'Beverly Hills, 90210': THR's 1990 Review
On October 4, 1990 a new show made its debut on Fox. Beverly Hills, 90210 went on to become a pop culture phenomenon, turning Jason Priestly, Shannen Doherty and Luke Perry into household names, inspiring spin-offs like Melrose Place and Models Inc.. On the day of the show's premiere, The Hollywood Reporter’s original review is below.
Seems to me this sort of thing was done with a purported comic twist a few years back with The Beverly Hillbillies.
That is, take a family of humble means and simple lifestyle, uproot it and plant it within the confines of Los Angeles’ gilded ghetto, Beverly Hills. Imagine the culture shock and odd dislocating circumstance arising from this relocation. Think of the scriptwriting possibilities, the unpredictable ways in which the new arrivals get to interact with their strange new environs. What happens when bedrock American values meet head-on the lavish, flaunting lifestyle flourishing in B.H. And so it goes…
Thankfully, Fox Broadcasting Co.’s Beverly Hills, 90210 is no Beverly Hillbillies. Rather this new series, as found in its 90-minute debut telecast, is an interesting treatment of the fish-out-of-water outing. B.H., 90210 transports a Midwestern family, the Walshes, out west to B.H. And, primarily, the central characters followed are the clan’s two twin teens, Brandon (Jason Priestly) and Brenda (Shannen Doherty) and their new lives in such odd Bev Hills places as high school.
Indeed, the pilot starts on the first morning of the new school year. “Everyone looks like they’ve just stepped out of a music video,” grouses Brenda to mom (Carol Potter). Then it’s off to West Beverly High, where the Walshes and TV viewers are introduced to such junior B.H.ites as blonde Kelly Taylor (Jennie Garth), her former boyfriend Steve Sanders (Ian Ziering) and brainy Andrea Zuckerman (Gabrielle Carteris).
What follows is a lavish party at the home of a fellow student (Leslie Bega), with Brandon getting involved with this wealthy young woman; and his sis Brenda starting to date a lawyer (Maxwell Caulfield) who doesn’t know Brenda is really a 16-year-old high-schooler.
By turns Beverly Hills, 90210 swipes bits and pieces from American Graffiti and Fast Times at Ridgemont High. Yet as directed by Tim Hunter and acted by Priestly and Doherty, this series establishes itself well in its first broadcast, presenting a story that soundly sets up Brandon and Brenda’s entry into a strange, alien world, aka Beverly Hills. — Miles Beller