Beverly Hills, 90210: The Complete First Season Just as Fox's 21 Jump Street injected the cop drama with a dose of hip, Beverly Hills 90210 infused the primetime soap with youthful energy. Like Aaron Spelling's Dynasty, most characters don't lack for disposable income, except for middle-class twins Brandon Beverly Hills 90210 and Melrose Place creator Darren Star reflects on the first seasons of both shows in this Amazon-exclusive clip. High Bandwidth | Low Bandwidth (Jason Priestley) and Brenda Walsh (Shannen Doherty, Heathers). Created by Darren Star (Melrose Place), the class-conscious concept scored an instant hit. In the two-part Tim Hunter-directed pilot, the teens have just arrived from Minneapolis. "Nobody knows me," Brenda tells Brandon on their first day at West Beverly High. "I can be anyone I want." The two soon befriend Steve (Ian Ziering), Kelly (Jennie Garth), Donna (Spelling's daughter, Tori), David (Brian Austin Green), and commuter student Andrea (Gabriel Carteris). Then there's Dylan (Luke Perry), who debuts in the second episode ("The Green Room"). A poetry-reading surfer with a shady past, he's the James Dean of the piece, and Brenda falls hard for his bad-boy charms. Guests include Debbie Gibson ("East Side Story") and Matthew Perry ("April is the Cruelest Month"), while recurring characters include understanding parents Cindy (Carol Potter) and Jim Walsh (James Eckhouse) and Peach Pit manager Nat (Joe E. Tata). Beverly Hills, 90210 ran for 10 years. Though it would move away from issue-oriented episodes in the seasons to come--in the first, it takes on shoplifting, cheating, and date rape--without it, there would be no O.C., no Veronica Mars, etc. Just like the 1980s films of John Hughes (The Breakfast Club), it set the standard to which all others must be compared. As nice as it is to have the show on DVD, it should be noted that not all musical selections made the cut, i.e. "Music has been changed for this home entertainment version." Otherwise, this guilty pleasure remains as pleasurable as ever. --Kathleen C. Fennessy Melrose Place: The Complete First Season It began as a spin-off of Beverly Hills, 90210, but this summer replacement quickly established its own unique identity. The connection is creator Darren Star and the character of Jake (Grant Show), who had a fling with Kelly (Jennie Garth) on 90210. In the pilot, she stops by 4616 Melrose to pay a visit (and returns for two more episodes). Jake's neighbors comprise of Alison (Courtney Thorne-Smith), Rhonda (Vanessa Williams), Sandy (Amy Locane), Matt (Doug Savant), and married couple Michael (Thomas Calabro) and Jane (Josie Bissett). When Alison's roommate runs out on her, she takes in Billy (Andrew Shue) to cover the rent. Just as 90210 had the Peach Pit, the twentysomethings of Melrose gather at Shooters, where aspiring actress Sandy waits tables. Her roommate Rhonda teaches aerobics. Other professions include mechanic (Jake), receptionist (Alison), social worker (Matt), doctor (Michael), designer (Jane), and writer (Billy). Midway through the season, photographer Jo (Daphne Zuniga) and ad exec Amanda ("special guest" Heather Locklear) arrive to shake things up. What had been a program about work and life issues takes a darker turn as Michael gives in to temptation and Amanda sets out to ruin Alison's career--and her relationship with Billy. Other troublemakers are waiting in the wings, like Michael's colleague Kimberly (Marcia Cross) and Jane's sister Sydney (Laura Leighton). Both return to stay in the second year. Melrose Place ran for seven increasingly soapy seasons and spawned the short-lived Models, Inc.. Afterwards, Thorne-Smith moved on to Ally McBeal and According to Jim, while Savant and Cross would eventually segue to Desperate Housewives. Other actors had a shorter stay at the infamous West Hollywood apartment complex-- notably, Locane, who makes her exit in the 13th episode ("Dreams Come True") and Williams, who makes hers in the 32nd (two-part season finale "Suspicious Minds"). --Kathleen C. Fennessy
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