Where you lead, etc.

It’s really too bad that the CW took so long deciding whether or not to renew Gilmore Girls. A week ago, when the network announced the show would be ending this year, the season had already been wrapped. That’s highly unusual for a long-lived (seven years!) drama these days. Etiquette dictates that you either 1)let the producers and show runners tell you when they’ll be done, like CBS is doing with J.J. Abrams and Lost or 2)break the news while the series is still shooting, like the old UPN did with Buffy. In both scenarios the brains get a chance to wrap up whatever they feel like wrapping up and the crew gets to go to a teary wrap party.

But it didn’t work out like that, and here we are. In “Unto the Breach” (Episode 7.21) we get a bright, loud cymbal clash waking us out of our sorrow – Rory’s graduation from Yale. Her graduation from Chilton, remember, anchored one of the saddest and most winsome episodes of the series, highlighted by Rory’s valedictorian speech (“My ultimate inspiration comes from my best friend, the dazzling woman from whom I received my name and my life’s blood. Lorelai Gilmore.”). Again and again this episode reminds us of how much less interesting the series has become, how little Rory’s lived up to her promise, how less mature she actually us now that she’s pulled away from her mother.

Nerd alert

Spider-Man 3 was disappointing, the worst of the three films and even a bit less fun than X-Men 3. There are two problems. The first would have been solved quite easily while leaving most of the movie intact.

SPOILER:
The Harry-loses-his-memory plot was totally superfluous. This is a sequel; we know he used to be a nice guy. We didn’t need the scenes of Peter and him playing basketball and fucking around. Also, since Mary Jane was never let in on Harry’s feud with Spider-Man, she could have fled to him for support in the second act anyway. I remember sitting in the theater during S-M2, bristling with excitement when Harry showed up at the wedding with a green bow tie and a sneer – I had high hopes for the completion of his arc. But Raimi basically erases the second part of the arc, doubles back, rewrites it, and then wraps it up.

So that was the problem that could have been fixed, in some ways – you’re never going to get James Franco to summon the psycho look like Willem Dafoe could. The bigger problem is one of structure: This should have been two movies. If the studio heads had realized that you can get away with a 2-part blockbuster, like Disney is doing with Pirates, they might have pushed Raimi to do that and they would have been right. Here’s what I felt like watching as the movie spooled.

In part 3 Spider-Man fights Sandman (who’s given a better origin that doesn’t rape Spider-Man’s own origin story) and Harry. He meets Gwen Stacy, who is awesome, instead of a cipher, and who is actually dating Eddie Brock. His celebrity slowly rises as Mary Jane’s falls. The two of them drift apart, and Harry starts to win her back while Parker tries to get on without her. He loses his job to Brock but steals Gwen Stacy from him. The black costume arrives from outer space (I don’t actually think that needed to be changed) and Spidey starts using it as Curt Conners uses a sample in his experiments. At some point he’s mutilated and he … ok, I’m less clear on this part of my half-assed plot, but he starts the experiments that lead to him becoming the Lizard. In the third act Spidey has a rapprochment with Mary Jane, but Harry arrives and at the end of the movie’s final fight (which occurs at the 2 hour mark) it looks like she’s been killed in the crossfire.

Part 4 begins one second later and – sure enough! – Mary Jane is dead. Harry is shattered and basically gives up trying to kill Spider-Man for the first act. Peter, still under the influence of the symbiote, destroys Brock’s career, and he becomes Venom in the 2nd act. But when he’s freed, Peter goes back to Gwen Stacy and, what do you know, it’s actually working out nice. Meanwhile Curt Conners grows his arm back, but shortly after Brock becomes Venom he becomes the Lizard. Spidey beats them both with the help of a chastened Harry, who dies in the finale. And there you go – there’s the end of the Spider-Man series. Cue cliche about choices or responsibility or ever.

Keep in mind that I noodled over all of this while sitting in the theater, drifting during the amnesia scenes, and then thought about it for another 5 minutes after the movie. Now that I’ve typed it up I can see a more crowd-friendly version of the story that involves Gwen Stacy, not Mary Jane, dying at the end of Spider-Man 3. Eddie Brock blames Spider-Man and becomes a much more sympathetic villain in S-M4 until he slaughters a bunch of people and tries to kill Mary Jane. But I’m less sensitive to the idea that Peter and Mary Jane belong together for the entire series. Seriously, who ends up marrying his nerd crush from high school?

Fake Band Names

The Ump-Teens
Myth Romney
The Saskatchewans
Hey, Kids! Weapons!
SCTV: The Band
Golda My Ears
First Place in the Master Race
Fuckpuppet*
Alcohol Solves Problems
The Robot That They Replaced Frank Black With
The Scrots**

*This one’s electro-clash
*pronounced “oats”