It might’ve taken a national emergency for me to finally do this, but honestly, this is something I’ve kinda wanted to do for a while. For however long this takes, I’m going to be recapping old episodes of “Beverly Hills 90210.” For those that don’t know, it ran from 1990-2000. Once they worked out the kinks of how many years these kids were in high school (3 “seasons”), their college years coincided directly with mine, and that’s where my obsession with the show began. When they were freshman in college, I was a freshman in college. And this was back when this show was producing 32 episodes a season, which is unheard of nowadays. So their “seasons” would start in September (when I started school) with the season finale (and that “school year”) airing in May, when I got out of school. So this was appointment viewing to say the least. How often will these recaps happen? Hard to answer but know you’ll get some every week. And when I post, it’ll be at least two recaps at a time in chronological order.
I understand people might have other shows they want me to cover, but, this is something that I’ve kinda always wanted to do and now I have the time to do it. If you remember almost a year ago to the day, and I had Sarah D. Bunting and Tara Ariano on from the “Again with This” podcast, co-hosts to who covered every single episode of their 10 seasons. I will NOT be doing that. Just because I think once the college years were over, the show went to hell and although I watched, it just wasn’t as good. Their podcast included audio clips and even had photos if you followed along on their website. I won’t have any of that. This past weekend, I busted out the old episodes, and just started taking notes. It’s going to be my thoughts on one of the corniest, yet one of the more important high school shows ever made. Yes, it was very campy. Yes, it was incredibly cheesy, the clothing is outdated, there’s no internet or electronics really (having a car phone was a huge deal), and there were some AWFUL storylines. That’s exactly why I’m recapping this.
If you watched in the 90’s (or even after that), I think you’ll appreciate this fine natured ribbing I give this show. Just remember, it’s done all out of love. Because it’s really impossible to look back on a 90’s TV show about kids in college and not get a nice chuckle or twelve. They occasionally hit some very serious issues (rape, drugs, discrimination, alcohol, physical absuse, etc), and I will handle those carefully, although, there’s always a funny slant to put on them in terms of the show. Obviously those topics are serious in nature, but yeah, the way sometimes it was presented on the show leaves the viewers with quite a few questions sometimes, and I will present those as needed. If you never watched the series while it aired, or didn’t after the fact and have no idea what I’m talking about well, then, these recaps may not be for you. But it doesn’t mean you can’t go watch them now and then following along with these recaps after the fact. However, you need to know where to go and here’s why…
All 10 seasons of this show are available on Hulu or Amazon Prime, BUT, both those streaming services are missing episodes. Quite a few. In fact, here’s the breakdown of what episodes are missing from each season on both of those streaming platforms:
Season 1: none
season 2: 6, 8, 14, 18, 23, 26, 27
season 3: 30
season 4: 15, 32
season 5: 12, 20, 25, 32
season 6: 2, 3, 16, 27, 28, 31, 32
season 7: 2, 3, 5, 10, 13, 14, 15, 19, 21, 26, 27, 30, 31, 32
season 8: 1, 2, 7, 8, 16, 17, 19, 20, 23, 27, 30, 31, 32
season 9: 4, 11, 13, 14, 16, 21, 24,
season 10: 2, 6, 10, 12, 14, 16, 18, 20, 24, 27
You may ask, “Why are so many episodes missing?” The best answer is because no one had the forward thinking to think about music copyright issues. Once they got into the college years and the “Peach Pit After Dark” became a thing, there was a lot of music on the show performed by popular artists at that time. However, according to the internet, “no one bothered to negotiate the music rights for any other format besides second run syndication and DVD.” So especially when I eventually get into recapping seasons 6 & 7, you’re gonna be missing quite a few episodes if you try and watch online. So there’s two other options for you if you want to be sure to see every episode of all the seasons I cover.
1) Buy the DVD sets
2) Record episodes on the Pop TV Channel
However, while Pop TV may run their episodes in chronological order and run episodes almost every day to where you can set your DVR and have them all in there, you’re at the mercy of where they are now, and right now they’re on season 7 episode 3 I believe. So they won’t be getting around to season 5 for a while. Which basically means your best bet is to buy the DVD’s. You may not be able to get any home essentials on Amazon right now because people are hoarding hand sanitizer and toilet paper, but the full season DVD’s are all there. The original music is STILL cut out of a lot of them because of the copyright issues, but on the DVD’s, it’s just replaced with generic music and they don’t just skip whole episodes. If there’s one thing this franchise needs to do is somehow secure these music right and re-release all 10 seasons with the music that we watched these episodes with growing up. Will it happen? Probably not, but hey, I can dream.
