In an age of reboots and revivals, it’s not easy coming up with something that takes a left of field approach, so points to the Beverly Hills 90210 crew for agreeing to play heightened versions of themselves in BH90210.
When this project was originally floated by Tori Spelling and Jenni Garth, it was with Jason Priestley, Ian Ziering, Gabrielle Carteris, and Brian Austin Green. Shannen Doherty was not signed and Luke Perry would agree to appearances subject to his availability with Riverdale.
Sadly, Perry tragically passed away in March, which is briefly acknowledged in this in a moment of reflection. Doherty also came on board.
The plot sees the 50-ish cast (who all look pretty good… some very good) gathering for a fan convention in Las Vegas. In their current lives, Priestley is depicted as a director with a short-temper, Spelling is the mother of a growing clan of demanding kids (sham dad’s inheritance isn’t sufficient), Carteris is a Screen Actors Guild president, Ziering is launching a workout book, Green is a stay-at-home dad with a wife more famous than he, and Garth is raising teenage daughters -one of whom wants an acting career.
Shannen Doherty, busy saving the environment, phones it in via Skype.
As they travel to Vegas, some in style, some in coach, there are various gags and ironic observations about how far they have fallen and how life imitates art. On the original 90210 all were superstars, living the celebrity life, partying, losing their virginity… and now they are staring into the face of TMZ obscurity and divorce.
But the chemistry between the troupe is still there, both for us as viewers and them as heightened characters. During a wild weekend in Vegas romance proves irresistible, and a (stupidly manufactured) temper tantrum results in all of the Peach Pit gang on the end of the long arm of the law.
By episode two accrued problems will lead to pitching a series reboot to FOX. It’s all pretty silly, but hey, this was never going to be Shakespeare.
Episodes are stretched to an hour (it would have been far more welcome as half hour) and it works best when the cast are playing it up, irreverently. That gets disrupted due to each having an earnest subplot that is milked for mawkish sincerity. Watching Gabrielle Carteris equate a late-in-life coming out or seeing Jason Priestly come to terms with anger management, ain’t my idea of 90210 fun. I’d rather watch Shannen Doherty slammin’ doors and behaving like a Hollywood brat. But I accept that would not sustain, even for 6 episodes.
If you’re not a 90210 fan there’s really nothing to see here. But if you like a bit of nostalgia, there’s enough tongue-in-cheek to check it out.
Short of reviving the under-rated Grosse Pointe (look it up) this is probably the next best thing.
BH90210 airs 8:30pm Tuesday September 24 on 10.