27 February 2012

4 solving problems with 90210: "this isn't about the color of people's skin or how much money they have. it's about gunshots."

this week, per jmills's request, we will be discussing portrayals of gang warfare, street violence, swear words, censorship, the editorial rights of writers and interracial dancing in the classic 90210 episode "home & away." SO MUCH! let's dive right in.

very important subplot #1: brenda is organizing the pigskin prom. 

very important subplot #2: sue scanlon (the sister of scott scanlon, who's self-inflicted gunshot death we'll come back to shortly... so much gun violence in beverly hills!) is totally coming on to david. 

very important subplot #3: donna is pissed. 

main plot: west beverly high's Big Game against shaw high school next weekend. 

(please note: if you remember the track team from a few weeks back, the football team is essentially the track team with tight sweatpants replaced by a black man. i don't know if this is an ongoing issue that i'm only just now noticing, but it's glaringly apparent throughout this episode that all of the large crowd scenes involve comically small groups of people.)

ohmygod, PEOPLE ARE DYING. something "major" indeed.

(things you will only know if i tell you or if you surrender 42 minutes of your own life to watch it- "home & away" features some of the most wackadoo chronology in the 90210 episphere. the first half of the show is told with a voice-over from brandon walsh as we go back in the past and then, about 20 minutes in, we reach the present and the narrative is linear from there. but the past parts jump around a lot and make those 20 minutes way more confusing than any 20 minutes of 90210 need ever be.)

would that we lived in a world where jim walsh provided commentary on the daily news.

(your mission of the day: declare something- anything!- "panic city." and.... GO!)

let me translate... brandon: tony, PEOPLE ARE DYING!!!

so you get that PEOPLE ARE DYING, right? back to very important subplot #1. brenda's in charge of this ridiculous pigskin dance thing and must find musical talent. steve, acting as david's agent and talking on zack morris's phone, wants david to land the gig. 

brenda has qualms and so they must all endure a ridiculous audition featuring acts like the grungemaster when we all know all along that david's going to get the job. 

surprise! david gets the job. it is so cool.

trying to figure out if the football game is going to be cancelled, brandon hits up the school board for the facts. he gets nothing and walks out in a huff. this is when he meets his shaw counterpart.

brandon walsh from beverly hills is then a total ass to jordan bonner from shaw.

jordan bonner, speaker of truths. 

so all of that was in the past. this is the present. brandon is on deadline and he's way late. gil, the sexy english teacher/sexy newspaper faculty advisor, and ahhhhhhndrea are nervous. brandon is enthused. 

so here's the thing. brandon and jordan bonner have hatched a plan to simultaneously publish their editorials in each other's student newspapers. they're not telling anyone about this so's brandon's got to bide his time until ahhhhhhhhndrea relents and leaves, and then he can hijack the paper. this will be easily accomplished because, as no less than three characters have now told us, the computer editing system is super easy. 

ahhhhhhndrea zuckerman, striking fear in all hearts with her hatred of swear words. 

back to the past...

of course we can count on steve to properly summarize the priorities of people living in 90210:

brandon: but... PEOPLE ARE DYING!!!

brandon heads down to the neighborhood of shaw high. the poverty he encounters on the way makes him go all squinty eyed with concern.

this is brandon walsh confronting jordan bonner with his radical idea that they simultaneously print their editorials in each other's papers. this is also jordan bonner telling brandon that he is wack:

turns out, jordan's editorial is shocking.

brandon is angry, too. because PEOPLE ARE DYING. 

and ahhhhhhhndrea won't let anyone swear. 

deep thoughts from gil meyers, dreamboat.

let's talk about this image. because this may be the greatest 90210 image of all time. for reals. i'm tempted to make it my computer background. it's that impactful. brandon walsh, Angry Journalist, staring down his words, all neatly typed out there in multi-tool word for ms-dos. sigh. this image almost makes me forgive him for the fact that- in solving all our problems- he is so often a tool. 

