TV critics are furious over the CW network's refusal to give them an early look-see at the new "Beverly Hills 90210," which debuts tonight.
Don't wonder why. Lisa de Moraes of the Washington Post does some ace TV archeology, digging up some early reviews of the original "Beverly Hills 90210," which eventually became a cult sensation during its heyday on the tube (1990-2000).
Howard Rosenberg of the L.A. Times said, "The 90-minute premiere of 'Beverly Hills, 90210' . . . (gives) you the feeling you've been watching for 90 days."
Tom Shales of the Washington Post: "It's apparently part of a new experiment in comatose television -- a show where things almost happen but never quite do. You keep checking your pulse to make sure you haven't died."
However, de Moraes adds, once the show "really got rolling — slumber party rape revelations, lesbian stalker episodes, etc. — the show became a bona fide TV phenom. Series stars Shannen Doherty, Jason Priestley and Luke Perry became household names; behind-the-camera antics were as closely followed as on-screen melodrama. The series hung on for a whopping 10 seasons, nearly 300 episodes."
But how did it do at awards?
The Emmys — ha! — never appreciate these angst-ridden teen tearjerkers, of course, even when they're brilliant (I'm talking about you, "Dawson's Creek"). The only Emmy nomination "Beverly Hills 90210" ever received was for graying showbiz legend Milton Berle, who, seven years before his death, portrayed a graying showbiz legend who's confined to a nursing home by Alzheimer's disease. Berle competed in 1995 — that's 45 years after he won the Emmy for most outstanding kinescope personality and "Texaco Star Theater" beat "The Goldbergs" and "Studio One" for best kinescope show. In 1995, Berle lost to Paul Winfield, who portrayed a tough judge who tosses Kathy Baker in the pokey for interfering with a busing order on "Picket Fences."
The Golden Globes are much more hip and teen-friendly, natch. "Beverly Hills 90210" was at least in that game. It was nominated for best drama series of 1992 and 1993, losing both bids to "Northern Exposure." Jason Priestley was nominated for best actor twice, but lost to Sam Waterston ("I'll Fly Away") in 1993 and to Dennis Franz ("NYPD Blue") in 1995.
One award the original "Beverly Hills 90210" actually won was the People's Choice prize as favorite TV series among young people in 1992.
Hey, maybe they can even win Academy Awards?! Don't laugh (too hard). Undefeated double Oscar champ Hilary Swank had her break-out acting gig on "Beverly Hills 90210," portraying single mom Carly Reynolds. Initially, the role was supposed to last two years, but Swank got written off after 16 episodes in January 1998, making her think, "If I'm not good enough for '90210,' I'm not good enough for anything."