M. Doughty presents his insights into the 1995-96 season of Beverly Hills 90210, in chronological order.
Subj: For the Love of Cindy
Date: 95-12-23 13:20:21 EST
I was in the studio lounge yesterday, drinking coffee and talking to one of the receptionists, when I was startled to notice a mullet-headed, rolled-sleeve-t-shirted, younger Brandon, on the TV, standing on Andrea Zuckerman’s steps. Yep, that’s right, we’re talking all-time-classic 90210 here; the episode in which Brandon follows Andrea’s bus home, to discover she’s poor, and only attending Beverly Hills High by some act of subterfuge. The episode in which Brenda–Oh! Glorious Brenda!–fakes that she’s a college student on a date, telling her dinner companions that she’s majoring in astronomy.
What bliss. I begin to breathe heavily just thinking about it. The Golden Age of Brenda, ripe with all those episode-ending dialogues between her and Brandon, in the bathroom that connects their rooms in the Walsh household. Pure joy.
So, of course, this week’s new episode was an utter sham–essentially, you know any episode is doomed to stankiness when Steve Sanders is called upon to show emotion. He gets that weird Constipated Samurai look on his face. Most distressing. Who cares who his real father is? Well, Claire does, and I can’t front on Weird Crosseyed Claire, but I’m sorry, I’d sooner watch an episode dedicated solely to Kelly.
And, of course, Jim and Cindy are staying together. Just like those idiot writers to put us through the anxiety of Final Walsh Dissolution, when suddenly Jim sends an angel pendant to the Walsh Homestead and everything’s fine again. Sickening thought, but moments before, when Nat brought Cindy on a date to midnight mass, I considered that maybe Brandon’s Mom and Dylan’s Surrogate Father were gonna be getting it on. The truth is so much more dull. Goodbye Los Angeles, Hello Hong Kong.
At least, when Cindy’s on, there’s some guarantee of a Brenda mention, though it was unsatisfyingly brief.
I’m sick of Boring Art Guy Colin and his coke habit, despite all the ill will I wish on Kelly. Nice verbal catfight with her and Valerie, though, as Valerie hips her to Colin’s wiredness. Good to know that that whole painting-auction episode wasn’t a sign of a lasting truce.
Really unsatisfying episode, all in all. Particularly considering my brief glimpse of Ancient Walshhood. And this:
I was at a Christmas Party at my manager’s office, watching music-business types get drunk, and I ended up talking to a girl from Los Angeles. She was an actress, she said, she mostly did extra work. On what, I asked?
90210, she said.
That was the sound of my mind blowing. She went on to say that most of the cast members were snooty or dull or both, except one, with brown hair, what’s her name again? Kind of voluptuous…
Tiffani? I breathed, incredulously. Oh, yeah, that’s right, she said, Tiffani, yeah, I’m friendly with her.
Needless to say, she left the party with a Soul Coughing CD and a drunkenly scrawled note proclaiming my undying affections. You’re on the guest list plus one at every Soul Coughing show ever, I wrote, feel free to show up anywhere in the entire world.
And who knows? I may end up with an interview for my ‘zine, Peach Pit Babylon, that I intend to start when I have the time.
Subj: Peach Pit Babylon
Date: 96-01-04 00:40:20 EST
Alright, so I was having this Big Important Meeting with the inimitable Frank, who’s art directing the packaging for the new record, and I missed the first fifteen minutes. So, someone out there is absolutely obligated to post or e-mail and tell me–
Where exactly did Valerie get the cocaine? Why exactly did she give it to Boring New York Art Guy?
I like his Drug Problem, actually. What my dear friend Gus refers to as “booger sugar”–and his subsequent bursts of bad acting hyperactivity–are the only things that don’t make me cringe about Colin. When he stepped into Valerie’s car and said “Taxi, take me to SoHo!” I could’ve shot the man. If they really need a bad impression of a New Yorker, honey, I could give them some phone numbers.
Weird ethical territory they’re treading, those 90210 writers, with this cocaine business. Kelly has become almost blase about it. I love that Valerie and David have become the Drug Couple–not that they’re snorting with Boring Art Guy in the Peach Pit bathroom, but they’re so hip to it. While Valerie’s hardly endorsing, she’s not condemning it either. I have such fond memories of her first episode, when she rolled a joint in Brenda’s old bedroom. And David Silver’s immediate recognition of Colin’s Highness–Brandon probably doesn’t even remember what U4EA tastes like. More orange juice, Mr. Silver?
My favorite moment–oh how it warmed my heart, now heavy with overdubbing–was, of course, David climbing the tree to fetch Donna’s bird. “We’ll always be more than just friends,” says Donna, while David keeps reaching for a parrot barking “Joe Loves Donna! Joe Loves Donna!” Magnificent. Weird how those two don’t even look correct standing next to each other anymore. I hoped for a dalliance, but of course they wouldn’t let that happen. In my conspiratorial mind, I hoped that Valerie would throw the drunken Colin down on his bed, and David and Donna would, uh, oh, I don’t know, whatever they actually did without sleeping together. Did you ever wonder whether Donna went down on David Silver? Given his luck in inspiring chastity in 90210 Pantheon Women, I’m sure it’s safe to dub David Silver the Blowjob King.
I loved the episode structure–surely it’s some sort of innovation to have a flashback episode, involving a warp-dissolving screen and tinkling chimes and such between segments, for an episode that hasn’t even aired yet. Why, “The Jeffersons” had to spend the fruits of an entire season to flesh out a flashback episode. And you people doubt the validity of my obsession over this television program.
