The Upper East Side’s most notorious young women, Serena (Blake Lively) and Blair (Leighton Meester), return home from Paris with a supposedly changed-for-the-better Chuck (Ed Westwick) not too far behind them. He’s got a new French girlfriend (Clémence Poésy) who has him on the path to becoming one of New York’s biggest philanthropists, Blair not at all positive this seductive charmer has her one-time beau’s best interests at heart.
Meanwhile, the truth behind Dan (Penn Badgley) and Georgina’s (Michelle Trachtenberg) child comes out into the light, and while his father Rufus (Matthew Settle) wants to be supportive he’s not altogether certain the duplicitous young lady insisting his son is the father of her baby is being 100-percent honest with anyone and is worthy of the family’s trust. As for Nate (Chace Crawford), he’s got a new girlfriend in Juliet Sharp (Katie Cassidy), but while he wants to give his heart to her completely the fact she’s so keenly interested in Serena and he well being can’t help but give him pause that she isn’t using her relationship with him for a purpose he doesn’t yet fully comprehend.
The good news about the Fourth Season of “Gossip Girl” is that this 22-episode collection of programs features some of the best programming the series has ever seen. The bad news is that it also features some of its most maudlin and incredibly uninteresting. This is some of the most uneven television I’ve had to experience this side of Season Two of “Glee” (which, amazingly, is even more shockingly bumpy, if that’s even possible), and I was sitting at home watching all 927 minutes or so of this 2010-2011 collection of shows I was pretty much flabbergasted at just how abysmal some of this was.
The basic problem is that one half of the female tag team, Serena van der Woodsen, has changed so gosh darn little since the first season watching her go through her travails is about as entertaining as watching paint dry. While I like Black Lively, and while she doesn’t exactly do bad work as the show’s more or less central figure, I can’t say “Gossip Girl” is doing anything for the starlet anymore at this point in her career. Her problems, the issues she’s dealing with, the travails she is going through, by and large they are no different than the ones she faced during the show’s first season, and for what it’s worth I’m quickly losing interest in her.
On the flipside, while Blair hasn’t exactly evolved a ton over these four season’s of programming, either, at least what’s going on with her, at least the events assaulting the character, are somewhat interesting. Sure she’s still a whiny selfish pompous egotistical superficial windbag, but there has been at least SOME change to the character, and the fact the façade is starting to crack and that there’s the potential for an engaging, somewhat intriguing human being aching to shine through (as well as the fact Meester still appears to find playing the character something of a challenge) makes her still a great deal of fun to watch.
Otherwise, a lot of what goes on in Season Four isn’t all that far removed from what we’ve already seen in previous seasons. Bass Industries is under assault once again, Lily (Kelly Rutherford) and Rufus’ marriage is in jeopardy thanks to some of the former’s past indiscretions and Nate continues to be an upright go-to go when any of the girls find themselves in need. Sure Jenny isn’t around all that much (she shows up for only a couple of episodes, but they’re easily some of the season’s best), but that has more to do with the producers’ not very secret battle with actress Taylor Momsen than it does with anything comfortably plot related, and while a few potentially interesting new characters are introduced none of them stay around long enough to register as strongly as one would like them to.
There’s not a lot more to say. For diehard “Gossip Girl” fans nothing I say here is going to dissuade you from reveling in your passions for the program. For those, like me, finding themselves falling off of the bandwagon nothing I write will come as a shock or surprise. The bottom line here is that the show still has its moments, can still be a wonderfully entertaining guilty pleasure, but the shine is starting to dull on this Upper East Side beauty queen’s stilettos, and I’m not entirely certain that by the end of Season Five these girls’ and their boy-toys are still going to be at the top of the fashionista’s hit parade.
“Gossip Girl” is presented in its original 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen. As I seem to say every season, this show still looks good on DVD, and all the same I’m still wondering why this hasn’t been released on Blu-ray where it would look twenty times better.
“Gossip Girl” is presented in English Dolby Digital 5.1, and French audio with optional English, French, Chinese, Thai and Spanish subtitles.
As always, not a lot to talk about on the special features front as Season Four has very little extra material other than a couple of routine EPK-style featurettes, the requisite Gag Reel and the usual collection of Deleted Scenes coupled to the various episodes they were excised from. Of the two featurettes, Bisoux a Paris! is easily the most worthless of the duo, the surprisingly decent and relatively intriguing Exposing Gossip Girl: The Making of Episode 418 (also known by the majority of us as The Kids Stay in the Picture) highlight of this package’s meager bonus extras collection.
Season Four of “Gossip Girl” is even more hit-or-miss than Season Three was, offering up some of the worst episodes in this series’ run so far. At the same time, it should also be noted is also contains some of its absolute best ones, and as soapy CW guilty pleasures are concerned fans will certainly be pleased by a lot of what happens in the course of this 22-episodes collection.