Tuesday, September 23, 2008

90210, "Wide Awake and Dreaming": A star is born

Quick spoilers for tonight's "90210" coming up just as soon as I do a survey on the effectiveness of four-year-old condoms...

If we're not at "That's it for me!" territory with this show, we're close. Whatever slightly admirable qualities I found in the pilot are gone by now, or maybe it's just the novelty of a new/old version of the show that's gone.

Sachs and Judah are caught in this weird hybrid mode where they're trying to seem modern while at the same time staying true to Aaron Spelling and Darren Star's creative vision for the original. If Hiro Nakamura were still willing to travel back in time, he could have taken the script for this episode back to 1992, put it on Star's desk, and other than changing the names, Star could've run it as is. And while that amuses me on some level, that's not enough to keep me watching, not when the people I'm interested in either don't have much to do (Tabitha) or have embarrassing things to do. (I'm not saying Tristan Wilds' work here is tainting "The Wire" for me, but I desperately, desperately wish he would bring a shotgun to West Beverly already and jack up some of these rich boys, just to make things more entertaining.)

I was under the mistaken impression that this would be Shannen Doherty's last episode, but I see she's still on next week. Not that I was ever much of a Doherty/Brenda fan, but maybe I'll stick around for the rest of her stint, and use her exit as an excuse to cut the cord.

What did everybody else think? And how grateful were you to hear another "Spring Awakening" song, even if it was for only 30 seconds, instead of that "mama who bore me" one they've been singing repeatedly for weeks?


Anonymous said...

I skipped it for the first time this week and don't regret it.

Anonymous said...

"Mama who bore me?" More like "Drama that bored me." I totally agree that everything in this episode felt like it could have taken place on the original show. And while I liked the original, that was 15 years ago and they're going to have to come up with a little more than "wholesome girl learns valuable lesson about chastity" in order to not only seem current, but to seem even remotely original. Plus, the whole "Kansas girl is too squeaky clean to keep up with the city kids" thing is not only cliche, but not even remotely realistic. The pregnancy pact girls in Massachussetts and Bristol Palin have made it pretty clear that teen sex has already hit the heartland and meth is a huge issue in most of those places too. So, while Annie may not be in Kansas anymore, I have a hard time believing such a sheltered goody two shoes exists anywhere. Another thing that bothers me is that every single episode starts off with a recap in which Dixon laments about "the whole adoption story." What exactly is the story? And why is it such a big deal? Because so far it doesn't seem to have any impact on his life whatsoever. Or do they just think the audience is too stupid to figure out the black kid in the family is adopted and feel the need to remind them before every episode?

Meanwhile, next week is the sixth episode, which would be the last one Jennie Garth is officially signed on for (since apparently the CW jumped the gun on announcing she'd signed on for more.) I can't really see them writing her out just yet, but if she just vanishes without explanation then the show is going to be hurting even more than it already is. At this point, though, I can't see myself sticking around any longer than Kelly Taylor does.

And, yes, it was nice to finally hear a different song from Spring Awakening. I realize there's obviously some licensing issues involved, but I wish they'd ponied up for a second song a little sooner cause I was already beginning to have "mama who bore me" nightmares.

Pamela Jaye said...

I'm two eps down, but i heard the series got picked up.

I'll be back when i've caught up.

-M said...

I just hate the how "saving" yourself is reserved for "good" females while "good" males can go to town.

Nicole said...

Is sex education so bad in the States that teens don't know condoms expire?

Although I'm not thrilled about the good girl/bad girl attitude about sex, it's a bit more realistic than Gossip Girl, and not quite as extreme as the purity ring brigade.

Anonymous said...

The problem so far has been that the show's plot has been weak as hell. The whole arc about the bitchy girl's family breaking up needs to go. They made us hate this girl from the beginning, so why should we care that she's getting some karmic retribution?

The other big plot point is that the lead actress of the play is some kind of drug addict. Again, the drama is surrounding an actress no one cares about!

With the original, I liked the characters enough to either care - or make fun of - the various drug addictions, bad relationships, or car accidents that they went through. That can't be said for the bulk of the new characters.

They need to cut out the two bitchy girls, introduce some better actresses who aren't so one-dimensional and raise the stakes. They also need to amp up the plot lines of Kelly and Brenda while they still have them, because that is why everyone I know is still watching and holding out hope that it gets better.