The only sad part being, given the central conceit of explaining the New Year’s Eve happenings to the absent Weird Crosseyed Claire, there was very little Weird Crosseyed Claire action. And she was looking disturbingly less crosseyed than usual. Randy–he of the “Who Put Kelly Through the Ugly Machine” remark–asks me how I think Claire would feel if she read these posts. I tell him I hope she takes it as an homage, and, for Christ’s sake, not an impetus for corrective eye surgery. Claire, come to Soul Coughing, we love you.
More of Steve Sanders in his I Am The Dad role–more awesome Constipated Samurai looks, but nothing more interesting than that. Eh for Steve this week.
And Brandon! Good Lord! Will you dump that blubbering harpy already! Or at least get into a fistfight with her dull, self-important ex-boyfriend. They didn’t even reveal the much-ballyhooed Secret Reason Susan Dumped Him.
In general, y’all–detente is getting me down. Valerie is safe with David, Kelly is safe with Colin–even as the artistry of their hissing catty exchanges increases exponentially per episode. Brandon and Susan, Steve and Claire. If they can’t come up with a little trauma, they should’ve made the episode something like a PoMo Arty 90210–nothing but a loop of that shot of Donna in the Rose Parade, with the roses and the tiara, waving that freaky wave and smiling her massive alien smile.
I propose a 90210 apocalypse–Kelly on Brandon, Valerie on Colin, David on Donna, and, oh, I don’t know, Steve Sanders on that bird that won’t stop saying “Damn Bird.” Wait, no, more intriguing than that–Valerie on Brandon, Kelly reunited with Steve, Colin on David–you know, something to shake things up a bit. And Weird Crosseyed Claire rushing the float that Donna is waving from, clocking her and taking her roses and tiara.
A brief tangent–I’m reading this Bette Davis autobiography. Apparently Bette married a man in the mid-40’s that she had met at a party. The man had no idea she was a movie star. Then, on their way to a Mexican honeymoon, their car broke down. They sat on the roadside drinking scotch, until, surreally enough, the motorcade of the President of Mexico drove by, picked them up, and drove them to the premiere of “Deception” in Mexico City. Thousands of fans cheered Bette outside the theater.
So the new Mr. Davis turns to Bette and says: “Who the hell are you, anyway?”
Were Bette Davis in the role of Tiffani-Amber Thiessen, she’d have loaded Boring Art Guy full of whatever drug she pleased and screwed the living hell out of him by now.
Subj: Melrose Vs. 90210
Date: 96-01-10 11:01:43 EST
But, see, look–nothing ever happens on 90210. This is the beauty of choosing a prime time Soap Opera as your Soap Opera of choice. This is all you have to know: Kelly is bad.
Okay, maybe that’s subjective, but, really, all you have to do is decide whom you like and dislike. This is all serial television is about. 90210 is one of the most clumsily expository television shows around. Everything that relates to something from a previous episode will be introduced by a hilariously awkward explanation.
Case in point; David Silver, who in the Golden Age of 90210 was Donna Martin’s girlfriend, is fetching the bird that Donna’s current boyfriend gave her for Christmas from a tree. Now, theirs was a legendary union, and anyone that’s watched anytime in the past three years would know this. But, to make sure everyone watching understands the ironies, they have an exchange that amounts to all but one of the show’s producers coming out onto the set and saying, “Hello, I’m one of the show’s producers, and we here at 90210 would just like you to know that these two used to be an item, and him fetching her bird from a tree sure is kinda weird.”
There’s three essential reasons that 90210 is interesting:
1) It’s always conscious of the fact that it’s a television show. There’s no real difference between the actors and their characters, and the acting is often so bad, and reliant on clumsy gestures–Steve Sanders’ trademarked Constipated Samurai Angry Look, Kelly’s trademarked nose-crinkle, Brandon’s trademarked Bewildered Look–that there’s no compelling reason to suspend one’s disbelief. It’s not a dramatic series, it’s a spectator sport. All serial dramas are about this, but 90210 executes it in such a way that it’s mindblowingly obvious
2) Everyone is insanely weird-looking. I mean, look at Tori Spelling, will you? Look at that huge jaw, those bug-eyes. Look at Claire, who is undebateably CROSSEYED. Look at how chubby Valerie is. Check Brandon’s freaky, perplexed look. Look at how damned old Dylan was looking before he split the show.
Television is about people at home, with remote controls, searching for people they’re attracted to. Look at “Friends”; same deal, essentially. An ensemble of attractive people that the home viewer can study the sexual tensions between. Same thing with “Melrose”–it’s about how good-looking people seduce each other and generally search for new and interesting ways to be evil to one another. There was a time when they used to be really good at it, too.
But 90210? Well, both shows mentioned above are at least half-decently written. 90210 is not. So, technically, it should be more like “Baywatch”–Ooh, look at them boobies. But, it’s not. Who out there in TV land is honestly attracted to The Alien Tori Spelling?
3) Its roots are in relentless optimism, innocence, and do-goodism, and it’s always grappling with the problem of looking like a page from “Sweet Valley High” and offering the viewer sex and scandal at the same time. It’s a Mickey Rooney/Judy Garland “Hey, Let’s Put On A Show!” movie thrust into modernity. It’s parameters are Standard Oh, Golly American Teen–the soda shop, school, the beauty pageant, parents, isn’t-that-band-awesome?–and its plot devices are murder, seduction, drug use, and hostility.
