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As expected, this season of Gossip Girl was filled with feuds, money, shopping, secrets, love-affairs, friendships, hidden identities, hidden objectives, handsome men, beautiful women- I could go on, but you know the drill.
Here's just a quick overview of the plot without giving too much away. For those of you who watched season 3 you will remember that last season finale we were left with a massive cliff hanger after Chuck had been shot and left on the streets bleeding. Firstly, we see how the rest of this story panned out and also Blair and Serena's adventures in Paris. The first half of the season is very much focussed on the arrival of the character 'Juliet'. No one can quite figure out what her motives are but she has a grim determination to wreak havoc with Serena's life. She also manages to rope in two other prominent characters to help her with her plans. Who is she and what does want? After this, the plot moves over to focus more on Chuck and his life's struggles. To be (with Blair) or not to be (with Blair)? That is the question. (Literally.) Chuck has many life choices to make regarding himself, his business and his relationship with Blair. What will come first, work or love? For the last couple of episodes we see the arrival of Charlie, Serena's cousin who has been raised far away from all the glitz and the glam of the Upper East Side. At first everything seems normal, but suddenly Charlie's behaviour becomes suspect to Serena. What is she hiding and what does she want?
Some have said that they believe this to be this to be the best season yet and I can see why. This season does a good job of meshing all the characters together for once. In previous seasons we have seen the characters in Brooklyn and the characters living in the Upper East Side lead very separate lives with only a couple of characters coming into contact with each other (namely Dan and Serena). However, season 4 sees all of the characters coming together with new relationships forming and old relationships falling apart. After the marriage of Lily and Rufus, Dan has become a much bigger player in the Upper East Side and people are starting to see him less as 'Brooklyn boy' and more as Daniel Humprey, love interest of the Serena Van Der Woodsen and friend of Nathaniel Archibald (and later, Blair Waldorf - shocker). I think the marriage of the two parents was a wise move and it really cemented the bridge between Brooklyn and the Upper East Side allowing more character interactions.
Expect to see some familiar faces from the past popping up to cause trouble again, but don't expect this to be the last time you see them, they may just appear when you least expect it. There are also some new characters who add weight and mystery to the drama. Be wary of these new characters, they may not be who they appear to be, then again, people rarely are in Gossip Girl.
Since a picture of Blair and Chuck together is on the front cover of the DVD set, one would assume that the producers think that they are the focal point of this season. I know that the relationship between Chuck and Blair has most viewers hooked, especially since they've got this whole Romeo and Juliet/Lizzie and Darcy thing going on and you'll be pleased to hear that there is a hell of a Chuck/Blair roller coaster waiting for you. Chuck and Blair do finally figure out how they truly feel about each other at the end of this so there probably won't be that much Chuck/Blair drama in season 5. Suck it up while you can! I was extremely shocked by the way the Chuck/Blair drama panned out in this season, I was caught completely off-guard and didn't expect a thing. I'm not going to spoil it for you and tell you what happened, but boy oh boy this is an exciting jaw dropper.
So, I haven't mentioned very much of the other characters but of course, Serena does play a very large role in this season; however, her problems seem to be very much family-orientated and not boy-related. In fact, she doesn't really have any particularly major going on in the boyfriend department, or nothing that's particularly gripping. Nate finds himself a new girlfriend but now he is torn. How can he choose between his best friend and his girlfriend? Trouble ensues. We see Dan become a bigger part of the Upper East Side and he becomes much more accustomed to their ways and manners and is less condescending of them. Some parts of his previous relationship with Serena is reactivated by other characters as he tries to form new relationships which is very exciting. Jenny and Vanessa are of course still skulking around in the background appearing every now and again to cause trouble. Lily Van Der Woodsen plays a much more prominent role in this season than she has in any other as issues from Serena's past crop up again, meaning Lily has to deal with the aftermath.
The season finale is definitely the best episode of the season and it not only wraps up loose ends but it also creates many more which will no doubt be sorted out in season 5. Some plot lines from earlier in the season that you thought had be put to sleep will rise again to slap you in the face. It really was one of the best season finales of any show that I've ever seen that has got the exact balance between coming-to-an-end and leaving-you-begging-for-more that makes this a great conclusion for season 4 whilst leaving enough juice to keep you hanging on to see what happens in season 5.
