Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Beverly Hills, 90210

Confession time. Back in the day, I was a regular viewer of Beverly Hills, 90210 - Aaron Spelling's long-running ode to teen angst among the rich and beautiful student inhabitants of America's Most Famous Zip Code.

The show examined the culture shock experienced by twins Brandon and Brenda Walsh following their move to California from Minnesota. Wait a minute, do I really need to tell you what the show was about? Either you watched it and loved it or watched it and hated it or didn't watch it and don't care. Whatever your feelings about the show, you probably have some idea what it was about; a prime-time teen soap opera that became a TV phenomenon and launched a wave of second-rate imitations. And I'm not ashamed to admit that is was my guilty secret - at least for the first few seasons.

Now I could say I was a victim of my girlfriends' viewing habits - first Pookie (yes I really had a gf who I referred to as Pookie - but that's a story for another time) and then She who became She Who Must Be Obeyed (aka the little woman), but that would be a lie. The truth is I loved the show. I don't know why - maybe it was the beautiful cast - plenty of eye candy (even the nerds on the show were good looking), maybe it was the absurdity of 20 and 30 somethings cast as teenagers, maybe it was the over the top story lines and teen angst which dripped from every episode. Whatever the reason, I was hooked from my first viewing.

I dropped the show for a while sometime after they graduated from fictional West Beverly Hills High School and moved on to the equally fictional California University. Fortunately (or unfortunately) my wife and I started watching it again in the late 90's, but it wasn't the same; cast changes and time in general had effected the show for the worse.

Originally, the show had a cast of relative unknowns who became household names, and we all had our favorite characters. Among the male leads there was Dylan the surfer - quiet and brooding in a James Dean sort of way and Brandon, the affable hard-working outsider who was every one's best friend. I personally had a man crush 0n Steve the carefree party boy; to this day one of my greatest regrets is that I never got to go cruising for California girls in his 'vette.

The girls on the show were equally delicious - Kelly the good girl with the bad reputation, Brenda, Brandon's defiant and independent twin sister (poor Jim and Cindy Walsh - they had their hands full with that girl). Then there was Donna the virgin (one of the 90's great mysteries is how her breasts grew larger from show to show). Finally, there was Andrea, the smart one. Oops I forgot David, Donna's long suffering boyfriend.

There were a few adult regulars on the show - notably Brenda and Brandon's parents and Nat who ran the Pit Pit, the local hang-out where Brandon worked after school (he had to pay for that nifty vintage Mustang some way).

Obviously the show had a lasting effect on my psyche; here I am waxing nostalgic almost a decade after it went off the air. To this day, I can't hear REM's Losing My Religion without thinking about Brenda and Dylan's break-up. In fact, that's how my wife and I refer to it - the Brenda-Dylan Break-up Song. Tonight The CW is airing the first episode of an updated version, titled simply 90210. By the way, can someone out there please explain to me why the network is called THE CW - does anyone even know what CW stands for? If you ask me it sounds pretentious -you don't hear the National Broadcasting Company referring to themselves as The NBC, do you? Anyway the show's website describes it as:

"An edgy, contemporary spin-off of the iconic drama "Beverly Hills, 90210,the new "90210" looks at life through the eyes of Annie Wilson and her brother Dixon whose first day at West Beverly Hills High School leaves no doubt they're not in Kansas anymore. The Wilson family, including dad Harry and mom Debbie has relocated to Beverly Hills to keep an eye on Harry's mother Tabitha, a feisty-but-faded former television star and a charter member of the Betty Ford Clinic."

I edited out the names of the cast members; I've never heard of most of them nor watched the shows they previously appeared on (sometimes I feel like a Dinosaur). I don't want edgy or contemporary and I don't plan on watching (although, with the enticement of recurring roles for a grown up Kelly and Brenda I might take a peek now and then).

In closing, here's a peek at the opening credits from the second season of the original series:


  1. I'm betting you're not one of the people who really loved the show!

  2. Let me second that - - Ugh Ugh ! I was never able to make it through an entire episode without wanting to kill myself.You are also somewhat mistaken - - the station in question is " The Capital Region's CW ". This is an apparent tip off that there are many other CW's and this is the exclusive Albany area one and not to be confused with lesser known CW's. Always a great late night find when you want to watch the entire oeuvre of ghetto comedy

  3. Not to insult or alienate the only two people who regularly read and comment on my blog but...you're both wrong. Let's just leave it at that and move on to our next topic - "The Greatness That Was Melrose Place"