Beverly Hills, 90210 - The Complete First Season
By Patrick Luce Nov 20, 2006, 18:05 GMT
The 90’s are back with the six-disc release of Beverly Hills, 90210 – The Complete First Season. The show that helped establish the Fox channel and became a pop culture phenomenon (complete with board games and toy dolls) has finally made its way to DVD.
While it failed to grab my attention, there is no doubt that millions of fans will be overjoyed that they can once again enjoy the adventures of Brandon and Brenda Walsh at the Peach Pit with they rich friends in America’s most famous zip code.
The set comes loaded with special features that fans of the series will love including commentaries; featurettes (with behind the scenes footage that originally aired on Fox), and more information about the actors and their characters. Most of the features are interesting, but it helps to be a diehard fan of the show to really enjoy them.
The first season sets up the entire series with the Walsh family moving from Minneapolis to Beverly Hills for dad’s new job. Twins Brandon and Brenda begin their new life at West Beverly Hills High School and quickly form a group of friends – including bad boy Dylan, quasi bad girl Kelly, spoiled Steve, the virgin Donna, the brainy Andrea, and the wannabe David – which would follow them through high school and more. The first season mostly focuses on the teen problems – including drinking, gambling, sex and pressures to fit in with the social circles of high school.
Part of the strength of the series was its cast of fresh faced virtually unheard of actors to play the teen roles. They were able to catch hold of their audience, and create characters other teens related with – although the characters had more wealth, better hair, and designer clothes. The series’ stars would all become quasi icons of the decade and included Jason Priestley, Jennie Garth, Ian Ziering, Brian Austin Green, Tori Spelling (daughter of show producer Aaron Spelling), Luke Perry, Shannen Doherty, and Gabrielle Carteris.
While the series is a little light by today’s standards, it would be the blueprint for the teen dramas that followed in its wake – most notably The O.C. The acting is sometimes good, but sometimes very bad. The fashions are straight from the time period – some of which will give a nostalgic chuckle. Especially in the first season, the character seem very cookie cutter with little room to grow - Dylan is a wannabe James Dean; Brandon is the good guy with the heart of gold; and Brenda is the good girl (or at least for a little while in the first season) who falls for the bad boy.
During its ten year run, the show’s relationships and plots would get rather redundant, but the first season isn’t half bad if you like this kind of television series. Some of it is extremely cheesy at times, but the series still manages to deliver some good drama on a few episodes. It also continues to hold up – despite the fashion and height of the hair (how did they get Dylan’s hair to stand up that high?)
*The following is a brief description of the season’s episodes and does contain spoilers. Some readers may want to skip this part of the review.
Disc One: “Pilot, Part 1 and 2” – Twins Brandon and Brenda Walsh experience a very special kind of culture shock when they move from Minnesota to Beverly Hills and begin their new lives at West Beverly High. “The Green Room” – Brandon meets Dylan McKay, a brooding classmate, and he soon learns Dylan’s bad boy act hides the life few people know about. “Every Dream Has Its Price” – Brenda shops with Kelly and Tiffany, and wishes she had their kind of money.
Disc Two: “The First Time” – Brandon is visited by his ex-girlfriend, but when she meets Dylan she gets star-struck by his money and glamour. “One On One” – When Brandon tries out for the basketball team, he is angered to learn that his main rival is from another district. “Higher Education” – An unreasonable teacher makes Brandon’s life miserable by giving him no grade higher than a C. “Perfect Mom” – Brenda get star struck by Kelly’s mother and learns the dark side of modeling.
Disc Three: “Seventeen Year Itch” – The Walsh parents examine their relationship while Brenda and Brandon examine theirs. “The Gentle Art of Listening” – Sympathy and responsibility are at odds when Brenda volunteers for a teen crisis hotline. “Isn’t It Romantic?” – The chemistry between Brenda and Dylan heats up after Brenda sees of him in the shower. “B.Y.O.B.” – Both Walsh twins face the temptation to drink alcohol when their peers are doing it all around them.
Disc Four: “One Man and A Baby” – Brandon gets an unexpected taste of fatherhood when he asks a girl for a date and ends babysitter for her infant son. “Slumber Party” – Pillowtalk threatens to destroy Brenda’s sleepover as all the girls share their secrets. “East Side Story” – The Walsh’s agree to let their maid’s niece use their address to attend West Beverly. “Palm Springs Weekend” – A weekend in Palm Springs goes awry when David invites Steve, Kelly, and Donna to join him at his grandparent’s house while they are on a cruise.
Disc Five: “Fame Is Where You Find It” – Brandon is “discovered” while rollerblading and lands a job as an extra on a TV show. “Stand (Up) and Deliver” – Brenda’s had it with home life and West Beverly, and decides to leave both for the real world. “It’s Only a Test” – The Walsh twins and all their friends are panicked by the upcoming SAT’s, but everything gets put in perspective when Brenda finds a lump in her breast. “April is the Cruelest Month” – Brandon interviews a classmate who’s an outstanding athlete and student.
Disc Six: “Spring Training” – Baseball fever strikes when Brandon is asked to coach a little league team after his dad gets injured. “Spring Dance” – The drama and the stakes rise as the West Beverly High crew gets ready for their spring dance. “Home Again” – Moving back to Minnesota makes sense to Brenda and Brandon’s dad, but the rest of the family isn’t too hot on the idea.
There is no denying the popularity of the 90210 series, and the stars who achieved “Beatles” like fame in the 90s. The DVD set does show some of the series’ flaws and it is a bit dated. However, the show’s fans will enjoy having the first season collected in one set, and no doubt are already counting the days until the release of Season Two.