If you missed Gossip Girl whilst it was aired on television then I highly recommend you buy this on DVD or rent it from your local video store because it is definitely worth it. This is the best season of Gossip Girl yet which the most drama, action, tension, mystery and suspense yet! There are some very big twists and turns in this season and just when you think you've got it all figured out something comes along and changes everything. I was hooked to Gossip Girl from episode one and the drama is so much more intense in this season with each and every episode leaving you begging for more.
Gossip Girl's 4th season was originally aired in the US from September 2010 to May 2011, the series being based on Cecily von Ziegesar's books and continues to follow the lives of Manhattan's Upper East Siders, mainly Serena Van der Woodsen, Blair Waldorf, Chuck Bass, Nate Archibald, Dan Humphrey and their respective parents and friends (and enemies in some cases).
~SYNOPSIS OF SEASON~
The season starts off with Serena and Blair spending summer in Paris and Chuck living in Prague after a dangerous incident at the end of Season 3 living with the mysterious Eva. Blair has been alone whilst Serena has been having the time of her life on various dates having left Dan and Nate hanging on back home wondering which of them she will choose on her return. Dan starts off the season with Georgina and Milo living with him, what's that all about? Vanessa comes back from Haiti and tries to be supportive of Dan's living arrangements although it's not easy at all. Jenny has been banished by Blair from Manhattan to Hudson and told never to return after her behaviour at the end of Season 3 or risk facing Blair's wrath; will she return to wreak more havoc? We meet the mysterious and beautiful Juliet who seems to have a real grudge against IT girl Serena. And who's the mystery person who sends Gossip Girl a rumour claiming Serena has an STD?
Gossip Girl (for those not in the know) sends out photos and text information about Manhattan's elite youngsters telling all their secrets and scandals. The information is posted on a website and sent to people's phones who have subscribed to the service. Pretty much every student in Manhattan seems to subscribe to and send in "blasts" to the site. Gossip Girl relies on others to send in information to keep the website going and has gained a network of posters all of whom are willing to send in as much juicy gossip as they can get their hands on, although mostly it seems "gossip" is only posted if it can be corroborated.
The season starts with Gossip Girl narrating: "Cobblestones and Café de Flore. Serena's locked down the Left Bank and become a muse to us all. Meanwhile Blair rules the Right Bank... Storming the shops and consuming the classics and sampling sugary snacks like a modern Marie Antoinette. But we hear Serena's stories sizzle while Blair's are more fizzle. She shops at Saint Laurent and dined at Drouant, but the only beau B's had this summer is on her headband." So it seems Gossip Girl can even follow our Manhattan elite to Paris and continues to post "blasts" about them on her website for her gossip hungry readers to devour.
Some of the storylines this season include a royal engagement, various love triangles, a suicide attempt, a drug overdose, a house arrest, yet another student teacher liaison, corporate takeovers, attempted arson, kidnapping, make ups, break ups; the usual every day stuff in Gossip Girl world!
Even though the writers seem to be trying to make the main characters (i.e. Blair, Serena, Dan, Chuck, Nate, Vanessa) appear more mature - they're around 20 now - they really don't seem to have learned any important lessons in life from their past mistakes as they seem doomed to repeat them. Some of their behaviour makes one wonder if they really are too spoilt and overly accustomed to getting their own way. It seems they really throw their toys out of the pram if they don't get their way. A particular storyline about Dan and Blair trying for the same internship at a magazine has them literally rolling around on the floor pulling each other's hair at a major event, which was quite funny but you just know this is not behaviour to expect from 20 year olds!
Some of the more memorable episode titles include: Panic Roommate, The Witches of Bushwick, Belles de Jour, Damien Darko, IT Girl Happened One Night, While You Weren't Sleeping, Empire of the Son, Petty in Pink, The Wrong Goodbye, Touch of Eva and Double Identity.
