Before "The O.C.", there was "Beverly Hills, 90210", which launched in 1990 to almost instant success, turning its actors into stars overnight. The series ended its run in 2000 and, since then, "90210" has been one of the most requested shows in terms of shows that hadn't been released yet on DVD.
The series was often focused on twins Brenda (Shannen Doherty) and Brandon Walsh (Jason Priestley), two teens (who looked like they were in their 20's), who found themselves in Beverly Hills when their parents, Jim and Cindy (James Eckhouse and Carol Potter), moved the family from Minneapolis to Beverly...Hills, that is.
The series quickly introduced and integrated Brendon and Brenda's set of friends, including troubled rich girl Kelly Taylor (Jennie Garth), David Silver (Brian Austin Green), smart outsider Andrea Zuckerman (Gabrielle Carteris), Donna Martin (Tori Spelling, whose character was, according to the commentary track, not originally planned to be a main character), rebel Dylan McKay (Luke Perry) and Kelly's ex-boyfriend, Steve Sanders (Ian Ziering).
The show focused on the group as they faced their ups-and-downs, including teen issues like alcoholism, dating, grades, drugs, rape and more. However, while the series was a fairly easygoing mix of light drama and after school special-style lessons early on as the Walshes learned more about their new surroundings and made new friends, by season 9, the series had evolved into much more of a soap opera (as the back cover of the set announces, it's "The Most Shocking Season Yet!" (one can almost hear the ominous drums.)
In all seriousness, while the series does amp up the drama in ways, meanwhile it also certainly shows signs of winding down, especially with the departure of Priestley, who exits stage left after the 5th episode of this season, in the superbly titled ... "Brandon Leaves" (Brandon heads off to Washington for a new career) and the fact that some of the storylines start to feel overly soapy and/or rather recycled by this point.
The season opens with the aftermath of Brandon and Kelly calling off their wedding, and how the two deal with their lingering feelings. When she calls him on his lack of visible upset, he notes, in Priestly fashion, "That's just how I deal, Kel." Tiffany-Amber Thiessen's Val character departs a couple of episodes later. The storylines do go overboard into soap opera territory at times, such as one delightfully weird moment where Steve allows a con artist/actress named Sophie randomly into his car, despite the fact that he doesn't know her and she just gave him the brush-off moments earlier. She, of course, then decides to go after David instead, which - not surprisingly - causes trouble.
Dylan comes back into town (another great title: "I'm Back Because") and promptly wanders into trouble with drugs, not only buying heroin after selling his car, but smuggling it when he takes Kelly on a trip to Cabo. Who else gets into trouble this season? Well, just about everyone: David is arrested on statutory charges, Steve panics about Y2K (!) and, to top it all off, tries to market his pick-up techniques; Kelly (first the break-up with Brandon, then problems with Dylan and more), Noah (a tragedy regarding his father and the resulting downward spiral) and meanwhile, Donna's job remains largely to fret.
While I've certainly never been concerned with fashion, it's fairly interesting to watch the series after all these years. While the early seasons showed some very loud and scary fashions, thankfully things get a bit more subtle by this point late in the show's run.
While the look of the show has become somewhat dated, the performances still remain enjoyable after all these years, as it's obvious that the series was cast superbly, both in terms of its leads and in terms of its supporting/one-episode players. The storylines start to go overboard by this point, but the actors handle this sort of material well.
242. 9- 1 16 Sep 98 The Morning After
Kelly and Brandon deal with the aftermath of not getting married. Val admits to murdering her father and Noah's dad has a confession of his own.
243. 9- 2 23 Sep 98 Budget Cuts
Kelly and Brandon decide that they're through, but she turns to him about writing and article. Val tells her mom about her painful youth and Sophie, a con artist, comes into town.
244. 9- 3 30 Sep 98 Dealer's Choice
Abby and Carl plan to elope in Vegas, but Val sleeps with the groom the night before the big event, while Noah finds himself on a dangerous path and Donna is robbed of her designs.
246. 9- 5 28 Oct 98 Don't Ask, Don't Tell
Carl tries to annul his married in the hopes of a future with Val.
247. 9- 6 4 Nov 98 Brandon Leaves
248. 9- 7 11 Nov 98 Confession
Kelly decides to help a battered wife and child escape their attacker, while Val throws herself a rave before surrendering to police.
