It’s hard to describe what, exactly, “BH 90210” is. It’s a new Fox TV show, for sure, a six-week summer fun-run of slightly trashy television set in sunny poolsides. It features (sort of) celebrities playing themselves, but it’s not reality TV. It’s a revival of 1990s teen classic “Beverly Hills, 90210,” but only in the show-within-the-show.
The conceit of the new series is that the original cast of the beloved high- school drama reunites 30 years later at a fan convention and then decides to mount a revival of the series to make money and help their careers. But we’re not seeing Kelly and Brendan, we’re seeing Jennie Garth and Jason Priestley discussing Kelly and Brandon. Except Garth and Priestley are playing fictional versions of themselves they’ve invented for the show.
So that means Brian Austin Green isn’t with Megan Fox; he’s with a fictional pop star named Shay (La La Anthony). Jason is directing a fake superhero TV series. Gabrielle Carteris is the head of the “Actors Guild of America,” not the real Screen Actors Guild. And Shannen Doherty, well, they all kind of hate her.
It takes a while into the first episode to figure out what this world is and who the “characters” are. This Tori Spelling apparently has no money (and rents a house). This Shannen Doherty rescues tigers; this Jason Priestley cheats on his wife; and this Ian Ziering owns a workout empire. If you try to figure out how this all corresponds to the actors’ real lives, you’d drive yourself crazy. They’re mostly playing a random assortment of has-beens trying to reclaim former glory.
Despite all the layers of fact, fiction and hammy performances, “BH” is no disaster. Especially for nostalgia-crazy fans (and there are plenty of them), Easter eggs, in-jokes and photos and clips from the original series will satisfy. If this is the closest thing we get to “90210” coming back (besides the surprisingly fun 2008-13 CW series), it’s well, something. And hey, what else are you going to watch in August, anyway?
“BH” kicks off with a familiar but modern update of the opening credits and a dream sequence back at the Peach Pit. We see Tori and Jennie, flying coach to Las Vegas for a 30th anniversary reunion panel. Tori, apparently, is so broke that she’s desperate to get into a reality show (and to see her former on-and-offscreen flame Brian Austin Green). Jennie recently split from her third husband, but she’s trying to keep it a secret. They’re still, of course, best friends.
They meet up with Brian, Ian, Gabrielle and Jason in Vegas. Brian is a stay-at-home dad, only slightly jealous of his wife’s fame and success. Ian has a seemingly perfect young wife and a new book. Gabrielle is a new grandmother. Jason’s trying to make it as a serious director with the help of his publicist and wife (Vanessa Lachey). When the reunion finally happens, it’s a little awkward.
After the panel, for which Shannen makes a slightly unwelcome appearance via livestream, the gang gathers at the hotel bar for a round of drinks, and the antics begin. Jennie almost sleeps with a hog farmer, but turns him down when he calls her “Kelly,” and she sleeps with Jason instead. Tori and Brian do shots. Gabrielle kisses a female fan. Ian’s wife accidentally video chats with him while she’s cheating on him. Tori drunkenly breaks into an exhibit holding her famous “90210” red prom dress, steals it, and puts it back on.
They all pile into Brian’s private jet to head back to L.A., but the cops are waiting when they hit the tarmac after their theft of the dress. In the middle of all this, there’s a lovely toast to the only original “90210” cast member who’s not a part of the series, Luke Perry, who died earlier this year.
After the actors return back to their normal lives, Tori has the bright idea to capitalize on their tabloid appearance and reboot the original show. How this will come together is left for next week’s episode.