Serena Van der Woodsen (Blake Lively) continues to go from one guy to another in this season, seemingly not learning from past mistakes except the fact that she left Dan and Nate hanging on when she left Manhattan in the spring to spend summer in Paris meant that these guys are not so keen on being kept on hold for her and have both moved on. Serena and Blair start the season as they mean to go on by falling out by the end of the first episode including Blair shoving Serena into a water fountain in Paris! Serena steps up her long-standing habit of going for the wrong men by falling for a college professor and various other unsuitable suitors. Will she never learn? Her character is shown to be seriously lacking in scruples in one particular storyline when a man she's interested in gives up his job for her only for her to dump him straight away as she thinks she still has feelings for someone else (yet another on again, off again storyline). Serena isn't seen to be getting off to a good start at university regularly arriving late for lectures at the start of the semester due to apparently getting up late and having troubles grabbing a taxi each morning. I'm not sure what happened to their limo during this storyline! She makes herself quite unpopular with the Dean of the university with her antics fairly early on. Yet she acts as if she is completely innocent.
Blair Waldorf (Leighton Meester) is looking for romance at the start of the season to get over Chuck but she wants to date someone with the same interests as her, not jump into bed with the first guy who asks her. She meets a handsome young man in Paris who shares her love of art and after an initial misunderstanding she finds out he's the Prince of Monaco but has she blown it by blowing him out when she thought he was "just" a chauffeur? Blair is horrified to found out that Serena has accepted a place at Columbia where she has just transferred to herself as she was hoping to be Queen B again at college and hoping Serena would be going to Brown as was expected last season when she took a year out. She declares to Serena that she doesn't want to live in her shadow for the next 2 years and old insecurities get the better of her. Serena doesn't really do much to dispel her best friend's fears and they start the new academic year at odds with each other. So what's new?
Chuck Bass (Ed Westwick) starts off the season recovering from an event at the end of last season, being taken care of by the sweet and seemingly caring Eva. He eventually brings her back home and much to Blair's dismay becomes a caring philanthropist giving away huge sums of money to charity. When Blair sticks her oar in and ruins things for him he goes all out and declares war on her, determined to destroy her life and things get quite nasty. Chuck and Blair are great to watch on screen when they're battling each other and are a great source of entertainment. Westwick comes across as really giving his role his all, even when he's at his most evil; he has a twinkle in his eye.
Dan Humphrey (Penn Badgeley) starts off the season looking after Georgina and Milo but when Georgina pulls a disappearing act, Dan has to "man up" and take matters into his own hands with regards Milo. Ultimately he's devastated when Georgina returns and moves on with Milo but doesn't show it and Vanessa tries hard to get him to open up about his feelings. I found Dan's character fairly irritating during this season.
Nate Archibald (Chace Crawford) starts off the season working his way through Chuck's "little black book" but gets bored of this eventually when he meets the mysterious Juliet who becomes a focal character for a major storyline of this season.
Lily Rhodes Van der Woodsen Bass Humphrey (Kelly Rutherford) has her own worries again early in the season when she is informed that Chuck is in arrears with his rent on his hotel. It's not a room rent, it's the lease for the whole hotel that's at stake and she really is genuinely worried about his whereabouts. The relationship between Lily and Chuck is quite touching especially since she officially adopted him some time ago and he was really worried about her last season when she was being treated for cancer.
Rufus Humphrey (Matthew Settle) is trying to be happy in life but it's clear he misses his daughter Jenny since she went to live with her mum in Hudson and study out there. Rufus continues to be a really likeable character.
~GUEST STARS/RECURRING CAST MEMBERS~
Georgina Sparks (played by the fabulous Michelle Trachtenberg) appears in several episodes this season apparently a changed young woman, but how long with that last? She's deliciously naughty and even though her actions are awful, you can't really bring yourself to hate her character as she (like Chuck Bass) always seems to have a twinkle in her eye when she's misbehaving. Her acting is pretty impressive throughout and it's no wonder she's a recurring guest star on the show.
Clemence Poesy appears for part of the season as Eva, Chuck's love interest who brings out the philanthropist in him.
