Beverly Hills, 90210 franchise

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Beverly Hills, 90210
Creator
Films and television
Television series

The Beverly Hills, 90210 franchise comprises the ongoing timeline and shared characters that link the American television series Beverly Hills, 90210; Melrose Place;[1] Models Inc.;[2] 90210;[3] and the 2009 version of Melrose Place.[4]

The continuity, which progresses in real time,[5] was introduced in 1990 with the debut of Darren Star's teen drama Beverly Hills, 90210, which was produced by Aaron Spelling and initially aired on the FOX television network in the United States. After this series became a worldwide success in 1991, Star expanded the franchise with 1992's Melrose Place, a drama about young adults in L.A. which would also grow into a famous hit. The third series, Models Inc., aired from June 1994 to March 1995.

The fourth entry, simply titled 90210, was the first show in the franchise which did not debut on FOX in the United States. Developed by Rob Thomas, Gabe Sachs, and Jeff Judah, the series premiered on The CW on September 2, 2008. On September 8, 2009, the fifth series, a follow-up to Melrose Place, also debuted on The CW, and concluded in April 2010.

The franchise has been generally well received among young audiences.[6][7] Several of its actors have gone on to additional success in other areas, while some have returned to portray their roles again in spin-offs. As a result, many characters have appeared in multiple shows throughout the continuity.

Production[edit]

While planning a new teen drama in 1989–1990, FOX learned of Darren Star's interest in writing youth-oriented screenplays. Upon being hired by the network, Star created the concept and characters for the series that would eventually become Beverly Hills, 90210. The unexpected worldwide success of this project, as well as that of the spin-off Melrose Place, was largely credited with launching Star's career, while bringing early fortune to FOX in the process.[8]

Aaron Spelling, whose company produced the shows, was well known for producing some of the most famous series on television, including Dynasty and The Love Boat. Spelling would also produce the next show in the franchise, Models Inc., in 1994.[9]

Melrose Place was initially inspired by Star's own professional aspirations during his 20s,[8] while Models Inc. was born when FOX asked Spelling for an eight-part summer series. When ratings proved adequate, the show continued throughout the following television season.[10] Models Inc. concluded in 1995,[11] Melrose Place finished in 1999,[12] and Beverly Hills, 90210 ended in 2000.[13]

In 2008, the franchise returned via the fourth production, 90210, attracting a new collection of noted creators. Rob Thomas, known for the television show Veronica Mars, began the initial work on the project.[14] Prior to the premiere, Thomas was succeeded by producers Jeff Judah and Gabe Sachs, both known for the series Freaks and Geeks and Undeclared.[15][16] During the first season, Rebecca Sinclair, who had previously worked on Gilmore Girls and Buffy the Vampire Slayer, became the series' new show runner.[17] In June 2009, a fifth production, a follow-up to Melrose Place, was officially confirmed.[18]

Writers[edit]

Emmy-nominated scribe Charles Rosin joined Beverly Hills, 90210 in its first year and served as a writer and executive producer, scripting several episodes in seasons to come along with his wife Karen.[19] Other prominent writers of the first series included John Eisendrath[20] and Steve Wasserman.[21]

Charles Pratt, Jr. and Frank South worked closely with Darren Star in writing early seasons of Melrose Place, helping to set the tone of the series as it grew in popularity. Pratt and South would then create the similarly toned Models Inc.[22][23] Rebecca Sinclair wrote for 90210 during the first season prior to her promotion.[17]

Casting[edit]

Throughout its run, the franchise has attracted several established actors, while bringing fame to others and the roles which they have portrayed. The narrative's most widely seen character is Jennie Garth's Kelly Taylor, who was instrumental in launching two spin-offs,[24][25] and has been used in the most episodes throughout the continuity.[26][27] Also made famous via the first program was male lead Jason Priestley, who earned Golden Globe nominations and began a directorial career via the series,[28] and actor Luke Perry, who won acclaim and drew comparisons to James Dean.[29] The first series brought fame to several other cast members as well.[30]

Melrose Place featured former Dynasty and T.J. Hooker star Heather Locklear, whose performance has been called one of the most prominent of the show,[31] and also starred former child actress Alyssa Milano.[32] Models Inc. featured former Dallas actress Linda Gray, and later added Dynasty veteran Emma Samms.[33] In addition, several actors known for their work in American daytime television—including Kristian Alfonso,[34] Stephen Nichols,[35] Jack Wagner,[36] and Vanessa Marcil[37]—have made appearances in the franchise.

