shares our fears over the erosion of civil liberties. She saw an analogy to contemporary American when putting a leash on her dog (Friday Night Is All Right For Fighting):

Oh, he’s perfectly fine with having his personal freedoms slowly stripped away, as long as he’s completely unaware that it’s happening. Just like a true American.

Lorelai’s parents identify more with the Bush Administration (Fight Face):

Richard: I should tell Scooter Libby about this. I keep forgetting I know a man on the inside. I’ll give him a call.
Emily: Before an indictment comes down.

Lorelai rejects her rich parents, and identifies George Bush with them. When she came into some money (Happy Birthday, Baby) her views were apparent. “Seventy-five thousand dollars. I feel so rich. And suddenly in complete agreement with everything Bush has to say.”

Lorelei has also influenced the way in which her daughter Rory sees Republicans (One’s Got Class and the Other One Dyes):

Lorelai: So, I think I’m in touch with the other side.
Rory: The other side of. . .
Lorelai: The other side.
Rory: With Republicans?

The final season, without Amy Sherman-Palladino, was disappointing at times, but it was far better than not being able to vist Stars Hollow at all. The post discussed above also included previous posts on Gilmore Girls from earlier blogs. Under the fold I’ll repost one of these–an article from Esquire on why Gilmore Girls is the best show on television for men.

Update: The Finale

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SciFi Friday: Plans for the Future


Normally at this time of year we hear about the fate of shows being renewed or cancelled for the current season, but this year we are getting more significant news on the fates of two shows that are returning. End dates for both Lost and Battlestar Galactica have been announced. Lost will return for three sixteen episode seasons, while Battlestar Galactica will end after next season.

I am very happy to see these dates set in advance. Shows with ongoing mysteries have historically run into problems when the end date was not clear. X-Files dragged out the alien mythology plot beyond the point where it made much sense. Babylon 5 wrapped up the war a year before the end, and then didn’t have a good idea as to what to do with the final season. By knowing exactly how many episodes they have left, the writers of Lost and BSG can pace out how their continuing stories play out. BSG had the problem that they were searching for Earth, but everyone knew they could not find it while the series was running. Now that the season ends next year, they can actually reach Earth if that is what the writers desire, but viewers cannot be certain as to what will happen.

The decision to only air sixteen episodes of Lost per year has met with some controversy. I have conflicting interests on this one. As a Disney stockholder, I support the idea of the network receiving income from the show for an additional year. As a fan I have mixed emotions. If having less episodes can result in greater quality, then I am for it. While there are many other factors which result in the greater quality of shows on HBO and the BBC over the major American networks, not being stuck in the twenty-two or so episodes per year format may one of their advantages. While some Lost fans are complaining on line of having to stick it out for three years to get a normal two years worth of shows, Soprano fans sure won’t feel very sorry for them.

This week’s episode of Lost answered some questions and left many others open. Big questions are why Ben wound up the leader of the island’s “original inhabitants,” their connection to the outside world, and whether having the opening scene occur near Portland is coincidence. Is there more going on between DHARMA and the phoney location of where Juliette was first recruited to work? Speaking of Juliette, it looks like I was wrong in mistrusting her, but was right in predicting things would not turn out well for Locke by hanging around The Others. I doubt that Locke is really dead as the conflict between his and Jack’s philosophies seems to be too central to the show. Locke must return to face Jack. I wouldn’t be surprised if they really do kill Charlie off. His major role now seems to be his role in Desmond’s predictions of his death. This cannot continue forever. Either they have to find something else for Charlie to do, or actually kill him.

Kattee Sackhoff has other work lined up besides Battlestar Galactica. She will costar with Michelle Ryan in the reimagined remake of The Bionic Woman. Sackhoff says she will have a different type of role than Starbuck:

“My biggest fear was that Sarah Corvus was going to turn out like Starbuck. But she didn’t. She turned out a little like Number Six [laughs]. She’s the femme fatale. She’s dangerous. She’s sexy. She knows it, and she uses it. She walks with a purpose, and Starbuck really doesn’t. It’s … two different sides of the coin, but both misunderstood.”

