We all know that book learnin' wasn't top priority for the students of West Beverly High. Still, it's not too clear how a show that began its run in 1990 and ended in 2000 is celebrating a 10-Year Reunion in 2003. Would the weak link be that some of the kids on the show grabbed the high-school lambskin as the Class of 1993? Crafty, eh? Here's more math to ponder--during the hourlong special, the word "hair" was uttered 15 times. The 90210 reunion special looked eerily like the Real World reunion specials on MTV. It even sounded like one. To wit: Jennie Garth turned to co-star Luke Perry and said, "Remember that time we were playing tug-of-war and my boob came out?" Recently back from the dead (literally; he smashed up his race car) Jason Priestley intoned in his new, bionic-man voice--"Brandon was the social consciousness of America." Perry revealed, "Jennie and I used to throw each other into the hospital on a regular basis." And then there's Shannen Doherty--the female Puck--outspooking Fear Factor by simply being her own flesh-hungry, increasingly wizened self. Tori was smart to stay home. (Caryn B. Brooks)
Fox, Sunday, May 11.
Stodgy old Masterpiece Theater (or, excuse me, Exxon/Mobil Masterpiece Theater) hasn't been this rollicking since Bertie Wooster guest-starred on EastEnders (or did I dream that?). Jamaican-British literary star Zadie Smith packed two generations of London families, both immigrant and not, into her 450-page novel about racial and cultural tension in a rapidly changing England. That's a lot to cover, so this four-hour adaptation cracks along at top speed. It's New Year's Eve 1974. Archie (Phil Davis), the embodiment of middle-class, middle-aged English misery, flips a coin and decides to off himself; he fails. Then he meets young Clara, a beautiful Jamaican ex-Jehovah's Witness. Samad Iqbal (Om Puri), Archie's war buddy, marries a bride selected for him in 1946 who wasn't even born until '55. A decade flies past, and the next generation takes up the reins. Despite its rapid pace, the TV version proves to be more poignant and less comic than the book, yet it works. (Becky Ohlsen)
OPB, Sunday, May 11. Part 1 replays Friday night at 3 am. Part 2: 9 pm Sunday, May 18.
The Tuesday Night Dilemma
Here lies the puzzle: Do you watch one of the few remaining Buffy episodes ever to air, at 8 pm on UPN, or do you watch American Idol at 8 pm on Fox, as the claws come out and our once-innocent hopefuls play the musical equivalent of Powder Puff football? Let's compare and contrast a recent Tuesday to help you decide. On May 6, as the apocalypse comes ever closer to Buffy's hometown of Sunnydale, the slayers and posse get to knocking boots as the end draws near. Show creator Joss Whedon is clearly emboldened by the lame-duck protection act; there's a steamy scene between Willow and her lovely slayer girlfriend that includes a lick up the neck with a tongue stud. On that evening's American Idol, dingoish Robin Gibb is the guest judge, and we get to witness lumpy Marine Josh Gracin disembowel "Jive Talkin'." Fey Clay Atkin, who actually could replace recently deceased Maurice Gibb to round out the trio, keeps it interesting by turning in a sweet rendition of the theme from Grease. Speaking of, if American Idol doesn't work out for tight, smooth, hard-to-believe-he's-over-18 Clay, I think he's got another career already lined up for him. And the video box reads: American Anal. I think the answer is clear--vote for Buffy. (CBB)
Buffy finale: 8 pm Tuesday, May 20, on UPN. Final performance show for American Idol: 8 pm Tuesday, May 20, on Fox.