BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. In the nearly two decades that yours truly has been attending the Television Critics Association press tours, this has to rank near the top of the list of Worst Announcements Ever (based on both content and delivery):
"Shannen Doherty will be returning to '90210,"' said executive producer Gabe Sachs. "She will be a guest director of our musical."
Um, what? Have you lost your mind, Mr. Sachs? Not only are you going to let Shannen Doherty direct an episode of your new series a sequel of sorts to the original "Beverly Hills, 90210" but you just finished filming your pilot and you're already planning a musical episode?!?!?!
Well, no. Turns out Sachs one of the guys charged with making sure this new CW series is well written meant something decidedly different from what he said.
Doherty will return to the show as Brenda Walsh, the character she played until she was fired from the original "BH 90210." And Brenda will be a "guest drama teacher" at her alma mater, West Beverly High School. In other words, Brenda is going to direct the school musical.
That makes a great deal more sense that turning an hour of prime-time television over to the infamous Doherty. Even if it's only an hour on The CW.
But bringing Doherty back to the show at all is, well, troubling. As a matter of fact, every time the producers announce that another of the original cast members is coming back, my interest in the new "90210" wanes.
The truth is that I was a "90210" fan the first few years the show was on the air. While the "kids" were still in high school. And it was pretty good.
So when The CW announced that it was reviving the show with a new family moving to Beverly Hills, it sounded kind of fun. And the news that Jennie Garth would reprise her role as Kelly Taylor "all grown up and now a guidance counselor at West Beverly" kept some continuity and a tie to the past.
Then came the news that Tori Spelling (Donna) would appear on the new show. Ugh.
And that Joe E. Tata would be back as Nat, who still owns the Peach Pit. Whatever.
And now the confirmation of the Doherty rumors. Ugh.
My enthusiasm is definitely waning.
ONE CRITIC WAS A BIT concerned about the possibility of "some kind of rip in the space/time continuum" because Rob Estes is playing the father of the main family in "90210."
Estes was on "Melrose Place" for six seasons (1993-99). And "Melrose" was a spinoff of the original "Beverly Hills, 90210." And now he's on the next "90210" as (gasp!) a completely different character.
But the producers aren't exactly worried.
"Sometimes you just got to go forward," said executive producer Jeff Judah. "We wanted Rob, so that was the the choice. I think you just have to sort of forget about that and move on."
TORI SPELLING is coming back to "90210." (She'll be the owner of an "upscale boutique.") Brian Austin Green's character is not. (At least not as far as anyone knows.)
And yet, in the original series' finale, her character (Donna) married his (David Silver). So, what happened to their marriage?
"You'll find out," said executive producer Jeff Judah. "I'm not trying to be coy. I just don't want to give something away, but if you watch the first night, I would imagine you will find some information out."
"You will know what they have been doing and where they're at now," promised Judah.
And apparently it's not a coincidence that one of the characters is (first) named Silver, a teenage girl who's described as "a rebel who produces and stars in a YouTube-type video series." (David Silver, of course, was sort of the West Beverly High deejay.)
"You know what? We'll have to see," said Sachs.
THERE ARE NO PLANS to bring back any of the other original cast members, but the producers aren't ruling it out."If there was something appropriate that organically fit in with our stories now, we'd be open to it," said Sachs (who uses the Hollywood term "organically" a lot.) "But we haven't spoken to them yet."