Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Beverly Hills 90210 GIF recap: S1 Pilot P1

It's morning in Beverly Hills. Sunshine is glinting off expensive automobiles, birds are chirping from nests made out of $100 bills and inside a large house a wig is sleeping.

No wait, it's our protagonist Brandon Walsh, who isn't a wig but a 21-year-old man with a perfectly sculpted 1950s ducktail hairdo pretending to be 16. Brandon and his family have just moved to Beverly Hills from Minneapolis, and he's just about to burst into the opening refrain of "When You're A Jet" when he remembers he has to explain the plot instead.

"First day of school, strange city, new house, no friends - I'm psyched," he announces to the empty room, in exactly the same way a normal person wouldn't.

Psyched (adj.)ˈ/saɪk/: '90s term to describe enthusiasm.
Ie: "I'm so psyched about being a Jet."

It's a good thing Brandon has explained the storyline in this way, otherwise we would have had to guess he'd just moved house from all the packing boxes lying around and it might have taken us at least three seconds. CLEVER SCRIPTWRITING, that's what sets this show apart.

Meanwhile, Brandon's sister Brenda is trying to decide which of her two shirts is uglier.

"Dammit, why don't I have anything in LIME GREEN?"

"Everyone here looks like they stepped out of a music video - I DON'T EVEN HAVE THE RIGHT HAIR," she wails.

Note to Brenda: It's not that hard to achieve hair from a music video in 1990.

Unlike his fashion-challenged sister, sartorial guru Brandon knows EXACTLY how to dress for school to win the popularity vote: Like Jerry Seinfeld. People like comedians, right?

"So I said 'Why WOULDN'T you tuck it in?'."

It's hard to believe anyone could beat this dashing striped shirt and high waisted jeans ensemble, but remember: this is Beverly Hills in the '90s! Teenagers here have so much cash to spend on fashion they ALWAYS look fly. Like this guy:

After this, the "Spinning Mullet" became the fastest growing dance craze of the early '90s.

And these hipsters, who... wait, are they supposed to be high school students? They look like 35 year olds dropping their kids off at day care.

Meanwhile, the white guy in the shorts and backpack was later expelled for looking "too normal".

Ten minutes in and with nothing of interest or importance having yet happened, the two siblings zoom off to their new school in Brandon's car through a series of picturesque locations, the most impressive of all being the West Beverly High parking lot. At least, I assume that's what the director thought, because the next scene contains nothing but shot after shot of people pulling up in cars.

Seriously, just watch this for 10 minutes with some royalty free 80s guitar music playing and you can recreate it for yourself.

Suddenly: IT'S BRIAN AUSTIN GREEN, looking at least 15 years younger than everyone else. I know he's supposed to be a "freshman" (whatever that means) but seriously, the kid looks too young to use deodorant.

And now he has sex with Megan Fox.

What do you mean nothing's happened yet? What do you mean you're bored? What do you mean there's no dialogue? YOU DON'T NEED DIALOGUE WHEN YOU'VE GOT EXCITING CAMERAWORK LIKE THIS:


The exhausting documentation of everyone's modes of transport continues as a penis in a Shirley Temple wig rolls up in a convertible (later revealed to be jock Steve Sanders), a Barbie doll pulls up in a sports car (later revealed to be Steve's ex, Kelly Taylor) and a 45-year-old woman gets off what appears to be a tour bus from a local retirement home (later revealed to be editor of the school newspaper, Andrea Zuckerman).

With all this car spotting going on, no one notices the girl who's turned up to school carrying an explosive device.

And the silicon chip inside her brain gets switched to overload...

Just when I'm thinking this storyline might get good, this happens for no reason whatsoever:

It's becoming increasingly clear no one has actually written a script for this episode.

With the regular morning dance routine and vehicle identification process over, it's time for class. I wonder if Brandon and Brenda will make friends? OF COURSE THEY WILL, because they're not fat, like this chick who apparently even the teacher finds irritating:

If you play the "Jaws" theme while watching this, it's much more effective.

Fortunately Brenda turns up just in time to snag a seat next to Barbie doll Kelly and rescue her from a semester of having to work with the only overweight girl at West Beverly High. Phew!
"Are you smart?" Kelly asks Brenda. "This class is a bitch, I need all the help I can get."

Hooray for stereotypes!

Anyway, yay, Kelly and Brenda are now best friends.

Over in Spanish class Brandon is making friends with Steve, the bewigged penis, although their conversation can hardly be heard over the deafening waves of smug emanating from Andrea the 45-year-old newspaper editor in the front row, who apparently is the only semi-intelligent student at West Beverly.

You can tell, because she's sort of unattractive and is wearing glasses.

