Review: ‘Bunheads’ – ‘No One Takes Khaleesi’s Dragons’

A review of last night’s “Bunheads” coming up just as soon as we Skype with Hugh Jackman…

By opening with the Sam Phillips la la’s, followed immediately by Michelle being impatient to get her caffeine fix, followed immediately by the appearance of Sean Gunn (Kirk!) as Paradise’s resident coffee artist Sebastian, “No One Takes Khaleesi’s Dragons” couldn’t have been more overt in its “Gilmore Girls” influences. (The town council meeting was also a familiar “Gilmore” device, although the people of Stars Hollow cared much more about them than the people of Paradise, it seems.)

What’s funny is that on “Gilmore Girls,” my interest was always much more in what was happening in the adult/Lorelai world than what Rory and her friends were up to, and based on both the “Bunheads” pilot and my pre-existing affection for both Sutton Foster and Kelly Bishop, I had assumed the same would be true here. But as this short first season has gone on, my interest in Michelle and Fanny’s story has waxed and waned – with much of the adult problem having to do, as I mentioned last week, with the way Fanny’s been written at times – and “Khaleesi’s Dragons” was the first episode where I found myself genuinely happier whenever we cut back to some combination of the girls. Melanie needs a personality trait other than hating her brother, but overall the show has done impressive work with the girls lately, especially considering what a minor role they played in the first few episodes. The basketball game sequence flowed nicely and told a bunch of good jokes even as it was moving the different personal stories forward, and the climactic scene where Melanie inadvertently ruined Boo’s chances with Carl for a second time felt honest and uncomfortable in a way that both this show and “Gilmore Girls” do quite well.

Compared to that, I had a harder time investing in Michelle making a fool of herself on the phone about the former roommate who either doesn’t remember her the way she does him or simply feels he’s outgrown her. I also didn’t like the show seemingly backsliding on Michelle and Truly’s friendship; it didn’t quite revert to the early days where Truly hated Michelle, but Michelle’s irritation with Truly didn’t entirely track with where they seemed to land after the curtain rod, the cupcake ATM road trip, etc. Michelle’s feud with Sebastian, on the other hand, played to both Foster’s strengths for the Sherman-Palladino-style banter and to Sean Gunn’s knack for playing characters with an over-inflated sense of their own importance.

What did everybody else think? We’re just about to the end of this 10-episode summer run, with the show’s fate still up in the air. Do you feel like the show has figured itself out yet? Will you be disappointed if ABC Family doesn’t order more? Is the show’s embrace of its own Gilmore-ness a welcome thing, or would you rather the Palladinos try to distinguish the voices from one show to the other?