What they SHOULD do, is start playing it like "The Brady Bunch Movie" and have all the new "realistic" characters be shocked and grossed out by how much crap the original characters went through and how they still act like they did in the original show. The reaction shot alone of the principal finding out that his school's guidance counselor not only has been addicted to coke, diet pills, has been shot, shot someone ELSE, joined a cult, was a burn and amnesia victim but worst of all dated STEVE SANDERS would be enough for me to be a fan for life.

Anonymous said...

The writing for this show is horrific. It's stale, boring, trite and stupid. Those CW executives need to stop rewriting the scripts because their work clearly sucks. The pacing is ridiculous, storylines are dull and predictable, the dialog is stale and repetitive. They desperately need to hire some decent writers immediately!

I'm trying to find some good in this... but it's become almost impossible.

Killing off Naomi and Annie might be a good start to salvaging this show.

Matt said...

While Sachs/Judah are remaining as showrunners, vet of numerous GOOD CW shows Rebecca Kirshner is taking over the writer's room. She's written for "Buffy," "Gilmore Girls" (including the one where Lorelai writes the custody rec letter for Luke), and "Freaks and Geeks."

Anonymous said...

The thing that struck me this week was how quickly they've defanged Naomi (iirc - AnnaLynne McCord's character) and Silver (who wasn't very fanged to begin with). Sure, every teen show's resident bitch gets the sympathetic treatment eventually, to keep her from being one-dimensional -- and as she slides towards the protagonist end of the scale, someone else is introduced to be the new bitch. One Tree Hill has done that like clockwork.

But in this case, we hadn't actually seen enough of Naomi being a bitch or Silver being the gossip-blog shit-stirrer to get used to those characteristics -- so what might be intended as a revelation of sympathetic layers and multiple dimensions reads as inconsistent characterization instead. There's nothing bitchy about Naomi anymore, nothing you'd expect other students to be intimidated by -- she's just the sad shrill girl whose parents suck.

And Silver, I don't even know who Silver is. The actress seems the least bland of our leads, but that may only be because she's wound up playing a slightly different character in each episode. She was never the bitch Naomi was, but as the pilot's blogger, she at least had some fire, some desire to stir things up. That seems to have been left behind entirely.

Anonymous said...

Bill, you totally nailed. It's like the writers knew what a stereotype these characters were (bitchy girl, edgy indie girl, farm girl) that they hardly bothered with any sort of introduction or building of the characters' relationships. I think they figure the audience knows the character types too and wants to jump right to the action. "Okay, this is the mean snob, no need to spend 10 episodes establishing her behavior---now let's watch her change." When we don't care about the characters (because we know the stereotype but not the actual character), what's the point of all of it? Silver put up a mean blog post about Kansas girl in the first episode but by halfway through it was already making a face turn; in the old days of slow build that would have taken a season and a half.

KendraWM said...

Well, I would like to say I can tell you what happened, I did watch but clearly was not interested enough to retain anything. I did think, yeah a four year old condom kept in a wallet, awesome.

I think I keep watching thinking it will get better. I actually really like Privilege better.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, considering how bad both this & "Fringe" are (and I am sorry, not a "House" fan like most others on this blog), Tuesdays are now officially a 'catch up on Monday' night of TV.

I agree...the writing is atrocious and everyone is right that the bitchiness on display from Silver and ugly Naomi is gone.

It's so sad to see Tristan Wildes doing this show. And if the originals (Kelly and Brenda) go away, that only further emboldens me to stop watching because they were the only reason I watched in the first place.

Also, anaonymous comment #1:

When did Massachussetts become 'the heartland'? :-)

KLE said...

I'm close to being done with this show. There is just way too much else going on on Tuesday nights, and this held my attention least last night. House is a given as it's one fo the few things we both like, I'm trying out The Mentalist and sticking with Fringe for another week or two, and I'm committed to the lovely Gavin and Stacey over on BBCA.

Anonymous said...

I can't put my finger on it, but one of the things that bothers me about this show is the aesthetics. I'm not sure if it's camera quality, or what... but something doesn't work.

The original BH90210 had a quality to it where the scenes looked real. It was crisper, and it felt like you were watching an important show, on an important network. However, here, the new 90210 comes across as something that is not a major show. I have a feeling that it is the way that it's the CW's broadcasting quality/budgetary restraints.

Perhaps someone with more technical comprehension can explain this je ne sais quoi.

Sarah D. Bunting said...

"The other big plot point is that the lead actress of the play is some kind of drug addict. Again, the drama is surrounding an actress no one cares about!"

