DVD Review: 'Beverly Hills, 90210: The Second Season'

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Sensing the network had a burgeoning cultural phenomenon on its hands, FOX rushed "Beverly Hills, 90210" back into production so that just two months after the first season ended, the second season -- new on DVD this Tuesday (May 1) was ready to premiere.

Filling the gaps between years at West Beverly High was the show's notorious Beach Club mini-season, which isn't to be confused with the "Saved by the Bell" Beach Club season, though both shows really just used their changes of scenery as excuses to get their stars in swim trunks, to feature plenty of volleyball-playing montages and to rip off "The Flamingo Kid" relentlessly.

After a first season in which issue-oriented storylines usually took the back seat to Brandon and Brenda's fish-out-of-water adventures, nearly every episode of the second season was exclamatory. Kelly learns about the horrors of date rape! Dylan's an alcoholic! Andrea's seduced by a teacher! Brenda's held up at gunpoint! Kelly's trying to score with a gay guy! The track team is using steroids! Color Me Badd's playing at the Peach Pit!

And who could possibly forget the November sweeps episode "The Next 50 Years," which premiered as one of the most hyped hours in the show's history, with promises that one of the show's stars was going to be killed off. It turned out to just be the dorky kid in the cowboy hat (Douglas Emerson's Scott), but it still taught everyone at home the dangers of both twirling guns and not going through the kind of beneficial puberty that transformed Brian Austin Green's David from a first season outcast geek into a semi-plausible teen idol.

Along the way, we all learned valuable lessons about recycling (plotlines as well as plastics), wearing sunscreen, donating blood and visiting the gynecologist regularly.

The show was really beginning to hit its guilty pleasure stride as the second season came to an end with events including Brenda and Dylan's ill-fated trip down to Mexico and Kelly's relationship with Dylan's buddy Jake (Grant Show), which laid the groundwork for that summer's premiere of "Melrose Place."

The first season of "Beverly Hills, 90210" came out last fall without a single current interview with any of the show's stars, a gap that's only slightly rectified in the second set.

No, Luke Perry, Jason Priestley, Ian Ziering and Jennie Garth haven't gathered together to talk trash about Shannen Doherty. Maybe for Season Three on DVD? Instead, we do get Carol Potter and James Eckhouse discussing their roles as their decade's most iconic screen parents in the seven-minute "Meet the Walshes." The mostly unrecognizably bald and bearded Eckhouse tells stories of being mobbed by teen fans, while Potter has a funny fantasy sequence where she dreams of the forbidden romance between Cindy Walsh and Dylan.

The only other cast member to appear on the DVD is Christine Elise, whose bike-riding, guitar-playing, mind-losing Emily Valentine was the season's most important new character. In "Our Favorite Valentine," she delves into Emily's alleged appeal among outcast teens and admits to the difficulties of delivering the show's purple prose with a straight face.

Although the DVDs lack any commentary tracks (the first season had a pair) or behind-the-scenes footage, the last featurette is a winner. VH1 pop culture gadflies Michael Colton and John Aboud dedicate 17 minutes to "Everything You Need to Know About Beverly Hills 90210 Season 2." Sitting in a booth at the Peach Pit, they use clips and humorous quips to deconstruct the pivotal season.

That's 30 minutes of bonus features, hardly generous for a show as recent as "90210." In addition, truly dedicated and obsessive fans will notice that large chunks of the music from the original series didn't clear, so substitutions have been made. Don't worry, the Color Me Badd rendition of "Dream On" remains intact.

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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