In 2009, singer-actress Ashlee Simpson joined the proposed fifth series of the continuity, a follow-up to Melrose Place, as Violet Foster.[38] It was later announced that Laura Leighton would reprise her role as Sydney Andrews (despite the character having apparently died during the original series), who was recognized by The Hollywood Reporter as "one of the most popular characters" from the previous show.[39] Friday Night Lights actress Aimee Teegarden appeared in the fourth series, 90210, during its first season.[40] Additionally, 90210's Sara Foster and Shenae Grimes have revealed that they were fans of the original show while growing up.[41][42]

Several actors have gone on to additional fame following their work in the franchise. Marcia Cross, who would later star in Desperate Housewives, played Kimberly Shaw in the original Melrose Place from its first season until its fifth.[43] Kristin Davis joined Melrose Place in 1995, and starred afterward in the HBO series Sex and the City.[44] Additionally, Kelly Rutherford, later known for the series Gossip Girl, joined MP in 1996, remaining with the show until its 1999 conclusion.[45] Carrie-Anne Moss, of The Matrix fame, starred in Models Inc. throughout its duration.[46]

Dean Cain, who would go on to star in Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman, appeared in Beverly Hills, 90210 during 1992,[47] while Eddie Cibrian, later known for his role in Third Watch, guest-starred in 1996.[48] Vivica A. Fox, Hilary Swank, Matthew Perry, Peter Krause, and David Arquette all appeared in the first show as well.[1][49] Actor Kellan Lutz guest-starred in the fourth series throughout its first season.[50]

Series[edit]

Beverly Hills, 90210[edit]

Main article: Beverly Hills, 90210
Beverly Hills, 90210 logo

Debuting in 1990, the first series initially followed the teenage lives of several friends who attended the West Beverly Hills High School: Brandon Walsh (Jason Priestley), Brenda Walsh (Shannen Doherty), Kelly Taylor (Jennie Garth), Steve Sanders (Ian Ziering), Andrea Zuckerman (Gabrielle Carteris), Dylan McKay (Luke Perry), David Silver (Brian Austin Green), Scott Scanlon (Douglas Emerson), and Donna Martin (Tori Spelling). As the series progressed, several other characters were introduced at varying points.[51]

Originally, the series centered around the culture shock of twins Brandon and Brenda as they adjusted to the new experiences and friends that awaited them upon their family's move to Beverly Hills.[52] As the show progressed, however, it gradually became more of an ensemble cast drama, with equal attention given to the familial issues, academic matters, career aspirations, and love lives of the other characters.[53][54][55] One of the series' early focal points involved a briefly forbidden Brenda-Dylan relationship—along with a subsequent triangle involving Kelly.[56] Other prominent stories included the beginning of a long relationship between Brandon and Kelly,[57] a similar bond between Donna and David,[58] and a rally organized on Donna's behalf in order to overturn a school ruling against her.[59]

Toward the end of the second season, the character Jake Hanson—an older friend and mentor to Dylan—briefly arrived for a construction job at Kelly's house. The subsequent attraction that developed between a resistant Jake (Grant Show) and a willing Kelly led into the second series of the Beverly Hills, 90210 franchise.[24]

Melrose Place[edit]

Main article: Melrose Place
Melrose Place logo

Darren Star's next show, which premiered in 1992, followed the lives of several young tenants in a Los Angeles apartment complex. The relationship between Kelly and Jake was resolved over a series of episodes, with a persistent Kelly eventually letting go and returning to Beverly Hills.[60]

Originally conceived as a fairly straight-faced drama about the personal and professional lives of people in their twenties and early thirties, Melrose Place began to change with the arrival of testy Amanda Woodward (Heather Locklear), whose conflicts[61] with the generally strait-laced Alison (Courtney Thorne-Smith) over Alison's roommate Billy (Andrew Shue) quickly became the show's centerpiece. Also focused upon was the adulterous relationship between Dr. Michael Mancini (Thomas Calabro) and his colleague Kimberly Shaw (Marcia Cross), which was eventually discovered by Michael's wife Jane (Josie Bissett).[62] The first season also introduced Jane's sister Sydney (Laura Leighton), an occasional vixen, who would become one of the most layered and prominent characters of the series.[63]

With the progression of the second season—which was highlighted by divorce, blackmail, revenge, character revamps, and much angst between couples—the show had begun to secure a reputation for darker, more extraordinary story lines. This kind of writing would become standard for the series throughout the remainder of its run.[64]

Toward the end of season 2, a somewhat mellowed Amanda was reunited with her long-estranged mother Hillary (Linda Gray), the owner of a modeling agency. This development would provide a foundation for the franchise's third story.[65]

Models Inc.[edit]

