Sex, drugs, and rock n’ roll…and that fireman scene. You know which one I’m talkin’ about. If high school was like this for real a lot more kids would have a PG year.
“Being in a relationship is not about being cool.” But it is about joking with your girlfriend about paying for sex. Ah, high school.
90210: The Complete Third Season takes place during senior year at West Beverly High School. The fallout from last season permeates the plotlines this year and finds the characters struggling with betrayal, jealousy, rape, attempted murder, blackmail and prom…you know, the typical high school hijinks.
For my sanity I’m only going to focus on the kids (or the adults portraying them, at any rate) instead of all the characters or else I’d be writing forever.
It’s the first day of senior year at West Beverly High School and it seems as though things have settled down if not gone back to normal for our octet of seniors. Annie (Shenae Grimes, Scream 4) and Dixon (Tristan Wilds, The Secret Life of Bees) have been spending time with mom after their dad’s departure. Liam (Matt Lanter, Star Wars: The Clone Wars) has been kicked out by his stepdad, Adrianna (Jessica Lowndes, Greek) is on the road with Javier after declaring her love for Navid (Michael Steger, True Blood), Silver (Jessica Stroup, Family Guy) and Teddy (Trevor Donovan, Days of Our Lives) are going strong, and Naomi (AnnaLynne McCord, Nip/Tuck) has spent the summer holed up in a no-tell motel after being raped by her teacher. Everyone’s looking forward to the start of senior year and putting everything behind them.
But an earthquake strikes and, with the typical in-your-face lack of subtlety the show is known for, shakes everything up. Naomi discovers Mr. Cannon did not leave the school as hoped, so she throws herself into being hypersexual, determined to prove nothing has changed her. A bookcase falls on Teddy, tearing his ACL and ruining his chances of playing tennis and going pro that year. Ivy (Gillian Zinser, Southland) returns from Australia and drops the bomb on Dixon that “good friend” and hottie Oscar (Blair Redford, Burlesque) has moved into her house and will be staying the year.
Annie is recommended for an internship that at first seems like a dream, and while she wants to share the joy with Liam she has decided they can’t be anything other than friends to keep from hurting Naomi. Meanwhile Adrianna has shut down Javier’s unwanted attentions. He retaliates by letting her know he’s not only dropping her from the tour, her agent is going to leave her. She wants to write her own stuff but he says she’s fooling herself, that his music is so much better. Of course being a soap opera as soon as he shows her his book of music their limo is t-boned by a car and Javier (Diego Boneta, Pretty Little Liars) dies, leaving his music to literally fall into Adrianna’s lap.
And this is all the first part of the season. As it progresses we find Teddy dealing with his changing sexuality, Silver and Navid becoming secret lovers, Adrianna off living the life of a newly discovered pop diva, Naomi falling for a nerd, Ivy and Dixon breaking up and Annie torn between Liam and his brother.
Every interaction on 90210: The Third Season leaves you wondering what drama is about to erupt. Will there be a lie? A betrayal? A hook up? It doesn’t matter what form the drama takes, the answer is always yes. Nothing happens which is not immediately transparent. No surprises here, just drama. There’s no subtext, merely text. I like to feel smart when watching a show, trying to see where the show is going. There is no chance to guess here, merely a chance to watch the fallout.
There are a lot of characters to follow. The strength here is that there’s definitely someone you’re going to relate to and follow. The downside is with so many characters the opportunity to really flush them out is limited; there are so many storylines playing out simultaneously. As such, the more clichéd nature of each of these characters is highlighted more than it would be on a show where we followed only half of these characters at a time.
The show’s saving grace is its pace, which can best be described as warp. There’s no subtlety but the plots don’t brew and fester, either. What the show lacks in groundwork it makes up for in delivering the high anxiety its core audience clearly craves. 90210: The Third Season recognizes that its fan base has a limited attention span, and a fickle nature to boot, thus introducing no less than three male teen characters this season in hopes of sparking a Darren Criss-like devotion for at least one if not all.
The video is a clear transfer, with broadcast quality levels of color, lighting, and grain. The audio is more than serviceable, peaking when the pop song du jour is playing but never blowing out. All in all it’s pretty standard fare for a show that was on less than a year ago.
The special features are pretty standard and don’t exceed expectations. The episode commentaries are varied. The lone commentary by Rebecca Sinclair is filled with facts that aren’t particularly exciting. The two episodes with commentaries each featuring six cast or crew members is exactly what you expect: chaotic. The behind-the-scenes featurettes offer just that: some glances of the inner workings and little more. The deleted scenes are nice to look at but nothing earth shattering.
This show knows exactly what it is, and that’s why it would get a pass in my book.