She's so smart! They're so dumb! WHATEVER COULD BRING THEIR TWO OPPOSING WORLDS TOGETHER? I wonder if we'll find out in the next scene, set in the office of the West Beverly High newspaper...

"I wanna write for the paper," Brandon announces, as Andrea does editor-y things like suck on a pencil and rearrange clippings on her desk.

I'm not sure how big a deal this school paper is but there are literally DOZENS of students milling around this office, all poring over bits of paper with furrowed brows and pointing at things on the wall while tucking pencils behind their ears. They ALL have pencils behind their ears. Perhaps every copy of the paper is handwritten in pencil, that's why they need so many people?

"I was the sports editor at my old school in Minneapolis," Brandon explains, trying to impress. Little does he know all he has to do is tell Andrea he has his own pencil, and he'd get the job immediately.

"Great! Which story would you like to cover: the toxic waste disposal in our chemistry classes or the girls' water polo match against Beverly High?" Andrea asks.

"What time does the game start?" he says.

As every feminist knows, this is the wrong answer.

"Whenever a guy wants to work on the school paper, I ask him: 'Do you want to cover the girls' water polo match or do you wanna do the toxic waste story?'. Not one guy has ever wanted to do the toxic waste story," Andrea fumes, as if this is somehow reflective of men's inherent sexism and not just of the fact that the disposal of toxic waste from a school chemistry class is very likely done in accordance with local safety regulations and is therefore not actually a story, whereas a sports event is.


So as not to appear sexist, Brandon aquiesces and shuffles off to interview the janitor about waste disposal from the chemistry labs. Which rather begs the question: If Andrea asks every guy who wants to work on the newspaper if they want to do "the toxic waste story", how long has the story been sitting on the shelf? Why has no one written it yet? And if Andrea's so awesome, why hasn't she done it herself? THAT'S NOT HOW YOU WIN A PULITZER, ZUCKERMAN.

Now it's lunchtime (are you keeping up with the complexities of the story? I hope so) and despite making friends with a penis and landing a plum role on the school newspaper, Brandon is less popular than that fat chick from chemistry class.

You know you're unpopular when even a 40 year old in neon happy pants and a mullet won't be seen dead with you.

Brenda, meanwhile, is learning the ins and outs of the place from her new BFF Kelly.

"If people saw you eating lunch on your own today, like that guy over there..." Kelly says, gesturing pityingly towards Brandon no friends.  

Meanwhile, it's good to see Tattoo from Fantasy Island got more work after that experimental leg lengthening surgery.

Evidently the only people more despised than fat chicks and journalists at West Beverly are freshmen, which is why Brian Austin Green and his anonymous blonde friend spend most of this episode having things thrown at them.

Still, at least he has someone to eat lunch with.

Then all of a sudden there's a crack of thunder, the earth begins to quake, the students of West Beverly raise their eyes to the heavens and Tattoo rushes in shouting "THE PLANE! THE PLANE!"

Darn - he paid full price for his!

OK, so that's not actually what the message said. What it actually said was "BACK 2 SCHOOL JAM FRIDAY 150 SUMMIT LANE" - because that's how invitations are issued at West Beverly High. By plane. Also, parties are called "jams".

"Oh my god, that's Maryanne Moore's house - she's so rich but such a party girl," says Kelly.

She's also a bad speller.

Two interesting things to note here. Firstly: Kelly wins this week's Non Sequitur Award for crimes against English (Maryanne Moore runs a close second). And secondly: A party? Does this mean something is actually going to HAPPEN in this episode? 
Not yet. First it's time for Brandon and Brenda to head home and discuss their gruelling day.

"God, I can't believe we made it through the first day of school," gasps Brenda, apparently amazed at having survived one class and a lunch period without being burned at the stake.

"It's weird, not knowing anyone," says Brandon. "It's like - I don't know who they are, they don't know who I am."


Brenda sympathises for about three seconds before revealing she's going to the party with all her new friends, and Brandon will have to make his own way there. This is the first indication that BRENDA IS A TOTAL BITCH.

Next thing you know we're in the middle of a party that looks like an outtake from the Fight For Your Right video, but with less food fighting and worse music.

Frankly it's a wonder there's any music at all, as it seems the band are all recent graduates from the Marcel Marceau Academy of Mime, where the lead singer gained a distinction in both "overacting" and "microphone head banging".

Cool move, bro.

Even the waiter has had dance training, spearheading a short-lived trend in 1990s dining known as the "twostep diet".
It's so much easier to lose weight when your waiter keeps dancing away.

While the other party guests devise a plan to trap the food waiter with a series of nets and pulleys so they can get their hands on a canape, Brandon and Steve try to determine who has the worse hairdo.