Main article: Models Inc.
Models Inc. logo

Debuting in the summer of 1994, Models Inc. was produced by Spelling Television and created by Charles Pratt, Jr. and Frank South. The series followed the lives of Hillary and several of the disparate, ambitious models in the titular agency—women whom Hillary sometimes felt a maternal bond toward. Also present was Hillary's son David (Brian Gaskill), the loyal, valiant, and occasionally hot-headed vice president of the company. At the beginning of the first episode, actors Grant Show and Daphne Zuniga briefly appeared as their Melrose Place characters, seeing off a young model named Sarah Owens (Cassidy Rae) as she headed to the agency.[66][67]

Unlike the previous two shows in the continuity, Models Inc. did not experience any significant changes in character focus or tone—choosing, instead, to explore the ensemble cast from the start and immediately present the kind of story lines that had made Melrose Place famous.[2] The initial focus of the series was a mystery surrounding the murder of model Teri Spencer (Stephanie Romanov), who'd announced her intentions to leave the agency.[68] For a number of episodes throughout the first story arc, suspects included Hillary, Teri's ex-boyfriend Brian (Cameron Daddo), Teri's rival Julie (Kylie Travis), and Teri's own sister Carrie (Carrie-Anne Moss). Once the killer was revealed, the characters moved on, with their focus switching to the arrival of Stephanie Romanov's new character Monique, a model who was a nearly dead ringer for Teri. The remainder of the series largely centered around the models' growing relationships with their boyfriends and each other, while also dealing with the issues of substance abuse and the pressures of the business.[69][70] Primary antagonists included several figures from the models' pasts—including a stalker, a jealous sister, and Grayson (Emma Samms), the cunning and powerful ex-wife of Monique's fiance.[71][72]

The series was canceled in March 1995. Jake Hanson, who was originally introduced in the continuity's first show, was the only character to appear in both Beverly Hills, 90210 and Models Inc.[66]

90210[edit]

Main article: 90210 (TV series)
90210 logo

Premiering on September 2, 2008, 90210 was produced by CBS Paramount Network Television. The series introduces two siblings—Annie and Dixon Wilson (Dixon is adopted), played by Shenae Grimes and Tristan Wilds—who move to Beverly Hills with their family and enroll in West Beverly High. Like Brandon and Brenda 18 years before, Dixon and Annie meet several new friends who comprise the rest of the cast, including Erin Silver (Jessica Stroup), the half-sister of David and Kelly from the original series.[25] The character Naomi Clark (AnnaLynne McCord) gained significant media attention throughout the first season,[73] and was given increased focus at the onset of the second.[74]

Among the returning characters was Kelly Taylor, who appeared in a recurring role while serving as a guidance counselor at the school. Brenda Walsh also returned in a recurring part, reuniting with Kelly and directing a school musical. Donna Martin returned as well, coming back to Beverly Hills from Japan, where she worked as a fashion designer.[3] In addition, Joe E. Tata made guest appearances, reprising his role of Nat Bussichio, owner of the Peach Pit coffee house where Dixon worked.[25] The series concluded in May 2013, following its fifth season.

Melrose Place (2009)[edit]

Melrose Place logo

On January 19, 2009, Entertainment Weekly confirmed Todd Slavkin and Darren Swimmer were installed as showrunners of a Melrose Place spin-off, which used the same title as the previous show.[75] The series premiered on September 8, 2009.[18] Ashlee Simpson-Wentz, Shaun Sipos, Jessica Lucas, Stephanie Jacobsen, Katie Cassidy, Michael Rady, and Colin Egglesfield were cast in regular roles. Throughout 2009, it was also revealed that Laura Leighton, Thomas Calabro, Josie Bissett, Daphne Zuniga, and Heather Locklear would make appearances as their characters from the original series.[4] The show was officially canceled in May 2010.[76]

Actors with multiple roles[edit]

Several actors have portrayed more than one character throughout the continuity, many of them appearing as regulars on one series and as guest stars on another. In some cases, a performer has appeared in different roles on the same show.

Actor Beverly Hills, 90210 Melrose Place Models Inc. 90210 Melrose Place (2009)
Linden Ashby[77] Charles Reynolds
Brett Cooper
Rob Estes[78] Sam Towler
Kyle McBride
Harry Wilson
Nancy Lee Grahn[79] Denise Fielding Detective Towers
Linda Gray[80] Hillary Michaels* Victoria Brewer
James Handy[81] Tom Rose Matt Fielding, Sr.
Teresa Hill[82] Claire Duncan Linda Holden
Stanley Kamel[83] Anthony Marchette Bruce Teller
Brooke Langton[84] Suds Lipton Samantha Reilly
Laura Leighton[85] Sophie Burns Sydney Andrews*
Jessica Lucas[86] Kimberly MacIntyre Riley Richmond
Dina Meyer[87] Lucinda Nicholson Shelia
Claudette Nevins[88] Vivian Carson Constance Fielding
John Haymes Newton[89] Ryan McBride Mark Warriner
John Reilly[90] Bill Taylor Mack McBride
Stephanie Romanov[91] Teri Spencer*
Monique Duran
Lonnie Schuyler[92] Alan Ross Ben Singer
Greg Vaughan[93] Cliff Yeager Kai
James Wilder[94] Reed Carter Adam Louder
Nick Zano[95] Preston Hillingsbrook Drew Pragin

* The character has also been seen in more than one program.

