I was never a fan of Aaron Spelling's original Beverly Hills 90210. I can't really explain why I never got into the sappy melodrama about spoiled, wealthy teenagers in the heart of the city in which I one day hoped to live. It wasn't that the farfetched subject matter was too sophomoric for me; I saw parallel plots run through Melrose Place, my Monday night favorite. It wasn't even that I couldn't bring myself to watch a show about the pettiness of teenage life; Saved by the Bell was deep in my life-- on my screen, in my magazines, in both my doll and trading card collection, and plastered on my walls. Something just never clicked, though. In fact, it wasn't until years later that I even started to find Brian Austin Green attractive (though once he buzzed the hair, gained a few pounds of muscle, and got a tattoo, I was hooked!). Needless to say, I was less than thrilled to hear they were redoing it. I thought, if anything, networks should leave the show alone so those who did relate to (or otherwise just idolize and love) it could have unsullied memories. But then this week happened.
Entertainment Weekly was the first to announce the gradual casting of the pilot episode, letting small details slip about who the new cast of characters were set to be. Shenae Grimes (from the new Degrassi) was surprisingly brought on first (surprisingly because she's not a name, and rumor had it that Hilary Duff was being tapped for a role-- something that I knew would keep my remote far, FAR from 90210.5 should it prove to come to fruition), playing one half of the "Brenda and Brandon" for this millenium. Since the show is still currently untitled, I have taken the liberty of affectionately calling it 90210.5, as it will focus on a family's escapades when they move back to Beverly Hills to take care of the paternal grandmother, a boozing and aging has-been actor.
While the other half of the brother-sister duo (ie the brother) is still unknown at press time, earlier this week it was announced that Lori Loughlin signed on to portray the ex-Olympian-turned-personal-trainer mom, and my pop culture radar was piqued. I became a fan of Loughlin's during her Full House run... or okay, more like I wanted to be Loughlin during her Full House run, when I decided that there was no better job in the world than to kiss John Stamos and tote around two adorable mop-haired little boys. I even tuned in to catch her more mature maternal side on Summerland a few years ago... and again decided I wanted to be her just to get close to Mr. Chin Dimple himself, Shawn Christian.
Today, Entertainment Weekly, as well as TV Guide, have announced that the true matriarch of the family-- the woman without whom this family would not have to journey back to the BH and therefore would not have a show-- will be portrayed by none other than the boozing, aging socialite of Arrested Development herself, Ms. Jessica Walter! That's it guys, you got me; I'm in.
Rob Thomas, who is creating 90210.5, and who is better known as the creator of some short-lived shows like Veronica Mars, seems to be most comfortable when writing for a young audience. That is not a dis, but it is not necessarily a positive, either; after all, it usually means he has to write young characters in order to reach his demographic. I sincerely hope that is not the case here; I hope he doesn't turn 90210.5 into just an updated 90210. I hope he remembers the audience for the original and how now they are older and wiser and (hopefully) have more mature taste in television. I hope he utilizes his adult actors and weaves episodes and major (A level) plots around them (unlike how I hear The O.C. handled Mr. Eyebrows and Co., though I can't speak from experience, as that was another teen angst drama I wrote off-- though I won't get into that here!) instead of reducing them to glorified background players offering only mere and meek lines of exposition. It is the names slowly attaching themselves to this project that are bringing many skeptical fans onboard; we won't stand to be let down!