Please, no more TV show or movie titles with Beverly Hills or Bel Air in them! If Hollywood producers can't see beyond Southern California, at least they could give Santa Monica or Sherman Oaks or even Pasadena a chance.
Unfortunately, the title is hardly the worst thing about "Beverly Hills, 90210," the Fox series premiering at 8:30 tonight on Channel 5. It's apparently part of a new experiment in comatose television -- a show where things almost happen but never quite do. You keep checking your pulse to make sure you haven't died.
In the premiere, the Walsh family arrives in B.H. from Minneapolis, and the family's two cute 16-year-olds, Brenda and Brandon (cute Shannen Doherty, cute Jason Priestley), transfer to West Beverly High, a school so posh it seems to have a concierge.
So, what sorts of adventures transpire? Well, Brenda almost loses her virginity, and Brandon almost loses his virginity. But at the end of the show, they have this conversation:
"Brenda, did you?"
"No. Did you?"
It's almost Pinteresque -- but by accident. And yet this is only a part of the excitement. Brenda pretends she's over 18 and flirts with a handsome lawyer (cute Maxwell Caulfield) and it looks like he might get rough when she reveals the hoax.
But he doesn't.
Meanwhile, a boy drives a drunk jock home from a party in the jock's Corvette, forgets to put the car in park and it rolls down a driveway and gets dented! And when the jock, sobered up, finds out who the kid was, it looks like he's going to punch him out.
But he doesn't.
Where exactly are the dramatic conflicts here? The Walshes appear to have been pretty well off in Minneapolis, so it's not as if they're shocked by new affluence. We do find out that girls wear more makeup in Beverly Hills, and that parents are more permissive.
Also, it appears that not a single teenager at the high school has, ever has had, or ever will have, a pimple.
"I miss Minneapolis," Brenda tells Brandon. "Nothing was this complicated." Right.
For his part, Brandon offers trenchant sociological observations: "Houses are bigger, the weather's warmer, but that doesn't mean they've cracked the meaning of life, you know what I mean?"
"Everybody here looks like they just stepped out of a music video," Brenda pouts. "I don't even have the right hair."
Darren Star wrote this thrill-a-minute shocker, Tim Hunter directed it, and good old Aaron Spelling is one of the executive producers. In a way, what they've done is amazing. They've created a vacuum, a perfect void, a black hole in the already vast and empty TV schedule.
Not so much a black hole actually as a beige one.