While unofficial, the word is that Jericho will be back. They gave a strong indication of how the cliff hander will be resolved as the military is preparing to break up the war with New Bern, thanks to Heather, who is very much still alive. This leaves questions as to the fate of Hawkins, and the status of those behind this military force.

The surprise of the episode was the death of Johnston Green. I don’t think anyone saw this coming, considering how important Green was to the town, and the show. Perhaps the thought was that a strong central character such as Green was necessary to get the show established, but now we know enough about the other characters for them to continue to drive the story.

Another puzzle was the revised American flag. Maybe it was done more for the effect on viewers (as well as Heather) than for any logical reason. Any force trying to establish itself as the legitimate government of the United States would want to stick with the conventional flag. The new flag, complete with vertical stripes and only about half the stars, points out to viewers that this isn’t the United States government we know, but that isn’t something they would want surviving Americans to realize. Perhaps there is another force which is still using the conventional flag which will make an appearance at a later date.

Doctor Who will not be on the BBC this weekend, with the scheduled episode postponed until next week. It will hardly seem like Saturday night if I’m not hunting down a torrent with sufficient seeds to get the week’s episode by morning.
Superman Returns led the Saturn Awards, with both Battlestar Galactica and Heroes being able to win as best television series due to the nature of the categories. Some of the major winners include:

Best Science Fiction Film: Children of Men

Best Fantasy Film: Superman Returns

Best Horror Film: The Descent

Best Action/Adventure/Thriller Film: Casino Royale

Best Animated Film: Cars

Best International Film: Pan’s Labyrinth

Best Actor: Brandon Routh (Superman Returns)

Best Actress: Natalie Portman (V for Vendetta)

Best Network Television Series: Heroes

Best Syndicated/Cable Television Series: Battlestar Galactica

Gilmore Girls: Unto the Breach
The major televison event beyond SF was Rory Gilmore’s graduation from Yale, and the end of her relationship with Logan. Beyond that, Rory’s plans remain unclear. TV Guide has one of the best reports on the ending of Gilmore Girls with an interview with Lauren Graham.

With most shows ending for the season, there are a few to look forward to. Big Love returns on June 11, perhaps with increased interest in Mormonism in light of Mitt Romney’s candidacy. HBO On Demand will also have three prequel episodes starting on May 28 showing events prior to season one.

Gilmore Girls To End This Month

The CW Network and Warner Brothers have announced today that Gilmore Girls will end with tihs season’s final episode, scheduled to air May 15. Rory Gilmore graduates from Yale next week, with her future remaining in doubt. Reportedly the final episode will show Rory finally meeting her long-time idol, Christiiane Aranpour. AP quotes Lauren Graham from an interview earlier in the year as to her thoughts on how the show should end (which might be relevant to how this week’s episode ended with Logan asking Loelei for permission to marry Rory):

As production on the show got under way last fall, its future then uncertain, Graham speculated about the final chapter.

“I care very much how the story ends,” Graham said told the AP. “… It would be my worst nightmare if we end the show with a wedding. To me, the premise of the show was, `What if your parent was your best friend?'”

“That’s the thing you leave people with, the strength of this family and this relationship,” she said.

Emmy Night

The Emmy Awards are coming up tonight. Even though it was greater during the Sorkin years, I’m rooting for The West Wing to go out with some major awards. Its a shame that the Lauren Graham Rule didn’t do enough. Some deserving shows and individuals are not going to be recognized tonight.

I’ve already reposted some of my old blog posts on Gilmore Girls and several science fiction shows. To get in the mood for the Emmys I’ll add some other old television posts, including The West Wing, 24, and Alias, below the fold.

UPDATE: Alan Alda wins as Arnold Vinick

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The Influence of the Smaller Blogs

The Lippard Blog responds to Routh Type’s description of the blogoshere as “an innocent fraud.” It’s another rehash of the A-list vs. B- and C-list blogs. Lippard’s response centers around the number of people even a smaller blog reaches. For many of us, having the number of people who read what we right is significant, even if less than the number who read the A-list blogs. Size is relative. Sure, we are smaller than the A-list blogs, but we’re all smaller than Time Magazine or virtually any network television show. That doesn’t mean that our blogs don’t get our writings out to a meaningful number of people.