Not much of an actress, either...and I kind of can't get on board with the idea that that girl is a working child star. She's not ugly, but she's not that sort of cute that would get work, sober or no.

I liked Naomi's observation that it doesn't have to be that big a deal, but when everyone's telling Annie she should "save herself" for someone she cares about, but no such warning is given to Dixon, I was grossed out.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Not much of an actress, either...and I kind of can't get on board with the idea that that girl is a working child star. She's not ugly, but she's not that sort of cute that would get work, sober or no.

I got the sense -- and, admittedly, I may just be feeling charitable and reading more into the dialogue and character than was there on the page -- that she was an actual child-child star, and has been struggling to find work as she moved into her teen years, which is why this play was such a big deal for her.

I liked Naomi's observation that it doesn't have to be that big a deal, but when everyone's telling Annie she should "save herself" for someone she cares about, but no such warning is given to Dixon, I was grossed out.

But, again, that's very much in keeping with the morality of the original show. Brandon loses his virginity -- in his own bedroom! -- in one of the earliest episodes and it's no big deal with the Walsh parents, while Brenda sleeping with Dylan after the spring dance was a massive scandal.

I'm not kidding: change the names, find an older musical, and this works perfectly 15 years ago.

Anonymous said...

I seem to remember Brenda complaining about the hypocrisy of her parents freaking out when she slept with Dylan while Brandon sleeping with his girlfriend was almost a non-issue. And back in 1991 that was all pretty groundbreaking. In 2008? Not so much. This show doesn't have to be groundbreaking in order to be good, but it would help if it was even slightly original. And it's not.

As for the show looking cheap, I agree. I think part of the reason is that it's shot in high def video instead of on film. But I also think some of it is poor choices with the cinematography. And I really wish they hadn't felt the need to reinvent the Peach Pit or the interior of West Beverly--especially with such bright, tacky colors.

Anonymous said...

I don't think the actress who plays Adrianna is bad looking. In fact, in other stuff I've seen her in and in her imdb photos she's pretty cute. But the haircut she's got now is just all kinds of unflattering.

Btw, I think it's funny that she was in the pilot for Pretty/Handsome as the girlfriend of Jonathan Groff who originated the role of Melchior in Spring Awakening on Broadway.

Elwood said...

I'm out. I fast-fowarded through most of the non-Brenda or Kelly scenes, kept waiting for the overdose story that never happened, then deleted this from my season-pass list.


Michael 8-) said...

I guess I'm contrary to all the other commenters -- or just too big a fan of the original show -- but I like the new show thus far.

In particular, I precisely like the fact that it's not too far from the old days, that it's not too WB flashy, characters too witty for their age, too... well, "too."

It feels like the kinda thing that has been on channels like ABC Family for the last few years with decent storylines that wouldn't make a parent cringe, that are not too far from reality, and that actually feature real-looking teens of different races and such.

I'm willing to give it a few episodes to get some legs under it and see what kind of chemistry can grow between actors and story arcs developed. I don't think it's great, but I don't think it's poorly acted, written, etc. like some other stuff we've been subjected to this season.

Sarah D. Bunting said...

"I'm not kidding: change the names, find an older musical, and this works perfectly 15 years ago."

Oh, I agree, but I was grossed out by the double standard back then, too.

Jackie said...

Where to begin? I'm probably too much of a Wire / Tristan Wilds fan to make an intelligent comment on this show because it feels too easy and also disloyal to harangue the show. On one level, you are rooting for Tristan to make the cross-over to a more main stream role. I mean, I think it's adorable that he defends and desires a role like Dixon Wilson / Mills (the last name seemed inexplicably to change at the last minute) when most young actors are trying to break out of the typecasting a role like this could imprison them in--Rick Schroder, Mark Paul Gosselar, etc. Rick, Mark Paul, etc. sought grittier roles like NYPD Blue to break out of their main stream persona . . . and Tristan seems to want to go the other way. Will Smith (a producer of Secret Life, I believe) is more of a natural career arc for him . . . and I think that "Secret Life of Bees" is the vehicle many people would like to see him pursue. I'm definitely rooting for this Wire alum!