The original premise of the show was–two wide-eyed and upright teens from Minnesota move to Sodom and avoid temptation.
Here’s an example, from the first season, which I saw last night as a syndicated rerun: The Women are having a slumber party. It’s Brenda, Donna, Andrea, Kelly, and a particularly bitchy friend of Kelly’s that wants to blow the slumber party and head to a place where college boys are getting drunk and taking advantage of high school girls. They play with a Ouija board–the bitchy friend of Kelly’s scoffs. They eat cookies–the bitchy friend of Kelly’s scoffs. Then they begin to reveal their secrets. Donna has no secrets. Andrea’s only secret is that she has a crush on Brenda’s brother. Brenda admits to having made out with a boy in an attempt to steal him from a friend of hers. Kelly was taken advantage of, drunkenly, in a car. And, oh, yeah, she also sorta did the exact same thing Brenda did–but with Brenda’s boyfriend, Dylan. Conflict erupts, and the Bitchy Friend leaves, snickering.
But, she leaves her purse behind. In noticing this, Donna accidentally knocks the purse over. And a thousand amphetamines pour out of it, onto the floor. “Diet Pills!” Kelly exclaims, then goes on to explain that diet pills are not only a Dangerous Drug, but a thing that unquestionably turns a person into a raving bitch. The Bitchy Friend returns, discovers she’s been found out, and is coaxed into admitting her fears of fatness. She sheds her bitchiness, is redeemed by their innocence, and joins the slumber party. As a final display of her redemption, she asks Donna to fetch her an Oreo.
The message? Even in Sodom, where innocence is an embarrassment, it’s okay to feel okay about being pure. And under the pancake makeup and the drug use, inside every shallow and trendy sophisticate, is a refugee from a turgid teen novel screaming to escape.
Is that weird hoodoo or what? Now THAT’S Television.
I like Melrose–at least, I used to. But Melrose is about Evil. Though its roots are as an adult version of 90210, it came into its own when it realized it wasn’t 90210, it couldn’t really address the Myth of the All-American Well-Intentioned Teenager, it added Sidney and Amanda and went into a stunning streak of pure malice. It doesn’t really have a worldview to grapple with. The interest in the show is–what evil shall be done next? And when it’s just baldly trying to top itself, I find it kind of uninteresting.
90210 is in a weak stretch–after all the melodrama that accompanied Dylan’s departure, it’s still feeling its way around the cast’s imbalanced chemistry. What makes it interesting to me, still, is that with every drug addiction, with every semi-adulterous act, it’s still fighting to say, No, no, we’re just a bunch of Well-Intentioned Teens. Look at the opening sequence of the show; they all stand around smiling, with their arms around each other. As if to say: These people are all friends. These people all love each other. These people are Good.
I urge anyone reading this to set aside their upcoming Wednesday night, use some drugs shortly before eight o’clock, and spend an hour focussing on how weird Kelly’s nose looks.
Subj: Peach Pit Babylon
Date: 96-01-11 10:46:54 EST
So Kelly’s on blow.
I feel cheap and dirty.
Not because she’s on blow, but because I was sitting over at my friend Mr. Jim Schurko’s house, and as she rummaged through the drawer for the little vial that she intended to use as evidence against her jerkoff Art Boy boyfriend, we were yelling “Yes! Kelly! Do it! Snort the coke! Begin your path to Hell! Yes! Yes!”
And then she rolled up the check that her father that abandoned her gave her and snorted it with it.
Of course, she’s doomed, but not for more than a few episodes. My friend Randy, he who once asked “Who Put Kelly Through The Ugly Machine?”, postulated that she’d end up a crack ho. And I must admit, I emitted a delighted sigh when he said that. He was calling from Los Angeles, where the episode I had seen three hours ago was coming on fresh, and I was straining to listen to it through the phone. But, it won’t happen. I fear the downside of this is that, when she’s all clean and holy again, she’ll have one up on Tiffani in her Eternal War against her.
Damn her. I hate Kelly.
Let’s face it; Joe’s gonna die. And probably before Donna gets a piece of that ass, too. I can’t imagine they’re gonna just make it a big rift between them that Joe thinks her father’s diagnosis is incorrect; this has to end up in death. Why? Because He That Resembles Eli From Girls Against Boys isn’t gonna cheat on her or beat her, and Donna’s Curse is that The Boy leaves before she screws him, everytime.
Can I just say–Oh, that Joe E. Tata.
Interesting that it was another Jason Priestley directed episode–that Roger Corman made a guest appearance is no accident. Mr. Priestley, I think, is well aware of the kitsch value of 90210. Does anyone remember the episode in Las Vegas a couple of seasons back? There was all this cheesy rollerrink organ music, strange camera dissolves, homages to “Bye Bye Birdie.” This was Brandon-As-Auteur as well. The boy is cognizant.
Did anyone else catch Donna’s Weird Gangster TV Movie with Richard Belzer the other night? I just loved this one sequence where she’s wandering down the Colorful and Sooty Urban Boulevard, with a dreadlocked saxophonist pretending to play, completely out of sync with the sax on the soundtrack, as she sashayed by. Thank the Lord the woman hasn’t learned to act yet.
How about David Silver’s appearance on Conan? He couldn’t stop talking about his damned Hilfiger jacket–Randy, he who asked “Who Put Kelly Through The Ugly Machine?”, theorized that the only reason he started complaining about how cold it was on the talk show set was so he wouldn’t look stupid rhapsodizing about his parka. But, I have sympathy for Mr. Austin-Green. It must be difficult for him, being the Only Black Man on 90210.
