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'BH90210,' Not Surprisingly, Isn't Worth the Hype
August 7, 2019  | By David Hinckley
 


The latest Beverly Hills 90210 reboot, cleverly titled BH90210, calls to mind two lines from the television criticism game. 

The first is the sort-of-joke that sometimes we watch things so you don’t have to.

The second, borrowed from Mr. Bianculli, the supreme ruler of this website, goes thusly: This is not a recommendation

BH90210, which premieres Wednesday at 9 p.m. ET on Fox, brings back several central figures from the long-running original 1990s cult fave: Tori Spelling as Donna Martin, Jennie Garth as Kelly Taylor, Shannen Doherty and Jason Priestly as Brenda and Brendan Walsh, Ian Ziering as Steve Sanders, Brian Austin Green as David Silver, and Gabrielle Carteris as Andrea Zuckerman. 

It includes a low-key, but rather lovely tribute to Luke Perry, who played Dylan McKay and died earlier this year. His death reminds us “we’re not all gonna be here forever,” Spelling says.

The basic setup here has those living cast members regrouping for a Las Vegas nostalgia event with fans of the original show. 

We get a bit of that session, which lets BH90210goof on those dicey events. What we mostly see, however, is the actors alternately whining about their lives – Garth, three failed marriages! Spelling, no money! Green, people have forgotten me! – and staging campy vignettes in which they either lapse into some aspect of their characters or create some new drama. Or both.

Garth is about to head off for a quick romp with a hot guy in a hotel pool when he calls her “Kelly” instead of “Jennie,” and she bails. 

BH90210 makes no apologies for this entirely self-referential prologue, which leads to the actors all telling each other they’re having so much fun that they should reboot the show. 

We all recognize it as one more gag in which we can all be included. Truth is, they need to reboot 90210 because, despite subsequent works of art like Spelling’s reality shows and Ziering’s Sharknado series, this is their best shot at a hit. 

Whatever anyone thinks about the quality or the enduring value of the original Beverly Hills 90210, it kicked open the door to teen soap operas and very likely served as one of several gateway drugs to our 21stcentury epidemic of reality shows. 

At the very least, it created multiple teen celebrities, who would soon become gods and goddesses of the rapidly emerging social media world.

At several points in the setup episode of the reboot, Spelling laments that the images of 90210’s star characters sell $40 T-shirts and they get no cut of that money. 

That complaint explains more than it might at first appear because, in the end, BH90210 feels like it exists mostly so the actors can get paid. And that’s okay. It’s just not the same thing as suggesting there’s anything left to say in the 90210 story. 

In any case, teen soap reboots have become pretty much inevitable these days, if only because the rerun industry has introduced the original shows to a new generation. A Gossip Girl reboot has entered the pipeline, following the likes of Sabrina the Teenage Witch and Veronica Mars, which proves that not all reboots lack merit. 

BH90210, to its credit, works to maintain a winking, self-aware tone. Trouble is, the original 1990s show engaged fans because, for better or worse, it said something to them about high school and teenage life then. Watching those same actors return as grownups, in diverse places, makes it mostly a show about celebrities from yesterday. 

They may have more to say. But an extended high school reunion isn’t the ticket for doing so. 

 
 
 
 
 
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