Seasons 1 – 6 of The Gilmore Girls was something close to TV perfection. Each episode served up likeable characters delivering hilarious obscure-reference-peppered dialogue at a “Bringing Up Baby” breakneck pace. Viewers had to pay close attention with a cultural dictionary by their side not laughing over the lines making fun of Charlie Rose impacting REM sleep.  Seriously, what  prime time TV show ever made fun of Charlie Rose and REM sleep by themselves let alone in the same joke?

Unfortunately this series about “a mom and daughter who are best friends”  languished first on the WB then the CW – never gaining the wide audience it deserved. Plus, that title really sucked. I’m sorry – but “The Gilmore Girls” sounds like the Golden Girls – no thanks.

Still, The Gilmore Girls did launch the careers of Lauren Graham (Parenthood) , Alexis Bledel (Mad Men), Matt Czurzy (Good Wife) and Melissa McCarthy (Mike & Molly and Bridesmaids).  Recurring appearances of veteran actors Edward Herrmann and Kelly Bishop as Lorelei Gilmore’s parents (and New England Blue Bloods) were some of the show’s wittiest scenes. The tone captured was pitch perfect.

The real star of the show however was the series creator and chief writer Amy Sherman-Palladino. Her vision of the mythic Stars Hallow and the rich characters that inhabit it was fully realized – singular and unique in TV history.  There really is nothing else like it. This voice and uniqueness might be because Sherman-Palladino and her husband Daniel crafted the majority of scripts themselves.

Contract disputes locked the Palladino team out of what was a dreadful last Gilmore Girls season (please skip season 7). This was an unfortunate thud to simply terrific (and family friendly) television.

Those pining for the whip smart dialog had Palladino’s failed Parker Posey vehicle, “The Return of Jezebel James” that lasted only 7 episodes in 2008. Now there is “Bunheads” on the hard to find ABC Family channel. Look around, it is worth finding.

Bunheads is the story of a dancer (played by Sutton Foster) who after abruptly loosing her husband is thrust into the life of her husband’s mother (played by Kelly Bishop) who just happens to be a dancer herself with a charming studio somewhere in the central coast of California called Paradise. Foster must choose between making a life at this studio populated largely with high school girls, or trying to make it as a dancer in second or third tier markets. Apparently quirky neighbors/guests abound in the CA’s Central Coast. Most every episode features a dance number – not the quick cut Glee crap either – real choreographed dancing.

Make no mistake Bunheads is essentially a reboot of Gilmore Girls. Lead actress Sutton Foster could be Lauren Graham’s double and Kelly Bishop is essentially playing a subdued Emily Gilmore called Fanny Flowers. There is also the instantly recognizable Sam Phillips soundtrack that so effectively set the tone of GG. All that is missing from this version are terrific male characters like Luke and Dosey that helped balance out heavy female vibe of Girls.

Bunheads returned in January after a short hiatus and the recent episodes have all been better than the first ones. The show might have found its groove.

Let’s hope so.  We need more Palladino humor in our lives.

Bunheads has not risen to the level of Gilmore Girls…at least yet. With a single episode referencing Franny & Zooey, Fiorello Laguardia, the Rockford Files, and Elvis falling asleep on the throne there is hope.

Plus, no god awful laugh track.

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