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"Beverly Hills, 90210" Flashback: Season Two: "Beach Blanket Brandon"

By admin Published: September 29, 2008

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Originally aired July 11, 1991. The show gets a new look and handles an old cliffhanger. ...

Summary: It's the last day of school and almost everyone is ready for summer -- if, that is, Andrea can stop talking and cut the newspaper's end-of-school cake. And if Brenda can stop worrying about her period being late (which was the cliffhanger announcement at the end of the first season). But Brandon, Kelly and Donna are all primed, and David is dreaming of "beaches and babes." Scott, sadly, is heading off to Oklahoma to be with his grandparents.

Brenda tells Kelly and Donna that she is late. They worry. Meanwhile, Brandon and Andrea discuss their near-coupling from the end of the first season, with Andrea now calling it "a moment that almost happened but didn't." Yet again, they acknowledge they are friends. Kelly, Donna and Brenda go to the drugstore for a pregnancy kit; Brenda says she used protection but nothing is 100 percent safe -- except, Donna notes, abstinence. The test comes up green, which is not an indicator, and Kelly suggests Brenda go to a gynecologist. She is beginning to feel that having sex with Dylan wasn't worth it.

At the Peach Pit, Brandon's tips are skimpy. Nat says summer is slow at the Pit. But Brandon wants a car -- a '65 Mustang Convertible, no less. When Steve hears that Brandon was a lifeguard back in Minnesota, he recommends Brandon get a job at the Beverly Hills Beach Club, and refers Brandon to Henry Thomas (James Pickens Jr.), a manager at the club.

Cindy and Brenda talk about gynecologists. Brenda wants to know when Cindy went to one, but Cindy is evasive and vague. When Jim comes in, neither tells him what they were talking about. Dylan arrives; he's stressing about the possible pregnancy and Brenda is sure that sex was a mistake. He insists it was great and that, if she is with child, "it's my problem, too."

Lifeguard tryouts. Brandon is way out of his league. And really short.

At the gynecologist -- the same one used by Kelly and her mom -- Brenda gets some education; she has never seen stirrups before. While she gets her period before the exam, the gynecologist recommends that she make another appointment because with sex she has "a whole new set of responsibilities." When she leaves, Dylan is relieved but also wonders if Brenda should see about going on the pill. Brenda is peeved, says that's just Dylan thinking about himself. He is puzzled. Kelly says "you're just being a total guy."

Brandon can't cut it at the lifeguard tryouts. But Henry sees something in him and offers a job as a cabana boy. Brandon jumps, then finds out he has to start the next morning, leaving Nat in the lurch. He still says yes. At home, he brags to Cindy -- who is sorting the trash for recycling -- that "I scored the most righteous job." She also worries about Nat. Brandon says he'll get Brenda to fill in, but Cindy points out that Brenda has summer school.

Upstairs, Brenda is crying. She tells about her pregnancy scare. Brandon urges her to tell Jim and Cindy. She refuses. But, in the trash, Cindy finds the pregnancy kit. She and Jim talk to Brenda. They're understanding at first but do freak out -- per Brenda's fears -- when she says she and Dylan have been having sex for two weeks. Cindy wishes Brenda had discussed it, while Jim blames Dylan until Brenda says "it was something we both wanted." Cindy worries that Brenda wasn't ready emotionally. Brenda asks Jim and Cindy if they had sex before they were married; they never answer the question. Jim wants to talk to Dylan but Brenda and Cindy talk him out of it. Still, when she sees Dylan, Brenda is holding the pregnancy kit that Cindy found. Later, Jim regrets sounding like his father; Cindy says they're going to have to trust Brenda.

Brandon goes to Peach Pit, tells Nat he is quitting. Nat is dismayed that he is getting no notice. "Divorce me but don't desert me," he says. But Brandon is bailing.

Brenda and Dylan are kissing at the beach. She is still upset. Doesn't like having to think about condoms and the pill and pregnancy. Things have happened too fast, she says, and tells Dylan she needs a break. Dylan smolders.

