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Graham Crackers 

The WB’s Gilmore Girls: Thursday’s real Must-See TV.

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The WB’s got problems, and not just the ones stemming from the media’s woefully unstandardized capitalization policies on “The” in the network’s title—without the capital “T,” the whole concept just falls apart, people. Can you take something called “the WB” seriously? No, it just looks stupid. “The WB,” on the other hand, makes perfect sense, and I’m calling on all media to respect the “T” in future Warner Bros. network coverage.

What? Who cares? Look, I’m not the one who wasted the summer watching a bunch of grubby weasels on a “deserted” island doublecross each other as they were each voted off one-by-one, OK genius? Step off—this matter is every bit as important, if not more so.

While I’m on this tangent, if brain-dead Americans could sit patiently though an idiotic voting process for weeks upon weeks on Survivor, why are they getting so pissy about the ongoing presidential tally? Al “Popular Vote” Gore will have his tiki torch extinguished and be booted off Electoral Island when the time is right, not one minute sooner. [The remainder of Mr. Frost’s “Gore is an unqualified, lying android who’d sodomize America if elected” rant has been deleted by order of the Association of Alternative Newsweeklies, a subsidiary of The Liberal Media™. We now return you to his bi-partisanly entertaining Tube Town column.]

The WB has hey-we’re-a-real-network-now “good” problems, in that all of the net’s new shows this season (Gilmore Girls, Grosse Pointe, Hype, Nikki and ABC cast-off Sabrina the Teenage Witch), as well as the returning favorites (Angel, Charmed, Felicity, Popular and Roswell), are doing so well that they’re all getting picked up. Yeah, it’s weird.

Thing is, The WB—which plans on finally turning an actual profit next season, the net’s sixth in business—can’t quite afford ’em. Just like when you pump three or five bucks of gas into your car’s tank before payday, The WB is ordering new episodes in fours, sixes and eights, instead of the traditional network TV “back nine,” which combines with the original block of 13 to make up a full season of 22 episodes. Sorry, Skippy—too much industry-geek info and calculus.

It’s an enviable dilemma, really, and it couldn’t happen to a cooler network. The WB has never had a programming lineup as good as this year’s, and the best show on any network at this very moment is Gilmore Girls, a smart and sweetly off-center comedy-drama hour that more than a few of you have caught at least part of.

Gilmore Girls is suicidally slotted against NBC’s Friends at 7 p.m. on Thursdays, and it’s become standard practice amongst brighter viewers to flip the channel the millisecond Friends (which isn’t really that good anymore, just habit) is over to avoid any glimpse of the soon-to-be-canceled crapfest known as Cursed, which follows. You can hear remote controls lacerating across the neighborhood at 7:30, whether they’re switching to The WB, elsewhere, or just (gasp!) off.

Is a half-hour of Gilmore Girls really better than a full 60 minutes of any other show on TV? Yes, and let us count the reasons why (Florida residents exempt):

1. Lauren Graham. My TV love (which is different from real love, but only slightly) for Graham has been well-documented in the annals of Tube Town, and now that she’s finally starring in a show that doesn’t suck (Townies, M.Y.O.B, etc.) and will stick around for a full season, I’m positively smitten. In fact, I’m so full of smit, I’d watch an hour of her just buttering toast—gladly even two hours for the Very Special Christmas Toast episode—but there’s more to this than just the hottie factor.

As 32-year-old Lorelei Gilmore, never-wed mother to 16-year-old Rory (do the math), Graham is a caffeinated whirlwind of sarcasm and sensibility who obviously loves the hell out of her kid and, by the magic of that television anomaly known as good writing, is relieved of bearing the TV single-mom cross of being always right or always wrong. Apart from an inexhaustible supply of snappy witticisms that puts the collective six-pack of Friends to shame, Lorelei is warm, fallible and downright human. And, yes, a stone fox in a short skirt. Holy smit, is she ever.

2. Everything else. Real-kid Rory (newcomer Alexis Bledel), the lone teen on TV who isn’t a jaded know-it-all or an emotional M-80; the setting of Stars Hollow, a not-too-quirky little town that certainly isn’t Northern Exposure, no matter what the “other” critics say (that would be NBC’s Ed—see next week’s Tube Town); a supporting cast with nary a weak link, not even the French concierge at Lorelei’s inn with the most far-fetched accent this side of a Kids In the Hall sketch; the aforementioned skirt—you get the idea.

After sitting out Thanksgiving night this week, Gilmore Girls returns to its Thursday-night home opposite Friends (but probably not Cursed) on Nov. 30. In case I haven’t made myself clear, a recap: There’s nothing new on Friends that you can’t see in syndication any hour of the day, Gilmore Girls rules, and Lauren Graham will be mine … I mean, watch the show.

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