249. 9- 8 18 Nov 98 You Say Goodbye, I Say Hello
Kelly finds a letter from Val about Brandon, while David gets in serious trouble and Noah goes down a bad path. Val also says goodbye.
250. 9- 9 2 Dec 98 I'm Back Because
Dylan is back...well, because.
251. 9-10 9 Dec 98 The Following Options
Matt takes up a tobacco case that angers Kelly, while Kelly kisses Dylan and Donna befriends a gang member.
252. 9-11 16 Dec 98 Marathon Man
Dylan takes Kelly to Cabo and uses the trip to smuggle heroin.
253. 9-12 13 Jan 99 How to Be the Jerk Women Love
Steve decides to market his pick-up techniques and Gina discovers heroin on Dylan.
254. 9-13 20 Jan 99 Trials and Tribulations
Gina tries to care for Dylan and Donna and Noah have trouble finding a place to be alone after coming from vacation.
255. 9-14 27 Jan 99 Withdrawal
Dylan's friends try to get him to check into rehab, but when he tries to go it alone, Kelly finds him in serious trouble.
256. 9-15 3 Feb 99 I'm Married
Matt is faced with a serious problem when his estranged wife - who has spent time in a mental ward - shows up.
257. 9-16 10 Feb 99 Beheading St. Valentine
Donna poses as David's girlfriend during a work function, while Matt tries to help his ex, Lauren, readjust.
258. 9-17 17 Feb 99 Survival Skills
While Lauren's pills are found to be hurting her, if she doesn't take them, her schizophrenia returns. She and Matt take a second honeymoon with the time they have left together. Steve and Janet decide to start a relationship.
259. 9-18 3 Mar 99 Slipping Away
Kelly and Dylan head to Mexico to get Lauren's pills, while Gina finds that her mother has been stealing from her.
260. 9-19 10 Mar 99 Bobbi Dearest
Gina decides to sue Donna's mother for mismanaging her trust, while Dylan searches for a man who saved his life and Kelly and Steve search for a valuable book.
261. 9-20 17 Mar 99 The Leprechaun
Noah is forced to make a decision that could result in him losing the Peach Pit.
262. 9-21 7 Apr 99 Fortune Cookie
After realizing David is having doubts about their marriage, Claudia volunteers to reapply for his Visa in Venezuela. Dylan rigs a raffle so that Kelly gets a chance to meet a rock star.
263. 9-22 14 Apr 99 I Want to Reach Right Out and Grab Ya
Donna becomes a basket case after her parents announce a separation, while Steve and Janet help a childhood prodigy regain his childhood.
264. 9-23 21 Apr 99 Local Hero
David sits in on a sex addict meeting and falls for the group leader. Kelly and Dylan try to find a way to tell Matt and Gina the truth.
265. 9-24 28 Apr 99 The End of the World as We Know It
The truth about Kelly and Dylan is revealed after a videotape is discovered.
266. 9-25 5 May 99 Dog's Best Friend
- Dylan has a one-night stand in Vegas, only to find the woman at his door after he makes amends with Gina. Kelly is attacked in an alley.
267. 9-26 12 May 99 Agony
- Kelly keeps her attack a secret and seeks comfort from Dylan. Gina misses her audition.
268. 9-27 19 May 99 That's the Guy
Kelly's attacker confronts her in the boutique.
Note: Music has been changed for the DVD edition, due to rights issues. Additionally, the back cover notes that "some episodes may be edited from their original network versions."
VIDEO: "Beverly Hills 90210" is presented by Paramount in 1.33:1 full-frame, the show's original aspect ratio. The presentation quality is passable and this later season does look better than the prior season sets, but there are still some concerns of note. Sharpness and detail aren't terrific; the picture looks a tad crisper than earlier seasons, but the image still has a somewhat soft feel.
On a positive note, the presentations appear cleaner and smoother - while a few instances of shimmering and wear are spotted at times, the picture has a fresher, cleaner appearance. Colors also look a touch warmer and richer in comparison to earlier seasons.
SOUND: The stereo soundtrack offered crisp, clear dialogue. Keep in mind that music has been changed for this DVD release, almost certainly due to expensive rights issues.
Final Thoughts: "90210"'s 9th season goes a little overboard in crafting familiar, soapy crises for the leads, but the series still manages to hold it together decently, despite the departure of Priestley and Thiessen. The DVD set provides decent audio/video quality, but no extras. Recommended for fans only.