October 9, 2012


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Written by: Mitch Salem
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90210:  Monday 8PM on CW

WHERE WE WERE:  Mid car-crash.  A truck was plowing into Dixon (Tristan Wilds), in a way that would surely kill an actor in the middle of contract renegotiations.  Dixon’s love Adriana (Jessica Lowndes), singer and sometime alcoholic, drug addict and maniac, to whom Dixon was driving, had given up on him and decided to concentrate on her career.  Also, wedding planner Naomi (AnnaLynne McCord) broke up the nuptials of her ex Max (Josh Zuckerman), naturally because she was still in love with him.  Bipolar Silver (Jessica Stroup), having discovered that she has the gene for breast cancer and needs to have her ovaries removed, decided to have a baby first, and rather than choose between eager ex Navid (Michael Steger) and new beau Liam (Matt Lanter), chose to have said baby with gay BFF Teddy (Trevor Donovan).  Liam, meanwhile, having been bankrupt by crazy con woman Vanessa (Arielle Kebbel), learned that as she was the partner in his production company, he couldn’t easily get her out of his life, and that to pay her off, he’d have to sell his beloved bar.  And Annie (Shanae Grimes), sister of Dixon, was trying to get over her forbidden romance with a priest.  So that happened.

WHERE WE ARE:  Moments later.  Dixon’s contract being in place, he did not in fact die, but rather, after a protracted and borderline sadistic scene where the gang had to identify three dead bodies only to discover none of them were his, he turned out to have Soap Operatus Paralysis for the moment.  Adriana discovered all this just after she finished having sex with a stranger in Las Vegas (albeit a stranger who happens to be a music promoter), and immediately flew to his side.  Even Dixon’s mother Debbie (Lori Loughlin, once upon a time a regular) arrived from Paris.  Meanwhile, Naomi and Max, having had some madcap adventures with a crashed limo and an inadvertent hitchhike with a druggie gas station robber, have rolled in and out of jail and then into a hasty marriage, much to the disgust of Max’s business partner. Teddy has agreed to impregnate Silver, making Navid decide to get very drunk.  And Liam has more or less accidentally torched the bar and is planning to use the insurance proceeds to pay off Vanessa.

Not to be overly blunt, but:  is it too late to get back The LA Complex?  That show, for all its shortcomings, was a breath of fresh air compared to the gaudy contrivances of its regular season counterpart.  The Season 5 premiere, written by Executive Producer Patti Carr and directed by Stuart Gillard, is flimsy stuff, with only McCord providing any engaging content.  (Stroup is usually reliable for a semblance of humanity, but not with her current cancer + pregnancy storyline.)   In the way of many insular soaps, now that we’re in Season 5, practically every regular character has slept with every other regular character, making for a tangle of exes so thick that none of the relationships have any emotional value.  The show just mixes and matches couples more or less indiscriminately at this point, while characters like Adriana and Navid shift from good to evil and back again (and then back again again) every month or so. It was also a bad idea to start the season with not one but two serious illness plots, what with Dixon lying unconscious in a hospital bed and Silver awaiting the onset of her genetically transmitted disease.  The series is far too gauzy to bear multiple plots that are supposed to have some level of solemnity.

90210 is harmless fluff, and at least it lacks any pretense at being more than the flat-out soap that it is.  It’s not a show, however, that bears 80+ hours of narrative over the years. In the ratings, the series is in the cluster of CW shows that get 0.5-0.7 ratings, with little to set it apart.  Having it around for another season evokes an “Is that still on?”, a raised eyebrow and a stifled yawn.  It may be time for all concerned to move on.

About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."