The great poet Jon Bon Jovi once asked, “Who says you can't go home?”
I’ll tell you who says that Mr. Jovi. I do. You can’t go home again. At least not in Beverly Hills.
Tonight marked the premiere of next generation of 90210 and the first words uttered by any character were those of Dixon Wilson. He said “This sucks.” I’ve got to hand it to Dixon; he called it right off the bat.
Dixon was referring to his family’s move to Beverly Hills from Kansas, but he might as well have been talking about this new show.
Sure, it was entertaining for a while. There were enough references to the old show, as well as the anticipation of cameos to hold my interest for a while. (Best reference, Andrea Zuckerman’s daughter being described as looking thirty.) Then the show just kept going. It seemed like the longest hour of my life… until I realized to my horror that this was a two hour special and I had another 45 minutes to go.
Maybe the problem is really more with me and not the show. This is just another CW teen drama, with the 90210 label slapped on for branding. Name recognition goes a long way in attracting an audience. Just look at all the variations of CSI. The show I really want to see is simply the original 90210 cast eight years later, and not these new, cookie cutter characters. I’m not going to get that, so I’ve got to settle for a few minutes of Kelly, Brenda and Nat sprinkled in around a show that seems to be the inbred love-child of Saved By the Bell and The Hills.
So let’s talk about the old “90210ers” that showed up tonight, since that’s what we all really care about. Kelly Taylor was the most prominent character from the original show, but Jennie Garth was billed as a guest star, so who knows how long she’ll be around. Kelly is now a guidance counselor at West Beverly High. Kelly was, among other things, a coke addict, a rape victim, in a cult and had an eating disorder. She also did very well on Dancing with the Stars, so she’s certainly ready for anything these kids can throw at her.
We last saw Kelly in 2000, at Donna and David Silver’s wedding, where she had reconnected with her soul-mate, Dylan McKay. There’s no sign of Dylan, but we learn that Kelly has a 4 ½ year old son, but we don’t know who the little bastard’s father is. They hint that it could be the spawn of Brandon Walsh, but I’m sure they will be throwing red herrings at us all season before we learn the truth.
Seeing Kelly Taylor made me think of the abrupt, open-ended finale of The Sopranos. We don’t know if Tony was whacked or if he lives. It’s up to our imagination… unless they decide to do a Sopranos movie. If that happens, then we know Tony lived and the power of that ending will be lost. When the original 90210 ended we all assumed that Kelly and Dylan ended up together, but now that’s out the window and Kelly’s story continues. It’s just smooshed into a few spare minutes in-between the new characters’ drama.
Speaking of someone who was just squeezed into the show, my main man Nat made a brief appearance wrestling with a cappuccino machine in the new, fancier Peach Pit. Nat is also on hand for the main event of the evening, the arrival of Brenda Walsh. I have to admit, when I heard Shannen Doherty utter the words “Mega-Burger”, it was the most orgasmic moment of the entire night for me.
Kelly and Brenda hug out their differences and before you know it, Brenda is acting as Kelly’s wingman when she volunteers to baby sit so that Kelly can go on a date with the young and awkward teacher, Ryan Matthews. Maybe he will turn out to be a bad guy and hook her on drugs, try to rape her or maybe just never take her dancing.
As for the new cast we have a girl who could be Mischa Barton’s stunt double as Anne, the lead girl, and her adopted brother Dixon, who happens to be black. (Oh, the plot possibilities. Anyone else getting Jungle Fever?)
Their father is Rob Estes, who I remember from the classic show Silk Stalkings, which was the USA network’s soft porn cop show. As Harry Wilson, he has a much larger role than Brenda and Brandon’s father did in the original. He’s the school principal, so he’s sort of a hybrid of Mike Brady and Mr. Belding.
The other new character of note is the Wilson’s grandmother, who is the wacky Grandpa Munster or Uncle Fester-like figure. She’s played by the woman who was the mother on Arrested Development, and she practically plays the same character, right down to the ever-present drink in her hand.
We also meet "Silver", who is the grown-up baby sister of Kelly and David. She has a web site that makes fun of people at West Beverly. I gotta make me one of those. Silver hints at the drama that is to come from the Taylor-Silver family. As we see in the previews for next week, Kelly’s mom is crashing the party. More original show characters… that’s more like it.
Okay, time to wrap this up, it’s getting late. The original 90210 was a unique and beloved show because it was so corny, predictable, ridiculous and fun. It somehow managed to suck you in and before you knew it, you were hooked. I’m betting this new version will not so much suck you in, as it will simply suck. I guess we’ll have to give it a few more episodes to see if Dixon was right.
Tata for now.