I understand that maybe this isn’t the show you guys want me to cover and you have all sorts of other suggestions. Just know at times like these, I just wanna give people some escape from what’s going on in their lives. 90210 basically shaped my college life, I can’t tell you how many times over the last 20 years since it went off the air I’ve watched the show, you’ve heard me reference it numerous times in recaps over the years, and I truly think that if you watched it from the beginning til at least the end of college, it’s kind of impossible not to like. Now, what I tweeted this weekend was that I was gonna start on season 5, which is their sophomore year of college. Everyone will have their opinion on this, but I think the show was infinitely better once Tiffani Amber Theissen joined the cast as Valerie Malone. Some people agree, some people are Team Brenda. Not gonna change my mind. I’ve seen the high school years and freshman year of college. Numerous times. I thought once Valerie was introduced as a character, the show got much more “sexy,” as she played the vixen quite well. They needed something like that to spice up the show, and spice it up Val did. So that’s why I’m starting there. Who knows, maybe I will get around to covering the high school years. We could be here a while.
So sit back, strap in, and binge with me why don’t you? There will be a post every week (if not two), and each post will have at least 2 episode recaps in them (if not 4). I’m already halfway through watching season 5, so it’s just about getting to the computer and writing the recaps for them. Much easier to get caught up in the show and just watch and jot notes then come to the computer and recap because I get so sucked up in it. Season 5 of “Beverly Hills, 90210” covers the casts’ sophomore year at fictional “California University (CU)” and premiered Sept. 7th, 1994. I had just started my sophomore year at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles. Lets begin…
Season 5, Episode 1 – “What I Did On My Summer Vacation and Other Stories”
-Yes, we start there. We have to jump ahead 3 months from where they last left us at the end of freshman year. A lot happened. Most of which I remember, some of which the episode reminded me of and I’ll be addressing it as we hit each storyline. Basically I’m going to cover the episode as it aired, trying not to go out of sequence. Little details or lame storylines might get glossed over, but figure you’ll be reading this as an episode-by-episode guide with my thoughts thrown in.
-It opened with Brandon (Jason Priestly) and Kelly (Jennie Garth) in bed. For those new to this show, there’s A LOT of kissing. Like, A LOT. An inordinate amount. And the producers must’ve stuck microphones in all the casts’ jowls since every lip smack and tongue suck is heard from here to Timbuktu. Gotta love it. You see, Brandon and Kelly are together because…oh geez. Do you really want me to recap 4 previous seasons right here? If you’re a fan, you already know. If not, here’s the shortest version ever: Kelly had an on again, off again relationship with Dylan (Brandon’s best friend), who was also on and off with Brenda, Brandon’s sister and Kelly’s best friend (played by Shannen Doherty), who never appears on the show again because she was a giant bitch in real life on set and was essentially shit canned. Hence the reason they needed a new “vixen.” Enter Valerie Malone (Tiffani Amber Theissen).
-By the way, no one knows Brandon and Kelly are playing hide the pickle because they need to slowly ease people into this new world. For 4 seasons they never did anything physically, and now they’re in her bed and seemingly have been there all summer as well since she won’t even let Brandon leave without one final smash session.
-Why did Brandon have to leave? He’s meeting his family at LAX. Brandon sees David Silver (Brian Austin Green) getting off the plane because he was traveling with Babyface this summer. Babyface was big in 1994. Now I believe he plays state fairs and leaves out a tip jar. Brandon tells him he’s there to pick up the girl who will be staying in Brenda’s room this year. Dun, dun, duuuunnnnnnnnn….
-This is where we get our classic show open. Kinda miss the days where TV shows (especially this one) literally spent :90 seconds of their show giving you a montage of the cast. And what a montage it was. Clips from past seasons along with each cast member turning around and giving a cheesy ass smile to the camera in front of a high school senior picture background wall. It’s very 90’s. Here, in case you don’t remember:
A couple things of note here:
-That open was from season 3, senior year of high school.
-Instagram only lets you do a minute unless you do IGTV, so that went on for another :30 seconds
-It’s still incredibly weird to watch this show with Luke Perry’s passing a year ago. If you haven’t seen this season or this show, and you spend time re-watching this, you’ll realize what a major force he was in this show.