"My hairdo might be worse, but at least I'm not wearing chambray."

Meanwhile, Brenda and her new friends consult the script to see if anything interesting is actually going to happen in this episode.

"I'm telling you, it says it right here: 'Donna has a hunchback'. See?"

Having determined the worst hairdo at the party actually belongs to the guy in the pink shirt behind them, Steve and Brandon get ready to depart for the GQ Men of Style gala dinner downtown, where they're picking up awards for "Best Tuxedo-Tennis-Outfit Hybrid" and "Best Example of Double Denim in a Social Setting".

Steve didn't let the fact that he'd forgotten his trousers stop him from having a good time.

Meanwhile it looks like Maryanne Moore's ban on freshmen has not been heeded (see what happens when you don't spell things properly?) - Brian Austin Green and his anonymous blonde friend have turned up, and predictably enough have decided to stand next to the pool. I WONDER WHAT WILL HAPPEN NEXT.

Other things freshmen shouldn't stand next to at parties include giant cream cakes and puddles of mud.

So far it doesn't look like anyone is going to get any action at this party, except maybe the lead singer of the mime band who is attempting to make love to the drumkit.

"Dude, what the fuck? I just got new skins!"

Oops, spoke too soon! Looks like Brandon's caught the eye of what appears to be the host's mum, hanging out alone in the gazebo.


"Are you trying to seduce me?"

"What's your story?" he asks.

"You're sexy," she replies, neatly stealing this week's Non Sequitur Award from Kelly.

Then they start to dance, even though there's no music because a) the singer is busy having sex with the drumkit and b) they were mimes anyway.

Fortunately for Brandon and his middle-aged conquest, there is a sort of percussion accompaniment coming from the group of tennis-playing teens on the court behind them which makes it slightly easier to keep the rhythm.


What? You've never been to a teen tennis jam before?

Just as it seems Brandon is about to go full Graduate, his dance partner reveals she's not actually a cougar but is in fact - GASP! - party host Maryanne Moore, setting up what may be this episode's one and only story thread.

Check it out: She's rich, he's not. (Well, I mean, kind of not... Look, he's from Minneapolis, OK?). She's popular, he's not. She hosts school jams, he doesn't even eat jam. IT'S PRACTICALLY ROMEO AND JULIET.

"Can I call you some time?" he asks, as she whips out a lipstick and scrawls her number in giant letters up his forearm. Is she serious? If you did that to a bloke today he'd probably just moan about how you ruined his shirt. Still, Brandon IS wearing chambray so anything's an improvement I guess.

Uh-oh, looks like someone's mum has had a bit too much punch while waiting to pick up their kid from the party...


Oh wait, it's just Maryanne again.

Honestly, I haven't seen a high schooler as unconvincing as that since Cha-Cha in Grease.


Actually... IS that Cha Cha?

While the best dancer at St Bernadette's shakes her thing to the mime band, Brian Austin Green is fawning over an irritated Steve who, it turns out, is the son of a famous soap opera actress. Sadly though he seems not to have inherited any of her acting talent.


Either that, or he really just doesn't know how guns work.

"I hate to break it to you but my mom AIN'T the perfect mom," spits Steve, who has been tentatively sipping from a bottle in a brown paper bag so I think is supposed to be displaying drunken, "bad boy" behaviour. Unfortunately that's all negated by his hairdo, which still makes him look like a penis doing an impression of Shirley Temple.

Either people finally got sick of chasing the dancing waiter for food or that singer really did screw the drumkit, but for whatever the reason the party ends and everyone comes spilling out the front gate - including Steve, who is being attacked by a Pearl Jam cover band.


They eventually let him go after making him listen to a few verses of Alive, but by that time whatever was in the brown paper bag has kicked in and Steve is too drunk to drive his expensive sports car home. 

So he calls a taxi. Wait, no he doesn't. That would be what an ACTUAL person would do. What he does do is give his car keys to Brian Austin Green, who he just met, is possibly six years old and doesn't have a license, and makes him drive home. I think we can say the lesson being taught to viewers here is questionable at best.

"Thankssh a lot buddy, I'mmmgunna remember you for thissh," says Steve, remembering section 2(a) of chapter six of Ten Steps to Top Acting: "when acting inebriated, remember to slur your words."

As it turns out Steve won't remember, which is fortunate for Brian Austin Green as he parks the car like a complete moron, causing it to roll down the driveway and crash.

At least we now know where the budget for this episode went.

Back at school on Monday morning (I know, I can't believe this episode is still going either) Steve is on the warpath looking for the mysterious stranger who totalled his car. In response, Brian Austin Green has gone icognito as a hipster from 2011.

