90210 is the fourth series of the Beverly Hills, 90210 continuity. The show was originally developed by writer/producer Rob Thomas, who was succeeded by Jeff Judah and Gabe Sachs. Rebecca Rand Kirshner Sinclair became show runner afterwards. The series introduces a new cast of characters while chronicling the ongoing lives of several characters who originally appeared in the first show. In the United States, it premiered on September 2, 2008 on The CW television network.
90210 returned the franchise to its teenage roots (following Melrose Place and Models Inc.) by introducing Annie Wilson and her adopted brother Dixon, who, like Brandon and Brenda Walsh, meet several new friends after enrolling at West Beverly Hills High School. The Wilson family, including dad Harry and mom Debbie, relocated from Kansas to Beverly Hills to keep an eye on Harry's feisty mother Tabitha. Harry also began the term as principal at West Beverly High. As the series progresses the kids learn how to navigate their new lives with their new friends and facing the many obstacles of being teenagers. This season also shows you old characters from the original series such as Jackie, Kelly, Donna, Brenda, Nat, and Silver.
Throughout Season 1, the series gave a growing amount of development to antiheroine Naomi Clark, played by AnnaLynne McCord, who received notable media attention and acclaim. Also focused upon was Erin Silver, portrayed by Jessica Stroup, a character originally introduced in the first series, and Adrianna Tate-Duncan (Jessica Lowndes). In addition, several other characters were introduced and developed as the show progressed.
- Shenae Grimes as Annie Wilson
- Tristan Wilds as Dixon Wilson
- AnnaLynne McCord as Naomi Clark
- Jessica Stroup as Erin Silver
- Michael Steger as Navid Shirazi
- Jessica Lowndes as Adrianna Tate-Duncan
- Dustin Milligan as Ethan Ward (Season 1)
- Matt Lanter as Liam Court
- Trevor Donovan as Teddy Montgomery (Season 3, recurring seasons 2, 4-5)
- Gillian Zinser as Ivy Sullivan (Seasons 3-4, recurring season 2)
- Ryan Eggold as Ryan Matthews (Seasons 1-3)
- Lori Loughlin as Debbie Wilson (Seasons 1-3, guest season 5)
- Rob Estes as Harry Wilson (Seasons 1-2)
- Jessica Walter as Tabitha Wilson (Season 1)*
- *Jessica Walter left the series after the first thirteen episodes.
- **Jessica Lowndes was on recurring status for the first thirteen episodes of the series, before becoming a series regular in episode fourteen.
Recurring guest starsEdit
- Jennie Garth as Kelly Taylor (Season 1-2)
- Shannen Doherty as Brenda Walsh (Season 1)
- Joe E. Tata as Nat Bussichio (Season 1)
- Ann Gillespie as Jackie Taylor (Season 1-2)
- Tori Spelling as Donna Martin (Season 1)
Casting began before the pilot script was completed; Dustin Milligan was the first actor to be cast. On March 13, Kristin Dos Santos of E! confirmed that the series would be a spin-off with new characters, and not a remake. In order for the project to be ready for the network's "upfront" presentations to advertisers in May, casting began before the script was completed. The first actor to be cast was Dustin Milligan on April 1; AnnaLynne McCord being the second.McCord on April 14. Sachs found Milligan to be "really funny", and changed Ethan to better represent his personality. McCord was cast because, according to Sachs, "she's someone who is worldly, and there's a sophistication to her that's interesting". Actress and singer Hilary Duff was rumored to have been offered the part of Annie, but she told reports that it was "not true". The role was eventually given to Shenae Grimes, who says she was raised watching the original series. Sachs and Judah had seen Grimes' work before and knew "she had the acting chops", and she was cast after acting a dramatic scene which she "just killed". Sachs stated, "she can act, she's beautiful, and she can give this sweet cuteness (that lets us see) through her eyes into this world."
Lori Loughlin audtioned for the role of Debbie and was given the part straight away. Sachs thought that Loughlin was too established to read for the part, but realized that she understood the role immediately. The producers were fans of Jessica Walter after watching her film, Play Misty for Me. Sachs found that Walter knew pieces of scenes, and suggested "stuff that works". Sachs described Ryan Eggold, who portrayed Matthews, as "a sophisticated actor, and he's also very funny". Sachs believed that every time Eggold would be on screen, "people are going to go, 'Wow!'".
The producers were looking for an actor who could portray Silver as a "quirky kid who moves to her own beat". Sachs explained that Jessica Stroup "came in dressed for the part, artsy and quirky, and she had her hair up and she had a bandana. She nailed it." The producers were fans of Tristan Wilds for his acting on The Wire, and hoped to hire him as Dixon from the start of casting. When asked about Michael Steger, who portrays Navid, Sachs said "he's just great". Rob Estes, the last actor to join the series, was a previous cast member of the first Beverly Hills, 90210 spin-off, Melrose Place. Estes was sought by The CW to play Harry, but was contracted on the drama Women's Murder Club. When that series was canceled, Sachs called Estes and explained the spin-off to him, and he thought it was a great idea. Sachs promised that although he was playing a parent, he would not "be furniture... as in the seldom seen or heard parents who populate many youth-centric series, like the Walsh parents on the original 90210."