Let us all pray for Kelly’s demise.
Subj: Peach Pit Babylon
Date: 96-01-17 23:52:48 EST
Oh, all the kids love Kelly’s Impending Demise. As the opening segment was rolling, when they were playing scenes-from-last-week’s episode, I was on the phone with my dear friend Kerry, who shouted “Do It! Do It!” at the sound of Kelly rolling up her Dad’s check and bending to snort.
Nice tie-ins this time around–Weird Crosseyed Claire and Steve get busted speeding, and Susan witnesses that car accident that sends her careening into a black and white flashback. Death all around–Joe’s gonna die! He’s gonna damn die, I tell you! There is some cosmic law to insure that Donna will never get laid. And who is Brandon, the World All-Powerful Comforter of woman? He soothes Susan at the accident scene, and then moments later is comforting Donna–who of course is well aware that Joe will be long dead by the time she actually gets laid–in the Peach Pit. Ah, Brandon, last of the Great Concerned Walshes.
If they want Colin to be the next Dylan, they’re doing a lousy job at it. Or, perhaps, he is. Really clumsy in that screwing-in-the-limousine bit. I still think Valerie deserves to bag him, though–I loved the part where she assured him that no one actually gave a damn about him, the reason they were all calling up worried about the Cocaine Binge was Kelly, not him. “I’m the only one who cares about you,” she says. Meaningul Dylanesque Stare ensues.
This looks good. This looks very good. And, Good Lord, how sluttish did she look when she went over to Colin’s house to stare at the ever-so strung out Kelly? If she has to concede Bad Girl Status to Kelly, she at least can still look like a Cheap Painted Trollop. Most engaging.
Indeed, there’s excellent things brewing in the Valerie-Kelly feud–now it’s couple vs. couple, only David hates Colin–did you watch when he threated to kick Colin’s ass if he gave his sister any more coke? It looked like he ripped that badass look off from a Mobb Deep video–and Valerie hates Kelly. And, of course Valerie plus Colin looms in the near future. Which means a blissful 90210 crisis in the near future.
Anyhow. We’re taking bets on how long it takes for Kelly to go all the way down into derelictdom and then come back up. I would’ve said two episodes last week, but they showed so little hope for her this week, that I’m thinking it’ll take at least four.
Quote of the week–Steve to Claire on the talk show; “I don’t know what I’d do if anything happened to that sweet little brain of yours.” After which Weird Crosseyed Claire gripped his neck and glared at him a Weird Crosseyed glare.
Now here is a woman I’d pay good money to see kick Colin the Boring Art Guy’s ass. Or David Silver’s, for that matter.
Subj: The Best of 90210
Date: 96-01-26 13:45:39 EST
So I blew off a coffee date with a woman that dumped me five years ago and about whom I wrote half a million dopey weep songs about, the better of which you’ve already heard, for 90210. And what should I get but Tori with her hair arranged into an awful plant-looking thing, reading from cue cards?
It’s always worth it to see old Brenda footage, though. And I was pleasantly reminded of both the Claire and David handcuff scenario, and Kelly’s addiction to diet pills. But, good lord, my beloved 90210 really is the last gasp of the eighties, isn’t it?
Date: 96-02-10 13:03:54 EST
I was forced to blow off my beloved 90210 this week, so a pal taped it for me, and I don't have a VCR, so I've been waiting to watch it. I'll have an update before the weekend's through, I hope.
Subj: Peach Pit Babylon
Date: 96-02-15 03:26:52 EST
We're living in a post-David-and-Valerie world.
Good Lord, this is deep and astonishing and sudden news.
I don't know whether to weep for Valerie or rejoice for Tiffani-Amber Thiessen, who no longer has to pretend her ex-boyfriend--the actor that portrays the man that dumped her--is her boyfriend, for a living.
What I do know is this is a totally predictable pattern. Hmmm, Kelly's in the hospital, with an attendant Brandon holding her hand, getting over her cocaine addiction and the evils perpetrated upon her by the Eric Stoltz character imported from Pulp Fiction? This couldn't mean something really awful happens to Valerie, could it? Could it?
Of course it does. Because the Evil 90210 Writers hate Valerie and love Kelly, showering her with love and Interesting Dramatic Situations.
I'm upset about this Ginger, who seems to be Sidney from Melrose stolen wholesale. Red hair, blackmailing ways and all. I don't really think Valerie would actually choose to hand David Silver's booty over to her rather than Fifty Thousand Bucks. I think Val's hipper than that. Here again is a Plot Twist taking precedence over realistic character behavior. Pisses me off, but, ultimately, this is why I love 90210. Absolute illogic.
My own logic momentarily told me that the reason David Silver dumped her is that he is aware on some subconscious level that she's meant to be with me, and I momentarily expected the credit sequence to be Valerie stepping on a plane to Newark, then taking a car service over to my house in Brooklyn. However, these thoughts subsided quickly.
My, that David Silver. Wretched Valentine's love poem that he read to Valerie--the line about their love getting better with age like fine wine sent me into a tizzy of joy and wonder--but what Manliness! The strong jawline, the quiet and firm way in which he told Valerie he can't be with her. He's like Dylan with a dash of Jimmy Stewart aw-shucks-ness. Why, I remember, back in the day, scrawny little David Silver with his video camera and, uh, what's his name, you know, the kid that killed himself.
