With the announcement that "90210', based on the popular hit 1990's drama series "Beverly Hills 90210' would be returning to television and feature stars from the past but also new stars for the present, the series definitely received a lot of hype and excitement. The series would be created by Darren Star ("Runaway", "Cashmere Mafia", "Beverly Hills90210', "Melrose Place" and "Sex and the City") and developed by Rob Thomas ("Dawson's Creek" and "Veronica Mars"), Jeff Judah ("Life as We Know It") and Gabe Sachs ("Freaks & Geeks", "Just Shoot Me" and "Undeclared") and began airing on the CW in 2008.
The series revolves around Harry Wilson moving his family from Kansas back to his home in Beverly Hills to live with his rich mother Tabitha and become principal of West Beverly Hills High School and his teenage children Annie and adopted son Dixon getting used to their new environment. Similar to the original series, there are a lot of twists and turns, but to best illustrate what the series is about is introducing the primary character of the series.
The Wilson Family
Harry Wilson (played by Rob Estes, "Women's Murder Club", "Providence" and "Suddenly Susan") - The father and husband. Also, the principal of West Beverly Hills High School. Used to be a wild person when he was younger and used to date Tracy Clark (the mother of Naomi) and both had a child which he never knew about.
Debbie Wilson (Lori Loughlin, "Full House", "In Case of Emergency" and "Summerland") - Loving mother and wife. A professional photographer who works at home and doesn't really get along with Harry's mother that well.
Annie Wilson (Shenae Grimes, "Degrassi: The Next Generation") - The daughter who is trying to fit in and high school. Enjoys the performing arts and dates the popular jock Ethan Ward who once was in long relationship with Naomi. A former friend of Annie and now rival.
Dixon Wilson (Tristan Wilds, "The Wire") - The adoptive son of the Wilson family. Athletic and because he is African-American and was raised by a Caucasian family, he often feels like an outsider but for the most part, his parents and family love him. He dates Annie's good friend Silver. Dixon works at the Peach Pit.
Tabitha Wilson (Jessica Walter, "Arrested Development", "Trapper, John, M.D.", "Play Misty For Me") - Mother of Harry and lives in a mansion in Beverly Hills. She loves to drink alcohol too much and often meddles into the parenting of Harry and Debbie, thus her relationship with her daughter-in-law is not the best. A former actress.
The Clark Family
Tracy Clark (Christina Moore, "Hawthorne", The Bad Girls Guide") - A rich wife who is currently in a bitter divorce and is the mother of Naomi. She used to date Harry when they were teenagers and were a big couple. With Harry back in town, she starts to have interest in him despite knowing he's married. She reveals to Harry that they have a child.
Naomi Clark (AnnaLynne McCord, "Nip/Tuck", "American Heiress") - The popular diva at West Beverly High School and dated the popular jock Ethan Ward. And is used to being treated special. Spoiled but also from a broken family which leads her to bad boys. She has a bitter rivalry with Annie.
The Taylor/Silver Family
Kelly Taylor (Jennie Garth, "Beverly Hills 90210', "What I Like About You") - The West Beverly Hills High School guidance counselor. Has a son with Dylan McKay and takes care of him and her sister Erin. With her recent split up with Dylan, she tries to have a relationship with teacher Ryan. And to further complicate things, her old high school friend Brenda Walsh is back. Kelly helps the teens at West Beverly Hills High School.
Erin Silver (Jessica Stroup, "Homecoming") - The anti-student who runs a blog at her high school making fun of the popular students (her former friends). Because of her mother's instability at home, she moves in with her older sister Kelly. She is Annie's best friend and dates her Annie's brother Dixon.
Other Main Characters
Ethan Ward (Dustin Milligan, "Runaway") - The high school jock and dated the most popular girl on campus Naomi. But he had a summer fling a long time ago with Annie Wilson and now that she's back, he ends up having a relationship with her. Despite his playboy ways, he gradually grows up as a person.
Adrianna Tate-Duncan (Jessica Lowndes, "The Haunting of Molley Hartley, "Greek") - The actress who's parents got into a bitter divorce and because her family doesn't make much money now, her mother pushes her to get acting or commercial roles to support them. The stress has forced her to become a drug addict and eventually pushing people away from her. Best friend of Naomi and eventually begins dating Navid.
Ryan Matthews (Ryan Eggold, "Dirt") - Ryan is a teacher at West Beverly High School. A teenager that everyone likes and is dating Kelly Taylor. Because he was messing around with an undercover officer (posing as a student at the high school), rumors ran rampant that he was having sexual relations with a student and damaged his reputation.
Navid Shirazi (Michael Steger, "The Cheetah Girls") - The media/tech expert and geek. Good friends with Dixon and eventually starts dating Adrianna and standing by her when no one else wanted to.