Katie Cassidy appears as Juliet Sharp for about half of the season. She is really quite stunning but I couldn't quite buy her as a college student as she looked somewhat older. She's the real life daughter of David Cassidy, who remembers him from The Partridge Family?
Joanne Whalley (she's dropped the Kilmer now) as Princess Sophie appears for part of this season.
UK band Florence and the Machine perform as themselves in an episode.
Tika Sumpter appears as Raina Thorpe, daughter of Russell Thorpe who was Bart Bass's partner many years ago. She appears in 11 episodes of the season and it's evident that she doesn't think twice about jumping into bed with as many men as she can which includes two of our main characters, which is strange as she's supposed a committed businesswoman.
Kaylee DeFer as Charlie Rhodes appears partway during the season. She's Serena and Eric's cousin and seems to have her own agenda.
Fashion consultant Tim Gunn appears as himself in an episode as well as fashion designers Diane Von Furstenberg and Rachel Zoe. Poor Rachel Zoe ends up with chocolate syrup tipped over her head!
Blair: Everyone knows that the only guy who's been in my pants all summer is the tailor at Pierre Balmain.
Serena: And whose fault is that? B, just as many guys have flirted with you. I just happen to have a thing for French waiters.
Blair: And bartenders and museum docents... Anyone on a Vespa or a bicycle... Or wearing Zadig & Voltaire.
Lily: I understand the lure of a powerful man like Colin, I married Bart Bass remember. And to be honest, it can make your life so much easier.
Serena: Well, it's not about that.
Lily: Well, we both know you would have moved onto classes more your speed eventually.
Serena: You don't think I could have handled a business class?
Lily: Well, we'll never know now will we? Darling, I'm just trying to be supportive and realistic. A pretty girl like you could get the attention of a Colin Forrester... Even without an education. So why even bother?
(Serena scoffs and walks away)
Rufus: Lil, I think you may have taken this tough love a little too literally this time.
Lily (grinning): Well, um, after Serena left this afternoon, I bought Colin's book. And on chapter 16, it talks about reverse psychology. Nothing I've done so far has gotten through... So I thought I'd try something new.
Season 4 of Gossip Girl contains 5 discs with 22 episodes of around 40 minutes each and is classified as a 15 rating.
On disc 1 there's a 10 minute featurette called "bisoux a paris!" which is a fun feature with cast and crew interviews talking of the fun they had filming in Paris, cast interviewed include Ed Westwick, Leighton Meester and Blake Lively. Serena is described as more bohemian, e.g. painting nudes and trying to reinvent herself, whilst Blair does the shopping, eating pastries, going to museums and pursuing romantic dreams. We hear from Ron Fortunato, Director of Photography about the buildings in Paris being very subtle and from Loren Weeks, Production Designer about how Paris being a very grey city, it meant that they had to introduce colour in the scenes wherever they could. A lot of thought went into filming the Paris scenes and a lot of outdoor scenes were used deliberately to enhance that the girls are still Gossip Girl icons and they brought colour to Paris. Fashion is very important in Gossip Girl and Paris is a great place to emphasise the show's love of that aspect.
There's also a feature on the making of the episode entitled "The Kids Stay in the Picture". A handful of episodes have unaired scenes at the end of them. On the last disk there's an 8 minute gag reel. Subtitles are available in English, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, Norwegian and Swedish.
My rating for this season is a decent enough 4 out of 5 stars. It's a show that appeals to teenagers and upwards, basically people who enjoy a bit of glitzy drama with lots of fashion and music thrown in for good measure. The producers even mention that their demographic includes people in their teens, 20s, 30s and 40s. I would say the show doesn't generally appeal to men but there must be exceptions. I imagine a lot of fans of Sex & The City found this show to be appealing to some extent even though the main cast members were considerably younger than the cast of SATC.
I remember saying in a recent review, I'm pretty sure I watch too much TV. That said, I don't seem to have seen as many things as a lot of my friends so I don't really know how any of us get anything done with our lives. One of my friends will generally start with the first series of a programme and won't stop watching until she's seen every episode to date, even if that means watching five or six series in a row. I'm not really one for that and instead tend to watch programmes a series at a time, wait a few months, re-watch that series and then go onto the next one. My memory's quite poor so I enjoy watching things again more than the average person does as I usually forget a lot of the major plot points as well as the subtleties that make it enjoyable to watch.