-In the season 5 open, you have all the standards of (real name in parentheses) Brandon, Kelly, Steve Sanders (Ian Ziering), Andrea Zuckerman (Gabrielle Carteris), David, Donna Martin (Tori Spelling), Valerie, and Dylan McKay (Luke Perry). But season 5 also gives us 3 others in the opening credits: Cindy and Jim Walsh – Brandon’s parents (Carol Potter & James Eckhouse respectively), and by miracle of God Jesse Vasquez (Mark Damon Espinoza). He did 50 episodes of BH90210 as Andrea’s husband. I thought he disappeared after that, but looking at his IMDB page, he’s had pretty steady work as a one off character actor on a bunch of shows. Damn. Jesse Vasquez did live on in infamy. Good for you Jesse/Mark. Because frankly you were a wet blanket in this series and the Jesse/Andrea marriage was easily a damper on a lot of episodes. Sorry.
-Where were we? Oh yeah, a scene of Dylan down in Mexico on the rocks at the beach in jeans and jean jacket looking despondent and with a bottle in his hand. Get used to it. Dylan is now a drunk. At the end of season 4, he dumped all of his money into an ecological company headed by his stepmom and her Geraldo Rivera looking husband (Suzanne and Kevin), who were scamming him from the get go because they knew he was rich. Now he’s broke, alone in Mexico, and no one in Beverly Hills knows it yet. They all think he’s loaded. And boy does that cause issues.
-Our first scene of Kelly and Donna have them at odds because Donna seems to think Kelly sided with Donna’s ex David at the end of last year when, in an all-time classic scene, David was in a limo having sex with Ariel, a music producer. Donna walked up, knocked on the window, and David being the biggest dumbass ever, let her in the limo with his shirt off and another woman half naked. And oh yeah, a condom wrapper on the ground. You see, Donna is a virgin, and she always felt David wanted sex from her. Which he did. He’s a dude. But now David went out and cheated on her in a limo with this little bimbo and David and Donna are no longer. So that’s where the Kelly/Donna rift came from.
-This rift lasts all of five seconds at the hair salon where these two have now made up and are BFF’s again. Kelly, Donna, and David all lived at the beach house, but David has clearly moved out now, and Donna has been away all summer in Houston learning how to curtsy for rich, uppity snobs like her mother as she became a debuntante.
-Back at LAX, Steve has arrived from Hawaii. Back in the days, making cameos by athletes on 90210 was kind of a thing. You’ll see it throughout the next few seasons. Anyway, this one had Steve hanging with Howie Long over something not important. We find out that the girlfriend Steve had at the end of last year, Celeste, dumped him in August. Which leads him to tell Brandon he’s now going after Kelly again, who Steve thinks is the love of his life. But little does Steve know Brandon has spent all summer under the covers with Kelly and Brandon isn’t telling him just yet. SPOILER ALERT: Steve will get kicked in the nuts enough this season already. Really no need to do it 10 minutes into episode 1.
-Andrea update: She’s been in the hospital the last 3 months with her newborn Hannah because there were some complications at birth which we see flashbacks on. She had a tear in her abdominal wall, and Andrea has yet to bring her baby home and that makes her a worry wart all day, every day. Understandable in real life. This isn’t. Andrea needs to not be such a downer in every scene. In case you didn’t know when this season was airing, Andrea was 33 in real life (born in 1961). Another big thing in the 90’s is that you had much older kids playing high schoolers and college students. Very realistic I tell ya’.
-David is really into video production, so he’s making a video showing what happened this summer touring with Babyface. In this video, he shows that Ariel dumped him and gave him crabs. Wait, what? And he’s sharing this in a video about his summer? Did Ariel also make David stupid? Who shares this in a “look what I did this summer” video? Someone help David with his crabs. Please.
-Kelly and Brandon end up telling Steve about them because, well, Steve probably would’ve tried to mount Kelly at some point and we don’t need that again. Steve is bummed, but they’re all headed over to the Walsh’s for a BBQ as Valerie Malone will get introduced to everyone. Valerie is staying with the Walsh’s because Jim and Cindy were friends with their parents and there was a major incident that just happened which we’ll find out later about. She’s in from Buffalo and Steve doesn’t think no one hot comes from Buffalo because he’s a short sighted pig. “How cool can she be, she’s from Buffalo?”
