Beverly Hills, 90210: Sorry, Scott Scanlon!
So I'm doing a full re-watch of Beverly Hills, 90210 now that it's streaming on Hulu and now that you can get Hulu without commercials (thank you, television gods!), but apparently over 60 episodes of the show are completely missing because Hulu wasn't able to get the music rights. Which is particularly hilarious since all the actual pop music from the show has been replaced anyway by some terrible pop-punk/grunge hybrid something-or-other, to the point where literally characters are singing along to the WRONG SONG and references are made that make zero sense at all. (I mean the series finale is missing!)
Point being, some of the most iconic episodes aren't there, so I added a few of the DVDs to my Netflix queue to fill in the gaps. I won't be recapping the whole series, but just episodes here and there, and what better episode to start with than "The Next Fifty Years," otherwise known as the Very Special Episode in which former series regular Scott Scanlon bites it after playing with his dad's gun. Don't play with guns, kids! They're not toys! They even say that in the episode!
(WARNING: most people who still talk about the original 90210 on these here internets are only interested in the Brenda years and are pretty hung up on how awesome she is and how horribly she was treated by anyone and everyone. If that sounds like you, I promise that you will only be annoyed by my commentary. Go to literally anywhere else on the internet where they talk about Bev Hills. I find new reasons to hate her every single time I rewatch this series and I keep thinking I'm going to see things differently but I never do. This blog may well end up being a revival of the I Hate Brenda club, seriously. ShanDo is awesome. Brenda is not. That's a credit to the actress, to be clear.) (Again: this is a SAFE SPACE for Brenda hating!)
I sat down to watch it expecting to be laughing at it the entire time, but perhaps I'm getting soft in my old age. I actually thought it was pretty well executed in a lot ways and it made me sad. There's no room for such things in my life! I'm hoping on my recap rewatch I'll have a little more aesthetic distance!
Basically the framing device here is that there's a time capsule from 1941 that's being opened at the school. Because this is 1991. There's some sort of choir singing at the school (which is convenient, since they'll milk it for pathos later), and we open with their rendition of "This Is My Country," which goes on forever. Seriously. They cut around to our various beloved characters who are simply rapt. Is "This Is My Country" not in the public domain yet? I'm going to lose my mind trying to figure out what the dealbreaker was for streaming rights here. David is making a video yearbook, in which he helpfully defines Brenda and Dylan as "popular." We're going to be hearing that word a lot today. This group of friends: MOST POPULAR PEOPLE AT WEST BEVERLY. Despite the fact that they never interact with other humans and, when they do, it's generally to get sanctimonious at them in one way or the other.
Andrea really wants Brandon to come watch Citizen Kane on Saturday night (she's excited because it came out the year she was born!), but he breaks her little heart once again by having plans with a certain Emily Valentine, who has yet to have her meltdown or spike anyone's drink with U4EA. She has, however, already suffered the wrath of Brenda Walsh, who was a total beast to her in her introductory episode.
The gang talks about what they would have done if they were around in 1941. Dylan thinks he would have joined the navy, while Steve is certain he would have been a marine. Sure, guys. You seem like the types to be war heroes. Scott Scanlon wanders up and tries to get David's attention but, you see, David got cool over the summer season while Scott spent the summer getting less cool in Oklahoma, which presumably occurred because they realized Douglas Emerson was not, how do you say, an actor.
Mrs. Scanlon is stalking David at school to try to convince him to help her plan a surprise party this Saturday for Scott's birthday. He really doesn't want to do it, but she guilts him into it. She thinks 25 kids would be perfect! David chases down Scott's fifth-grade girlfriend, who explains that being known as Scott Scanlon's former girlfriend is "embarrassing now!"
David approaches the gang to try to get them to go to the party. Dylan can't go because, man, he's going to be in Baja this weekend. Brenda wants to know when she gets to join him in Baja. Well, Brenda, in about 18 episodes you're going to lie to your parents and leave the country and then get caught and act like being in trouble for LEAVING THE COUNTRY is completely out of line, since every time you get in trouble you seem to think you're the wronged party instead of, I don't know, apologizing and showing a little humility. (I warned you guys!)
Kelly wants to know who else is going. Kelly, literally everyone you know is standing right there, so what difference does it make? Donna's in, and is going to have a hard time talking anyone else into it. She will talk them into it, but we'll never know how because this happens off-screen.
We cut to the party preparations. Scott has 375 siblings and they pop a lot of balloons. This is very startling for people, and is also foreshadowing. Because accidental gunshots and popped balloons, of course. None of these siblings is Sue Scanlon, the sister they invent the following season who David tries to rescue from sluttiness and goth clothing. A little brother wants to do some gun-shooting in their Beverly Hills backyard at night, and in case you think that's normal, Mr. Scanlon assures us that guns are not toys, they are weapons. Lest you think this is responsible parenting, don't forget that he keeps a loaded gun in his desk drawer in a house full of 376 children with Attention Deficit Disorder.