I didn't check to see who directed, but it looked like another Jason Priestley joint--you can always tell by the weird, self-conscious Film Student stuff. The way Kelly and Colin's Drug Den is only shot on a tilted camera, and that incredible sequence where Joe, just kicked off the football team, lays in bed as a loop of a stadium announcer shouts his name plays. The way the camera turns around woozily and zooms in on him--utterly corny and amazing. Jason Priestley is either a genius, or someone who'll end up doing a Soul Coughing video.
Okay, am I wrong, or did Donna host a Valentine's Day party called Sex Out 1996, promoting celibacy? These writers again, man. They got Donna all wrong. I can't believe Tori Spelling would allow her character to go through such indignancies. That's rich. That's just too much. Can you believe that? Wow.
However, I desperately covet one of those Sex Out 1996 t-shirts. Had I one, I would wear it onstage with Soul Coughing forever. You think I'm joking.
What an enthralling episode--well, excepting all the Steve and Weird Crosseyed Claire stuff, which has gotten kinda tired. But it was almost balanced out by Susan's punching her ex-boyfriend, then immediately massaging her hand, and Brandon's awesome, deadpan, "Can I get you some ice for that?" It's the best argument for Susan--generally dull girl, she is--I've seen this season.
Such possibilities. Colin's outta there, right? Him being the personification of Kelly's downfall and all. Which means Kelly's open--I'm betting on an eventual Kelly-Brandon rematch. Maybe not til the end of this season. A David Silver-Kelly thing would be interesting, but just for the stepkid-incest angle. He's too damn good for her. I doubt that Valerie's gonna get him back--maybe she'll slide on over to Colin's house and help him dispose of all the cocaine that Kelly isn't using anymore. No?
Subj: Peach Pit Babylon
Date: 96-02-28 22:19:40 EST
I'm not with this Colin and Valerie thing. I have to say, I'm not with it at all. I know I spent a whole lot of time whining about how Valerie deserves whoever she lays her eyes upon, but I can't say I'm real comfortable with it. He's less interesting even than Ray Pruitt.
It's a post David and Valerie world, and I have to say I'm still moping about it.
Dull episode, with two exceptions--the Eric Stoltz guy leaping out at Colin and waving the cocaine dispenser under his nose was HILARIOUS--I swear to god I couldn't keep myself from shrieking with delight. And David's comment to the matching-motorcycle leather clad Clare and Steve that he was driven crazy by the way Valerie looks and, uh, smells. How funny is that?
I actually felt bad for Kelly as she wept, watching Colin get arrested on television. But does she have to deal with the consequences? Oh, no--this is now Valerie's gig. My theory is ever-true; Kelly's troubles are thrown like so much smeared mascara onto Valerie. Kelly leads the man into doom, and Valerie's got to go scrounge up the bail money.
Clare and Steve bickering over motorcycle not interesting. Brandon and Newspaper Girl at Newspaper Girl's parents' house not interesting. Donna and Football Boy Battling Disease and his ununderstanding brother not interesting. David Silver not shown brooding nearly enough. He really should look like he feels worse about this.
I sort of liked the first of the two Skiing Marys on the last episode--but, of course, no new character to be found there. This is all, I'm sure, Jenny Garth's damn fault. Whatever happened to Lisa the Rose Queen? She was awesome, with a sense of sarcasm reminiscent of the best of Weird Crosseyed Clare. Clare is so dull these days.
I'm not pleased. However, I'm happy to tell you that that woman I met at the Christmas Party last year, the one who did occasional extra work on 90210, is auditioning for an actual role. Perhaps this folder, in the future, will be of a more influential nature.
Subj: Peach Pit Babylon
Date: 96-03-14 13:19:09 EST
Getting into their cars outside the Peach Pit, the ex-lovers bump into each other:
David Silver: You play with dirt, you get dirty.
Valerie Malone: Thanks for the fortune cookie, David.
So here's Valerie, cleaning up Kelly's mess--putting up Colin's bail money, pining for Colin--and he calls Kelly the moment he gets out of jail, wanting to see her. I keep wondering if they'd do this to Brenda--ultimately, that's who Valerie is, Brenda stripped of her Walshhood. Are they punishing Valerie for everything Brenda did in the National Enquirer, drunk with Marky Mark at some posh Los Angeles boite?
Kelly, in the meantime, has; 1) entirely overcome her addiction in the space of an episode 2) hooked up with a handsome and goodhearted Doctor Boy 3) managed to gain the undying affections of a runaway addict girl who follows her around, bestowing affection on her, seemingly crying out, "You're so normal! You're so attractive! You're everything any girl would ever want to be!"
I shouldn't complain--this is probably a lot more interesting for Tiffani-Amber Thiessen as an actress than if her character, like Jennie Garth's, was being hosanna'd with goodgirlness every three seconds.
But Colin's gonna skip out on Valerie's bail money, and she's still gonna pay for his goddamn lawyer. It's a crime, I tell you--in a just world, we would have experienced a Very Special 90210 in which Kelly overdoses and leaves our lives forever. But, Valerie is forever shut out of the Upper Echelon--she can't sleep with Brandon, and she's not a True Walsh. Hers is the lot of the Prime Time Underclass.
Another Jason Priestley-produced epic here; he completely astounds me. What a genius. The scene in which Steve and Brandon coerce Nat into going out on the triple-date, shot entirely with a hand-held camera, read like a non-sequitur homage to Law and Order. And the dream sequence, where Colin paces a lime-green, smoke-laden jail cell, while reverbed voices yell out "Lonely Teardrops, Boy!" was mind-blowing.
