I don't really know where to start with the new 90210, a teen soap reboot of the original teen soap Beverly Hills: 90210. The theme song was the same, sort of. But it was shortened and mangled. Those same towering, skinny palm trees loomed grandly over the fast moving cars, but they looked almost sickly and tired. And even poor Nat was there, our little old Peach Pit-owning friend, shuffling around the teen hangout. But the new building was stony and cold and confusing and never explained and Nat had to bang away at some espresso machine monstrosity and make a tired old person joke. Basically the first two episodes of the new 90210, which aired back-to-back last night, were both extremely frustrating and entirely bland. There were some fun moments, many having to do with people from the original series, but mostly it "blows. bites. sucks," to quote poor Michael—I mean "Dixon." We have Becky from Full House and that Rob Estes dude from Sleazy Guys: The TV Series moving with their Canadian redheaded twig of a thing (Shenae Grimes, dangerously slimmed down from her Degrassi: The Next Generation days) and their adopted son Dixon, a young black fellow played head scratchingly by Tristan Wilds, who was all deep-buried pain and hooded sadness as Michael on HBO's so-in-another-galaxy-from-this-it's-laughable The Wire. Jessica Walter is the aging, drunken actress mother of Estes, and is basically just doing a watered-down version of her terrific bitchy mess of a mom on Arrested Development. So that's the set-up, Kansas family moves back to dad's mom's Beverly Hills manse to take care of her (though that was so weakly explained). He will be the principal of West Beverly Hills High School, and Aunt Becky will... I dunno, stand around looking at photo shoots. The kids will gawp at their new toned, tawny, forty-three-year-old classmates. I'm sure in some way it was a winking nod to the aged Gabrielle Carteris and Luke Perry of the original, who were well out of high school when they were cast in teenager roles, that the actress who plays queen bee bitch (with a hint of sadness and smarts!) Naomi probably graduated from the University of Oregon at Eugene in 1993. She's got a wild mane of hair, stern glowing eyes, and a knowledge of how to slink and work her curves that no fifteen-year-old girl (God help us) should ever possess. There is also Ethan, the woodchuck-esque lacrosse star, former make-out buddy of Canada St. Kansas, and current blow-job-from-another-girl-receiving boyfriend of Naomi. (That blowjob was graphic enough to elicit an "eep!" from me.) There's some sloppy romantic triangle being set up there but... yawwwn. There is also Silver, a nasty little bloggette (at one point she says something like "blogs are supposed to cause problems") who is the half sister of Kelly Taylor and David Silver from the original. Whee! Connections! She befriends Canada St. Kansas sort of, while Dixon takes some ridiculous news class with a guy named Navid Shirazi (mmm... Shiraz) who quickly fast-talks him into a friendship, though cluckingly disapproves when Dix expresses an interest in the lacrosse team. And... would it be too sweeping just to say that various highjinxs ensue, none of which are interesting? Canada gets involved in a ludicrous high school production of Spring Awakening (upstaging the show's troubled, druggy lead), and gets jetted off by its faggy male star to San Francisco (hahhh!) for a romantic dinner. Dix gets in trouble with a school prank. Naomi cheats back and tears are shed. Srsly overloaded for the first two hours. And those are just the kids! The adults are silly too, the parents chief among them as bland cool dad/cool mom robots who have awkward, implied sex. There is of course the hip teacher, with scruff and jeans and a tie in the style of Ryan Gosling's mesmerizing crack addicted dialectics fan in Half Nelson, who is also (conveniently!) the lacrosse coach. The old adults... oh God bless 'em, they're the only rock we have to cling to here. Kelly (who has a kid! Brandon's??) and Brenda are back, looking good and having nice conversations about nice things. I'm sure the show's depressingly young audience members were scratching their heads at these befuddling wrinkled people and their shorthand relationship with the camera, but it sure as hell beat the too-short, jump-cutty scenes of the youngs. All told the show made me feel both giddy and sad. Giddy for jokes like Hannah Zuckerman-Vasquez (the little Latina Jewess does the news at West Bev!) and sad for blowjob and jerk-off jokes, espresso and trendy bands. My mom, sister, and I watched the original every Wednesday night for years and years. When I was younger it was the only television I was allowed to watch after 8pm. That may seem silly, but I have many fond memories of that slightly older time, and this new thing... this dreadful sunburn of a thing, just felt like a vague dismissal. "Here are those old things, batting around the periphery. See if you notice them. We're going to focus on the dull hardbodies in the meantime." I suppose nothing was owed to the show's old fans, it was free entertainment for so long, after all. But this new Beverly Hills just felt cheap and unfriendly; it had none of the glittery and warm and oddly wholesome allure of the old storied town. The whole place was a giant clothing store, stretching for miles and miles. At one point in the episode a bunch of the characters were at The Pit, the trendy nightclub, drinking cocktails with cool teacher McGee in the background and oozing around the dance floor. I thought of the spring dance episode from the original—with its similar swirling lights and blue hues—where Brenda painstakingly weighs her options and finally decides to lose it to Dylan. How many months and years went into that one moment! And now I suspected these new kids had made that same decision somewhere between the bar and the bathroom. And, however naively, I wanted to click my heels and go all the way back—despite the current idiots milling about the place—to the safe and ancient Walsh-infested corners of dear old Minnesota.
Submitted discussions can be approved by the author or users followed by this blog.