They yell "surprise!" but it's really Donna, Steve, Kelly, and Brenda. Mrs. Scanlon is somehow really put out by this. Brandon and Emily are arriving outside and totally ruin the surprise, mostly because Brandon ruins everything. (Are you starting to sense how much I hate these twins?) Scott cannot believe that the most important kids at school are all at his house! In fact, he deems this "far out!" Mrs. Scanlon does not appreciate these "friends" showing up without gifts.
David is annoyed. He finds a moment with Donna.
David: She acts like the party was ruined because of me and my friends when she should be thanking me for saving it! It's not like Scott's Mr. Popular. No one would have even showed up if it wasn't for you and me.
Because this is television, Scott overheard the whole thing. I mean he was there from the first word and David just kept talking. Both David and Donna apparently have some sort of sight disorder, because really, how did they not see him?
David does not apologize. Again, because this is TV, there's just an awkward silence and we cut to the next scene.
The gang is being deliberately miserable. Steve wants to know how long they have to stay. "We're on borrowed time as it is," says Brandon, which makes no sense.
Everyone starts to leave, and when Mrs. Scanlon protests, Brandon insists that it's getting very late now that it's 8:30. Because Brandon is a dick. David swoops in to save the day by announcing that his birthday present to Scott is learning how to dance! The cool kids are going to teach him. Brandon and Emily do not participate in this, because it is beneath them. This is actually kind of a sweet scene because the rest of them actually do step up and have a little fun, and Brenda and Kelly particularly show Scott a good time by dancing right up on little Scott. Speaking of Little Scott, it's probably making some moves in his pants now, right about the time that the two hottest girls in school are kind of grinding on him.
Things fall apart completely when Brenda makes this inexplicable move:
Someone needs to explain this to me. I was there in the 90s. In fact, I was the same age as these characters (and about 20 years younger than half of the actors). I don't remember this.
Scott showing actual happiness really pisses off his mother, so she cuts off the music and announces that it's time for cake. She brings one of the many siblings up to a bedroom for his pajamas and walks in on Brandon and Emily making out on the bed, because they are horrible, horrible people. She kicks them out, which leads the rest of the gang to leave, too. (Brandon is, of course, haughty about this.) This includes deciding out loud in front of everyone that they're all going to the Peach Pit, and Donna invites David to join them directly in front of Scott.
What the hell is wrong with these people? I get that this is not a cool party (um, all you guys are doing now is going to a burger joint with the exact same line-up of humans, so don't get too smug about how cool you are), but even teenagers have some sense of compassion in a situation like this. You don't actually announce that the party sucks and publicly suggest that the party organizer should leave.
Thankfully, David has been infected with humanity during this party and opts to stay. The rest of them leave. Brenda is the only one who remembers to say "Happy Birthday." WAS THAT SO HARD? This is also the moment the show decides that David is enamored of Donna.
They need matches for the cake and Mr. Scanlon sends Scott into his office to get the lighter from the desk drawer, where Scott finds the Gun of Doom.
David comes in to get him and here we go.
Scott: Hey David! Check this out!
David: Scott. Scott! Put that --
Lots of slow motion and David grabbing his head. Brian Austin Green is not bad here, honestly.
We cut to the school having a "fellow student died" assembly, where the choir from earlier is singing "Somewhere" from West Side Story. I'm not kidding. Why the everloving fuck is this the song to memorialize a kid? (Also, I think we've found the music rights issue in the episode. Which is ridiculous, since they should be replacing this song with anything else in the world. Anything. "You're A Grand Old Flag" would be better here. Is that public domain?)
Anyway, now we get to what I sincerely think is the best dialogue of the episode. Brenda can't believe that this has happened, and...
Dylan: I don't want to sound like a jerk, but which one is Scott Scanlon? When you told me, I thought it was that guy. But obviously not.
Brenda: No, Dylan, you know Scott.
Oh crap, we're not even at the halfway point yet? Why did I commit to this again?
Kelly thinks she has the flu, and Steve helpfully points out that she's doing better than Scott.
Scott's fifth-grade girlfriend cries to Donna about how she's only said two words to Scott in high school. Donna hugs her.
A school official announces that the counseling office is open. Andrea says that making a four-page insert about Scott for the school paper is going to be a lot of work, but "under the circumstances I think it's really important." HOW BIG OF YOU, ANDREA. Just think, if you'd gone to the party instead of Citizen Kane, you might have been the hero!
Later at the Blaze office, Brandon and Andrea battle over Andrea's interest in including a gun control diatribe in the memorial pages. For once, I am Team Brandon here.
Take a chill pill, Andrea. I know it's hard to be a middle-aged high school junior, but do some yoga or something.
