90210 Review: The New Kids Have Yet to ‘Gel’

09/03/2008 at 12:00 AM EDT

90210 Review: The New Kids Have Yet to ‘Gel’
Frank Ockenfels/CW

The CW has gone and Gossip Girl-ified Beverly Hills, 90210, the show that gave a still-grateful nation Luke Perry, Shannen Doherty, Jennie Garth, Jason Priestley and Tori Spelling. The resulting premiere teamed with so many scheming, fashion-forward characters it could have been Vanity Fair with bleached teeth and lip gloss. It wasn’t bad–and it was certainly better than the CW’s other new show about rich kids, Privileged–but a one-hour pilot episode might have worked better than Tuesday’s epic two-hour special. As it ended I felt I was stepping off a crowded escalator at the mall. The show preserves the original FOX series’ conceit of Midwestern siblings relocated to the West Coast and dropped into the glossy, youthful decadence of a high school in Beverly Hills. But the strength of the original was that ensemble of young actors, not the concept: Even though they were creations of Aaron Spelling’s fantasy factory–literally, I suppose, in Tori’s case–they seemed grounded in something like plain, real life.

It is not a good sign that a high point late in the new version’s debut was the arrival of Doherty, herself reprising the role of the older Brenda Walsh, who by now looks as if she were ready to star in a Quentin Tarantino movie. Maybe the new kids just need time to gel as a cast. Shenae Grimes, as good girl Annie Wilson, is adorable and winsome and, after a while, fairly annoying. The standout is AnnaLynne McCord as bad-girl Naomi Clark: She’s very striking physically–almost startling, somewhere between Charlize Theron and Courtney Love–and she conveys a mix of high drama, meanness and little-girl self-pity that’s a lot of fun. --Tom Gliatto

Read the recap here.

Frank Ockenfels/CW

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