My “90210” Spin-Off Review!

As I kicked back and watched the new version of “90210” last night, I got this sense of Deja Vu.

While I can attribute the familiar feeling mostly to the cast being made up of people from other shows I watched, I couldn’t really figure out my feeling until midway through the 1st hour.

Then it dawned on me. “I have seen this before!”.

90210 Version 2’s premise is really close to the show “South of Nowhere” which aired on The N. A white family moving from the mid-west to fast paced LA with one black adopted brother.

Yup, same set up.

But fortunately for 90210 v2 (predictable plots aside) it has cast a good group of actors to help elevate the routine material given to them in the pilot. And while cheating on exams, oral sex, botched Sweet 16’s, and junkie teenagers may be played out in teen dramas. 90210 was able to escape the mediocrity of random plots with flashes of something more.

The new 90210 is a fun show. It’s also funny and while it isn’t groundbreaking, it still makes for a good television diversion.

Annie Mills (played by Shenae Grimes of “Degrassi The Next Generation) is the 2008 version of Brenda Walsh. She is the main character here and while I had my doubts about Shenae being able to pull off anchoring her own show, she does a capable job. But she still has a lot to learn as an actor, and hopefully as the show goes on she will improve. Tristan Wilds (of “The Wire”) plays her adopted brother Dixon. I was relieved Dixon was NOT a basketball player or some stereotypical hip hop listening kid used to show the TV Land version of “Diversity”. The chemistry between the two as brother and sister is believable. And with Dixon being a main character here, there is hope for 90210 v2 to break a barrier only Canadian teen shows seem to feel comfortable breaking. Showing an interracial relationship between main cast members. How many have we really seen in US Teen Soaps? Not many.

The parents here are played by Rob Estes and Lori Loughlin. They are both believable as a couple. Rob Estes also looks like he’s having fun here. But one of the stand outs of the episodes I viewed (and maybe my love of “Arrested Development” makes me biased) was Jessica Walter. She is loveable and funny (even though she is an alcoholic) and I was happy to see her whenever she was on screen. We need more of Tabitha Mills and her drunken words of wisdom.

AnnaLynne McCord aka Eden Lord from “Nip/Tuck” plays Naomi. Another rich mean girl here. She is pretty much the new Kelly Taylor. I didn’t quite like how her character was written so far. She needs more of a likeability factor. Right now she is not the likeable “Blair Waldorf” mean girl, but hopefully in time she will get better as a character. I still love her from “Nip/Tuck” so I am holding out hope that she will do well.

Quick Time Out. Jessica Stroup (Silver) and Shenae Grimes (Annie) both need to gain at least 10 pounds. They looks waaaaaaay too thin.

But what about the older characters?

Jennie Garth looks great and does a good job here reprising her role as Kelly. Joe E Tata still looks the same. The in-joke about Andrea’s kid “looking 30” was funny. The mystery of Sammy’s (Kelly’s son) paternity will also be good to watch unfold.

Now the big question? Does Shannen Doherty raise hell?

No. She doesn’t. And she also winds up coming off well. The meeting between Brenda and Kelly was smooth. It wasn’t over hyped or overplayed. It was done in a way to show that these too characters have already made up ages ago. Shannen gives the show some needed pulse, and I would like to see her stick around permanently. Let’s get her an ex-husband and wild child daughter STAT!

I know this is a spin off, but I would like to see more Shannen and Jennie interaction. Beef up their stories more writers.

In the end, does this show live up to it’s predecessor? Yes in many ways it does. The same formulas from the original version are present here but are being tweaked a bit. With good reason. The original show relied on the situations manipulating the characters (i.e.: Kelly joining a cult) instead of the drama being character driven. If the show can move away from the Degrassi “PSA of the Week” type of plots and more towards character driven plots, it will survive a decent run.

And The CW could really use a hit right now.

Badly.

My Grade:

B- (Grade will be re-evaluated upon viewing of more episodes)

 

B- (Grade will be re-evaluated upon viewing of more episodes)

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