The homage to Roger Corman a few episodes back was no accident. Jason Priestley understands exactly why I enjoy his television program. But if he can turn every episode into a Kitsch Explosion! I can't understand why he can't do anything about damned Kelly.
In the words of unibrowed British Rock Lord Noel Gallagher, someday we will find Jason Priestley, caught beneath the landslide, in a very special Champagne Supernova on Fox.
Awful Joe E. Tata subplot. I'm just not interested. However, Brandon's befuddled-boyfriendness makes me insanely happy. And Weird Crosseyed Clare just gets cooler by the nanosecond--did you catch the sequence where she pimp-walked through the lamp store with those plaid flares kept up with a rhinestone studded belt, huge sunglasses on her crossed eyes? I thought it was weird, on the season immediately following The David and Donna Apocalypse, how suddenly Donna and her minions dressed like indie rock girls--but this is outrageous and amazing. Go, Clare, Go.
David Silver just looks confused these days. The loss of Valerie has left him sexless, he just does that weird White Man Soul Brother sway and befuddled stare thing to no one. The part where he gave the newly-clean Kelly her goldfish and admonished her not to feed them until they died, though, was funny.
He seems so disconnected, though. The pressures of New Dylanhood are wearing him down.
Donna's perm is a terrible mistake--and what sort of humiliation is it for her to allow her invalid boyfriend to let Clare feel the pacemaker imbedded in his chest? Donna is least interesting when she has some boy to take care of--the Sorrow of Donna has been absent from my 90210 life too long.
I feel as if my television friends need my help. I'm fed-exing them drugs as soon as I get the chance. A little Kelly Deal subplot would be refreshing, wouldn't it?
Subj: Peach Pit Babylon
Date: 96-05-08 21:20:52 EDT
I was on a plane from London, last week, as Tara, clad in a blonde wig, pulling an Eve Harrington and trying to turn herself into Kelly screamed "Friends Don't Lie! Friends Don't Lie!" at the eternally wrinkle-nosed blonde. Apparently no one loves me enough to turn their VCR on, so I had to find this out in a snippet in the What Happened Last Week pre-episode montage.
I knew that no amount of screeching and weeping could bring last week's episode back, but I screeched and wept anyway. And was rewarded with a dull, formula episode even my crybaby ass didn't deserve.
What happened? Guess. She Of The Ample Mole-Flecked Cheeks lost out to the Maddeningly Dull Wrinkle-Nosed Blonde. Big Dumb Steve Sanders flexed his ego as Weird Crosseyed Claire rolled her Weird Crosseyed eyes. There was an interminable subplot of Susan and Brandon bickering--really, this whole ersatz Tracy-Hepburn shtick is beyond over. And Tori Spelling showed up in a completely horrifying hairdo--this time, some misbegotten blonde take on Bone Thugz-n-Harmony.
Well, okay, so Tori's hair was genuinely amusing. But Colin jumping all that bail Valerie put up to run back to Kelly? Please. Kelly'll have to get run over repeatedly to make up for the pain Valerie's gone through. Though the one moment I jumped up and yelled "Yes!" was when Our Beloved Chipmunk Valerie told Kelly on the phone that Colin didn't want to speak to her before he went to jail--Oh! The way that evil smirk spread out across the awesome fleshy rolls of her face!--I knew in my heart of hearts that the reason Colin was hang-up-calling Kelly every three seconds wasn't to politely ask her to front Val some dough for new candelabras at the Peach Pit After Dark.
I'm liking the way David Silver keeps staring longingly at Donna. Maybe there's a future in this--if they got back together, maybe Shannen Doherty would come back, maybe Andrea's talk show would get revived too. Then again, in the whole Glamourous Record Company Party Sequence they must've namedropped MCA half a dozen times--what, did MCA pay for a little product placement? They mentioned no bands, only the label--and that's the label that the Glitzy Record Company Dame that David left Donna for, immediately after jamming with Babyface, worked for. So who knows? This much I can tell you--he's not going back to Valerie. Oh, no. That might actually involve happiness for the girl. They can't have that.
At this point, I'm debating asking my bandmates--who have already crossed the line from mild annoyance to total stunned bewilderment over my constant 9021o-isms--if we might insert a JUSTICE FOR VALERIE postcard into the CD package. Who knows? Maybe Darren Star's a fair man. Maybe he'll listen to the Voice of the People.
Ray Pruitt's coming back next week, but I hate the man, so I'm not that interested. He does look more like G-Love every day, though, doesn't he? Maybe Joe'll finally die, too. Maybe the Mercy of Darren Star will let him take Susan and Colin off to the Promised Land with him.
Subj: Peach Pit Babylon
Date: 96-05-15 21:35:55 EDT
There's a few reasons I can't disrespect Ray Pruitt, Donna's wife-beating, guitar-playing, shlock-slinging Sub-Dylan of an ex-boyfriend, who returned this week for a Peach Pit After Dark engagement:
1. His new fiancee, when viewed in profile, slightly resembles Shannen Doherty. This means Ray hasn't lost his sense of history. Smart man, Ray. He also appears to have redeemed himself, and does not seem to be abusing her. I am relieved that the 90210 powers have enough respect to not allow the Shannen quasi-lookalike to get beat up by last season's Dylan wanna-be.