Characters with multiple series appearances[edit]

The following characters appear in multiple series.

Character Beverly Hills, 90210 Melrose Place Models Inc. 90210 Melrose Place (2009)
Sydney Andrews[4] Green tickY Green tickY
Nat Bussichio[25] Green tickY Green tickY
Jake Hanson[66] Green tickY Green tickY Green tickY
Jane Mancini[4] Green tickY Green tickY
Michael Mancini[4] Green tickY Green tickY
Donna Martin[96] Green tickY Green tickY Green tickY
Hillary Michaels[97] Green tickY Green tickY
Sarah Owens[98] Green tickY Green tickY
Jo Reynolds[99] Green tickY Green tickY Green tickY
Steve Sanders[100] Green tickY Green tickY
David Silver[101] Green tickY Green tickY
Erin Silver[25] Green tickY Green tickY
Teri Spencer[91] Green tickY Green tickY
Jackie Taylor[102] Green tickY Green tickY
Kelly Taylor[27] Green tickY Green tickY Green tickY
Brenda Walsh[25] Green tickY Green tickY
Amanda Woodward[76] Green tickY Green tickY
Hannah Zuckerman-Vasquez[5] Green tickY Green tickY

Reception[edit]

Beverly Hills, 90210 has been called "one of the definitive shows of the 1990s."[13] In a look back at the series, TV Guide labeled the program "soapy and addictive".[1] In 1994, the series ranked No. 1 among viewers aged 18–34.[6] The show was nominated for "Best Drama" at the Golden Globe Awards in 1992 and 1993, with Jason Priestley being nominated for "Best Performance by an Actor In A Television Series—Drama" in 1993 and 1995.[103]

Entertainment Weekly's Ken Tucker criticized the original tone of Melrose Place in a 1992 article, stating that "on this show, everybody's a philosopher—even more unusual, a philosopher with a cute bottom." Despite giving the series a mixed review, he admitted to being "hypnotized by it" and added that "Melrose is the guilty pleasure that adds some salt and sweat to summertime TV."[104] The show received an overhaul as it advanced toward its second season, with TV Guide citing the "bed-hopping, backstabbing and cliffhangers" as key factors in its success, also noting the arrival of Heather Locklear's Amanda Woodward.[64] In 1994, the series became the No. 2-rated drama among viewers aged 18–34 (behind Beverly Hills, 90210), with People magazine labeling it a "compulsively watchable, high-trash hit."[6] Locklear and Laura Leighton were nominated for Golden Globe Awards in 1994, with Locklear receiving additional nominations from 1995 through 1997.[103]

In his review of Models Inc., Ken Tucker claimed that the show was "trying much too hard to match Melrose for self-consciously outrageous campiness." However, he commended the work of Kylie Travis as vixen Julie Dante.[105] Entertainment Weekly also screened the series in front of young real-life models, who concluded that the show was unrealistic but addictive.[106] The series ended in 1995, but later aired an alternate ending during a rebroadcast of the finale, bringing closure to the story lines.[2]

At the time of its premiere, 90210, which marked a return for the franchise following an eight-year absence, became the highest-rated scripted debut in the history of The CW network.[7] In the midst of its first season, the show was nominated for "Favorite New Drama" at the 2009 People's Choice Awards.[107] Upon the completion of season 1, the show received additional nominations from the Teen Choice Awards, including "Breakout Show" and "Choice TV Show: Drama". AnnaLynne McCord was nominated for "Breakout Star Female" in the role of Naomi Clark, Tristan Wilds was placed in contention for "Breakout Star Male", and Dustin Milligan was nominated for "Choice TV Actor: Drama". Additionally, Rob Estes and Lori Loughlin were nominees for "Choice TV: Parental Unit".[108] The following year, Shenae Grimes was nominated for "Choice TV: Female Scene Stealer".[109] At the 2010 Breakthrough of the Year Awards, AnnaLynne McCord won in the category of "Breakthrough Standout Performance".[110]

On September 2, 2010 (9/02/10), Reuters.com featured an article on the original series. Via a Twitter message the same day, Jennie Garth stated, "Love to the original cast and crew. And the new kids too."[111]

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