DAVID BIANCULLI

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2000: 'Beverly Hills, 90210' Ends
May 17, 2017  | By David Bianculli
 
Just when you thought it was safe to write off TV producer Aaron Spelling, he hit gold again with the widely imitated youth ensemble series Beverly Hills, 90210, which ended its ten-year run on this day in 2000.

In the sixties, Spelling production credits included Burke's Law, Honey West and The Mod Squad; in the seventies, he ruled TV with a successful string of cartoonish action and anthology series, including Charlie's Angels, The Love Boat, Hart to Hart and Fantasy Island; and in the eighties, before stumbling late in the decade with a series of flop sitcoms and serials, Spelling continued his success with the likes of Dynasty, Hotel and T.J. Hooker.

But in the nineties, working for the Fox network, his production company struck gold, giving teen (and preteen) viewers their first cult series of the decade: creator Darren Star's drama about the angst-filled days and nights of the largely privileged classmates of West Beverly High.

The pilot focused on two transfers from the midwest, the brother-sister twins Brandon (Jason Priestly) and Brenda (Shannen Doherty), but the real scene-stealers were the beautiful and popular Kelly (Jennie Garth) and the surly and charismatic Dylan (Luke Perry). Luke's Dylan, like James Marshall's James Hurley on the much more adult Twin Peaks, was an intentional echo of the motorcycle-riding, quiet-talking James Dean personal — which had been left almost untouched on TV since the late sixties, when Michael Parks drove around the country on his motorcycle in Then Came Bronson. By its second season, Bevery Hills, 90210 was a major hit, and Perry did more to popularize long sideburns than anyone since Elvis Presley.

—Excerpted from Dictionary of Teleliteracy: Television's 500 Biggest Hits, Misses and Events


 
 
 
 
 
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Good news, TVWW readers: David’s new book from Doubleday, The Platinum Age of Television: From I Love Lucy to The Walking Dead, How TV Became Terrific is available on Amazon for $20.

Doubleday says: “Darwin had his theory of evolution, and David Bianculli has his. Bianculli's theory has to do with the concept of quality television: what it is and, crucially, how it got that way."

"The Platinum Age of Television is an effusive guidebook that plots the path from the 1950s’ Golden Age to today’s era of quality TV. For instance, animation evolved from Rocky and His Friends to South Park; variety shows moved from The Ed Sullivan Show to Saturday Night Live; and family sitcoms grew from I Love Lucy to Modern Family. A high point is the author’s interviews with Carl Reiner, Mel Brooks, Norman Lear, Bob Newhart, Matt Groening, Larry David, Amy Schumer and many others...Bianculli has written a highly readable history." —The Washington Post

 

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