Friday, March 1, 2013


Episode 15: Strange Brew
By: Carlos Uribe

90210 is a show about wealthy kids who do business and go to college in the zip. Or something.

Spoilers Ahoy!

It's the second episode in a row that begins with a sudden plot development. Annie has been living with Liam for a while now but the show hasn't really given any indication that she was interested in him again. It's a development that makes sense but the idea should have at least been introduced in the previous episode. The dream at the beginning really did seem like it came out of nowhere. This really does seem to give the impression that the writers are just moving to the next random plot that comes into their head. Take Annie's story ever since she got shot. She managed to survive but then she found out that her boyfriend, Riley, died. She gets over him remarkably quick, which sort-of makes their whole relationship pointless since his passing has had like minimal impact on her, but she gets a book deal from her obscure sex blog. This is because Annie is apparently a good writer. I think it's easier for me to buy the idea that Dan from Gossip Girl is a good writer than Annie. So where does this show go next? It decides that writing this book is going to make her sexually attracted to Liam again or it's because he walks around shirtless or something. This would be fine if this had been happening for at least one episode before this one but they didn't. That's not how you writer a serialized plot as you have to plant developments like this before you actually pursue them. I'm sure the fans that ship them were delighted with this episode but not everybody who watches this show are that dedicated to the couple that they're willing to excuse poor writing. It simply makes it feel that we're watching things simply pop up and happen rather than seeing things develop over time. Annie spends the whole episode trying to fight her sudden rediscovered love for Liam but he's passed out drunk when she finally gets the courage to tell him. She comes up with a fantasy ending for her book where the two rode off happy on the sunset-an ending that her publisher didn't see coming. Which is odd because that's basically the cliché ending of a modern-day love story.

As for Liam? He's a famous model, a movie star, and he owns a bar. He's had a whole bunch of careers but none of them really have stuck because the writers get easily bored. He decides to open up his own microbrewery this episode because he wants to do something that he's passionate about. The beer ends up being a disaster because Liam had no talent. This basically leaves him without a talent but the episode did lay out hints on where they plan to take Liam next. Dixon really likes the surf board Liam made for himself. At the end of the episode, Liam gets the bright idea that since he likes to make surfboards then he might as well do that for a living. Here is where we see the show taking the two approaches to the plot. The first is to build up Liam's decision to do a surfboard company. We see him through his process so we understand why exactly he's going to be doing it. There is no question about motives and it feels like a natural plot development. That's good storytelling. The bad is that the microbrewery basically came out of nowhere. Liam just happened to have made a batch of his own beer before his bar burned down. This is new information that is thrown at the audience to justify why he's trying to sell his brand of beer at the restaurant opening. It's sudden and it doesn't really feel that organic. There is a huge difference between have spontaneous decisions and just forcing stuff to happen. A good spontaneous decision was for Silver to buy the food track last episode because of what happened in that episode. The only part of the episode that moved Liam towards the microbrewery was a speech by Annie but the information about having previously made his own beer undermined that. You can do better 90210.

The truck business turns out to be a documentary van. Dixon gives Silver the idea that she should use the truck to follow her passion of being a director. The idea is to interview as many people as possible and create inspiring documentaries out of that. They basically only get one interview and it was to be the final push to Annie to admit her feelings about Liam. That's apparently all they're going to do with this idea since they're already introduced her next career move: she's going to direct a music video starring Michaela. This is because Dixon didn't tell Silver that he was going to sign Michaela on to his music label before she found out on her own. Silver gets angry because she doesn't think it's a good idea for Michaela to perform at clubs while carrying a baby. It makes sense but Dixon comes up with a great plan that allows her to have her surrogate while he builds up for Michaela with what comes afterwards. The most obvious choice for the truck to create conflict was between Adrianna and Silver but it actually turned out to be between Silver and Dixon when she thought he was only given her the documentary idea so that she was okay with Michaela. The plot is okay but frankly the baby drama is kind of boring right now and I could care less about Michaela's music career. I do hope they don't drop the documentary van because I think it could actually be fun if it was written right but I'm not convinced that the writers are going to stick with it for any longer.

The restaurant opening is a disaster. It's basically that way because Naomi is new to the industry and she's more interested in building a relationship with her half-brother than actually running a business. This means that on the day of the opening she drags her brother out to bond with him during the day. That doesn't really go well because trying to force a connection will always end in failure. The night becomes hectic because she doesn't understand they were only having a “soft” opening. It's industry standard to only invite family and friends to a restaurant's opening so they can comment on the food and give you feedback on what you can do to improve. Naomi doesn't realize this so she had acted like it was an actual opening by inviting a hundred people. The restaurant isn't ready for that many people so Naomi and the half-brother have to do their best to fix the situation. They manage to get through the night but it's this experience that bonds them. The plot was fine but I just don't didn't care about the restaurant. How am I supposed to care that it's at stake when it's likely that Naomi will soon move on to something new?

At least it's better than Navid. That's right: Navid remains the worst part about this show. His dull plot involves the Cronus brothers. The head Cronus guy turns out to be engaged. See what I mean about random plot developments? How come we didn't know about this before? He always acted like he was single. He asks Navid to hang out with her in exchange for the Cronus leadership position next semester. Soooo boring. The plot takes a turn for the predictably dull when the Cronus leader turns out to be cheating on his fiance and is basically only with her for his career. Great, he's a jerk? So what? Navid, of course, decides to expose him but he only makes the Cronus leader his enemy. I think the Cronus leader should back off before he's bored to death by Navid. I'm sure it goes without saying I don't care about this plot.

Strange Brew is a decent episode of 90210. The random plot development where Annie likes Liam seems more like fan service than something that really belonged. I also refuse to buy into the idea that Annie is a good writer. I mean, really, Annie? I would believe Silver and maybe Adrianna, but Annie? Liam's plot was mixed as the whole microbrewery was random but his decision to design surfboards for a living makes sense. The documentary van had promise but it was underutilized and continued to use Silver's baby to create drama. That show has gone to the well for too long in that regard. The restaurant is a dull plot but I do like the bond that Naomi is building with her half-brother. Navid sucks. It really wasn't an entertaining episode per se but it actually did get close.

Other Notes:

The publisher not seeing a cliché ending coming is only the first sign that the writers have no idea how the publishing game works. Apparently the book is going to be released in one month. Assuming that they could get the editing done in that time frame, that leaves them with no time to build up hype or properly market the book. I understand why they did this: having the book release in one month allows them to finish this plot as quickly as possible so they could introduce the next random plot development.

Did they hire someone new to sing for Michaela because this week she sounded very different.

90210 got canceled. I'm not sure if the series will have a proper series finale but do we really care if we get closure? All I want to happen in the finale is Navid getting impaled. That sadly probably won't happen...

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