That having been said, the writing on 90210 is just plain lazy, in my opinion. As has been stated the character development is non-existent. The motivations for characters behavior are completely missing. Scenarios are tossed on the screen and then resolved too quickly or not at all--for instance what were the consequences of Dixon's text message retribution in the first episode(s)? Something like that would have taken an entire season to clear up on The Wire--with domino effects that would have reverberated for years. Another minor example, Dixon seemed uncomfortable with Navid's expose on his life, yet within minutes he is playing video games with him after school with no acknowledgment of this intrusive behavior? Bizarre?

I'm also really not sure any brother would give a condom to a sister in a school hallway! That just made me queasy . . . Seriously?

Yes, there's something disjointed about the cinematography. Even the transition shots of Beverly Hills distance you from the story rather than drawing you in. I'm not sure why.

Finally, I'm also uncomfortable with the handling of Dixon's adoption story . . . the cliche white family adopting a poor black kid. The only redemption for me, is Tristan's involvement, again with "Secret Life" where a white girl is "adopted" by an African American family.

Tristan is working--as Alan has pointed out--in the aftermath of the writer's strike. He is fulfilling his wish that there be roles available for "young striving black men." So, my hope is that he can continue to look them in the eye. No matter who they are or what they've done, he can look them in the eye.

Anonymous said...

Bill - i agree with you. The characterisation IS inconsistant but to be fair to the fair writers, they are dealing with alot of studio and network interference. According to an article in Entertainment Weekly (their Fall tv issue where they interviewed some of the actors). Both CBS and the CW comment and insist on changes to the scripts.

Episodes are being filmed out of order and i'm assuming being shown out of order as well.

The main problem that i have with 90210 is that there hasn't really been any introduction to any of the characters. So that you don't really know any of them.

As for this weeks episode...i thought it was awful. I felt embarrased watching it. Not because of the storyline. But just the way it was put together and the acting from some of the cast was cringe worthy. Did the episode really have to centre around Annie trying to loose her virginity? Something like this should have been a later episode.

I loved Adrianna. I like her bitchiness. She also has a vulnerable side which is good. I loved that she fooled Annie into thinking that Ty had slept with her...brilliant!

Alan - i will keep watching this. I'll stick with it for the whole season and see how it goes.

Anonymous said...

I'm totally watching it for Kelly and Brenda. As long as one of them is on, I'm in.

New peeps I'm enjoying are Silver and Dixon and mom Debbie. Annie and Ty are enjoyable, too.

But it's not 90210 without Kelly.

BTW, the Tracy Clark storyline makes no sense to me at all. She didn't care, now she does care. I thought they were hinting at an open relationship, but then they went the other way. That storyline needs to die a quick death.

Pamela Jaye said...

while watching one of the eps, our lovely WC affil let us know they will be "dropping their power" starting November 10. It's already coming in crappy, and I'm watching it *on cable.*

At the very least, they could have combined the 2 netlets on the WB's channel.

Is sex education so bad in the States that teens don't know condoms expire?

they didn't even teach condoms when i was in school and I still know that.

actually the "he's in the shower scene" is one I fondly remember from Quantum Leap, co-starring Janine Turner and John Cullum, before Northern Exposure ever aired (though, granted, I saw it later - on USA)

of course listening to everyone sing made me want to too, so I paid homage to the Shonda gods and played Dream a Little Dream of Me and sang along. My roommate, thankfully, slept right thru. I think his air conditioner is loud, cause i know the doors are hollow here.

So... what do I think? I think I want to know more about what I missed when I stopped watching the original.
And I like Dixon, Annie, and Silver (even though the big heaad syndrome makes Calista Flockhart and Ellen Pompeo look like Minnie Driver when I first saw her). But I wonder what universe or decade the writers are pulling them from.

I wish Andrea's daughter would come back.
I wish our library had DVDs cause they won't do interlibrary loans and watching TV on the laptop (on the comfort of their laptops in bed - what a great sentence that was) is just uncomfortable. (and i don't get 300 channels, just 90 or so - and hey, there was a show about Air Force One on the History Channel last night! It repeated at midnight and hopefully I got it.

Is Scrubs really not going to be back till January??

Pamela Jaye said...

forgive cause i haven't finished the comments but did anyone catch the

Afterschool Special?

Google it.

I thought *that* was awesome.

Pamela Jaye said...

that last would have made more sense if I'd put quote marks around the quotes.
Then again, no one is reading this thread anymore so...

I love the theme music (I don't remember loving it, but apparently I do now) and it really does make me want to go back and watch the original. But I probably couldn't endure Tiffay whats-her-name, even now.

(so did Kelly really do all those things in the original series?)