Gossip Girl has long been my favourite show, and the start of this season was promising - Chuck's rehabilitation, Blair's wedding, Serena's career, Dan's tell-all book and Elizabeth Hurley were all offered to us in previews. However, the show did what it does so well, and quickly got so bogged down in the romantic relationships that we lost all semblance of plot. Blair, for example, has spent so much time either running to or away from Chuck by now that we know how they feel about each other, but her trying to prove he's evil by seducing him (while pregnant with her fiancé's baby, what the heck?) in order to make herself feel better makes no sense whatsoever.
This imaginary baby, for which the petite Leighton Meester was neither padded nor well shot, wins the Swept Under the Rug prize this year, much as bulimia was in season one. Blair miscarries after running away with Chuck, leading to a pact with God, leading to a marriage with Louis after which he turns evil, leading to a row about a dowry and a Chuck-Blair-Dan triangle nobody needed. I repeat: we're five seasons in, we pretty much know how the characters feel about each other by now. Stop trying to get the entire cast in bed with each other by the end of season six.
That said, fans will watch and enjoy this for the good parts. There are genuinely moving scenes and some fantastic acting from Ed Westwick as Chuck Bass truly metamorphoses into the strong, honourable man who gave the love of his life away at the end of the last season. Favourite guest stars return, from the gloriously evil Georgina Sparks to someone we assumed was six feet under. Very much like season four of Gossip Girl, season five is very good both at the beginning and at the end of the season - it's the bit between, the rivalry between Blair and Serena over Dan, Lily and Rufus' marital problems, the arc involving Lola Rhodes, Ivy Dickens, Carol and her mother Cece that slow the pace and confuse any but a hardened watcher. The outfits are still fabulous, the story lines are still scandalous and the people are still beautiful. Hopefully the replacement of Joshua Safran as showrunner and a new EP will mean good things for season six.
Still, four stars, because I love the show and the special features on the DVD are great. The bloopers are hilarious, the 100th episode feature is actually quite touching as the writers reminisce over previous romance and drama, and there's more than enough Chuck Bass in the deleted scenes to make up for how rarely we heard, 'I'm Chuck Bass' in the actual episodes.