“They’re not in high school anymore.”
So the bland tagline above pretty much says it all. When you can’t find something nice to say about your show, I guess your best bet is to state the obvious.
Everyone’s favorite shallow teens from America’s most famous zip code return for 24 rip-roaring episodes. We once again follow Annie (Shenae Grimes, Scream 4), her brother Dixon (Tristan Wilds, The Secret Life of Bees), and their wacky group of friends. Leading the pack and stealing the show is Naomi (AnnaLynne McCord, Excision). Then there’s Liam (Matt Lanter, Star Wars: The Clone Wars), Adrianna (Jessica Lowndes, Altitude), Navid (Michael Steger, The Cheetah Girls: One World), Silver (Jessica Stroup, Ted), Teddy (Trevor Donovan, Surrogates), and Ivy (Gillian Zinser, Savages). Great googly moogly that’s a lot of names to remember!
I thought this show was canceled so imagine my surprise to find it in my mailbox ready for review!
The main issue here is the sheer number of characters to follow! Like in previous seasons (Season Three, especially), the best thing about the show is the hyper speed at which the plot lines travel. For a story arc to last an entire season was extremely rare, the downside being the lack of immersion you feel as you watch. Everything is very much about the surface elements, and if you connect to a character, chances are you’ll leave 90210: The Fourth Season feeling like they went through an unbelievable journey. So many things happen to these characters over such a short amount time, it’s difficult to consider this show realistic; no matter which way you view it.
Here’s a brief recap of the characters’ season highlights…
Annie — Has to put off college, pledges a sorority, becomes an escort and an heiress all in turns. Oh, also dates a priest.
Dixon — Loses his dorm room and place to live, becomes a drug addict, is accused of arson, and also signs a record contract.
Liam — Proposes to Annie, sleeps with his friend’s widow, buys a bar, gets into a motorcycle accident, and becomes a model/actor.
Adrianna — Becomes a waiter and a country music singer, also reconnects with the daughter she gave up for adoption years ago.
Navid — Discovers a stolen car ring at his studio, is arrested, goes to Princeton, and his teenage sister moves in with him.
Silver — Dates the man who adopted Adrianna’s baby, becomes a photographer, works on a political campaign, and gets tested for the breast cancer gene.
Teddy — Has a Vegas wedding, comes out to his family, and is asked to become a father.
Naomi — Gets arrested for marijuana possession, buys a sorority, dumps her fiance, organizes her ex-boyfriend’s wedding, and becomes a party planner.
Ivy — Gets divorced, dates a photographer, dates an artist, and has a close encounter with suicide before being put into a mental hospital.
Now bear in mind these are only the main characters. I’m not even going to get into the trials and tribulations of the half dozen new characters who take up residence in the zip code this season.
90210: The Fourth Season is too much surface, not enough depth; the watchword here being “dynamic.” The one thing you can count on is that nothing will stay the same. I give the show credit for dealing with serious issues like suicide and cancer, but they’re never mined for their true potential. Nothing really is, except for the stars’ looks. Those are crafted to perfection and allow for each character’s own sense of style.
And while that’s fine for a bit, it’s difficult to really invest in the show, let alone create a diehard fanbase. If you love a certain couple, Season Four proved challenging, as every couple that existed in the premiere episode eventually broke up. Plus, you miss one episode and you’re out of the loop, so it’s a definite commitment to be a fan. It’s not a commitment I’m going to make.
Presented in standard definition 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen, the transfer is typical of a modern network show, dumbed down from its HD broadcast quality. The one noticeable difference here is the color palette. Whereas blown-out white levels are something I would normally complain about, here they’re paired with golden overtones which together serve to subconsciously call to mind sunny California. It’s very effective and the too-bright whites are strategically placed so as not to cascade. The Dolby 5.1 Surround mix emphasizes the show’s pride in being in touch with current music trends. It’s no surprise they go to great lengths to not only employ two audio tracks (Dolby 2.0 Stereo being the other), but that they’d balance the levels out as well. No complaints there.
Bonus features begin with a couple commentary tracks. Aside from quoting my favorite line from Shrek, they offer bits of trivia and stories from set. We also get deleted scenes, music videos, a gag reel, and behind-the-scenes featurettes like set tours and mini-docs focusing on the music and makeup.
I’m obviously not the intended audience for 90210, I readily cop to that. If you’re a fan, you’ll want to purchase this for the extras if nothing else. However, if you’re a noob, I would stream a few episodes before committing to the show. The ADD style is either going to appeal to you, or you’ll want to devote your time to a show you can really sink your teeth into.