Full disclosure: When I requested this title to review, I thought it was Beverly Hills 90210. I figured it would be a goofy and nostalgic trip back to one of the most vapid TV shows ever produced, and programs like 90210 often make for fun reviews, whether you're a writer or a reader.
So when I cracked open my mail and saw a 3-disc set of something called Dr. 90210, something inside my brain went "Hunnnnhhhh??" Turns out that Dr. 90210, which still airs on the E! Network, is a documentary show that focuses on the personal and professional life of one Dr. Robert Rey, a very talented surgeon who has a rather successful plastic surgery practice in, you guessed it, Beverly Hills.
Back in '95, Dr. Rey worked as a medical consultant on David Fincher's drop-dead classic flick Seven, so before I even ran episode 1, I already liked the guy. And as Dr. 90210's first season moves along, the most entertaining thing is how the doc behaves. Sometimes he seems like a vain and egocentric guy; other times he's a kind-hearted and admirable chap indeed. Dr. Rey has a lovely little wisp of a wife and a beautiful little daughter, and when he's not delivering a tummy tuck, a breast implant, or a simple case of liposuction, he's spending time at the gym, forever practicing his Tae Kwan Do.
I don't for a second believe that Dr. 90210 is all that "truth-laden." Exchanges between the doc, his wife, his staff, and his patients often seems semi-scripted or self-aware. The participants always seem well aware of the cameras in their faces, which sucks a lot of potential spontaneity out of the affair. But the show's still pretty entertaining for what it is: Sort of a one-man Real World in which the lead performer is one of California's more successful plastic surgeons.
In addition to the exploits of Dr. Rey, the series also offers procedures and insights from a variety of other surgeons, thoughts and concerns from a bunch of patients, and footage of Ms. Rey's pair of adorable little chihuahuas. OK, so Dr. 90210 isn't exactly Shakespeare, but I'd be lying if I said I didn't have a pretty good time with this show.
Basically, if you ever thought that Nip/Tuck was too outlandish to be taken seriously, then here's the completely opposite end of the spectrum. Some of the patients are vain or exceedingly superficial; others visit the doctor for some seriously important procedures. If you think all plastic surgery is done for narcissistic reasons, Dr. 90210 (for all its simplicity) might actually help change your mind. The series is at its best when its doling out the real scoop on the various surgical procedures, while the "domestic" stuff seems more than a little fluffy and forced. All in all, Dr. 90210 is not a bad way to spend 20-some minutes if you happen to rest your clicker finger on the E! Channel, and those who just love this sort of docu-drama medical stuff will be quite happy with the 3-disc season 1 set produced by Hart/Sharp.
Episode 1: Climbing the Mountain, Part 1
Episode 2: Climbing the Mountain, Part 2
Episode 3: The Fountain of Youth
Episode 4: Is Bigger Better?
Episode 5: Family
Episode 6: What Does a Baby Do to a Woman's Body?
Episode 7: Hollywood Models & Staying Beautiful
Episode 8: One Small Change Can Make a Big Difference
Episode 9: Self Expression
Episode 10: South Central vs. Beverly Hills
Episode 11: Hollywood Pressure
Episode 12: Tough Decisions
Episode 13: New Orleans, New Beginnings, New Horizons
(Outtakes & Deleted Scenes)
Video: Episodes (and extras) are presented in a standard fullscreen format, with a fairly strong picture quality throughout. The show is filmed mostly with handheld cameras, documentary-style, but the footage comes through in fine form.
Audio: Dolby Digital 2.0, which sounds just as good as your standard E! broadcast, if not just a little bit better.
Extras: Discs 1 & 2 are dedicated solely to the episodes, while the third platter delivers a small handful of extra goodies. The outtakes and deleted scenes can be viewed separately or as part of the Play All function, which results in an extra 27 minutes of first season footage.
Love it or hate it, there's no denying that the art of "body reconstruction" is pretty darn fascinating. For every annoying starlet who wants bigger cans, there's an accident victim who simply needs an unsightly scar removed. Dr. 90210 covers all sorts of cases, and while it's not the most hard-hitting or insightful look at the world of plastic surgery, it's still pretty fun to watch.