B- and C-list blogs don’t get the same number of readers as the A-list, but that doesn’t mean our writings are ignored. While writing at The Democratic Daily and Light Up the Darkness I’ve been I’ve been quoted in the web sites of publications ranging from the National Journal to CBS News. Contrary to the argument that A-list bloggers only link to each other, we received links from blogs such as Crooks and Liars, Real Clear Politics, and Talking Points Memo. Starting over with my own blog obviously means a reduction in readers while I build this one up, but in a the past week I’ve received links from Daou Report (twice), and many links from the aggregators at Memeorandum and Megite. There are also numerous other smaller sites which list blog posts, providing a source of new readers for even the smallest blogs.

There’s also other ways for even small blogs to get notice. Often readers of articles or editorials in the New York Times or the Washington Post will also see links to bloggers who are commenting on the article. It’s sort of a way to put out a letter to the editor on steroids. Google loves blogs which are updated frequently. Topics I’ve blogged about often come up relatively high on a Google search, bringing in new readers to posts I have written months earlier.(The links from Google are often fun to read. Today they’ve included “Dick Devos bad” and “Lorelei Gilmore hot.” Presumably anyone who thinks Dick DeVos is good, or that Lauren Graham is a dog, would receive links to different blogs.)

In February New York Magazine ran a set of cover stories on the blogosphere, including The Blog Establishment which looks at the A list blogs. They find that the difference between the A-list and smaller blogs is generally that the A-list blogs got there first and have the most links, with links directly correlating with readership. New York Magazine does acknowledge that even the smaller blogs can find a meaningful niche:

Is all lost for the B- and C-list bloggers? Not according to “long tail” theory. Wired magazine editor-in-chief Chris Anderson has made a study of the geometry of the curve and argues something surprising: Because the tail goes on infinitely, the C-list, in aggregate, has a much larger audience than does the thin A-list section. This means there are infinite niches for B- and C-size blogs.

Lorelai Gilmore Verifies Bush Unpopular in Northeast, Including Stars Hollow

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The Washington Post reports that support for Republicans is even lower in the Northeast than the rest of the country. To verify this story I checked on the views in Stars Hollow, Connecticut. Amy Sherman-Palladino has extensively documented the words of the residents of Stars Hollow. She particularly watched one resident, Lorelai Gilmore.

Lorelei has been blunt about her feelings about George Bush. “I hate President Bush! He’s stupid, and his face is too small for his head. I just want to toss him out.” She also shares our fears over the erosion of civil liberties. She saw an analogy to contemporary American when putting a leash on her dog (Friday Night Is All Right For Fighting):

Oh, he’s perfectly fine with having his personal freedoms slowly stripped away, as long as he’s completely unaware that it’s happening. Just like a true American.

Lorelai’s parents identify more with the Bush Administration (Fight Face):

Richard: I should tell Scooter Libby about this. I keep forgetting I know a man on the inside. I’ll give him a call.
Emily: Before an indictment comes down.

Lorelai rejects her rich parents, and identifies George Bush with them. When she came into some money (Happy Birthday, Baby) her views were apparent. “Seventy-five thousand dollars. I feel so rich. And suddenly in complete agreement with everything Bush has to say.”

Lorelei has also influenced the way in which her daughter Rory sees Republicans (One’s Got Class and the Other One Dyes):

Lorelai: So, I think I’m in touch with the other side.
Rory: The other side of. . .
Lorelai: The other side.
Rory: With Republicans?

Next year we will no longer be learning about Stars Hollow from Amy Sherman-Palladino, who has been signed to produce a sit-com for Fox. TV.com does have some news on Gilmore Girls post Sherman-Palladino. More on Gilmore Girls below the fold, including why Gilmore girls is the best show on TV for men from Esquire.

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