Beverly Hills 90210: The Complete First Season

BY Cam LindsayPublished Feb 16, 2007

Just thinking of that theme tune is enough to get me excited, but looking back and judging from the pilot episode, Beverly Hills 90210 should have never been picked up. Sure, the difficult adjustment of moving from Minneapolis to Beverly Hills by some cute twins has a hook, but there’s hardly much to go on in the two-part introduction. It’s a good thing they threw sex and um, other stuff into the mix to distract us. (Key line from a rich girl to Brandon: "You’re sexy.” His reply: "Thanks, so are you.”) Though it’s funny to see valet parking and every student pull up in an exotic sports car, thankfully creator Darren Star opened his eyes and realised that it would take more than extravagant high school lifestyles to make this show stick. Gathering a diverse cast of attractive white kids, half of whom sported trendsetting sideburns, and throwing somewhat realistic obstacles in their way didn’t make the show a hit but it certainly gave it some life. (Star admits the show didn’t exactly make an impact until the special summer season.) Embarrassing grandparents, a breast cancer scare, running away from home and slumber parties… okay, so they’re a mixed batch of important and superficial topics but we can’t forget the house party gone awry that leads to a drunk driving charge for Brendan. Don’t drink alcohol kids — it’s an obvious message. It gives me a strange rush to look back on the show. Revisiting something so familiar that is obsessively stylised yet not the superficial rubbish you remember it as is enlightening. Essentially it laid down the framework for the important teenage TV drama but was rarely recognised for its occasional preaching of significant topics. Even by today’s standards it’s more progressive and competent in tackling important subject matter than, say, One Tree Hill — teen pregnancy, rape, AIDS, alcoholism and social tolerance (c’mon, it was big of them to give Andrea Zuckerman the time of day). Of course, that wouldn’t last and Darren Star would steer the show off into soap opera drivel. Sure, it was never Degrassi but then again, it sure ain’t The O.C. — Dylan never took up UFC as a way of dealing with his wife’s assassination. He just ran off into the sunset and left the show with his tail between his legs. Plus: episode commentary, featurettes.
(Paramount Pictures)

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