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The Girls Next Door, 10.09.01 ...

'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.
Credit: News Day

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