With the season finale – and most likely, the series finale – of BH90210 now a thing of the not-too distant past, we’re all packing up and preserving in our minds and in our hearts this six episode revival which really had no right to be as brilliant and downright subversively funny as it turned out to be. Ian Ziering, Jason Priestley, Shannen Doherty, Brian Austin Green, Jennie Garth, Gabrielle Carteris and Tori Spelling now go gently into that goodnight right next to former summer loves, the smell of freshly mown grass, crackling Otis Redding albums and other coming of age trinkets from our storied pasts that, when counted at the end of the day, collectively make up the DNA of our lives. And, unlike some later in life reunions that end in calamity and shell-shock, the kids from West Beverly High never overstayed their welcome and, in a nice twist, left us pining for more. Well played you beautiful and shining thespians, well played.
Before we sit down and unpack last night’s finale – and there is a lot to talk about – let’s get one major thing out of the way: One the real compasses that guided this particular pop culture anomaly safely into harbor never shared one moment of screen time with our seven alumni, nor did he have the good fortune to experience this resurgence and this new appreciation for an iconic show of the 1990s that many had written off as an inexplicable fad that had rightly gone the way of bleached hair, overalls and the Reebok Pump. Instead Luke Perry, who had essayed to pitch-perfection the role of bad boy Dylan McKay and actually gave James Dean a run for his money in the heartthrob department, passed away unexpectedly on March 4, 2019 at the still-young age of fifty two. “May the bridge I burn light the way,” Perry’s misunderstood rebel famously pontificated in an early episode of Beverly Hills 90210. The light this actor left in his wake was indeed bright and significant and his absence strangely braced some of the frivolity of the meta BH90210 and inserted into the proceedings an urgency, a bittersweet quality and a feeling of love that balanced this revamped boat quite well. Every scene and every moment of BH90210 is informed by the mere fact that an actor and a real mensch named Luke Perry existed on this Earth and had inexorably connected his spirit to his seven former cast mates in a way in which they could forever feel blessed and gifted. Want to know who the unbilled eighth member of this 2019 cast was, dear readers? His name was Luke Perry and he was a man, a father, a fiancé, a friend and an actor.
Last night’s denouement – The Long Wait – succinctly wrapped up the storylines of a group of actors portraying heightened parodies of their selves who decide to reunite to revive their old show, Beverly Hills 90210. Along the way they’ve had to deal with stalkers, a mysterious arsonist, infidelity, fandom run amok and the generally surreal aspect of being globally recognized stars. So where does that leave everybody? As the episode begins, the cast is celebrating the completion of the new Beverly Hills 90210 pilot, even as they all await anxiously to find out whether or not their old network FOX will order the show to series. This culminative celebration happens, appropriately enough, at the Peach Pit. Good times are had by all, even as Christine cautions that the pilot has yet to be picked up by network. In typically Emily Valentine fashion, she already has one foot out the door as she eyes a perhaps more lucrative The O.C. revival.
“But,” you ask, “does everyone get a deserved happy ending?” Well, it depends on how you like your happy endings. This one ends somewhat ambiguously, but also beautifully considering the wringer all of our characters have been put through. The sweetest bit this reviewer has seen in sometime is a quick moment when Brian Austin Green impulsively grabs Tori Spelling’s hand towards the end of our meta gathering. Jason Priestley does the same with Jennie Garth and, if future romance for our characters is left slightly in the dark, at least these small gestures between characters and the actual actors we’ve come to know and love all of our lives is enough to give us faith in tomorrow which, once upon a time in Hollywood (tipping my old fedora to you, Luke Perry), meant another day, if not another season with this delightful cast. Somehow, for now, that’s enough.