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.