"90210 - THE FIRST SEASON" is featured on six DVD's. Here is a spoilerless summary of each episode:
* EPISODE 1 & 2: WE'RE NOT IN KANSAS ANYMORE/THE JET SET - The Wilson family move to Beverly Hills and Annie and Dixon try to get used to their new surroundings and new school. And hoping to meet new friends.
* EPISODE 3: LUCKY STRIKE - Harry and Debbie have family bowling night and Annie and Dixon invite their new friends.
* EPISODE 4: THE BUBBLE - Kelly convinces Brenda Walsh to become the new theater director for West Beverly. Meanwhile Naomi confronts her father's mistress.
* EPISODE 5: WIDE AWAKE AND DREAMING - Dixon and Silver grow closer, meanwhile Kelly and Ryan confront Adrianna in regards to her substance abuse.
* EPISODE 6: MODEL BEHAVIOR - Annie and Adrianna audition for an Indie film. Meanwhile Debbie is hired to photograph a fashion show.
* EPISODE 7: HOLLYWOOD FOREVER - Annie and Ethan are paired in class together to take care of a baby. Meanwhile, Naomi tries to help Adrianna with her drug problem.
* EPISODE 8: THERE'S NO PLACE LIKE HOMECOMING - Annie gets her driver's license and both she and Ethan go an unofficial date. Meanwhile, Debbie is noticing that Tracy is trying to get close to her husband.
* EPISODE 9: SECRETS AND LIES - Silver has a house party and Harry explains to his children that he had a child with Naomi's mother a long time ago.
* EPISODE 10: GAMES PEOPLE PLAY - Teacher Ryan Matthews gets into big trouble. Naomi also discovers Annie and Ethan's secret.
* EPISODE 11: THAT WHICH WE DESTROY - Dixon has a hard time accepting his new half-brother.
* EPISODE 12: HELLO, GOODBYE, AMEN - Adrianna learns shocking news that will change her life forever.
* EPISODE 13: LOVE ME OR LEAVE ME - Debbie has had enough of her mother-in-law Tabitha getting involved of the raising of their children.
* EPISODE 14: BYE ACCIDENT - Adrianna makes a major revelation to her current situation. Meanwhile, Ethan gets into an accident and becomes concerned for Rhonda (Aimee Teegarden, "Friday Night Lights"), the girl he hit.
* EPISODE 15: HELP ME, RHONDA - Dixon has a hard time accepting his new half-brother. Meanwhile, Annie becomes concerned when Ethan spends too much time with Rhonda.
* EPISODE 16: OF HEARTBREAKS AND HOTELS - Naomi becomes interested in a bartender. Meanwhile, it's Valentine's Day.
* EPISODE 17: LIFE'S A DRAG - Silver's relationship Dixon becomes a bit too intense.
* EPISODE 18: OFF THE RAILS - Silver does something that upsets Dixon and sets off a turbulent day in the life of Erin Silver. Meanwhile, Annie and Ethan's relationship hits a wall.
* EPISODE 19: OKAERI, DONNA - Donna Martin (Tori Spelling, "Beverly Hills 90210', "Tori & Dean: Inn Love") returns back from Japan to visit Kelly and while the others volunteer for Habitat for Humanity. Dixon takes Annie with him to visit his real mother. Meanwhile, Harry has a problem with his wife's latest photoshoot - a nude male model.
* EPISODE 20: BETWEEN A SIGN AND A HARD PLACE - Harry and Debbie decide to sell their house in Kansas, while Naomi's trust in Annie starts to disappear. Meanwhile, Donna tells Kelly about what happened to her and David.
* EPISODE 21: THE DIONYSIAN DEBACLE - Navid and Adrianna decide to tell their parents about their plans. Meanwhile, Naomi's sister Jen comes back to Beverly Hills.
* EPISODE 22: OFF THE RAILS - Silver does something that upsets Dixon and sets off a turbulent day in the life of Erin Silver. Meanwhile, Annie and Ethan's relationship hits a wall.
* EPISODE 23: ZERO TOLERANCE - It's prom night and a night of new beginnings for Naomi, Annie and also Adrianna. Meanwhile, Kelly is suspicious about Jen.
* EPISODE 24: ONE PARTY CAN RUIN YOUR WHOLE SUMMER - After prom night, things go crazy and definitely a night to remember.
VIDEO & AUDIO:
"90210 - THE FIRST SEASON" is presented in 16:9 and features audio in English 5.1 and stereo.
