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Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Fall TV: Thank God for "Gossip Girl"

All hail fresh episodes! During the next few weeks, Channel Surfing bloggers will place the spotlight on new shows and returning favorites as the Fall 2008 TV season rolls out the red carpet.

It's been a calm, drama-lacking summer without our friends Blair Waldorf and Chuck Bass. Suffering through teasers and blog posts boasting "the hottest season yet" and "you won't believe your eyes," it was only natural for "Gossip Girl" fans to anticipate the most deceptive, malicious season premiere yet.

Unfortunately Monday night's premiere did not leave us satisfied and looking for a post-episode cigarette.

Sure, there were twists and a few steamy scenes, but they weren't the in your face, Oh. My. Bleeping. God. moments we rely on "GG" to produce. At least not for a much-anticipated season premiere. But even so, there is still much to discuss. That's why I've enlisted the help of fellow "GG" enthusiast Malavika Jagannathan to dissect what exactly the writers are thinking -- and just how many past teen drama scripts they purchased on eBay to copy and paste into the second season.

Yes, there will be spoilers. So if you haven't seen the lackluster episode yet -- we WILL ruin it for you.

So let's start from the very beginning. Nate, who from sneak peak previews, appeared to be getting it on with Serena is actually shacking up with old Mrs. Robinson. That's right, it's a regurgitated plotline from the good ol' "Dawson Creek" days of Pacey and the older woman teacher. (By the way, it should be noted that during our watercooler type discussion, MJ and I both made this reference at the same time.) Seemingly innocent Nate is said to be "falling" for this Stepford wife, and she doesn't appear to be packing her Gucci bags to leave Mr. Gray-haired Moneybags anytime soon. But as previews tell us, this love affair may be far from over.

The episode started promising with the hopes of "too nice I might gag" Dan Humphrey getting it on with just about every teen socialite in New York. But that bad boy stage lasted a whole two minutes before thoughts of getting back together with Serena popped into the picture. Oh Dan and Serena, it's so exciting when the two of you are together and happy. It's like the perfect love stor.... zzzzzzzz. Oops, sorry, just fell asleep for a moment.

Malavika, what were your thoughts on the premiere? Also, Blair? Lord? Please explain.

Malavika: I know it sounds like we're griping (it's what critics do -- we criticize), but let it be said that a world with even a mediocre episode of "Gossip Girl" is oh-so-much-more-glorious than one without.

That being said, let me wholeheartedly agree that the Serena-Dan will-they-won't-they-won't-one-of-them-just-turn-gay-please-god storyline is sleep-inducing at best. At worst, it's a repeat of every will-they-won't-they storyline from every teen show EVER KNOWN TO MAN. So, let's ignore them for the delicious Blair-Church love-hexagon (or should we say sexagon?). Blair, newly returned from her European trip with an Ivy League boy-toy in tow, is obviously trying to both get back at Chuck for dumping her at the helipad and get his attention, at the same time. Success! The Blair-Chuck reunion is all fireworks with a shocking amount of heart from two of the least sympathetic characters.

Many long simmering looks across backyards and multiple headband changes later, we find out that Blair's weeklong boyfriend "James" is actually an English Lord. And cue yet another recycled plotline that has been showcased on everything from "Roman Holiday" (coincidentally mentioned as one of Blair's favorite movies), "The Prince and Me," "First Daughter" and a 1989 episode of "The Hogan Family" in which Jason Bateman's character, David, unknowingly courts a princess in Paris. Please don't ask me why I remember that. Or why I was watching "The Hogan Family." (Not to be confused with "Hogan Knows Best," a reality show featuring pro-wrestler Hulk Hogan).

Still, I think there's enough sparkage between Queen B and Chuck to make this season interesting and unpredictable even if some of these storylines have been seen before. Viewers are already paying attention -- "Gossip Girl" pulled its highest ratings for this premiere.

What are your hopes for episode 2?

Sara: I agree and yes, though we critique "Gossip Girl" for what it's not, there's definitely something to be said for what it is. And that's pure brilliance. Sure, it's a bit "OC" meets "90210," but it's still irresistible. Lame season premiere or not, I'll definitely continue tuning in to see what scandals are next.

Which leads into my hopes for the next episode -- which mainly are that the writers continue producing the "Gossip Girl" genius formula that's been consistently keeping the viewers asking for more. Don't get soft on us, keep the drama alive and never leave a plot line consistent for too long. We like break-ups, heartbreaks, backstabbing, deceit and lies, lies, lies. (aka: Dan and Serena -- happy couples are boring.) I'm also not a big fan of the Nate-old lady plot, but I have a feeling there's another twist in there that will keep it interesting. Also nothing about Jenny's life interests me in the least. And what ever happened with Lily and the man she does not love but married?

I've got high hopes for Chuck and Blair -- and I'm hoping no resolution is in sight for at least five episodes. The fact that Chuck, Mr. Rhymes-with-Bass, is actually feeling something besides a cheeky co-ed is very fun to watch. For the show's two bad seeds to play a bit of an emotional wreck -- even Queen B shed a tear for dear ol' Chuckie -- is entertainment at its best.

A final hope would be that something truly crazy happens this season. I'm not talking a preggers scare or bi-curious plot line, I mean something actually shocking and original. No overused plots from teen dramas past or revelations that hardly turn out to be actual jaw-droppers. Oh, and please don't bring Georgina back.

Catch all new episodes of "Gossip Girl" at 7 p.m. Mondays on the CW.

-- Sara Boyd, and Malavika Jagannathan,

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"The Hogan Family?" Dear God, that's a first on this blog.

Also, "Saved by the Bell" used the same plot device when Slater started dating the Princess of Lichtenberg ... or something.

Hey, don't look at me like that.

-- Tom

By Blogger Press-Gazette blogger, At September 6, 2008 at 1:33 PM  

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