Saturday, September 6, 2008

90210: Episode 0: "Beverly Hills, 90210"

Hey, I know what you're thinking! "Last time we saw a Jawsome Olde Tyme Revue from this guy, we had to wait over EIGHT MONTHS for the next one!" Well, fear not, extensive fanbase! I have it in good faith that the next TSLOTAT revue will be up soon enough.

In the meantime, allow me to introduce you to the CW's brand-new hit teen drama: 90210!

Before I get into the show itself, though, we need to crack open the history books and take a ride way back into the past. (We also need to ignore any mixed metaphors we meet along the way.) This is because 90210 is not the original take on rich-kid behavior you'd like to think it is! It's a rip-off spin-off of a really, really old show that once aired on FOX.

Let's be honest, most spin-offs don't require you to know anything about the show they spun off from, except in the case of some in-jokes and guest appearances that happen in the pilot and then maybe later on if ratings start to slip. This wonderfully jawsome revue is meant to act as a sort of primer for those rare occasions when a reference to the old show might be necessary. Unfortunately I haven't seen any episodes of the show since they originally aired, so this is all from memory.

A long, long time ago...

The year was 1990. Most people on Earth weren't even born then. Derwin Darren Star and Aaron Spelling began producing a show which taps into the very heart of every American teenager: the desire to watch very rich, very badly behaved high school students self-destruct in a string of increasingly ridiculous tragedies. They called it Beverly Hills, 90210. It was a cultural touchstone for a generation of American youths.

Now I know what you're thinking. It's a question I've been asked at least once, so it must be the burning question on your minds at this very moment. "What does '90210' even mean? Are there ninety thousand, two hundred ten characters on this show?" No, I say, not at all. 90210 is the ZIP Code of Beverly Hills, California. Duh. That's why the original logo looked like a USPO cancellation stamp. (The show itself wouldn't be cancelled for a decade.)

Unfortunately, most of America (read: I) didn't know much about Beverly Hills at that point. I vaguely knew there was a Rodeo Drive with no cowboys, a troop of rich and Girl-Scoutish ne'er-do-wells headed by Jenny Lewis, and also some cops. In fact, most of my knowledge of Beverly Hills is still limited to two shows: Beverly Hills, 90210 and Tattooed Teenage Alien Fighters from Beverly Hills (which was probably shot on a sound stage in Burbank, actually). Fortunately, they (read: not I) had figured out a way to introduce America (read: me) to a world with which we had no experience.

Brandon and Brenda Walsh: Your gateway drugs

The show basically opens with Brandon and Brenda Walsh, siblings from Minnesota. They were two relatively attractive high school students played by Jason Priestly and Shannon Doherty B.S.B.R. (before super-bitch reputation), respectively. For some reason, their father or mother or someone had decided to move to Beverly Hills and drag these two along with them. Honestly, I don't remember much more about the set-up. Oh yeah, they lived in a house with a Spanish tile roof. That's all.

The problem you run into with sibling main characters is that they tend to be different ages, which leads to two very different plotlines, one for each sibling. Each plotline involves things that that age group is doing, and so you've split your time one two different demographics. BH90210 solved that problem in a pretty innovative way. (I can't tell whether I'm being sarcastic here.)

Brandon and Brenda? Twins.

Same grade, same friends, same problems. Their lives are inextricably intertwined. We can get girl problems and guy problems, but still appeal to the same age demographic! Genius.

Oh yeah, just in case you're wondering, they're fraternal twins. They also start out being the voice of wholesome Middle West American values caught in a maelstrom of the sinful Beverly Hills depravity of their peers. They quickly become as depraved as everyone else though, so let's take a brief look at the rest of the cast.

Brenda's Friends

Kelly Taylor (Jennie Garth) was hot. Hot hot. Hot hot hot. If a heterosexual male were watching this show, she would be the reason. Honestly, I can't remember much about her situation other than that she was hot. Oh, yeah, her mom got remarried, which was basically the backstory for Kelly's slightly younger stepbrother, David Silver (Brian Austin Green). More on him later.

Playing foil to Kelly (in hotness anyway) was Tori Spelling... I mean, Donna something (Tori Spelling). I just looked it up. Her name is Donna Martin. I remember her getting upset a lot and never looking like she was really a part of this crew. She also dated Kelly's stepbrother David Silver. Apparently that was her only purpose on the show, since I couldn't find a photo of her that didn't have him in it. Just for the record, we know she's a worthwhile actress because of her outstanding work on Saved by the Bell as Screech's one-time girlfriend, Violet Beauregarde Ann Bickerstaff. Her role on BH90210 always struck me as mostly nepotism, though.

And that was basically it for Brenda's friends. Mainly because she turned into a bitch.

Brandon's Friends

Steve Sanders (Ian Ziering) was the blond-haired jock. I remember thinking he was a real d-bag and didn't really care for any scene he was in. Oh, well, uh, here's a photo:

I guess you could consider Dylan McKay (Luke Perry) to be a friend of Brandon's. Basically Brenda really wanted to bone him (Dylan, not Brandon (I assume)). He was the motorcyle-riding bad-boy. A Fonzie for the new generation. I don't know much about Dylan either except that his dad (and car) got blown up by mobsters (in the same explosion) who were trying to kill Dylan. Tragic, yes? Told you so.


I'm not sure if Andrea was anyone's friend. She was the smart girl who turned out to be poor as well, which meant she didn't fit in at all in any way. I always thought she was sort of hot because she had that librarian look going on, but as the oldest member of the cast, she quickly lost her lustre. Oddly enough, she's one of the youngest-looking these days.

Final Thoughts

While widely criticized for having 28- and 29-year-olds playing high school students, BH90210 stood the test of time, lasting a whumping 10 seasons and becoming a defining television show for the 1990s. To quote Chloe Sullivan Alex Mack Alison Mack in Camp Nowhere, "If I don't see Dylan, I die."

90210 has big high-tops to fill, so be sure to watch and read along as Jawsome Olde Tyme Revues presents this completely (mostly) new series!

Episode 1: We're Not In Kansas Anymore

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