in his idealistic quest to do something everybody's going to remember (btw, why did they not call this episode "a night to remember"? because it so is), brandon included in his editorial ("a eulogy for the game") an invitation for all those gunslingers from shaw to come over and crash brenda's pigskin prom in a show of solidarity and racial reconciliation. this does not make brenda happy.

oh no, she totally isn't. because now everybody's pissed. 

sad puppies all around. 


totally gratuitous sidenote: in the timeline of brandon's love life, this falls during the era of nikki, a sophomore who later turns out to still be totally in love with her former, bass-playing boyfriend, played by david arquette. but for right now, after a brief summer fling with david silver, she's brandon's girlfriend. i can say in all honesty that absolutely the only interesting thing about nikki is these patchwork pants. 

so brandon gets called to the office to talk to mrs. teasley, who is the guidance counselor. that's actually kind of unclear because she's the only authority figure that we ever see at west beverly high so you'd think at some point she would've been promoted to principal but apparently not. apparently west beverly is ruled by an unseen hand that gives mrs. t tremendous latitude. 

mrs. t believes that brandon has misunderstood the dynamics at play in the game's cancellation and is now threatening to cancel the dance. 

it's because PEOPLE ARE DYING, brandon! dude, wake up! 

but this story is more complex than meets the eye. the dance is david silver's musical debut. steve has imported some A&R guy to come check him out at this high school dance. this isn't just about gunshots. it's about david's big chance that brandon is destroying. tragedy!

but the dance is back on! hallelujahs all around!

fyi- i love everything about this outfit that david is wearing for his debut:

the big unanswered question: what ARE we supposed to do?

brandon gets a call from jordan bonner. drunken brothers are on their way to the pigskin prom. 

the walshes are big on understatement... 

my friends, once again i will risk jail time for copyright infringement. this is my gift to you. david silver's soundcheck. enjoy...

did you love it? did you go a little weak in the knees? sue scanlon did. 

david is undone by her enthusiasm. 

so the students of west beverly were allowed to have their little dance and invite the shaw kids to get down so long as there was a security presence. this is their security presence.

turned on my his musical stylings, sue scanlon confronts david in the locker room and makes a play for him.

her play BOMBS, but she has the last word...

kelly and dylan are at the peach pit dealing with very important subplot #4 (kelly's dad saying he was going to be in town and her getting reservations at a fancy restaurant and buying a new dress only to have him bail at the last minute). their conversation is profound and seems to summarize the episode at large:

david silver is PSYCHED to be here at the pigskin prom inflicting his musical stylings and yo-yo-yos on the ears of unsuspecting west beverlyites. 

but trouble is brewing...

(ahhhhhhhhndrea is wearing a pantsuit that would make hillary clinton cringe.)

the west beverly guys want to take down the shaw guys and they are ready to rumble. 

nikki saves the day by asking this dude if he wants to dance. 

the men are STUNNED. never have they ever considered dancing an alternative to a rumble. 

disaster averted! massive relief!

david's lyrics capture the mood.

everyone in the gym (by which i mean all 25 people) breaks out into some sort of urban line-dancing hybrid. the races have been reconciled! no more gunshots! problem solved. 


mak said...

"the men are STUNNED. never have they ever considered dancing an alternative to a rumble."

Clearly, they've also never seen West Side Story, where the dancing IS the rumble.

oline said...

as brandon said earlier in the episode, "they live on a sheltered island." clearly none of them brought to the island classic films.

jmillewitz said...

I think there are two VERY important facets of the episode that you did not acknowledge.

1) Brenda and Donna are are wearing short, tight, see-through dresses with combat boots. I SO want this look to come back, and now I'm going to make it my mission, to bring back what I'm calling the Fly girl look.

2) the three-way dance between Dylan, Brenda and Kelly is some awesome foreshadowing of what is to come.

That said, thanks for this, I've been sick for a week now and I needed the cheer. I think David Silvers mic check totally cured me of the flu.

oline said...

grrr. and i thought i did so good. didn't even see the combat boots. and i actually did get the threesome shot at the end but then apparently forgot to include it. this thing was forever long and had to be shortened dramatically.

that said, OMG the david silver mic check. would that that were played at every event ever to include a microphone!