Gossip Girl is no exception, and while I've loved this programme for over four years now and series six is just hitting screens in America, I'm only just coming to the end of series four now. My aforementioned friend, on the other hand, started watching it a couple of months ago and has seen nearly as much as I have. I also put off watching this series for a little while as, as much as I love it, Gossip Girl can be a bit samey and it's hard to watch too much of it in one go. I decided to watch the fourth series after a short break following the third one and have to say I'm very glad I did.
Gossip Girl is, as we are told at the beginning of each episode, is your one and only source into the scandalous lives of Manhattan's elite. Well, the fictional elite, that is, as this happily is a drama rather than a reality show. The first series started with most of our main characters being high school students at two of the most elite schools in New York City, with the rest of the show mainly revolving around their parents. Blair is the daughter of a famous fashion designer; her best friend Serena was also born into wealth and is a definite socialite; Nate was Blair's boyfriend all throughout school and is best friends with Chuck, who is the human manifestation of upper class cool. Dan and Jenny Humphrey are less riche than the rest but still attended the same school, but were treated as outsiders, largely due to them being from Brooklyn. Dan's best friend, Vanessa, also finds her way into the Upper East side life without really wanting to.
Gossip Girl Series Four
A lot has changed by this series, but I will try to give away as few spoilers as possible. In any case, the main gang are all still living in New York following some fairly contrived plot points that stopped them from going to colleges elsewhere. Whether they're working hard at college or trying to make their way in the business world, the main gang still have enough time for a lot of drama and falling in love with each other and with other people at the drop of a hat. Most of the (heterosexual) combinations of main characters have been played out in some way or another in the past few series and this one is no different. They are all still very rich and beautiful (honestly, some of the most attractive people in the world are in this programme) and manage to cause and find themselves in more scandal than the normal person could even fathom.
What I Thought
Despite (or perhaps partly because of) there not being much new in the way of format in this series, I have to say I loved it. That may, in fact, be why I loved it. The Gossip Girl formula has been fairly tried and tested over the past few years and Blair and Chuck's scheming, everyone being in love with Serena and the constant lying, backstabbing and revenge is what this programme does the best. While I did find myself getting a bit bored at the start of the series, it soon picked up and this series managed to keep my interest and more with its storylines. No, it's not massively different to previous series, but then very few programmes manage to find something unique each year, and keeping things similar while maintaining quality is certainly impressive enough for me. The acting is still good, with nobody in the cast being 'just a pretty face' (but with Leighton Meester, Blake Lively and Ed Westwick, the faces are very pretty indeed) and, though it is about a section of society I know nothing about, the writing is realistic and believable.
That said, I don't think I'll ever enjoy any series of Gossip Girl as much as I did the first one. Not only because it was new and therefore something I hadn't seen before, but because it was a very well put-together series that actually could have stood on its own. I'm very glad that the programme continued but I wish the intrigue, lies and love triangles could be as well executed as in the first series. Everyone's still as beautiful and the clothes are still as fashionable and desirable as ever, but I doubt the programme will ever properly replicate the charm of the first series.
I really enjoyed series five of Gossip Girl and would highly recommend it, obviously provided you've seen the previous four series. I'm going to award it four stars instead of five for various reasons, however. Firstly, as much as I enjoyed it, no series since has been quite as good as the first ever one. Also, while Gossip Girl is great and enjoyable, I couldn't quite put it on a par with some of the programmes that I've given five stars to, such as Six Feet Under, Dexter and Luther. It's an enjoyable programme, but it is what it is and doesn't reach the high levels of quality that can be found in the aforementioned dramas.
The DVD of series four is available for the very reasonable price of £15 for 22 45 minute long episodes. You can also get the first four or five series together for around £50, but you're probably better of getting them series by series as some of them are already available for under £10.
Highly recommended if you've seen and enjoyed the first three series; if not, why not give the first series a go?