“Ground control to Major Tom”

LORELAI: [sings] Ground control to Major Tom . . .

Lorelai sings the opening words to “Space Oddity”, a 1969 song by David Bowie, from his album of the same name. It was released on July 11, in order to come out just ahead of the Apollo 11 Moon landing. The lyrics are about an astronaut known as Major Tom who undertakes a solo space flight which malfunctions, leaving him floating through space, and seemingly unable or unwilling to make radio contact with Earth.

The song was praised by critics and used by the BBC during its coverage of the Moon landing, but initially sold poorly, and was banned in the US, due to its lyrics which repeat that “something’s wrong”, and its downbeat ending. After Bowie sang the song on Top of the Pops in October, the song rose to #5 in the UK. “Space Oddity” was released in the US in 1972, where it peaked at #15, becoming Bowie’s first US hit. It remains one of Bowie’s most popular songs, and is regarded as one of his greatest.

Lorelai sings this song as accepting her fate in going to the concert, as Major Tom calmly accepts his fate. (The song also mentions “planet earth is blue”, chiming in with Lorelai being told to wear blue to the concert).

However, Bowie didn’t actually perform “Space Oddity” on his Heathen Tour in the US, although he did sing “Ashes to Ashes” and “Hallo Spaceboy” – two other songs of his that feature the character of Major Tom. The three songs are sometimes known as the Major Tom Trilogy. “Space Oddity” was performed only once during the tour, in Horsens, Denmark.

Marathon Man

LORELAI: And, by the way, not just for me – it was pretty bad for him, too. It wasn’t like he was in love and I was miserable. We were both in pain – deep pain, Marathon Man kind of pain.

Marathon Man, a 1976 thriller directed by John Schlesigner, adapted by William Goldman from his own novel of the same name. It stars Dustin Hoffman as Thomas “Babe” Levy, a history student and avid runner who becomes embroiled in a plot by wanted Nazi war criminal Christian Szell, played by Laurence Olivier, known as “The White Angel” for his mane of white hair.

Marathon Man was a commercial and critical success, with Olivier’s performance being especially praised, and the character of Babe being someone audiences could relate to.

In the film, which is fairly violent overall, there are horrifyingly painful scenes of Szell torturing Babe by using dentistry tools to drill into his healthy teeth. Szell is considered one of the most memorable movie villains because of this, and the torture scenes among the scariest on film. Marathon Man is considered one of the greatest thrillers of all time.

Lorelai melodramatically compares her tedious date with Peyton as akin to the torture undergone by Babe in the film.

Dobermans

LORELAI: We had a really, really, really, really, really bad time. I swear, it was one of the worst times I’ve ever had, it was awful. Do you remember skiing with the Danners and their Dobermans? … This was worse.

The Doberman, often called a Doberman Pinscher in North America, is a large breed of dog originally bred in Germany in the late 19th century. They have long muzzles, often have a muscular and intimidating appearance, but are quite graceful as well. They make excellent guard dogs, and are often thought of as aggressive and fierce, even though there are less attacks by Dobermans than other breeds.

You may remember that Chase Bradford, the Gilmores’ former neighbour in Hartford that Emily fixed Lorelai up with on a surprise date, had parents who owned Dobermans. They must have been a popular dog to own in the Gilmores’ social set at the time. Maybe because they were wealthy people who had property that needed guarding.

Lorelai Apologises to Emily

LORELAI: Sorry about the whole Peyton thing. When I asked you for his number, I didn’t think … Think about what would happen if things didn’t work out with us. I mean, I know his mom is your friend, and I shouldn’t have even gotten mixed up in this whole thing if I wasn’t prepared to remember that what I do will affect you, and to me it’s just a Bowie concert, but to you, it’s not. I was a little thoughtless and I’m sorry, but you have to understand that I was not lying when I said we had a bad time.

Lorelai has listened to her father, and decides she needs to apologise to Emily for putting her social life in jeopardy. She acknowledges that she didn’t think about the consequences might be if she and Peyton didn’t get along, or consider how that might affect Emily. She goes to some lengths to explain to Emily how awful the date with Peyton was, and then says that, even so, she will still go on the date with Peyton if Emily wants her to.

Lorelai is clearly hoping her mother will take mercy on her plight … I ask again, has she actually met her mother before? Naturally, Emily graciously thanks Lorelai for her apology, and tells her to wear blue on her date with Peyton. There’s a real theme of women wearing blue in order to look pretty on this show.

This is another scene where Lorelai and Emily go off to have a private chat in the kitchen, where the maid is mysteriously absent.

Jess to the Rescue

Jess slots into the role of white knight, and comes to Rory’s rescue by switching off the sprinklers for her, getting soaked himself in the process. Again, how fortunate Stars Hollow is having this mini-summer in late October!

This gives Jess and Rory a chance to talk for a minute, and Jess asks her about school and her plans for Harvard – unlike Dean, Jess seems genuinely interested in Rory’s education. However, Rory’s pager goes off, and it’s Dean on his way to help, having just received Rory’s pager message.

Without hesitation, Jess turns the sprinklers back on for Rory, and they share a romantic “moment” together in the water spray before he walks away, Rory gazing after him. Jess knows that Rory is afraid of upsetting Dean, and that Dean will react very badly to Jess having “just happened” to be on her street, and available to help. Rather than cause trouble between them or make things harder for Rory, he chooses to take himself out of the picture – a sign of his growing maturity, and that he cares for Rory.

