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"Beverly Hills, 90210" Flashback: "The First Time"

By admin Published: August 14, 2008

Paula Irvine played Sheryl, the first girl Brandon Walsh slept with. But where is she now?

Season 1, Episode 4, "The First Time." Premiered Oct. 25, 1990. Brandon has sex, Brenda's hot for teacher. Dylan wears some tragic pants. Synopsis and comments after the jump.

Synopsis: Brandon is missing Minneapolis, complaining about the lack of fall in California, too much heat, no leaves changing color. Then he gets a phone call from "Minneapolis Sheryl" (Paula Irvine), his ex-girlfriend from back home. She's coming to visit. Word spreads at school, and Brandon has conversations about it with Andrea, Dylan and David Silver (basically a complete stranger to Brandon, introducing himself as "Steve Sanders' friend.") Meanwhile, Brenda, Kelly and Donna are all fascinated with their handsome algebra teacher, Matt Brody (Tim Dunigan). Matt asks to talk to Brenda after class; she fantasizes, but he just wants her to babysit.

Brandon and Brenda get home to discover that Sheryl has arrived early. The reunion is warm. That night, Brandon asks Sheryl to sneak into his room. She is hesitant, but late at night does so. Cindy, suspicious, hears the doors and knows something is up. She asks Jim to talk to Brandon; he agrees, but the next morning Brandon and Sheryl go out to see the sights before Jim can have The Talk.

All is going well until Brandon takes Sheryl to lunch at the Bel Age so she can meet Dylan. She is intrigued by his glamorous life and his offer to get them into Contact, a hot club (which ends up looking like every other club on "90210" so far). Sheryl asks Brenda about Dylan, who says he's "a bit of a wild child." That night, Sheryl asks to ride in Dylan's Porsche while Brandon takes Brenda to babysit.

Dylan and Sheryl have preceded Brandon into the club, and Brandon has had trouble getting past the bouncer. He also finds the other two dancing close. Confrontation ensues, Dylan says Sheryl hit on him, Brandon punching Dylan. "You better figure out who your friends are," Dylan warns. Brandon confronts Sheryl, who tells him that she had sex before. She takes off in a cab.

Meanwhile, Brenda is learning that hunky teacher is a mess at home -- bitchy wife, bratty kids. It kills her crush. When she gets home, Brenda finds Cindy going through Sheryl's things; turns out Sheryl has run away from home.

Brandon goes the Bel Age to talk to Dylan; Sheryl is there. "The girl's got problems," Dylan declares while Sheryl is hurling in the bathroom. Turns out she is unhappy with her life at home and felt safer and happier with the Walsh's -- so Brandon saw the happy Sheryl, not the sad one. She also admits that she ran away from home. Brandon's solution: ice cream. When she and Brandon go back to the Walsh house, she calls her mother. She then flies home, but not before telling Brandon that sex was special with him and he is a wonderful lover -- which Brenda overhears.

After Sheryl leaves, Jim tries to have The Talk with Brandon while they play basketball, although the discussion includes awkwardly phrased Jim questions like, "Sheryl get off OK?" Brandon notes that they had the sex talk when he was 10, and that Jim should just tell Cindy that "we were careful."

Comments: The fourth episode in a row with A Girl With A Problem, which should tell you how stuck "90210" is, and how much it is trying to reach a female audience. Also, the focus continues to be on Brenda and Brandon; Dylan is a little more in the mix, albeit in the context of Brandon's story, but Kelly and Donna remain window dressing. Brandon's self-righteousness is at least bent a little into hot-headed behavior. Cindy and Jim seem to have settled even more into contrasting parental styles: she wants to be involved while he is willing to let them make mistakes.

On the issue of teen sex, the episode does at least deal a bit with responsible behavior. Before they have sex, Sheryl asks Brandon, "Do you have protection?" And he does. Then, at the end, Brandon tells his father that he and Sheryl were "careful." But the sex between Sheryl and Brandon is still idealized, with Brandon extremely cheerful the next morning and Sheryl's telling him he was wonderful, so there's no hint to the teen audience that real-life sex can be more complicated, especially for a first-timer.

Other notes:

-- Paula Irvine, who plays Sheryl, went on to star in "Phantasm II" but seems to have gotten out of acting. One old "Phantasm" site said she married, had kids and was majoring in communications somewhere, but that's about all I could find.

-- Tim Dunigan, who played Matt Brody, has a modest list of IMDB credits after "90210" -- although it notes that, seven years earlier, he played Face in the original "A-Team" pilot before being replaced by Dirk Benedict. Still, of the Brody family, the most notable actor is Ross Malinger as the bad-behaving son; he went on to, among other things, playing Tom Hanks's son in "Sleepless in Seattle."

-- Andrea's name pronunciation continues to vary, as AN-drea and AHN-drea at different points in the episode.

-- A couple of serious fashion tragedies in "The First Time." Dylan, at the high school, is wearing blue checked pants that fall somewhere between pajamas and parachute pants. Genuinely ugly, and way out of character for Dylan; I can imagine some discussion about getting him into cooler clothes, and then considerable regret when they saw the result. Also, Jim plays basketball in a red tank top that's just not a good idea when you're as big a fur-ball as James Eckhouse.

-- No mention of the Peach Pit job Brandon got in the previous episode.

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