Following rumors of cast members from Beverly Hills, 90210 appearing on the spin-off, The CW confirmed that Shannen Doherty, Jennie Garth, Tori Spelling and Joe E. Tata would be returning in recurring roles as their original characters. Sachs was familiar with Garth, and talked to her about a possible role in the series. Garth agreed to star on the series without reading a script after brainstorming ideas with Sachs. The producers offered Garth a role as a series regular, but she opted to sign on as a recurring character. Doherty decided to appear after talking with Sachs, but her appearance was moved to the second episode. Sachs described Tata's casting as an accident; a friend told Sachs that he had seen Tata in a store, which led to the offer of a recurring role in the series. Sachs said that Tata was ecstatic about the idea and agreed. After reading the script, Spelling expressed interest in returning, and the writers decided to give her character her own fashion line. Spelling was scheduled to appear in the premiere, but due to personal reasons and the birth of her daughter, she opted to appear later in the season. On August 11, it was reported that Spelling had pulled out of the series after discovering that she was receiving less pay than Garth and Doherty. Spelling asked for her salary of $20,000 per episode to be increased to match their salaries—$40,000 to $50,000 per episode—but when denied she left the show altogether.
Torrance High School was used to portray West Beverly Hills High in the original 90210 series and the spin-off. On May 11, 2008, one day before The CW's upfront presentations, the network officially picked up the series for the 2008–2009 television season.Filming for the pilot began in early June in Los Angeles. Torrance High School, which served as the high school in the original series was also used by the spin-off. Filming for the series usually took place in numerous high schools in Torrance and El Segundo, although several scenes were filmed in Torrance High School because of its large auditorium. Sachs returned to the school for the first time after graduating in 1979. Judah announced that the Peach Pit would be back, but as a coffeehouse rather than a diner. Other filming locations included the mansions of the Bel-Air neighborhood and the Hollywood night club Boulevard3. One week prior to the pilot's broadcast, it was confirmed that filming was still taking place, as the producers wanted to reshoot scenes and add extra ones.
Prior to the season premieres of most television series in September, a common practice by television networks would be to send screeners of pilots of new shows to critics. On August 18, The CW notified critics that they would not be releasing the premiere episodes, saying, "[we] have made the strategic marketing decision not to screen 90210 for any media in advance of its premiere. We're not hiding anything... simply keeping a lid on 90210 until 9.02, riding the curiosity and anticipation into premiere night, and letting all our constituents see it at the same time." Oscar Dahl of BuddyTV speculated that the decision was an indication of the low quality of the episodes, but pointed out that the pilot may not have been finished in time for a screener release, which was later confirmed to be the case. Despite not having watched the episode, the Parents Television Council said in a statement that "if Gossip Girl is any indication of what 90210 will look like, advertisers have plenty of reason to steer clear of the show... No reputable advertiser should even consider sponsoring the show without viewing the content in advance." "We're Not in Kansas Anymore", along with the following episode, averaged 4.9 million viewers throughout the two-hour broadcast on September 2. This gave The CW its highest-rated premiere ever in the adults 18-49 demographic with a 2.6. By comparison, the series finale of the original series was watched by 25 million viewers on its original broadcast in May 2000.
Critics enjoyed Jessica Walter's dialogue, with one citing it as one of the main reasons to watch the series. Most reviews of the pilot were average, claiming that while it was not bad, it was not great either. Metacritic gave the episode a Metascore—a weighted average based on the impressions of a select 12 critical reviews—of 46, signifying mixed or average reviews. When compared to the original series, Rob Owen of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette felt that the spin-off covered the same themes—family, friends, teen melodrama, relationships—but with more humor. Owen praised the compelling characters and the acting, and found the dialogue to be more clever than painful. Adam Buckman of the New York Post commented on the crude language used by the characters, and found there was nothing new that could have surprised him with watching the episode. Ray Richmond of The Hollywood Reporter found that despite The CW's decision not to send out screeners to critics, the pilot was "[not] so horrible after all". Richmond praised the actors and writers, especially returning actor Garth, whom he found looked "terrific" and acted well.Alan Sepinwall of The Star-Ledger found that while 90210 was neither "trainwreck nor masterpiece", it remained remarkably faithful in tone and spirit to the original series. The reviewer realized that "the dialogue was at times intentionally funny", and pointed out that although the actors looked to old for high school, they acted "a lot more natural" than the actors on the original series. Sepinwall questioned The CW's intended audience, saying that while the music and styles were reminiscent of Gossip Girl, those who had not seen the original series would not have cared for the returning characters. Verne Gay of Newsday described 90210 as a "perfectly competent and reasonably seamless revival", with enough contemporary touchstones to attract new viewers. The reviewer commended the spin-off for integrating the new characters with the originals, while also including adults. Gay found that while the pilot featured too many story lines, the "vibe felt right" and it was not the disaster it was expected to be.
Among the reviews were several negative ones, which compared it negatively to the original. Matthew Gilbert of The Boston Globe felt that like the original, 90210 was "pretty bad". Gilbert said that the episode "seemed to take forever to set up some remarkably bland plotlines", which he found had been executed with more finesse by other teen soaps. The reviewer criticized the writers for their "unimaginative material", and commented on the risqué oral sex scene. Gilbert claimed that the characters lacked depth and distinction, especially Naomi, whom he compared negatively to Gossip Girl's Blair Waldorf. By contrast, Tom Gliatto of People magazine gave Naomi Clark a favorable review, but stated that he felt the cast as a whole had yet to gel. Ken Tucker of Entertainment Weekly described the pilot as "corny but trying to be hip, crammed with subplots until the producers figure out which ones the audience responds to." Tucker praised Walters acting as a "slashing panache that no one else on screen approaches", and found the only time he laughed with pleasure throughout the pilot was when her character exclaimed, "I'm gonna call Dan Tana's for some takeout!". Hal Boedeker of the Orlando Sentinel described the pilot as "a blah variation on Beverly Hills, 90210", and being too "extravagant and less believable". Boedeker expressed disappointment in the series, and predicted that it would be canceled within a year.