Sometimes you’re killing time online, looking through the Gilmore Girls cast listing on IMDB, and then you spot something weird. Like, how someone other than Jared Padalecki is credited with playing Dean Forester for one episode.
It’s not too weird of a thing. Early on with new shows, sometimes roles are recast. Maybe this is just one of those things. But as someone who has watched Gilmore Girls more times than she should admit, I’d know if suddenly Dean wasn’t Dean anymore. And Dean is Dean throughout the entire series, so where is this episode where Dean ISN’T Dean?
It’s the original shot and filmed pilot of the series. That’s where.
Once upon a time, Gilmore Girls was filmed — and actually picked up to series — with a completely different pilot episode. This isn’t the pilot that later aired, though. That one was completely re-shot and re-edited, and included some minor (and major) changes, like replacing Dean. What else is completely different about this long-lost pilot episode?
There’s different early 2000s music
The opening shot of any show completely sets the tone for the series. For this pilot, we get Lorelai walking into Luke’s for the first time, set to Sheryl Crowe’s “Every Day is A Winding Road.” The actual pilot has Lorelai walking to to “There She Goes” by The La’s. But don’t worry, both versions include references to Macy Gray’s “I Try.”
There are very few shot-reverse-shots
Gilmore Girls was shot with one camera, over many takes, to cover all the different angles of every scene. But this pilot episode only has one shot reactions. There aren’t conversations between characters that cut back and forth, which makes it a little bit awkward to watch. Where are the reactions?
Lorelai is a little bit stuffy
Lorelai (still played by Lauren Graham) is, without a doubt, the quintessential “cool mom.” But in the original pilot, she doesn’t come across as warm and fuzzy as we know her. She’s still in charge of the Independence Inn, but she wears a boring grey suit and stands outside to greet and meet new guests, and it’s all way too formal for her.
Sookie just isn’t the same
In this original pilot, Sookie is played by Alex Borstein, who actually has another role in Gilmore Girls later on down the road (as Drella, the harp player). At the time this was filmed, Borstein was also part of MadTV, and couldn’t get out of her contract. So, she was replaced by Melissa McCarthy. Borstein would have made a fine Sookie, but McCarthy holds the biggest spot in our heart.
Dean is… kinda creepy.
So sorry to say this Nathan Wetherington, but the Dean we know is the Dean we love. And Wetherington’s version of Dean is kinda sketchy. Like, he’s got that very early-2000s skater boy vibe going on and he’s just not someone we can see our Rory immediately falling for. We all fell for Padalecki’s Dean almost instantly. You can watch a clip video of him below:
The real pilot has 10 more mins of footage
Scenes that were added in include: Rory and Dean’s first stroll through Stars Hollow, Sookie accidentally exploding the oven, Lorelai asking the harp player (and OG Sookie) to be nicer to guests at the Independence Inn.
If you need to see this long-lost Gilmore Girls episode with your own eyes, it’s out there on the Internet. Promise. Happy Googling!