By Lisa Richwine
BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. (Reuters) – The cast of the 1990s hit “Beverly Hills, 90210” returns to U.S. television on Wednesday, much older but promising lots of the juicy drama that made their teenage characters famous.
The six, one-hour episodes of “BH90210” on the Fox broadcast network are not a typical remake. The series features seven of the original stars playing exaggerated versions of their real-life selves who reunite to create a reboot of the show that had been a pop culture phenomenon.
The idea originated with co-stars Jennie Garth and Tori Spelling and was fleshed out with input from the rest of the returning cast, the actors said.
“We wanted to leave it to the audience to decipher what’s real, what’s based on something real, what’s completely fictionalized,” Spelling said at a Television Critics Association event where networks preview new shows.
“We think they will have a lot of fun doing that,” she added.
Spelling described the tone of the series as “a blend of drama, comedy and soap.” Garth emphasized the soap part of the formula, dubbing it a “soap-edy.”
The series also squeezes in dream sequences and throwbacks to the original shows to feed fan nostalgia, the actors said.
Critics have generally embraced the approach. Sixty-five percent of reviews were positive on the Rotten Tomatoes website.
“As midlife crises go, you could do a lot worse than Fox’s ‘BH90210,’ a clever and intentionally cheesy reunion,” wrote Hank Stuever of The Washington Post.
“Beverly Hills, 90210,” which aired from 1990 to 2000, told the story of a group of high school students living the sweet life amid Southern California affluence while dealing with teen angst, as well as more serious issues such as date rape, AIDS and teen pregnancy.
Now, the characters face challenges such as broken marriages and growing older and wondering if they have fulfilled their potential, star Gabrielle Carteris said.
Also returning are Jason Priestley, Shannen Doherty, Ian Ziering and Brian Austin Green.
Doherty said she had rejected offers to reunite with the cast on screen until the sudden death of co-star Luke Perry, who died in March following a stroke at age 52. Perry’s death will be addressed in the new series.
“When Luke passed away, things drastically changed for me,” Doherty said. “It felt like it was a great opportunity to honor him. We went on this amazing journey together, to sort of heal through losing someone who means the world to us.”
(Reporting by Lisa Richwine; editing by Nate Raymond and Grant McCool)