Next day, Brenda tells Jim and Cindy that she and Dylan have broken up, that she isn't ready for a sexual relationship. Kelly tells Brenda she is overreacting, Brenda "wanted to be my own person again."

At the beach club, Brandon sees Dylan. Brandon tells about his new job; Dylan asks about Nat. "You Walshes have a way of dumping people," Dylan says. The beach club "is not worth selling your soul for."

Drama class begins. Brenda, Donna, Andrea (trying to spruce up her college resume), David. The teacher, Chris Suiter (Michael St. Gerard), is cute. And a failed actor. And gets Brenda to do a personal monologue.

At the beach club, a lingering sequence of scenes of volleyball, bikinis, people tanning, lotion, more bikinis. Steve is showing a blonde how to play volleyball when Kelly brings the Dylan-Brenda news. Steve is neither surprised nor distressed. Brandon tells Henry that he can't start for a week because he has to give Nat some notice. Henry says, "You better be worth waiting for."

Brenda's monologue ends with her breaking up with Dylan. The teacher urges her to talk about her feelings. Feeling, he says, "is the most important part of acting." Brenda smiles. Andrea asks if they will be graded on this.

Brandon goes to Nat and offers to work a week. Nat has found someone else, but he appreciates Brandon's returning. Andrea bores everyone in acting class. After, Dylan approaches Brenda. He wants to understand why she dumped him. She says she needs time. He laments that she has stopped his being a loner -- and now he's alone. She still loves him and says this hurts. "Maybe that's what they mean when they say 'love hurts,' " he replies. But when he asks to take her home, she says she'll walk. Dylan leaves, and we see him in the distance while an aching Brenda is facing the camera.

Comments: As "BH 90210" fans know, the second season marked the show's breakthrough with a young audience. The second season began in July, about two months after the end of the first, but during a time of year when young potential viewers were out of school and the other network options were mostly reruns. The show also began to glam up. The second season introduces the new, circular logo (which omitted the comma from the title, although the comma is still in the reference to the theme song in the closing credits), and the cast has been prettied up and shot more glamorously in the opening. And, instead of getting shots of kids wandering around high school or at clubs, we start the season with a lingering celebration of sun and skin.

In addition, there has been a casting change, with Douglas Emerson (who plays Scott) no longer a regular; indeed, in the second season premiere as the other characters get for summer adventures, Scott is heading off to Oklahoma to see his grandparents. At the same time, Michael St. Gerard as drama teacher Chris Suiter, receives "also starring" billing after the opening credits.

The premiere also sets the tone for soapy doings, especially in breaking up Brenda and Dylan, and in putting Brandon on the market by once again having him and Andrea just be friends. The show has not abandoned issues but this episode integrates them more into the personal drama; Brenda's regrets over having sex and the potential consequences makes for a pretty powerful abstinence message, or at least for a take-your-time message. In fact, both Brenda's and Brandon's stories involve the need to avoid impetious decisions and to move carefully -- Brenda with sex, Brandon with his abrupt seizing of the job at the beach club even though it will have bad consequences for Nat.

While the overall structure is tidy, the episode still has those moments that seem out of place. Are we really supposed to think Brenda has never seen stirrups in a doctor's office before? And while Brenda plays a nice card when she brings up Jim and Cindy's premarital sex, I also would have expected a mention of Brandon's experience -- and Jim's cool response to that. (I think there has been at least one post on a previous comment indicating that will be used. But this was a logical place for it to happen.)

Other notes:

-- Henry Thomas at the beach club is played by Cleveland's own James Pickens Jr., now well known as the Chief on "Grey's Anatomy."

-- Henry also gets what may be my favorite line of the episode. When Brandon says he can't take his beach club uniform yet, Henry asks, "Why, you expecting a growth spurt?"

-- Michael St. Gerard, who plays Chris Suiter, has played Elvis Presley on a number of occasions, including in "Great Balls of Fire" and in the TV series about Elvis's early years.

-- Donna's mentioning of abstinence is another indication that she is a virgin, much like her hazy description of sex in the first season.

Recaps of the first season of "Beverly Hills, 90210" are in the listing on the right rail and in previous posts.

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