Fall TV: "9021-No"
When we last saw "90210": Brenda's mom caught Kelly's mom doing coke. Brenda and Brandon rescued an alcoholic teenage girl from drowning. Brenda got a bad dye job. Emily Valentine tried to set fire to the homecoming float. Kelly joined a cult, got raped, became addicted to coke, got burned in a fire, got engaged to Brandon, got engaged to Matt, had a miscarriage and caused a lesbian to fall in love with her -- not necessarily in that order. Donna held onto her virginity. And held on. And held on. Ray pushed Donna down a flight of stairs. Andrea offered her geeky bod to Brandon and won on "Jeopardy!" Steve stole the master key to the school and joined a stupid frat. Dylan got scammed out of his money, started drinking more than Lindsay Lohan and almost died in a car crash. David, sweet dance moves and all, flopped as a musician. Kelly Kapowski got a boob job and caused a whole bunch of trouble post-Brenda. Color Me Badd played a couple songs at the Peach Pit.
Background: First off, confession time. I've watched more of Aaron Spelling's "Beverly Hills, 90210" that I'd care to admit, but not because I was a fan myself. I've only caught up during SoapNet and DVD reruns in recent years because my wife was a huge fan back in the day, and naturally, seeing Ian Ziering's curly mullet still makes her weak in the knees. I don't mock her for this. Clearly, I'm allowed to leave the room if I want to. So by proxy, I picked up on enough of the zip-code drama to not be completely lost ... which I'm only revealing here because it means I have a decent "90210" foundation -- "Donna Martin graduates! Donna Martin graduates!" -- to guide me into the new show. However, I'm not a Brian Austin-Green loyalist, which means I also won't judge the "90210" remake -- or as the CW calls it, a "edgy, contemporary spin-off"" -- by comparing it to the original.
At one point, Silver, the former friend of vapid rich girl Naomi, reports on her "video blog" that her mortal enemy is still hanging onto cheating heartthrob, Ethan. (That they show these actual videos is even more absurd.) The plot twist boasts that the site gets more than half a million Web hits. Would that many people really care about a video blog solely devoted to student gossip at a Beverly Hills high school? Really?
Worst of all, the plot contrivance that lands the Wilson family (call them the new Walshes) to Beverly Hills is downright ridiculous. Super suave Harry Wilson (Rob Estes of "Melrose Place" and "Silk Stalkings") moves his family from Kansas to the glitzy home town he left behind to take care of his mother (Jessica Walter of "Arrested Development"), a former actress with a booze problem who is so filthy rich ... um, she wouldn't need her son's family to actually take care of her. Walter plays a less funny version of Lucille Bluth, a wise-cracking drunk who, if "90210" blows up, will probably be written off the show and replaced by a super-hot live-in foreign exchange student so that the whole "how the Wilsons ended up in BH" plot arc becomes a complete afterthought. Old people aren't attractive to the MTV or MySpace generation. Ask John McCain.
Oh, and Estes is also the new principal of the school -- or far too good looking to be in any administrative role, really. I mean, c'mon, at least the old show cast someone believable like James Eckhouse in the boring father-knows-best role. And finally, to really differentiate the new "90210" from the old one, they decided to cast a minority in a lead role -- Tristan Wilds, or Michael Lee from "The Wire," as adopted son/lacrosse star, Dixon Wilson.
Yeah, because hayseeds in Wichita -- like those hayseed Walshes from Minnesota -- play freakin' lacrosse. But I said I wouldn't compare shows ...
The good? At least the teens on the show kinda look like teens -- not 28-year-old Ziering or 45-year-old Luke Perry worrying about that big zit on Prom night. And you can tell I'm getting old when I could care less about the "hot" teen actresses trying to be the new Mischa Barton or ... whoever the hell is on "Gossip Girl." I'll take Mama Wilson, a.k.a. Lori Loughlin, thank you very much. Yowza.
Ah, to be 17 and live in Beverly Hills! Seriously. Could this Calculus homework be any more useless to the glamorous real world full of insanely hot people that actually exists?