I have to say that picture quality for the DVD is pretty good. Many drama television shows tend to suffer from terrible low light situations but overall, "90210' is a drama series that looks quite slick. A lot of cool stock shots of California and for the most part, the series looks quite vibrant during the day time scenes and looks very good. I also have to say that the series looks great on DVD compared to having watched this series on television and for some reason, our CW somehow makes this show look quite muddy, dark and so, seeing it on DVD was like night and day. The DVD looks very good. But for a series like this, I hope that CBS considers releasing "90210 - THE FIRST SEASON" on Blu-ray via High Definition.
As for the audio, audio is in English 5.1 and for the most part, the series is dialogue driven. So, it's purely front and center channel driven. There are scenes with car crashes but sound effects are not the big part of this series but it's about the music that comes out alive. One thing that has made "90210' (and even the classic "Beverly Hills 90210') so awesome is the use of modern, contemporary music and this series is heavy with music. But dialogue is clear, music comes quite clear and for some reason, the menu screen for the DVD's sport the theme song with even louder music.
As for subtitles, the series comes with English, Spanish and Portuguese subtitles.
"90210' includes the following special features:
* SET TOUR: WEST BEVERLY HIGH - (10:15) Dustin Milligan (Ethan) and Michael Steger (Navid Shirazi) take the viewers on a visual tour through West Beverly Hills High School.
* Audio Commentary for "Episode 7: HOLLYWOOD FOREVER" featuring Michael Steger, Dustin Milligan, Jessica Stroup and Ryan Eggold. A hilarious and entertaining commentary by the four talent in regards to the episode. The group talk about various scenes, their screen tests for "90210' and more.
* SET TOUR: THE PEACH PIT - (3:35) Tristin Wilds (Dixon) takes the viewer on a visual tour through The Peach Pit (which is the Kokomo Cafe in Los Angeles).
* SET TOUR: THE MANSION - (6:32) Tristin Wilds (Dixon) takes the viewer on a visual tour through the Wilson mansion.
* A DAY IN THE LIFE OF RYAN EGGOLD - (11:28) Ryan Eggold (Ryan Matthews) shows us a day in the life on the set of "90210' from shaving, having his hair done, waiting on the set and more.
* THE MUSIC OF 90210 - (12:09) Interview with the cast of "90210' and how music is important to them and how up-and-coming bands and even popular contemporary artists are featured on the show. The producers and the talent talks about their favorite music and who they would love to see on the show. Interview with Nic Harcourt, the music supervisor with the show and his experience of music supervision for shows like NPR and other programming.
* AUDIO COMMENTARY - Commentary for the "Episode 18: OFF THE RAILS"by Michael Steger, Dustin Milligan, Jessica Stroup and Ryan Eggold. An enjoyable and hilarious commentary and Jessica and Ryan talk about the intense scenes they had to do. Also, discussion of scenes and dialogue that were cut and a good fan response due to the episode.
* CODES OF BEHAVIOR - (5:02) Jessica Lowndes (Adrianna) talks about being a student at West Beverly High School and the rules to fit in!
* FITTING IN: THE FASHION OF 90210 - (9:32) The cast talks about the fashion of "90210' and how excited the talent feel about what they are going to wear. Jessica Stroup takes us through a tour through the "90210' dressing room.
* THE REVIVAL OF A CLASSIC: MAKING 90210 - (13:39) The cast talks about being part of "90210' and executive producer Gabe Sachs and Judd Judah talk about how certain talent were cast and working on the series. Also, interviewing the original "Beverly Hills 90210' talents who were involved with the new series including Jason Priestley. Also, the fan response to the series.
Like many people who adored "Beverly Hills 90210', I couldn't wait for "90210' and suffice to say, I enjoyed the series. Part of the excitement and an allure for older viewers of BH90210 was seeing the original cast from the old series together with the new cast but also seeing how getting a new interpretation of the teenager of West Beverly High.
This time around, there is a good balance of showing the teens (like most teen shows that we see on the CW) and adults that are just not only guardians or people to go to advice but also parents that have an edge and portrayals of adults like in reality. No sugarcoating and not following the same type of mold that was used from the 1950-1990's of parents or adults on television. We literally get to see a merging of both worlds in a dramatic series for "90210'.
But what I found quite intriguing is how many twist and turns had taken place throughout the first season. Episodes took on real life problems that people have in high school (as did the original series) but where the original series was lighthearted during the high school years, "90210' is not exactly happy. Each of these characters are trying to find happiness but somehow no matter how much money they have or what kind of cars they drive, they either have dysfunctional families or get involved with people that are probably not good for them.
But what was shocking for me was watching the final few episodes and seeing this buildup and how it all culminates into a shocking season finale that I never saw coming. If you though Brenda and Brandon Walsh had challenges on "Beverly Hills 90210', Annie and Dixon Wilson's first year at West Beverly Hills High School is even more chaotic and also quite intriguing.
But for me, it's interesting how this "90210' differs in the fact that the people featured, do not all hang out with each other. They are quite different and people who actually despise each other.
