Beverly Hills, 90210: Season Six
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Beverly Hills, 90210: Season Six

Every so often a television series comes along that moves far beyond being a hit. It rockets into that rarified atmosphere of being cultural phenomena. A series like this winds up affecting the music, fashions and language of the audience. One of the most famous of this type of show is without a doubt ‘Beverly Hills 90210’. For many it may be difficult to believe that twenty eight years has passed since this series first appeared on our television sets. In that time this series has been imitated, parodied and as of a few months ago resurrected with a new cast of privileged ‘kids’ to engage in all that drama audiences love so much. The show lasted much longer than most night time soap operas, ten years. What differentiated this series from so many is the audience grew up with these characters. A lot of the fans started watching this show when it was about a pair of fresh faced twins from Minnesota who moved with their parents to the lush and luxurious Beverly Hills. As the characters matured and moved through high school and then to college so did the core fan base. This did open things up considerably for the writers. Each season was able to build on the previous ones. The story themes became more mature and dealt with problems more specific to the current age group of the viewers and characters. Few shows are able to make so many transitions as this one did and still remain wildly popular. CBS Paramount has been releasing season sets of this show for awhile now. They are up to the sixth season at this point. This release continues the saga of young people in the most famous ZIP code in the world. Jus like most soap operas it is possible to jump into this season but knowledge of what went on before is highly recommended to get the most of this set. In any case welcome back to the mid nineties

The series had started off with mostly episodic story lines that followed a general plan for the season but stood fairly well on their own. By this sixth season the show was a full blown soap opera. While some may think that this is a negative just remember that there is a reason why soaps last for decades on television; they work as a form of entertainment. They are addictive. It is amazingly easy to get pulled into the complex story lines and after that you have to know what happens next. Add to this people literally growing up along with the characters and you have a potent combination for the all important television ratings. The series never did break into the top ten and this season did exhibit a decline in ratings but there was a strong and loyal following and the networks responded to it. This season showed the ‘kids’ in their junior year of college. At least the producers didn’t stretch out high school for the whole ten years. The problems that the characters now faced were more adult in nature which also made the themes somewhat darker in nature.

This season was once again a transition and rebuilding year for the cast and crew. One of the most popular characters, Brenda Walsh (Shannen Doherty) was written off the show at the end of the forth season. She had been replaced by Valerie Malone (Tiffani-Amber Thiessen). She started out as a naďve young woman who was friends with Brenda form back in Minnesota. She had purchased a night club behind the local hang out, the Peach Pit, with Dylan McKay (Luke Perry). In this season she is presented with a dilemma; the club was extremely popular but because of a fling the rest of the group has ostracized her. In typical soap opera fashion her selections of affairs resulted in much of the drama for this character. She begins a relationship with a cocaine addict. He gets arrested and she uses the club as collateral for bail and is threatened with loosing it when he skips out. Dylan would also leave this season and remain absent for two seasons. Ostensibly he left for London to be with Brenda. Before he left season six saw a lot of action with Dylan. His father was murdered by a mobster and Dylan swears revenge. This brings in a lot of the typical crime drama to the themes. He also has a relapse into drug use and starts off the season with a stint in rehab. Before he leaves the series he winds up marrying Antonia Marchette (Rebecca Gayheart), the mob boss’ daughter. Also gone this season was Andrea Zuckerman (Gabrielle Carteris) the smart girl who originally faked an address to go to the better high school. In many ways this reinvented the cast and direction of the series allowing it to keep fresh for the fans. Sticking around are a few of the favorite characters including Kelly Taylor (Jennie Garth), Donna Martin (Tori Spelling) and relative newcomer Clare Arnold (Kathleen Robertson). In one episode they decide to take a girl’s weekend road trip and much to their chagrin Valerie manages to tag along. On this show whenever a group of the female characters get together for any length of time secrets are sure to come to light resulting in a lot of trouble. Valerie also finds herself in the middle of more troubles when she is sexually harassed by one of her professors. As a change up from all the bed hopping this group does is Donna. She is determined to save herself for her wedding night. This is threatened when she discovers that her mother had a fling before marriage. Valerie turns more to a delicious villain as she becomes more of an overt sociopath. She is able to manipulate just about anyone in sight. By the time of this season the high school pranks have been replaced by felonies. There is drug abuse, theft and fraud along with the usual sexual musical chairs and the shadow of parental mistakes.

The series matured slowly so most of these changes were gradual but in this season a lot is hitting the fan. It remained one of the better written and acted shows of its time. There is little wonder why the studio wanted to try to regain the popularity of the series with a new updated version. This set is much like the ones that came before with a plain vanilla presentation. The audio and video are solid abut unexceptional. You can watch the re-imagined series on TV but if you want to see how this kind of a show should be done get this.

Posted 11/07/08

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