After various reboots and revivals that seemed content simply to just recirculate the title, give "BH90210" credit for trying something a little different. That doesn't mean this meta "Let's get the gang together and put on a show!" exercise works entirely, but as a six-week "event," it's at least a modest commitment to see how much life there is in the old zip code.
Instead of a conventional reboot of "Beverly Hills, 90210," the concept hinges on the cast reassembling for a 30th anniversary reunion in Las Vegas (the show actually premiered not quite 29 years ago, but who's counting?), before Tori Spelling -- in need of cash because her reality show has run its course -- seizes on pitching a "90210" revival.
Each of the key participants, moreover, are dealing with crises of various dimensions in their own lives, while playing slightly tweaked versions of themselves. (Gabrielle Carteris, who in reality is the elected president of the Screen Actors Guild, runs something called the Actors Guild of America, a rough demonstration of the level of artifice involved.)
At its best, "BH90210" zeroes in on the price of stardom, and especially has-been-dom, for actors associated with a marquee franchise whose careers might have peaked way back when. Jason Priestley, for example, is dismissed by a young actor as a one-time "pin-up boy for horny teenage girls," while Brian Austin Green -- when asked if he misses the spotlight -- replies ruefully, "Even if I did, nobody misses me."
That part threatens to make "90210" kind of interesting, but of course, the producers don't really trust the audience to be looking for any level of seriousness. So the first two episodes pile on all kinds of soapy situations, setting up the proposed show as a means of breaking the impasse in their respective lives, even if the actors don't realize it yet.
Much of it, frankly, feels too much like a middle-aged "Riverdale," and those who give the whole meta aspect any thought will likely become woozy as the cast debates the wisdom and value of a revival in the midst of, you know, doing one.
It's all kind of messy, but the "90210" alumni (which also includes Jennie Garth, Ian Ziering and Shannen Doherty, albeit initially in a limited role) certainly appear game for pretty much anything in terms of how they portray themselves, although even that can feel a trifle depressing.
For Fox, meanwhile, in the throes of redefining itself, taking a flier on "BH90210" represents a shrewd, relatively modest gambit to garner attention, circling back to the network's past as it seeks to chart its future.
"Everyone wants to see the '90210' cast together, even after all these years," Spelling says in the second episode.
"Everyone" isn't what it used to be in "90210's" heyday, but for those associated with this latest wrinkle on '90s nostalgia, a decent number of someones might be enough to justify the trip.
"BH90210" premieres Aug. 7 at 9 p.m. on Fox.