Funeral! David is upset about having to speak at the funeral, which he confides in Donna.
Apparently David had a dream the night before that it was the night Pearl Harbor was bombed (no, really) and they went to bury the time capsule, only it was a coffin. And the body inside was him! He feels guilty that he felt happy to wake up and remember it's Scott that's dead, not him. Mrs. Scanlon keeps introducing David to everyone as "Scott's bestest, bestest friend in the whole world."
Dylan is over at the Walsh house and he and Brandon talk about their mutual relationships. Things are solid again between Brenda and Dylan. Brandon really likes Emily, but "our timing's just way off with this whole 'death' thing." YOU'RE VERY SENSITIVE, BRANDON. SO DREAMY. He mentions three times that he almost died, and thinks that must mean that somebody up there must like him, to which Dylan appropriately replies, "Does that mean that somebody up there didn't like Scott?" Brandon in his infinite wisdom says, "I don't know, man. I don't know." Shut up, Brando.
Everyone is offering up sympathies at school to David. Kelly asks him if the funeral was "creepy." Kelly, put a sock in it. Don't be a dick. David does not enjoy this attention.
Andrea starts reading her editorial out loud to Brandon, and asks him if a certain line is too strident. Andrea, your life is too strident. Of course the line is too strident.
Brandon and Emily make out, but Brandon pulls away because he feels guilty having sexy times under the circumstances. Emily thinks they should celebrate being alive.
It is heavily implied that Emily loses her virginity right there on the Walsh couch one moment later. Because Emily has just one thing on her bucket list, and that's humping Brandon on his parents' living room sofa.
Mel Silver gives his son a pep talk. Mrs. Scanlon turns up at school and cries at David. She wants him to come by the house to get some things of Scott's that she knows he would want him to have. Kelly invites David and Mel to dinner with her and her mother. He's once again angry that people keep bothering him about Scott.
Brandon and Emily are flirting in the Blaze offices, which upsets Andrea. She runs out and Brandon chases her. Andrea cries a little. Lady, gather up some dignity, good lord.
David is over at the Scanlon house and Mrs. Scanlon is being super-annoying. I don't know why they thought she needed to be so overwritten, but here we are.
David doesn't want any more of Scott's stuff and yells at her. "Scott accidentally shot himself in the stomach because he liked to play with guns, but I don't think that has anything to do with me!" Smooth, Dave. She's upset and leaves the room. He goes after her, but because this is television there is an invisible force frame that makes it impossible for him to go past the door frame.
David is nasty to Donna at school, and she reads him the riot act. He apologizes. Sort of. He's editing the video yearbook and finds the interview he did a few days ago with Scott.
David is overcome, and some incredibly incongruous music underscores this scene.
Later, David is doing his radio show and Brandon swings by to interview him for the paper. David is offended by this whole tribute thing and starts to freak out. Because this is television, he accidentally turns on the microphone so the whole school can hear him.
David: He was a jerk, okay? He was a jerk who blew himself away, that's who he was. You don't know! You left early! You missed out on the fun part where he picked up a loaded gun and twirled it around like Wyatt Earp! You weren't there to see him goof up and shoot himself and bleed all over his mom's Persian rug. [Brandon tells him the mic's on.] I don't care! No one gave a rat's ass about Scott till he died. And I was the worst one of all. He was my best friend and I dropped him 'cause he wasn't cool like you, or Kelly, or Steve. So they're looking at me. So what? They've been looking at me for days, Brandon. "Oh poor David, is he gonna be okay, I hope he hasn't cracked up yet." I can't even walk through the hall without somebody in my face trying to cheer me up like they're my new best friend. Well what about my old best friend? It doesn't matter what you write about him in the paper, Brandon. It doesn't matter what you say about somebody once they're gone. What matters is how you treat them when they're still here. I guess you can quote me on that.
I just did, David! You're welcome!
The gang goes up to David to offer their support. Donna has an idea! We cut to David going over to the Scanlons' house to bring her the videotape of Scott. She hands him something and says Scott would be really pleased that he wanted to have it (though we don't see what it is yet).
The gang is burying a new time capsule at school. It's the "Scott Scanlon Memorial Time Capsule." Dylan brings surfboard wax. "To symbolize the waves that have been pounding at our shores for thousands of years, but really is just a brief moment in time." Oh Dylan, shut up. Brenda gives him an appropriate eye roll. David pulls out the cowboy hat he'd made fun of Scott for wearing earlier in the season and they bury the trunk. They all light some sparklers, which David had also made fun of Scott's interest in earlier. "This one's for you, Scott."
Special note: This is the first episode I've seen in this series rewatch in which the boom mic does not make an appearance.
Another special note: I'm up to the beginning of Season 3, which means the beginning of the Summer of Deception. So you better believe I'll be doing some recaps of that, because I love the Summer of Deception.