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"Beverly Hills, 90210" Flashback: "Spring Training"

By admin Published: September 20, 2008

Originally aired April 25, 1991. Brandon tries coaching, Brenda has a dog problem. ...

Summary: Brenda meets a stray dog. Brandon and Steve are helping Jim coach a kid baseball team, but Jim throws his back out at the first practice and asks Brandon and Steve to take over. Brandon asks Dylan to join them, but Dylan wants nothing to do with West Beverly parents and baseball. Steve is more flexible, kissing up to a rich parent, Dave Franklin, who is very generous when happy. At home, Brenda finds the stray dog has gotten into the garbage, and offers to feed him -- thinking he will then lead.

At practice, Franklin's son Noah is snotty to Brandon. He's feeling out of his league -- not used to practices where dim sum is the snack. Jim doesn't want to hear Brandon's complaints, especially when he is hearing a dog howling -- Brenda has let the stray in the garage. Jim wants the dog gone, but Brenda says she will be responsible for him. Jim mentions previous Brenda pet disasters -- Ruby, Bruno and the especially unfortunate Mr. Pepper, who froze to death.

Best line of the episode is Brenda's reply: "I was 9. ... How was I supposed to know about wind chill factors?"

Jim and Brenda continue to bicker. Cindy finally takes charge, telling everyone what to do. Brenda, keeping the dog around while she looks for a new owner, names the dog Wally.

At the Peach Pit, Brandon asks to change his shift so he can coach the team. Nat also coaches a team of poor kids, to give them some fun. "They stink but who cares?" he says. He asks Brandon if their respective teams can have practice games, and Brandon agrees.

Brenda, Kelly and Donna try to train Wally. No go. "He's dumb," Kelly says, just before Wally starts licking Donna's leg.

Steve maneuvers to trade a bad player. Brandon doesn't like it, but Steve notes that it's approved by Dave Franklin -- who is league president and friend of Jim. At home, Jim also urges Brandon to be nice to Dave -- but Jim is grumpy about the howling, shoe-eating Wally.

At the practice game, Brandon talks about sportsmanship. But Steve says Dave doesn't want Nat's team to use the new equipment. And as the Dukes (Brandon's team) crush Nat's, Noah is snotty and taunting. Brandon tries to yank him from the game, but he won't go until Steve says to go. Steve disagrees with Brandon, and Brandon walks out.

Brenda still wants to keep Wally. Cindy's not agreeing, and thinks it's a bad time to talk to Jim, who is arguing with Brandon about his leaving the game. Jim finally asks Brandon to stay with the team until he is well enough to return. Brandon goes to the Peach Pit, find out things got worse after he left. But he offers to help Nat's team. At home, Jim is up, Steve is there and Steve now wants to play Nat's team again when he had been talking against it. He thinks it will be good for the Dukes' morale to "clobber those nerdballs."

Brenda keeps trying to find a new owner for Wally, with Dylan's help. She asks David Silver to try out Wally, but he tries to use it as leverage for a date with Kelly. Brenda keeps looking. But one night, Wally gets out and is gone. The family laments a bit -- even Jim has gotten used to him.

Meanwhile, Brandon, Dylan (happy to help beat West Beverly) and Nat know their team needs help. They remember that Andrea mentioned a good player, and call her to get that player for Nat's team. Before the game, Jim asks Brandon how he is getting there; Brandon says he is going with Dylan but, realizing that Jim is trying to make up, he goes with Jim -- and suits up for the Dukes. Nat, meanwhile, has gotten T-shirts for his team: The Pitts.

Brandon again teaches sportsmanship. Noah is ignoring the lesson. The Pitts' ringer shows up -- a girl who hits a home run in her first at bat and is a great pitcher. But the Dukes go to a 2-1 lead in the final inning and could win. But Jim decides that the Crawford kid, who hasn't played, needs to get in -- even when Dave Franklin is pushing for a better player. The ringer, Avery, gets on base; the next kid is a bad hitter, and Brandon calls the team together to tell them to be good sports when the kid strikes out. Noah continues his taunts; his brother, Dave, the pitcher, gives the batter something to hit, which Crawford fails to catch, which gives the Pitts the win. And Wally reappears, running to his owner, the Crawford kid.

Comments: A very minor episode. No major character development, two slight and predictable plots, perhaps meant as a light release after two heavy stories preceding (Brenda's breast-cancer threat in "It's Only a Test," the teen suicide topic in "April Is the Cruelest Month") -- and before the big Brenda-loses-her-virginity episode ("Spring Dance") which is next in line. But it's too light; you know that the Pitts will bring in some kind of ringer, and the Dukes pitcher showing mercy of the original "Bad News Bears." (So, for that matter, is the Pitts' ringer proving to be a girl.) About the only thing of even passing interest is the tension between Jim and Cindy over Jim's back; it continues some stress in "April Is the Cruelest Month," where Cindy is unhappy with Jim's sticking her with the taxes. in fact, Jim is a bit of a jerk in this episode, not listening to Brandon, until he redeems himself at the end. But it does give us a hint about where Brandon's worst tendencies come from. But in the overall "90210" arc, this episode is eminently skippable.

Other notes:

-- The obnoxious kid is played by Davey Roberts, but IMDB links to an obviously different (and much older) performer of that name.

-- Since Brenda wants to name the dog Wally, I wonder if this is an extension of the show's nods to Minnesota's Walter Mondale (who also inspired the name of Brandon's car).

-- The closing credits actually reverse the actor/character names of the dog, so it has "Wally as... Magic" instead of the other way around.

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