Are you ready for this? The most anticipated new show of the year has finally arrived! I don't know about you, but I have been waiting for this day all summer. I am a sucker for teen dramas set in southern Cali. But who isn't, really?
Alright, so the clothes and hair have vastly improved, but the premise of this show is exactly the same as that of the original series: a wholesome, all-American family moves to Beverly Hills from the Midwest for Dad's new job. This time it's the Wilson family. Harry (Rob Estes) is the father, Debbie (Lori Loughlin) is the mom, Annie (Shenae Grimes) is the daughter, and Dixon (Tristan Wilds) is the adopted son.
The pilot opens with Coldplay's new single, "Viva La Vida" and a montage of recognizable landmarks throughout Los Angeles, and then cuts to a shot of the Wilson family in their car. Dixon whines a bit about how much this "sucks", the family banters, and they all end up in fantastic moods.
The family arrives at Grandma Wilson's house. Grandma Wilson is Tabitha, a has-been actress who now spends her days boozing it up and being hilariously snarky. We get some back story about this being the house that Harry grew up in and Annie having a boyfriend (Jason) who she left behind in Kansas. We also learn that Annie already has a friend at school: a boy named Ethan Ward, who she made out with two summers ago but hasn't really spoken to since.
(Side note: Dustin Milligan, the guy who plays Ethan, graduated from high school with me. He is a very nice guy – you heard it here first.)
The next day at school, Annie spots Ethan immediately. She makes like she's going to go say hi, but Ethan is already in the car. With some girl. Who...has her face in his lap. Everyone looks mortified.
Inside the school, Dixon heads to journalism class, where he meets Navid, producer of the Beverly Hills Blaze, which was the school paper in the original series but is now broadcast over the school television network by a girl named Hannah Zuckerman Vazquez (Andrea's daughter).
Annie's first class is English with Mr. Ryan Matthews. As Mr. Matthews introduces Annie to the class, Naomi Clark walks in. She bickers with Matthews and then is asked to a) write that paper that was due a week ago, and b) show Annie around the school.
Out in the hall, Harry meets up with the school guidance counselor and an old friend: none other than Kelly Taylor.
After class, Naomi and her friends ridicule Annie's clothes. She doesn't hear them, though, and approaches them to let Naomi know that she's definitely willing to let Naomi off the hook – she can show herself around the school. Then Ethan walks up – turns out he's Naomi's boyfriend. After some awkwardness, we meet Adriana, a friend of Naomi's and the female lead in the school play. Annie, who was very involved in drama productions at her old school, tells Adriana that she's doing backstage work now. Adriana responds with a nasty comment.
Opening credits: The theme song borrows heavily from the original, but is a little more punchy and contemporary. Also shorter. I approve.
Later in the day, Ethan approaches Annie at her locker and asks her not to tell Naomi what she saw that morning, claiming "he's not that guy". She promises not to say anything. In the parking lot, Adriana meets up with her drug dealer, who reminds her that she owes $200 by tomorrow.
At lunch, Annie is sitting on the steps eating alone when she is approached by Silver. Erin Silver, that is. Yet another shout-out to the original: She's David and Kelly's half-sister. Silver and Annie chat, but soon Naomi comes and drags Annie away, assuring her that she's "saving" her. Seems Naomi and Silver don't like each other too much. To ensure that Annie chooses her side, Naomi invites her to go shopping that afternoon. And to her "not-so-sweet sixteen" party that weekend.
There's a meeting in the principal's office: Harry, Mr. Matthews, and Naomi's parents are discussing her lack of commitment to that English paper. Her parents believe that she should be able to do it on her own time. Harry and Mr. Matthews think it was due a week ago, and so she should get on it. Mr. Clark announces he's taking this to the board, because Harry is being unreasonable. Oh, irony. How I love thee. On her way out of Harry's office, Mrs. Clark makes a comment that implies that she and Harry were an item back in the day.
Over at the Peach Pit, Nat (the owner, who was a regular character on the original) is fighting with a cappuccino machine and grumbling something about wishing people just wanted regular coffee. Naomi and Annie are inside, having finished shopping. Naomi gets a text from her mom about her English paper. She has to do it by the next day or the party is off. Lucky for her, Annie wrote a paper on the same book last year and promises to e-mail it to her. For reference purposes, of course.
Back at the school, Dixon is trying out for the lacrosse team. Ethan, the star of the team, is also there, and Mr. Matthews is the coach. Dixon rules at lacrosse and wins over everyone – except one guy, George, who waits until Matthews' back is turned and hits Dixon. Dixon retaliates, naturally, but unfortunately for him, Matthews turns around at that exact moment and blames Dixon for the fight.
