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Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Walking Down "90210" Lane

121206hills (AP Photo/HO/Paramount)

It's the holiday season and we're feeling very nostalgic here at The Slug. No, not for dancing sugarplums. We're reminiscing about "Beverly Hills, 90210," baby. (Did you hear the first-season DVD was recently released?) This classic Fox prime-time soap was the show that taught us about sex and relationships. We all know "Melrose Place" was the super-successful spin-off, but recalling late television mastermind Aaron Spelling's similar incarnations and copycats — "The Heights," anyone? — is more baffling than Brenda's European departure. So we decided to do a YouTube retrospective to fill in all the gaps.

"Beverly Hills, 90210." Cartier! Gucci! Van Cleef! Jason Priestly falling back onto his bed in his boxers! Shannon Doherty looking like a total witch way before we ever suspected she was! That's what it all started with back in 1990 before Andrea had a baby and Scott accidentally shot himself. Relive the magic with the first season's opening credits (prior to the da-da-da-da, da-da-da-da, cha-cha theme music).

"Melrose Place." Using the well-chiseled Grant Show as Kelly's older love interest, Spelling successfully spun-off "90210" in 1992 with this sudsy show about an older group of friends who lived in the same apartment complex. "Melrose Place" didn't get really, really good until about season four when Marcia Cross became a series regular and we realized Heather Locklear would be the Special Guest Star forever. Here are the credits from that season.

"The Heights." In 1992, Spelling tried to work his magic again with "The Heights" — a "Monkees"-ish outing about a group of musician friends with the tagline "where friendship has a sound all its own." Cheesy! This is that show where baby-faced frontman Jamie Walters famously crooned/asked: "How do you talk to an angel?" Your brain may remember otherwise, but "The Heights" did not have a direct "90210" connection, although Walters did serve as Donna's blue-collar abusive boyfriend Ray Pruit a few years later. A Fox promo for the show may jog (or jab) your memory.

"Models Inc." Years before Tyra Banks began looking for "America's Next Top Model" from a catty group of real girls, this official "Melrose Place" spin-off was all about feisty fake models in 1994. (We seem to remember one of them dating a priest.) Unfortunately, the ratings sucked and "Models Inc." went bankrupt after the first season. Take a look. The delicious opening credits feature both a pre-"Matrix" Carrie Anne-Moss and a post-"Dallas" Linda Grey lovingly clutching a cell phone.

"Central Park West." "90210" and "Melrose Place" creator Darren Star attempted to transplant his brand of drama from Los Angeles to Manhattan and from Fox to CBS in 1996 — sans Spelling — with "Central Park West." It didn't work. "Central Park West" moved to the trash can after one-and-a-half seasons. But maybe the failure of "CPW" helped Star learn a lesson or two. He later created "Sex and the City."

"Savannah." We need to be upfront with you. We've never seen an episode of this "Melrose Place"-in-the-South prime-time soap that premiered in 1996. The Slug didn't have The WB in the netlet's early years. Here's what we know: The Spelling-produced show took place in Georgia and centered on three friends, one of whom was played by Jamie Luner who later joined the aging "Melrose Place" as an adversary for Amanda Woodward. And the opening credits were horrible. Horrible!

"Pacific Palisades." Now here's one you might have forgotten — or missed completely. But The Slug remembers. We're not exactly sure what Mr. Spelling was thinking with this 1997 so-bad-it's-bad prime-time soap about a Los Angeles suburb starring Joan Collins, some daytime soap veterans (Finola Hughes, Michelle Stafford) and that guy who took his shirt off in those Diet Coke commercials. ("It's 11:30!") "Pacific Palisades" was dumped after the first season. Three years after that, "90210" was over and prime-time soaps starring twentysomethings were never the same.



You forgot to mention one of my all time favorite shows from Aaron Spelling, Malibu Shores, starring Keri Russell, Tony Lucca, Randy Spelling (even tori made a few guest apperances)

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