One of the definitive, landmark shows of the 1990s, "90210" quickly became an important fixture on the FOX and in the popular discourse of adolescents and young adults. The first season’s main characters, Dylan, Kelly, Donna, Steve, David, Andrea and twins Brandon and Brenda all attended West Beverly Hills High School. Brandon and Brenda Walsh and their parents, transplants from Minneapolis, were the stable nuclear family with strong values; their home was a safe haven for the whole gang and the center of much of the drama. The show dealt with a steady stream of love triangles and other romantic entanglements and occasionally touched on more serious issues as well.
Just as Fox's 21 Jump Street
injected the cop drama with a dose of hip, Beverly Hills 90210
infused the primetime soap with youthful energy. Like Aaron Spelling's Dynasty
, most characters don't lack for disposable income, except for middle-class twins Brandon
Beverly Hills 90210 and Melrose Place creator
Darren Star reflects on the first seasons of both
shows in this Amazon-exclusive clip.
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(Jason Priestley) and Brenda Walsh (Shannen Doherty, Heathers
). Created by Darren Star (Melrose Place
), the class-conscious concept scored an instant hit. In the two-part Tim Hunter-directed pilot, the teens have just arrived from Minneapolis. "Nobody knows me," Brenda tells Brandon on their first day at West Beverly High. "I can be anyone I want." The two soon befriend Steve (Ian Ziering), Kelly (Jennie Garth), Donna (Spelling's daughter, Tori), David (Brian Austin Green), and commuter student Andrea (Gabriel Carteris). Then there's Dylan (Luke Perry), who debuts in the second episode ("The Green Room"). A poetry-reading surfer with a shady past, he's the James Dean of the piece, and Brenda falls hard for his bad-boy charms. Guests include Debbie Gibson ("East Side Story") and Matthew Perry ("April is the Cruelest Month"), while recurring characters include understanding parents Cindy (Carol Potter) and Jim Walsh (James Eckhouse) and Peach Pit manager Nat (Joe E. Tata).
Beverly Hills, 90210 ran for 10 years. Though it would move away from issue-oriented episodes in the seasons to come--in the first, it takes on shoplifting, cheating, and date rape--without it, there would be no O.C., no Veronica Mars, etc. Just like the 1980s films of John Hughes (The Breakfast Club), it set the standard to which all others must be compared. As nice as it is to have the show on DVD, it should be noted that not all musical selections made the cut, i.e. "Music has been changed for this home entertainment version." Otherwise, this guilty pleasure remains as pleasurable as ever. --Kathleen C. Fennessy
Stills from Beverly Hills, 90210 (click for larger image)