-They show up at the BBQ, Valerie turns around and Steve immediately has an erection. Of course he does. Her being from Buffalo doesn’t seem to bother him any more now that he sees what a smoke show Tiffani Amber Theissen was in her prime. Good Lord. And THIS is why I decided to start covering this show at season 5. Tellin ya’, Valerie Malone was probably most high school and college boys dream girl during these years. Straight fire. And brought a sexual energy to this show that, frankly, lacked it in the first four seasons. Oh sure, there were sex storylines, and virginity storylines, and plenty of makeouts on beaches, in cars, etc. But Valerie ramped that up ten fold within the first few episodes of this season as you’ll see.
-Naturally at BBQ, there is some basketball being played on about an 8 foot hoop since Steve is dunking without leaving the ground. It’s Steve and Val versus Brandon and his dad, while Donna and Kelly watch from a far. Kelly tells Donna about her and Brandon and also that Valerie is staying with the Walsh’s because her dad committed suicide. They feel really bad for her. That’ll last about another 2 episodes before Valerie Malone wrecks havoc on all of Beverly Hills and reveals who she really is. What’s also interesting about the Valerie character is the fact that we know this is also Kelly Kapowski from the “Saved By the Bell” series, who had this goody two-shoes persona about her. So yeah, back in 1994, this was a shock to everyone’s system. A shock that we all appreciated. I’m trying to think of what the equivalent would be now, and I guess maybe (even though she’s older now that Tiffani was then), it would be if Taylor Swift all the sudden started doing raunchy, movie rolex where she played a sexual maneater. Close, no?
-They decide to leave this silly BBQ that’s for kids and head to Doheny’s, the big club where Jesse works to show Val a good night in Beverly Hills on her first night there. You know what else there is a lot of in this show? Dancing. And bad dancing at that. Steve does on the dance floor with Val and, well, my description can’t do it justice. Just picture what every white guy danced like in 1994 and maybe you’ll get it. While they’re dancing, Val asks Steve if Brandon and Kelly are together, peeking at eye at them. The wheels are already spinning in Val’s head.
-Dylan arrives home from Mexico, his house is a mess, there’s mail all over the place, and he turns on his…get this…answering machine. A bunch of messages about unpaid bills, and there’s a message from Brandon about how Brenda his gonna stay in London for a year because the acting studio she went to really liked her. Hence the reason this is a fictitious show since clearly no acting studio ever would think Shannen Doherty could act her way out of a paper bag. Sorry. She got better on “Charmed.” I’ll give her that. So now Dylan is broke AND his girl is gone for the year. And he doesn’t have a clue yet about Brandon and Kelly. This is gonna be a rough first half of the season for Dylan. Maybe he should drink? Oh wait – check. Maybe he should do drugs? Uhhhhhhh….
-David walks into the club that the group is at, and Donna has flashbacks of him banging Ariel in the limo and the condom wrapper and she’s peace-ing out of that place. She can’t handle seeing David after what he did. But seemingly doesn’t have an issue with David wearing a shirt that’s 10 sizes too big and acting like he’s black.
-Outside, Steve and Val are getting frisky in the car. He tries to lay the smooth talk on her. “You have the most beautiful eyes I’ve ever seen.” C’mon Steve. This is Valerie F***ing Malone. “You wanna kiss me, go ahead and kiss me.” See? This Beverly Hills prudes haven’t seen a woman like this before. That’s what we need. But dammit, Brandon ends up cock blocking Steve by getting in the car right as they’re about to kiss. Womp wooooooooomp.
-At home, Brandon and Val share a bathroom since she took over Brenda’s room. They talk about how Val was the first girl Brandon ever kissed. Val reminds him it was a “You show me, I’ll show you” moment. Val is in her PJ’s and Brandon doesn’t remember the chubby girl with the braces he used to know being this smoking hot in her nightwear. He basically realizes he has a giant problem on his hand that this girl is gonna be right next door to him and sharing a bathroom.
-The final scene of the episode is an all time classic. Val sitting on the edge of her window, calling her friend Ginger back in Buffalo, rolling a joint, talking trash on all the people she just met calling them “avocado heads,” says Steve is kinda dumb but has money and “gives good credit card,” all while she smokes a joint as the screen fades out. Yes, in 2020 this scene is whatever. But in 1994, seeing “Kelly Kapowski” playing the bad girl and smoking a joint on 90210? The whole country just about lot their shit. Valerie Malone is here to stay and will be a force to be reckoned with the next few seasons.
Episode 2 recap on next page…