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"Beverly Hills, 90210" Flashback: "Slumber Party"

By admin Published: September 2, 2008

JM
Guess who was driving stick.

The new "90210" starts tonight but has not been made available for preview. I will be recording it tonight for future discussion. And we can still look back at the old "90210."

"Slumber Party" first aired on Jan. 31, 1991. Male and female bonding abounds.

Summary: Brenda is having a slumber party -- which she insists is actually "an evening of female bonding," and which Andrea calls "a woman's conference." Got to avoid the dreaded slumber-party stigma; as another character, Amanda, later says, a slumber party is "completely 7th grade." Kelly wants to invite guys, but Brenda says no; Kelly does persuade Brenda to let her friend Amanda come.

David, meanwhile, is eager to check out the party, while Steve suggests he and Brandon go find girls. They try at a hot club, with Steve insisting that "girls need guys. Can't have fun without us." So, of course, the girls at the SLUMBER PARTY are having a great time dancing together, with even Cindy joining in. Enter Amanda, sneering. She wants Kelly to go with her to a party with USC guys; Kelly decides to stay at the Walsh house.

Eating ensues -- ice cream, chips, popcorn, cookies; Donna is a fan of popcorn in ice cream. Amanda remains aloof and mean, declining snacks, but Brenda is defiant. (After Amanda suggests the others are pigs, Brenda makes pig noises.) Later, the girls talk about how they can't pig out in front of guys -- Kelly says she knew it was over with Steve when she did so, while Amanda says she never eats on dates but always orders something expensive anyway.

Steve and Brandon can't get into the club. But two hot girls, Trina and Shelly, approach them outside and they all go for a drive. Back at the party, Donna wants to rent "Pretty Woman," which she has seen many times and which has caused her to imagine becoming a hooker just to meet Richard Gere. Brenda insists they talk. Amanda tries to get Kelly to leave again. Andrea has brought a Ouija board; Amanda, predictably, sneers but the group decides to try to contact Andrea's grandmother. They think they have made contact, especially when there are sudden, eerie flashes; turns out David and Scott are at the window, and David is taking pictures.

After David has been run off, Amanda suggests they play "skeletons in the closet," where they have to answer any question honestly.

Meanwhile, Steve and Brandon have gone parking with Trina and Shelly. Smooching ensues. Trina begs to drive Steve's car, saying "it would really make me crazy." Steve obliges. The girls take off with the car. The guys wait an hour, then Brandon insists they go to the police. Steve is determined to stay. Brandon starts to walk off, and Steve begins to cry. "I can't believe what a moron I am," he says, fearing humiliation at home and school.

Back to "skeletons." Kelly is first. After a couple of tame questions, Andrea asks Kelly about her first sexual experience. She tells a funny story about Steve. Amanda insists she tell the real story. It involves a football star she had a crush on, whom she followed around until he took her in the words and had sex with her. She didn't want to but went along. "He didn't even have a blanket," she says. After they had sex, he "never talked to me again." Kelly weeps, her makeup streaking.

The guys go to the police, who are unsympathetic because Steve let Trina drive his car. "That's not car stealing," the officer says. "That's car borrowing."

Andrea plays skeletons. Amanda gives her grief about pronouncing her name AHN-drea. Andrea says she likes to be different. Then she is asked if she has slept with a guy. She says she hasn't. Then Kelly asks whom she would sleep with at school if it could be anyone -- and, when Andrea hesitates, asks, "Brandon?" Andrea, flustered, starts babbling about a lifeguard. Amanda say "the whole school knows (Andrea is hot for Brandon), not that they care." Andrea admits that it would be Brandon.

Donna on the hot seat. She has no secrets, has never been dishonest. Amanda says Donna's life is "totally boring." Brenda defends Donna. Amanda turns on Brenda.

Meanwhile, the police have brought in Trina and Shelly. They insist they were coming back. Trina is nice to Steve, and he not only drops the charges but agrees to pay an old fine Trina owes. Brandon is appalled.

Brenda, under scrutiny, tells a story of trying to steal the boyfriend of a friend back in Minnesota, and how it ruined the friendship. Kelly admits that she tried to date Dylan after he started seeing Brenda. Brenda is enraged. She and Kelly argue, with Kelly saying Brenda can be "completely unbearable" while Brenda says Kelly and Donna are "stuck up." Andrea, angry at the fighting, wants to leave. But Kelly and Brenda make up. "I would never try to steal a boyfriend from you," Kelly tells Brenda. Donna apologizes for not having problems but says that she will and "I'm going to need your shoulders to cry on."

Amanda leaves. She has forgotten her purse. As they get it to return to her, it spills open. Tons of diet pills, which Kelly observes can make you feel horrible; "PMS starts to look like a vacation." Amanda returns, admits that she has always felt horrible about being fat and she never will be again -- even though Kelly notes that instead she is "a total bitch."

Amanda tries to leave, but Brenda persuades her to stay and talk. And Amanda asks for cookies!

The hot girls, meanwhile, leave Steve without putting out. Still, Brandon says of the evening, "I had a blast, man." At home, the girls are sleeping but Brenda awakes when Brandon arrives. She asks what he has been doing; he says "guy stuff." He asks about the evening; Brenda says it was "girl stuff."

Comments: Even with the big closeup of Kelly weeping, this is for the most part a blah episode. You can see Steve's car disaster coming from a mile away and you know Amanda isn't going to be a snot for long without some sort of comeuppance.

It does continue the change in Steve from racist jerk to dope who thinks with -- well, not with his brain. (All right, vulnerable dope.) It adds another streak of vulnerability to Kelly, and it showcases Brenda's feisty side. But the character who gets the most development is Donna; besides being Kelly's socially prominent sidekick, she is revealed as someone who is fundamentally happy and untroubled, albeit a bit of a goof (popcorn in ice cream).

It's as if the show decided that, for the moment, it had enough to juggle in all the problems of the other characters and couldn't load a Donna revelation on top of Brenda's, Kelly's, Andrea's and Amanda's. Then again, it could just be that they didn't think Tori Spelling could do any heavy lifting dramatically. After all, they could have made room for her by trimming or eliminating the Steve-Brandon subplot, which is not only lame but raises a question: Where's Dylan? And aren't he and Brandon supposed to be best buds now?

But even the big drama in this felt a little flat. If Amanda was as mean as she acts, I suspect she could have made skeletons much, much nastier than it turns out to be.

Other notes:
-- That is indeed former Playboy Playmate and "Growing Pains" co-star Julie McCullough as Trina.

-- I get a big "Heathers" vibe off this episode. I kept thinking Michele Abrams, who played Amanda, was IN "Heathers" -- that was Kim Walker in the movie, with of course Shannen Doherty. But I suppose if I was meant to connect "Slumber Party" to an iconic '80s movie, it's much more like "The Breakfast Club."

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