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BEVERLY HILLS 90210
Season Two

Review by Mark Wiechman

Stars:  Jason Priestly, Shannen Doherty, Ian Ziering, Luke Perry, Jennie Garth, Brian Austin Green, Tori Spelling
Video:  Color Full Screen
Audio:  Dolby Digital 2.0
Studio:  CBS DVD
Features:  See Review
Length:  Eight Discs, 28 episodes, 1305 Minutes
Release date: May 1, 2007

“There’s a name for girls like that [Kathy Valentine]…SLUT!!!...Have a good time at the gynecologist!”

Show **1/2

Eight discs and few special features for a trip down memory lane of a childhood none of us ever actually had.  It’s a wild ride through the late 80’s and early 90’s when big white sneakers were cool, mousse was the answer to all hair issues, grown straight men could wear pink and for the first time still be cool, no one had cell phones, Starbucks did not exist, and a “text message” had to be typed on a “word processor.”  Remember THOSE???

Season Two opens with the more familiar rocked-up theme and montage of the cast, focusing on the characters rather than the shops of Beverly Hills. It should be noted that new music has been inserted into the shows but Color Me Badd is still in its appropriate episode.  Whew.  I was going to throw away the whole set if that was not in there. Unfortunately much of the new music is far too pop/punk and lacking in keyboards to fit into the time of the shows.    

It seems to me that we often see the past through the frames of movies and television shows we have seen over the years rather than the pictures or movies we take of ourselves.  But 90210 dealt with many issues that teens faced in those days that had never been dealt with on television before, parents having affairs, not being around, etc.  We meet Dylan’s mother and we learn that Steve was adopted, for starters.  The episode dealing with raising AIDS awareness, “A Competitive Edge,” is definitely not an outtake from Leave it to Beaver or That Girl.

Is it just me or does Brenda really have the heavy issues and Brandon only stumbles on them now and then?  Brenda deals with possibly being pregnant and then breaking up with Dylan in the very first episode, but Brandon only has to deal with not giving Ned notice that he is leaving the Peach Pit.  He wants to save up for a car.  Wow, I mean, that’s even WORSE, isn’t it?    Then Brenda witnesses a shooting at the Peach Pit, while in another episode Dylan and Brandon clash after an illegal poker game.  Maybe there’s a reason Brenda seems a little nuts!!!  And who cares if Dylan is broke, can’t he work like Brandon?  Hello?

And maybe I am just being an old conservative Christian man here, but it never occurs to anyone for Brenda and Dylan to go out but not have sex anymore?  Why does her father go ballistic when they only kiss?  What, no middle ground?  Unrealistic for television, but….that would be TRULY innovative, wouldn’t it! 

Video **

Strangely bad even for old taped episodes.  Someone was clearly asleep at the wheel, or perhaps the tapes were just not stored well.  It is still watchable but very splotchy and uneven all over the place.  Unfortunately, so often television and film from this era is not so awful as to merit full restoration, but on DVD its shortcomings are even more obvious.  But still adequate for an entertaining presentation.

Audio **1/2

Only Stereo 2.0 and all too often (unlike Season One) the music is much too loud for the dialogue.  Serviceable but the mix should have been better.

Features **1/2

New stuff!  Yeah!  Not great, but at least they are new. “Meet the Walshes” is an all new interview with Carol Potter she admits she often said “Brendon” and “Branda”, and asks why anyone would name their children almost the same thing!  James Eckhouse seems even more vanilla in real life than on the show.  They share experiences of fan mania    and we see many of their best scenes. We are reminded in fact how lame they really were as parents but then someone had to be normal. 

“Our Favorite Valentine” about the character of Kathy Valentine, played by Christine Elise.   She lived with Jason Priestly for six years so obviously she knows him and the others well.  Emily Valentine is one of the most well-known characters from teen prime time even though she was only in a few episodes.  Her frock of dirty blonde hair, dimples, and outsider stance clearly stayed with people.  It may have also been, frankly, that she seems interesting because the other characters were still relatively undeveloped.  “Everything you need to know about Beverly Hills 90210” is a spoof of the show, intro and all, by Michael Colton and John Aboud.  They speculate that Brenda was actually bipolar, but otherwise it is pretty lame in the style of VH-1’s “The Best Week Ever.”

Summary:

Not their best season, and not the best production values in the DVD release, but still well worth getting into as our spoiled friends in California trudge through their teenage wasteland.  Ah, the days of reading Shakespeare and flipping burgers in our purple rayon shirts.

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