2. Ray Pruitt's astoundingly bad sensitive singer songwriter video, complete with rain-reflective windows and a floral-skirted girlfriend figure, appeared last night on Beavis and Butthead. I have myself appeared on Beavis and Butthead. This is a bond deeper than blood.
3. I may have once decried Ray as the least interesting second-string boyfriend character on the show, but in these days of Jerkoff Colin and Annoyingly Sensitive Joe, oh what a blessing his regular presence would be.
I'd add Donna Has Absolved Him Of His Sins to that list, but that's a given, isn't it? Who doesn't Donna forgive? Even David Silver--who preferred his methamphetamine to her on the one time in the history of the show Donna ever offered her Full Donna Love Stuff to anyone--rode around in a jeep, looking manly, with Donna, for half the episode.
There's a happy ending to this--Joe the football playing drone is leaving! Oh, how that awful goodbye scene on the beach filled me with joy! Of course Donna isn't gonna follow him to Beaver Falls to watch him coach high school football--nor does she completely ream him for abandoning her. The ultimate reason; "I can't leave my friends," Donna says.
That's right, Donna. The 90210 Pantheon needs you. And your father will find you a new boy to not have sex with, next season. No disrespect to Her Donnaness, though; I kinda wish they had gone the full nine and just killed the guy. They woulda done it for Brenda.
I don't even know how to address the Kelly-Valerie stuff. I'm numb to it. I guess I'm resentful of Valerie for even giving a damn about Colin. There she sits, listening over the speakerphone, as Colin tells Kelly he needs her. Of course. Of course. Didn't I tell you? Didn't I tell you?
Given the high stakes, it was disappointing for a catty exchange. Maybe I'm just sick of watching She Of The Mighty Jowls get slapped around.
You know, all that stuff at the top of the episode, the Snappy Banter as Brandon and the neck-braced Steve watched "Vega$" was actually comical. Well, it wasn't really that comical, but it didn't make me cringe. Maybe I was just happy to watch Clare's Big Ol Crosseyes roll around in disgust. Maybe I was just happy that Boring Boring Susan left for D.C. in the first moments of the episode, so I didn't have to worry about her turning up again.
Besides, Brandon had to mediate the Official Kelly and Valerie In Cahoots Trying To Nail Colin For Jumping Sentencing business. You need a Walsh for that. They woulda sent Andrea away, too.
So it seems that, just as the season seemed to be sagging at the end, just as my friend Rich's cruel remarks ("90210? Dude, that's SO two years ago.") seemed to be making inroads on me, they're cleaning up their act. Colin is gone the moment they catch his ass, Joe has left. I worried that the show was losing it's Gee Whiz moral center, but Donna spent the whole show basically calling every boy she hasn't slept with a good and decent person.
And, to boot, afterwards--Melrose. Melrose, as we all now, isn't really worth discussing here. Anymore. But, oh, how it harkens back to those golden days, when calling anyone you knew between eight and ten on Wednesday was an unbelievably foolish act. When they still vaselined the lens, that it might look more softly upon Brenda, the Forgotten Walsh.
Leaves me with a sense of melancholy, though. Everybody on Melrose could get shot or lobotomized at any given time--the Series Finale could be a two-hour shot of a pile of bodies. Small potatoes. A year and two weeks from now, we will all be watching Clare and Kelly and Valerie and Brandon and Steve and David (well, maybe not David--he may soon depart for his, uh, serious musical career) and the less significant others...graduating.
Graduating. I don't want to think about it. Oh, the humanity.
Subj: Late-Breaking Peach Pit
Date: 96-05-18 13:34:44 EDT
I long ago gave up watching the Scenes From Next Week's Episode segment, lest I get all excited about something that doesn't actually happen. This may fit into the aforementioned scenario, but it's pretty mindblowing--somebody confirm this for me--
Valerie exclaims "That's like Dylan and Brenda getting back together!"
Footage of David and Donna smooching.
Someone please tell me the dope here; I haven't slept since I heard about this.
This is good. Oh, this could be so very, very good.
Subj: Peach Pit Babylon
Date: 96-05-23 06:03:31 EDT
PEACH PIT BABYLON: THE RECKONING
Oh, where to begin?
Brenda and Dylan reunite, off camera! Andrea returns! Donna and David Silver reunite in a most cautious and intentional manner! Weird Crosseyed Clare chooses Steve over a wealthy and charming figure from her past! Valerie bags a foxy G-Man and sets herself on a mission to destroy Kelly's happiness, insuring that next season will be a stunning cat-and-mouse game of Keep Kelly And Brandon Apart!
And, most dumbfoundingly--Shrill Newspaper Girl and Boring Cocaine Art Guy have left the building!
I'll have you know that I have a plane to catch at 7 am, and the Evil Powers of Spelling have kept me entirely from sleeping beforehand. But who can complain?
Plus, the Goo Goo Dolls played "Name." I like "Name", prom-song-of-the-millenium that it is. I used to think that I liked the Goo Goo Dolls because, hey, anything that sounds exactly like the Replacements can't be all that bad. Now I know the real reason; the Goo Goo Dolls play 90210 Rock. A genre I can only aspire to. That, and that the Goo Goo Dolls and I share a Product Manager at Warner Bros.--a bond deeper than blood, I'll grant you, but not as deep as the one I share with Ray Pruitt for appearing on Beavis and Butthead.
Wow, I'm unsure what to say. What can I possibly bitch about? I hooted and moaned throughout the entire Glorious Two Hour Season Finale. As Bette Davis exclaimed in *All About Eve*--"Fire! And Music!"
