The New '90210'

Aug 9, 2019
Originally published on August 9, 2019 10:26 am
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DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Believe it or not, the '90s teen soap opera "Beverly Hills, 90210" is back, sort of.

We're joined by our pop culture correspondent Linda Holmes. Linda, thanks for being here.

LINDA HOLMES, BYLINE: Thank you, David.

GREENE: Did I call it a soap opera? It's more like just teen soap.

HOLMES: Yeah.

GREENE: Soap opera might be...

HOLMES: Yeah.

GREENE: ...Not accurate.

HOLMES: Soapy teen drama.

GREENE: Soapy teen drama.

HOLMES: Yeah.

GREENE: So is reboot accurate? Is that what's happening here, or not so much?

HOLMES: It's not exactly a reboot in the same way as, like, the new episodes of "The X-Files" or "Will & Grace" or whatever.

GREENE: OK.

HOLMES: It's - what they decided to do - you have remember, "90210" ran for 10 seasons. The characters were never particularly interesting to begin with.

GREENE: You loved it, it sounds like.

HOLMES: I - oh, I did.

GREENE: OK.

HOLMES: And there's...

GREENE: They're just not interesting characters.

HOLMES: No. And there's no reason why you would go back to visit with these ding-dongs after another bunch of years, and so they didn't. What they did instead is they made a scripted show about these actors, all of whom are playing themselves. It's kind of - again, a kind of a comedy, soapy thing...

GREENE: Oh.

HOLMES: ...About the actors trying to mount a reboot. Are you following?

GREENE: It's - so it's a rebooted - semi-reboot about a reboot.

HOLMES: Yes.

GREENE: OK.

HOLMES: And it's not a reality show, and it's not made to look like a reality show. It's just another scripted - are you with me, David?

GREENE: I'm with you. Like, Tori Spelling is playing Tori Spelling.

HOLMES: Yes, exactly.

GREENE: OK.

HOLMES: And in this clip, you can hear Tori Spelling and Jennie Garth, two of the actors, on their way to Vegas for a cast reunion.

GREENE: Great.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "BH90210")

UNIDENTIFIED PEOPLE: Vegas. Vegas. Vegas. Vegas.

JENNIE GARTH: Oh, Lord. Tell me you're not Instagramming that.

TORI SPELLING: Us on our way to our "90210" 30th reunion and these drunk yahoos in the back seat - insta-cool (ph). Smile.

GARTH: You are out of control.

SPELLING: No. What I'm out of is money. This is going to help.

HOLMES: So you can see they're horrified 'cause they're sitting in coach. And so they're working through it. And they're - so they're playing these exaggerated versions of themselves, even though their spouses and other people are fictional and are played by actors. So it's a little bit of a blend.

GREENE: I can't tell from your voice if you like this thing or not.

HOLMES: Well, I think asking whether this is a good show is entirely beside the point.

GREENE: (Laughter) OK.

HOLMES: It's not good in the way that a normal television show would be good.

GREENE: Right.

HOLMES: But you know, there are limitations to the acting. There are limitations to the writing. It's funny that there are limitations to the acting, even with people playing themselves.

GREENE: (Laughter).

HOLMES: But with that said, it is sort of fun. And I think it is - I think it's entertaining enough. And while that's probably not the blurb they were going for, that's what I would go with, I think.

GREENE: That's your blurb.

HOLMES: That's my blurb. Entertaining enough - Linda Holmes, NPR.

GREENE: OK. Were the ratings good?

HOLMES: You know, they were OK. What constitutes good ratings has changed a lot...

GREENE: Right.

HOLMES: ...In television because the audience is so splintered. But people did watch it. By some measures, it won the night. You know, under current rules, it's doing fine.

GREENE: Is this the future of reboots - I mean, like, sort of self-aware parodies like this?

HOLMES: Well, it really depends on the show. As I said, there are shows like "Will & Grace" or "Arrested Development" or if you think about the recent return of "Veronica Mars" - shows where they really - people really do want to make good shows. This, I think, is a different thing. This is a nostalgia tchotchke. And I think as that, it works pretty well because of the nature of the show.

GREENE: And sometimes, nostalgia is enough.

HOLMES: It is.

GREENE: All right. So the reboot is called "BH90210." It airs Wednesdays on Fox. And the blurb from our pop culture correspondent Linda Holmes is, quote, "entertaining enough." Linda, thanks. Have a good weekend.

HOLMES: Thank you, David. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.