Between the popularity of pre-teen soap operas and nostalgia for anything slightly old, it's no surprise that the 1990s teen soap Beverly Hills 90210 got an upgrade as 90210. With its combo of conspicuous affluence, forced pop-culture allusions, and excessive "serious" problems for these kids, the show resembles the MAD TV parody "Pretty White Kids with Problems."

In 90210 15-year-old Annie Wilson (Shenae Grimes) and her adopted brother Dixon (Tristan Wilds, who may be the first African-American regular on any 90210 show) move from Kansas to Beverly Hills so their father Harry (Rob Estes) and mother Debbie (Lori Loughlin) can take care of Harry's mother Tabitha (Jessica Walter), an over-the-top former movie star. It doesn't help the kids that Harry is the new principal of West Beverly Hills High School.

This being television high school set in a rich area filled with nothing but beautiful students, Annie and Dixon feel overwhelmed (even though they're as unnaturally attractive as everone else). Pretty soon Annie has made friends with rich beautiful brat Naomi Clark (AnnaLynne McCord) and "rebellious" blogger Silver (Jessica Stroup), while Dixon has made friends and enemies on the lacross team, plus a friend in journalist cool guy Ryan Matthews (Ryan Eggold). And Ethan Ward (Dustin Milligan) was a semi-boyfriend of Annie's who is now cheating on Naomi and still has feelings for Annie.

Not complex enough? The two-hour opening also has: a student stealing from friends to pay for drugs, Naomi plagiarizing Annie's paper, a repeated gag about fellatio, a secret revealed in a text message, Annie going from stage worker to part of the play, Dixon being kicked off and brought back on the lacrosse team twice (wonder if this'll happen every week), a "not-so-sweet sixteen" party, Harry surprised to learn his high-school sweetheart is now an obnoxious mom who had his kid, Naomi and Silver once being friends but now at odds with each other, a date on a private jet, and samples of four current music hits in the first three minutes. Also, Jenny Garth and Shannen Doherty, from Beverly Hills 90210, are there for no other reason than to attract fans of the first show to this one (as is the character Nate from the Peach Pit).

I'm not a fan of soaps, shows featuring hot underage boys and girls (when the big 18-34 demographic drop to 15?) or the original Beverly Hills 90210 -- and 90210 did nothing to change my opinion. Everyone's cool, hot, and clever, their cliques aren't interesting, and the teen crises are almost bathetic in this world of affluence and beauty. If you want a superficial drama with love triangles and something approximating teen angst, you may enjoy 90210. I won't be revisiting this zip code anytime soon.

Overall grade: C-

Reviewed by James Lynch

1 comment:

digitaldoc said...

In this show's opener, it seems like there is no range of emotions, and everything goes full blast all the time. The writers need to learn to tone it down a little. The original is much better. These days "Gossip Girl" is the better show.