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CW Circles Sachs and Judah for "90210," Rob Thomas to Take Back Seat on Drama Pilot

I am very happy to read that Rob Thomas will be taking a back seat on the upcoming drama pilot for the spin-off of Beverly Hills 90210 to focus on his other projects.

Whew.

I read the script for 90210 yesterday and was less than thrilled. I know that Thomas wrote it extremely quickly (a week, according to The Hollywood Reporter) on a rather tight deadline as CBS Paramount Network Television fast-tracked the project. The Veronica Mars creator then found himself in high demand, with two other projects getting ordered to pilot at ABC: the revival of his own series Cupid and Good Behavior, the US adaptation of Kiwi series Outrageous Behavior.

90210 was an iconic series and managed to completely tap into the zeitgeist of the 1990s in a way that no other series--especially one geared towards teens--had managed to do. It also went on to influence such series as The O.C., Gossip Girl, and, well, every other teen drama that came after it.

So why was Thomas' rushed script for 90210 such a letdown then? For one, it felt completely flat and formulaic, as though the multi-cultural characters were dictated by committee rather than created organically. It also has a tough act to follow: while 90210 felt cutting edge and different at the time, this feels extremely derivative, especially after the pop culture savviness of The O.C. and the over-the-top absurdity of the CW's own Gossip Girl.

Sixteen-year-old characters Annie and Dixon don't have the appeal of Brendon and Brenda Walsh, though their origins are somewhat similar as they move from the Midwest (Wichita, Kansas) to Beverly Hills. (Here, they and their parents--including West Beverly Hills High principal Harry and Olympic bronze medalist Celia--move in with their aging actress grandmother Tabitha after her most recent Betty Ford stint.)

It also lacked the wit and ambition of Thomas' own Veronica Mars. While the class warfare element is still there, it's all rather subdued, with the action and plot all very much on the surface. We don't get a sense of any inner depth to these characters, most of whom remain archetypical rather than function as three-dimensional, fully developed characters.

Personally, I'd rather see Thomas focus on the far superior Good Behavior and Cupid. CW and CBS Paramount are in talks with Gabe Sachs and Jeff Judah (Freaks and Geeks) to come aboard 90210 and do a rewrite on Thomas' script. Thomas would remain an executive producer on the pilot and the potential series; he has been attending casting sessions. (So far the only casting attachment are Runaway's Dustin Milligan, who will play popular jock Ethan, and AnnaLynne McCord as bitchy Queen Bee Naomi Bennett.)

In other Rob Thomas news, Charles McDougall (Desperate Housewives) will direct the pilot for Thomas' dramedy Good Behavior, about a family of career criminals who are forced by their mother to go straight after the pater de familias ends up in prison.

What's On Tonight

8 pm: NCIS (CBS); Biggest Loser (NBC; 8-10 pm); Beauty and the Geek (CW); According to Jim/According to Jim (ABC); American Idol (FOX)

9 pm: Big Brother 9 (CBS); Reaper (CW); Dancing with the Stars (ABC); Hell's Kitchen (FOX)

10 pm: 48 Hours Mysteries (CBS); Law & Order: Special Victims Unit (NBC); Boston Legal (ABC)

What I'll Be Watching

9 pm: Last Restaurant Standing on BBC America.

On the eleventh episode of this addictive British import, the couples must focus on the customer, devising ideas that will "surprise and delight" every customer who walks through the door, but quickly realize that what pleases one customer alienates another; Jess and Laura attempt to put on a high-spirited dance routine, which upsets some clients, while a singing performance at another restaurant leads to embarrassment. Still bigger problems loom: one couple can't seem to fill their restaurant and control the staff, while another discovers that their food is ending up in the bin.

10 pm: The Riches on FX.

On tonight's installment ("Trust Never Sleeps"), Wayne receives an unexpected visitor at work in the form of a private investigator attempting to track down Pete while Dahlia discovers that maintain her double life is not only difficult but dangerous.

Comments

The CineManiac said…
I'm glad to hear the "busiest man currently in TV" is focusing more on his other 2 series than the 90210 spin-off.
Personally I think his talents can be used for good not evil (as I fear anything 90210 would be at this point)
Also I don't know why I used quotes since that's just what I call Thomas and not an official title or a quote from anywhere other than my own head.
Anonymous said…
I agree with Cinemaniac. The new 90210 could easily be a disaster, like some other recent recreations (cough, Knight Rider, cough, Bionic Woman, cough). Thomas' talent will be much better used on his other two shows.
Brad said…
Judah and Sachs made a pretty decent yet completely doomed teen drama "Life As We Know It." Yeah, it had Kelly Osbourne and unnecessary monologues, but it was an entertaining show. It's main flaw (besides Osbourne) was that it showed people in Seattle playing hockey.
So this news actually made me MORE interested in 90210
Anonymous said…
I'm disappointed to hear about the 90210 script. Let's hope it improves...i may watch it when it airs...we'll see...
Anonymous said…
Best of luck Rob Thomas. DO your best!!!!!!!!!!
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