Beverly Hills 90210

STUDIO: Paramount Home Video
MSRP: $54.99
RATED: Unrated
RUNNING TIME: 1371 minutes
Comedy recap by John Aboud and Michael Colton
Interview with Joe E. Tata
Seven minute season recap

The Pitch

A group of Beverly Hills teenagers with some rare accelerated aging disease try to make it through their final year of high school and graduate.

The Humans

Jason Priestly, Shannen Doherty, Jennie Garth, Ian Ziering, Gabrielle Carteris, Luke Perry, Brian Austin Green and Tori Spelling.

The Nutshell

A relatively low-key show during its first two seasons, Aaron Spelling’s Beverly Hills 90210 really started to capture the attention of the teenage populace in its third season. If the constant relationship troubles and soap opera plots were what attracted people to the show in the first place, then the third season certainly gives the audience more of the same.

I don’t even know if this can be considered part of his bottom 10 showbiz moments anymore.

As the show begins, the devilishly handsome Dylan and the always pouty Brenda are still together. When Brenda takes a trip to Paris, Dylan makes her promise not to cheat on him, but then immediately starts a relationship with Kelly. No matter, as soon as Brenda touches down in France she starts jumping Dean Cain’s bones. Kelly expresses reservations about being with Dylan, so he hooks back up with Brenda when she returns. However, they decide their relationship isn’t working and break things off.

Dylan immediately runs to Kelly and starts a relationship with her yet again. Dean Cain shows up in Beverly Hills and tries to get back with Brenda, but she still has feelings for Dylan. The craziness of the whole situation causes Dylan to leave town, hook up with some random sugar momma, and then return back to Beverly for a love triangle situation. He eventually decides to hook up with Kelly, but his passion for the relationship falters once she becomes addicted to diet pills and his father is destroyed by a mob boss with a grudge. As for Brenda, she leaves town for the University of Minnesota.

David Arquette in a leather vest with a keytar? The panties of every female in that club are literally disintegrating.

Confused? You should be. The plots in Beverly Hills 90210 are so long and winding that Hideo Kojima could have written them, and the above paragraphs only describe ONE of the many, many plotlines running through season three. We haven’t even gotten into David’s burgeoning music career, Andrea getting hit by a car, Donna becoming a French model, Steve getting expelled, Steve hacking into the school computer system, Brandon becoming addicted to gambling or Donna getting drunk and getting barred from graduation. These kids get into so much shit they make the Bayside High crew look like Lambda Lambda Lambda.

The Lowdown

Beverly Hills 90210 is a difficult show to critically evaluate. It’s like trying to figure out which daytime soap opera is the best from an objective point of view. It’s brainless, cheesy entertainment that’s built for a very specific audience of Tiger Beat fans and high schoolers. Now that we’re over a decade removed from its prominence, the show also has a bit of a nostalgic appeal.

Like most shows, Beverly Hills 90210 got rather bad towards the end of its run. As we’re still in the high school years, the show is relatively tame and hasn’t begun to delve into the trashier territory it would later explore in order to keep up with its audience and match the sexier tone of Melrose Place. The romance plots mainly center on kissing and love triangles, half the kids preach the values of abstinence and crippling problems such as gambling addiction are brushed off. At the end of the season, the show starts going more in the soap opera direction with the death of Dylan’s father, made all the more appropriate since dad is played by Stefano from Days of Our Lives.

YOU are the Dylan McKay. What would YOU do, if THIS happened to YOU?

The best moment of the entire season is the finale, in which the crew reminisces about all the fun they’ve had in high school with a video presentation in front of the school. Predictably, only the main characters are featured in this retrospective even though the school has hundreds of students. Yes, Beverly Hills 90210 is like Saved by the Bell in the fact that the entire world revolves around this one tightly knit clique of students. It’s a sequence that sums up the type of guilty pleasure the show really is. Yes, it’s stupid, moronic, badly acted and an insult to everyone’s intelligence, but it’s funnier that way. If you can’t find joy in actors desperately trying to portray a crippling diet pill addiction, your heart is as black as coal.

The Package

Most of the special features on this set focus on summing up the entire season as quickly as possible. When you can sum up all 23 hours of a television program’s season in seven minutes, is that good or bad? When something is as fluffy as Beverly Hills 90210, it’s probably not that big of a deal. “Seven Minutes of Heaven” jumps quickly from episode to episode, briefly touching upon each of the season’s crazy, labyrinthine plots. It’s confusing as to who this feature is really aimed towards. Is it designed for people who already watched all the episodes and want a quick reminder of what happened, or is it for people who just like to laugh at how easily a show’s plotlines can be condensed?

No one’s buying it this time, Mr. McMahon.

The better recap of the two is “Everything you need to know about Beverly Hills 90210: Season 3.” This is a twenty minute rumination on everything season three by John Aboud and Michael Colton, who you may recognize as the Modern Humorist duo from VH1’s Best Week Ever and various other nostalgia shows. The duo goes through the entire season and focus on the most ridiculous plots and sight gags, such as homeless people wearing newspaper hats on the beach and David’s incredible hip hop musical prowess.

The segment is so funny that it feels like the entire season set is merely a set-up for it. Let’s be honest: Beverly Hills 90210 is mostly enjoyable in the nostalgic, so bad it’s good way, so this feature just acts as the punch line to a 23 hour joke set-up. This feature was also present on the releases of seasons one and two. If Paramount was nice, they’d give all these recaps their own DVD release in the future and spare people the chore of having to watch the actual show they recap.

Hey. She’s looking better these days. Did she get surgery?

The special features are rounded out with a quick Joe E. Tata interview. Tata played the thankless role of Nat for ten seasons, the wise older owner of the Peach Pit restaurant who regularly dished out life advice to the “teenagers” frequenting his place. Since Tata’s role required little more than wearing the same outfit everyday and delivering ham baked, authority figure dialogue, he had a really great time on the set and enjoyed working with everybody. He’s more than willing to tell you all about it, as demonstrated by this harmless little feature.

6.5 out of 10