It is the best moment of a fairly lacklustre episode, although it doesn’t make that much sense that the sprinklers had to be turned back on again. Couldn’t Rory have just told Dean she managed to get the sprinklers off herself? Also, Jess said the spigot had become loose, and needed a harder turn to switch the water off. Now that Jess has tightened the spigot, won’t Dean switch the water off easily, and wonder how on earth Rory had any trouble with it? Or will he just put it down to “girl’s can’t turn off sprinklers, that’s a man’s job?”?

“Our president said exercise”

JESS: You’re walking pretty fast for nothing.

RORY: Well, our president said exercise and I am very patriotic.

In June 2002, George W. Bush made an appearance to launch a federal campaign called The President’s Challenge that urged Americans to stay fit, eat healthier and kick bad habits, such as smoking. He issued twelve pages of recommendations on how Americans could improve their lifestyles, and urged people to walk for at least 30 minutes a day. The president was himself very fitness conscious, running and lifting weights every day.

Blue Crush

[Rory, soaked from the sprinklers, runs down the street and bumps into Jess]

RORY: Get out of my way.

JESS: I like the new look. It’s very Blue Crush.

Blue Crush, a 2002 sports film directed by John Stockwell, based on Susan Orlean’s 1998 article “Life’s Swell” in Outside magazine. It stars Kate Bosworth, Michelle Rodriguez, and Sanoe Lake as three friends in Hawaii who share a passion for surfing. The film was a commercial success, and received modestly positive reviews.

Blue Crush came out in August 2002, so Jess may have seen it over the summer (it feels like it could have been Shane’s choice of film?). Note this is another mention of Lauren Graham’s home state of Hawaii! The film’s soundtrack includes a song by Jamaican DJ Beenie Man (stage name of Anthony Davis) – a possible inspiration for the name Beenie Morrison?

Jess is saying that Rory is so wet she looks as if she has been surfing (and she’s wearing a blue uniform). The choice of the title is provocative – “blue” like erotica, a “blue movie”, plus the word “crush”. It sounds as if he is saying Rory looks like his “sexy crush”!

Visions of Cody

This is the book that Jess is reading when Rory runs into him while she’s panicking about the water issue.

Visions of Cody is an experimental novel by Jack Kerouac, previously discussed and frequently mentioned. It was written in 1951-52, with excerpts from it published in 1959, but not published in its entirety until 1972 – by then, it already had an underground reputation.

Visions of Cody is derived from experimental spontaneous prose inserts that Kerouac added to the original manuscript of On the Road in 1951–52. Although the narrative of the novel is meandering, consisting of short stream-of-conscious essays, transcriptions of taped conversations, and writing exercises, it focuses on the friendship between Jack Kerouac and Neal Cassady (named Jack Duloz and Cody Pomeroy in the text). The book has been described as an early example of New Journalism.

Jess loves Kerouac, the Beat writers, and writing which contains journalism and fiction, so this book is a natural fit for him. Like Rory, he likes to delve deeper into novels he likes, and it makes sense that he would want to read this as a companion to On the Road.

Jess is able to read a book while walking. It’s interesting to speculate why he is wandering along Rory’s street, reading a Kerouac book. Is he mildly stalking Rory, or hoping he’ll run into her? How often does Jess do this “casual stroll near Rory’s house reading an underground classic” routine?

Rory Can’t Turn Off the Sprinklers

After school, Rory heads over to Dwight’s house without even taking off her suspiciously empty looking backpack. She turns on the sprinklers to water the lawn, lets herself in to water the African violets, and then goes outside again.

Unfortunately, she is unable to turn the sprinklers off again, and gets completely soaked. Luckily Stars Hollow is having several days of unseasonably warm sunny weather in late October! At least she won’t catch a chill. She quickly pages Dean, asking him to help her.

Dwight lives right across the street from Lorelai and Rory, yet this scene looks quite different from anything we’ve seen of the street before. Previously when we’ve caught glimpses of Lorelai and Rory’s neighbourhood, it seems very small town, almost semi-rural in character, with houses a fair distance apart and no front fences (there doesn’t even seem to be a fence separating Lorelai’s house from Babette’s). Suddenly it looks as if they live in white-picket suburbia with neat little lawns. It’s quite jarring.

Also, it feels off that when Rory comes out of Dwight’s house, which they live across the street from, Lorelai’s house is nowhere to be seen. This issue with the filming location might well jolt some viewers out of the illusion that Stars Hollow is a real, or even believable, place.

I rarely comment on these kinds of inconsequential technical goofs, but this is one that almost demands to be mentioned. When Dwight showed Lorelai how the sprinkler works, he said that you turn the spigot right to turn it on, and to the left to turn it off, while demonstrating. When Rory goes to water the lawn, she clearly turns it to left – but the water comes on, even though that was the way to turn it off. It’s odd that they make such a point of explaining how the spigot turns off and on, but there’s no effort to make sure the actors stick to that.

Trivial Pursuit

DORIS: I would’ve found you sooner if I had bothered to look, but now I have, I found you, and all I can say is this – I want my board games back! I want them back and I want them back now! And I will hunt you down to the ends of the Earth until I get them back – especially the Trivial Pursuit!

Trivial Pursuit, a board game in which winning is determined by a player’s ability to answer general knowledge and popular culture questions in different categories, collecting wedges for each category until the playing piece is full. It was created in 1979 by Chris Haney and Scott Abbott in Montreal, Canada, and released in 1981. It was one of the most popular games of the 1980s.

Incidentally, the fact that Doris has tracked Dwight down may explain why we never see him again. Doris may have forced him to return home, or demanded that he sell the house in Stars Hollow as it is a joint asset. Or maybe he just went on the run again to escape from her. Either way, there’s nothing to say that he remained living in Stars Hollow, although no real proof that he ever left.