Jessica Lowndes as Adrianna Tate-Duncan is one actress who is definitely put through emotional ups and downs from being a drug addict, to a person that feels alone, to a person who is eventually pregnant, right now the writers of the show utilize her character in interesting ways. But this girl goes through so much crap, hopefully they don't make this character suffer even more for the second season but then again, I think her character has been pigeon-holed as the blacksheep of the cast and will be taken through tremendous ups and downs.
A character that I actually was impressed with was Jessica Stroup as Erin Silver. From being a supportive character in the beginning, to getting involved in an interracial relationship and slowly we see her character receive significant storylines, she's become the breakthrough star of this series thus far. She was absolutely phenomenal on the episode "Off the Rails".
As for our two main characters, Shenae Grimes as the chirpy Annie Wilson and the girl trying to fit in at West Beverly Hills High School. Similar to Brenda Walsh in BH90210, she walks the beat of her own drum and constantly goes through many emotional situations with her boyfriend that she gets lost at times. A teenager who seems out of place in high school but yet manages to be part of that "cool" group. Needless to say, she's put through constant hell unlike Adrianna but it is quite evident with how the final season ended, her character is going to have to endure some major pain and I can see her going through a dark period.
As for Tristan Wilds, his character of Dixon Wilson is so far how he started out. Dixon is quiet but good natured guy throughout the series. He's been put through a variety of situations but so far aside from his relationship with Silver, his life has been a guy trying to fit into his family and surroundings as an African American male. Of course, I can easily see his character as one that the writers will want to tool around with for season 2 and see how far this quiet athlete can be pushed. We see in the finale that there is motivation for him to change but granted, I don't want to see Dixon reverting into a gangster nor a drug user. He's too smart to go down that path and let's hope the writers at least retain some sort of that good boy image in season 2 but nor do I want to see a BH90210 David Silver 2.0.
AnnaLynne McCord as Naomi and Dustin Milligan as Ethan Ward are both my "question marks" of the show. For Naomi, as a troubled teenager who adores the attention that she gets from her fellow students, the popular diva is also going through some major mental situations but she's now becoming like a Marissa Cooper (ala "The O.C.") that she's also spiraling downhill and she may think that because her popularity and her family has given her some sort of presence at her high school, I can easily see all of that being taken away. But for now, she's the daddy's girl who has that hint of being more of a"bad girl" and I'm sure she'll be meeting her breaking point quite soon.
As for Ethan, granted he's no Dylan McKay (of BH90210) but it seems that his character has gone through popular jock, popular boyfriend to Mr. Sensitivity that I really don't know where they will take his character. Granted, he's done something that I wasn't expecting in the final episode of Season 1 but it'll be interesting to see what his character becomes in season 2.
And as for the adults of the show, it will be interesting to see how far the writers go with them. "90210' does a fine job of making the adult characters sexier and non-mannequin-ish. But if a show like "The O.C." was successful in showcasing both adults and teenagers, "90210' has done a good job. Although, I often feel that Lori Loughlin's Debbie Wilson is being made to a mother like the Walsh's mother of BH90210. Putting Harry and Debbie in sexual situations is not enough, hopefully there is more character development with the Wilson parents.
As a fan of the original series, I especially wonder how many more original cast members from "Beverly Hills 90210' will appear on the show. For season 1, it was great to see the tie-in with the original show with Kelly Taylor (Jennie Garth) and Brenda Walsh (Shannon Doherty) as supportive characters but of course seeing Donna Martin (Tori Spelling) make an appearance was cool but hopefully we see more! Let's see Brandon Walsh (Jason Priestely), Steve Sanders (Ian Zeiring), Dylan McKay (Luke Perry), David Silver (Brian Austin Green) or others make an appearance! And yes, I want to see Andrea Zuckerman (Gabrielle Carteris) as well, since we got a glimpse of their child who now attends West Beverly High School.
As for the Season 1 DVD release, this is a pretty solid release with a good amount of special features. Although, I wish there was more commentary included in this release, especially by the other cast members (Shenae, Tristan, AnnaLynne and Jessica where were you?) and perhaps even a gag reel or a glimpse of what to expect from season 2. But overall, this is a solid DVD release and again, hopefully there is consideration of bringing this series to Blu-ray in the near future.
I really enjoyed "90210 - THE FIRST SEASON". Retaining the dramatic flavor of the original but also retaining that soul of BH90210 that made it cool and giving it a more modern spin. "90210' is definitely cool and slick show and there are so many possibilities with the characters that I look forward to seeing how the series develops over time.
Fans of the original, fans of the current series or those who are curious but have never caught this "90210', definitely check out "90210 - THE FIRST SEASON". You'll definitely be hooked!