"Seriously dude, I had a dream that in the future COOL kids will dress like us."

Over in Matt Groening's animation class, Kelly and Brenda are making what will no doubt be totally foolproof fake IDs by changing the birthdate on their regular IDs with pencil. 



Woah, hang on now. There appears to be a bit too much plot happening here: Steve is looking for Brian Austin Green, Brandon has a love interest, Brenda and Kelly are getting illegal. Don't tell me an actual STORYLINE is developing here? I'm getting worried. Can we slow this all down a bit with some random footage that's not in any way connected to the plot - say, of the Spanish teacher dancing, perhaps?

Theeeeeere we go.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the schoolyard, Brandon's elderly love interest is demonstrating how wealthy and cultured she is by eating dry pieces of sushi on the side of a fountain.

Mmm, pickled ginger slice.

With her dry sushi, high-tech portable music listening device, brown matte lipstick and opaque stockings, Maryanne is clearly out of Brandon's league. How ever will he impress her?

"Listen do you wanna go to Paris for the weekend? I think if we leave Friday night we can make it back by late Monday morning and we'd only have to miss two classes," he says.

"Seriously? We can do it, it is possible," she says excitedly, as Brandon shakes his head sadly, realising she's just failed the fiscal version of Andrea Zuckerman's personality test. Also, she has no idea how to eat sushi.

"Even I know you're meant to use soy sauce, and I'm from Minnesota."

Even Brandon's sandwich can see that this union won't work, but the two arrange a date for Saturday night anyway. I hope he takes her somewhere really upper class and stuffy, figuring that's what rich girls are into, and they have a really awkward dinner before she convinces him, with a glint in her eye, to run out on the cheque and they wind up at a dirty underground dive bar where they boogie with lots of ethnic people and kiss wildly on the dancefloor. Just sayin'.

Back at the newsroom (and what's this newspaper called anyway? The Beverly Bugle? It's probably the Beverly Bugle) Andrea is busy laying out pages, otherwise known as "burying the lead".

Call me old fashioned, but I think a story about teenagers getting married is slightly more interesting than a feature on the school band. Also, Stop Putting Every Word in Capitals, You Tool.

"Where's the article on toxic waste? I'm holding page one!" Andrea screams, oblivious to the fact that a photograph of two school students at their wedding would make a much better splash than a story Brandon hasn't even written yet that may not actually even exist.

Brandon explains that he still needs to interview Albert Einstein, or do a bit more reading of the periodic table or something, and changes tack by asking Andrea why she didn't go to Maryanne's party.

The answer to that question is written all over her Walmart Tee.

"Hanging out with a bunch of people acting stupid is not going to get me into the Ivy League," snaps Andrea, demonstrating both a slight lack of understanding of what a party is and a total lack of humour.

Brandon asks Andrea for a good restaurant to take Maryanne to, a question she apparently mishears as "What's a terrible Cat Stevens song?" as she quickly responds "Moon Shadow", before slumping at her desk and looking sad. Well, it IS a terrible song.

I'm not sure, but I think the message we're supposed to be getting from this whole exchange is that Andrea is too smart to get a boyfriend. TRUTH.

Someone who's definitely not too smart to get a boyfriend is Brenda, who thinks a sequinned dress and a pencil sketch will be enough to get her into a nightclub.

And once she releases herself from the Mom 2.0 Docking Station she'll be fully charged and ready to roll.

Brenda's mum tells her she wants her home by midnight, so whatever nightclub they're getting into I guess they'll have a good half hour of dancing before they have to leave.

Fortunately The Blue Iguana seems to be the only nightclub in Beverly Hills where people line up to get in at 9pm, so it seems Brenda, Kelly and the gang are in for a totally swingin' night! Brenda breezes past the bouncer but then - GASP!

The front page of tomorrow's Beverly Bugle: "SHOCK: PENCIL RUBS OFF LAMINATED PLASTIC"


No seriously that's how it ends - with Brenda stuck inside a nightclub on her own, and everyone else just walking away quietly.

PILOT PART ONE IN A NUTSHELL: Brandon and Brenda start at a new school. They go to a party, where someone is thrown in a pool, and one person gets drunk. Brandon meets a girl who likes sushi. Brenda gets into a nightclub. In between these things, people dance weirdly. The end.


Go on and read PILOT PART TWO


  1. ABSOLUTELY frackin' BRILLIANT!!! Thanks so much for this..I laughed AND cried.

  2. Thanks Anonymous! :) Episode 2 is on the way. I'll try to put them up on Wednesday each week, if not sooner...

  3. loved it! Featured it over on my site: http://www.thetalkingbox.com/2012/06/fun-friday-beverly-hills-90210-in-gifs.html and looking forward to future installments!