This is the first time I've ever heard a reference to e-mail on 90210--and I'm peeved at the writers for keeping Brenda from communicating with Steve on his birthday. Why wouldn't she write back? She would at least be aware that Kelly's emotional reaction would barely last past the commercial break--come on. Five minutes pass and she's all over Brandon. "I like your arm there," she coos at the Last Walsh, as Colin is lead away by the cops and Valerie hauls off with her Manly FBI Fella. Hiss, hiss.
Weirdly, though, the ghostly reappearance of Brenda seems to have shot Valerie back to Dark Valeriehood; oh, how chuffed am I! The seduction of the Gumshoe Hottie surely is a sign of sluttishness to come. She darkened throughout the episode, as the Kelly Feud intensified, as the delicious banter deepened, as Brandon made more cheesy remarks about how glad he was the experience had brought them together--they seemed to bring the lights down on her, further every time she appeared on screen. There's evil brewing in them there gargantuan cheeks.
She knows what's coming--a bitter power struggle. After all, the spot next to Brandon is where the power broker sits on 90210, and Valerie can't get there. That would be, like, Virtual Incest.
Funny, that really dumb Hillary Clinton joke Brandon made early in the episode resonates more than it did when I cringed as he said it. There were actually, loads of strange remarks that hinted at the show's awareness of itself--Kelly's blithe "Steve always lands in the roses," and Brandon's response, "That's why we love him." And, even more chillingly, the You Invented Colin, No, You Invented Colin exchange between Valerie and Kelly. I mean, they actually said "invented." What's up with that?
I feared the worst as Donna poured champagne--champagne! the Historically Antithetical To Donnahood Beverage--on David Silver's head on the deck of the boat. I feared that Donna's honor was in danger. As you all realize, the demise of Donna's virginity is the demise of 90210--the loss of the Innocent Core. I was composing an obituary in my head--It's Over! It's Over! Doom! Doom! Woe!--to run in this column, as Donna put her head on David Silver's shoulder. But--faithless me--David Silver is far too manly to let Donna go out like that, despite the fact that a graceless and ungrateful Brian Austin Green is always kvetching about wanting to leave the show to the press--I tell you, if he busts her holy Spelling cherry and then takes off to do TV Movies for the rest of his life, I will personally slay him. But this time, damn, he came through. Willya look at those Manly Shoulders? Willya?
Somebody ought to do a compilation reel of Donna's Weird Jerky Movements At The Ends Of Scenes. Really peculiar stuff--sudden head-twitches and thumbs-ups and Pee Wee Herman noises and whatnot. I suppose the accumulated sexual tension accounts for that, if not her general Tori-Spelling-Ness.
The episode oddly shrugged off Andrea's return. The camera suspensefully followed her feet on her entrance, but when they panned up to her face, it was as if the cameraman thought; Wow, is she old-lookin', or what? And all but ignored her from then on.
Little interaction with Brandon from her, which angers all that knew her as the Smart Girl That Brandon Always Goes For in the golden age. I mean, we loved Andrea for that, didn't we? And like she'd come back just to say whassup to Steve Sanders. Come on. Personally, her talk show killed all remaining sentiment for me, and the whole time she was onscreen I was going, Yeah, yeah, get out of the way, maybe Donna'll make one of those weird movements again, but I was nonetheless distressed.
Perhaps Brandon was afraid that if he spoke too much to Andrea, he'd be obligated to grow back that Early Nineties Hockey Player Hair, that Beautiful Flowing Neck Cape he used to have.
Not enough feistiness from The Weird Crosseyed One, I'm afraid--even her hair was less freaky this time around. Clare, Clare, With The Freaky Hair--I know you're rocking about Veronica from the Archies, or what's-her-name from Josie and the Pussycats. Though, were they actually trying to recreate that Evil-Girl-Wears-A-Strange-White-Streak thing, it'd be The Ominous Jowly One whose hair would be getting freakier with every commercial.
Also--the episode took place almost entirely on a ship. No Love Boat references? Admittedly, I'm relieved whenever a particularly obvious piece of gratingly corny Brandon-quipping doesn't happen, but this was sort of a glaring omission.
Now that we're all pleased about Colin being thrown handcuffed into a cop car as Kelly and Valerie glare at him, and Brandon's admirably unsentimental goodbye to Susan the Skinny Uninteresting Andrea Wannabe, maybe we ought to turn to the serious issue at hand--what are they doing about second-string characters next season?
Look, they're gonna need them--Donna and David Silver feuding is gonna be a blissful subplot all its own, but Valerie needs to get some, and, dammit, Steve and Clare have to break up before this thing's through. Here's hoping they get better ones than this season's--meaning, ones that are more satisfying to actively hate.
Because--and I tell you this solemnly--Brandon and Kelly are gonna be married at the end of next season. It would be dishonorable for me to hate the Bride of Walsh, and, frankly, Jennie Garth is rumoured to be the one cast member that owns a Soul Coughing record. It'd be nice to embrace Kelly at last--nobody scoff in disbelief or I'll slap you--but, I have to concur with Randy "Who Put Kelly Through The Ugly Machine?" K., that perhaps a new hairstyle wouldn't be a terrible thing.
For now, though, Kelly Taylor has yet to earn my respect. I'm going to be landing in London at 4:30 pm eastern standard time. And I will, of course, be running madly through the streets of the ancient British capital, yelling, "Brenda! Dylan! Where are you! Come back! *Kelly has to be stopped!*"