That night, Adriana, Naomi and Ethan go to the Peach Pit nightclub. Naomi and Ethan get into a spat. He turns to leave, and she goes after him, forgetting her purse in the process. Adriana, who still owes her dealer two hundred bucks, sees her chance and grabs Naomi's purse when no one is looking.
At the Wilson house, Mrs. Clark shows up and proceeds to make both Debbie and Harry highly uncomfortable with stories from the past. They get rid of her as quickly as possible.
The next day, Annie gets to school and is greeted by a bunch of people asking where her boyfriend, the cow, is. She wonders what's up, and Navid and Dixon show her a video on Silver's blog, making fun of her farm-girl roots. She confronts Silver, who implies that she did it because Annie chose Naomi over her.
In Harry's office, Ethan tells the principal and his coach that Dixon started the fight – he feels he has to have his teammate's back. Matthews believes him, but Harry thinks Ethan is lying. Later, Annie confronts Ethan about lying to Harry and Matthews and cheating on his girlfriend. She claims the thing she liked about him two summers ago was that he was so honest, and wants to know where that guy is.
In class, Naomi is reading her paper aloud. After, we find out that she just ripped off Annie's entire paper. Who's surprised?
After school, Naomi is talking incessantly to Ethan about her upcoming shindig. Dixon is sitting off to the side, watching them, and decides to text Naomi with the information that Ethan is cheating on her. Meanwhile, at play rehearsal, Mrs. Austin thinks the vocals in the group song are thin, so Silver, in an attempt to make nice, suggests that they add Annie. Annie is all for this idea, and sings well but dances like an idiot. When Harry walks in, Annie excitedly tells him how much fun it was to be up there, but he's not there to celebrate. He's there because he knows she helped Naomi cheat. And he is NOT pleased. She's told to sit outside Harry's office while he discusses the situation with Naomi and Mrs. Clark.
In the office, Mrs. Clark makes all kinds of excuses for her daughter's lack of ambition, which pisses Naomi off. She announces she'll write another paper here and now, and then asks her mother to leave.
Ethan and George fight about the Dixon situation in the parking lot. Later, as Annie is leaving, she sees Ethan, now sporting fresh bruises on his face. He tells her to tell her brother he's back on the team. When she does, Dixon looks horrified, because he sent that text to Naomi to get back at Ethan. Oops.
That night, they all go to Naomi's party. Dixon, Annie, and Silver are looking for Ethan so they can tell him what Dixon did before Naomi confronts him. They have a short-lived moment of relief when Navid tells them that Naomi's purse – with her sidekick in it – was stolen. At that exact moment, Adriana returns Naomi's purse, saying the guy at the Peach Pit found it. Naomi reads the text message and asks Ethan point-blank if he's cheating, and when he says nothing, she turns and walks away, leaving him standing on the dance floor all alone.
Harry shows up to the party in search of Annie, but instead he finds Mrs. Clark, who tells him they need to talk. Turns out he got her pregnant in high school. She told him at the time that she had an abortion, but she actually went away and had the baby and put it up for adoption. Harry walks away, in somewhat of a state of shock.
Silver, Annie, Navid and Dixon head down to a party on the beach, where they find Ethan surfing. Annie apologizes for breaking her promise, but Ethan has already forgiven her.
Later that night, a multitude of things happen: Ethan shows up at Naomi's house, looking heart-wrenchingly sorry; Adriana pays her drug dealer; Dixon and Annie frolic in the Pacific Ocean, cheering about how this place doesn't suck, after all; and Kelly Taylor, on the phone with someone, says, "he's been asking about you" just as her young son calls for her.
Wow. I would love to know who that kid's dad is. And where Harry's illegitimate kid ended up, for that matter. Stay tuned!
That was the worst dancing I've ever seen. I mocked her a lot. She may have known the moves but she didn't know how to use them.
I'm so glad you're so familiar with the original, because despite my TVTropolis addiction, I'm still a little clueless. But I think the kid's dad is Brandon. Isn't that the indication?
Someone needs to forcefeed the girls on this show cheeseburgers until they start looking like 16-year-old girls instead of 10-year-old boys with bobbleheads. (The worst part is how the actresses are all 18 or older. They shouldn't be that thin; it just isn't natural. I'm concerned for their health.)
10 points to the show for all the Canadian actors, though.