Tuesday, September 09, 2008

High School Homework, Compare and Contrast - Gossip Girl and 90210

It's been a long time since I've talked about Gossip Girl and it's not because I don't like it anymore, we just kept getting it on delay here in Canada during the spring but now we get it a day early (AChannel seems to be airing the new 2nd season on Sundays a day earlier than The CW)! So finally, it sort of evens out. Sort of.

And since its return, it's been just as OMFG fantastic as before! In fact better. With the hilarity and lol moments perfectly balancing the soapy drama antics while our favorite rich white kids are summering in the Hamptons. Plus it has benefited from using a Veronica Mars alum.

Meanwhile, those other CW rich white kids, the ones living in 90210 were getting a lot of attention but I wanted to reserve my judgement until the 2nd episode aired since pretty much everyone already ranted about how boring the pilot was. Of course, considering the original one was so boring, what did people expect? Even Veronica Mars creator Rob Thomas can't save it. And after tonight's second episode? Yup, still a little boring. Not unwatchable, but with all the money they are spending, you would think it should look far fancier than Degrassi or The Secret Life of The American Teenager.

If anything, it proved how far and how improved successors of Beverly Hills, 90210 have come. The OC and Gossip Girl are obviously far superior in storytelling, and not just in the shocks, but in the clever writing, the funny throwaway lines, the acting and the all-round development of fuller characters.

So here's my assessment of the new 90210

Things that get 9 points:

- Casting Degrassi alum Shenae Grimes as Annie Wilson, the Brenda equivalent in the revamp. Go Shenae!

- Casting The Wire alum Tristan Wilds as Dixon Wilson, the Brandon equivalent in the revamp, and switching colours on the whole story. At least they tried. It's a nice thought. Unnecessary, but nice.

- Casting Ryan Eggold as hot teach Ryan Matthews. Yum.

- Casting a second Canadian, Dustin Milligan, as Ethan Ward, the hot surfer dude who will be a corner of many a triangles. Plus he has great chemistry with Grimes. It's got to be the Canadian thing. The CW needs to milk it like Everwood milked Gregory Smith with Emily Van Camp.

Things that get 0 points:

- AnnaLynn McCord as rich bitch Naomi Clark. Gabrielle Carteris got flack for being in her 30's playing teen. McCord may have just gotten out of her teens, but she looks like she's in her 30's and should be playing one of the moms. Plus she has ZERO personality or likability. Check Francia Raisa's Adrian on The Secret Life of The American Teenager or Summer in the first season of The OC. We LOVE those bitches!
- Jessica Lowndes as Adrianna. Wow. Someone even more unlikable than McCord.
- Silver. Lame character tie in from the original. And the fact that I can barely tell the actress apart from Lowndes in pictures. Though luckily Jessica Stroup plays the part and saves the character, at least when I can figure out who is who.

Things that get 2 points:

- Bringing in the alums. The gimmick is exciting for all of 40 seconds, but then Shannen Doherty's acting reminds us why her career has gone nowhere since she "left" the original (Charmed doesn't count since she got booted from there too and it still continued to do well). At least i still like Jennie Garth but I think that may have more to do with What I Like About You.
- Giving Spring Awakening a plug that helped boost its B.O. for a second, even though the show made the musical seem really lame by association and a terrible performance.

- The story. Not as bad as everyone said it was, but definitely not as good as it should be. Mostly boring but not because it's actually morally good while secretly hidden under more "shocking" moments, but because it's all been done before. In fact, I don't mind the wholesomeness of it all. Just lose poor-lil-rich-bitch stories and lose McCord and Lowndes then. Or give them a personality.

Things that get 10 points:

- Casting Jessica Walters as the matriarch of the Wilson clan. And keeping her a drunk grandma. They might as well have just kept her name as Bluth. Clearly the best thing of the new show. What a hoot!

At least 90210 continues to poach from Degrassi, from the idea of a "Next Generation" series, to writers, to the lead star, and while it took a season before Degrassi: The Next Generation really got into the groove and became good, I'm not sure American TV has that patience anymore. Considering the 90210 pilot was still credited to Veronica Mars creator Rob Thomas, I sort of expected more. Just keep throwing Jessica Walters in every scene. That will surely help.

Even the music isn't quite as good, probably because 90210 solely relies on pilfering from the Top 20, while Gossip Girl actually has a surprisingly good original score. Between all the emo rock songs. And 90210 even has Liz Phair working for them in the music department. What happened?

So back to the superior CW show Gossip Girl. Is it me or is Kristen Bell's narration even snarkier this year? LOVE IT!

Loving the Lord (Patrick Heusinger, in Toronto currently in Spamalot! Who knew?) with Blair and all the non-subtle games of love chess she continues to play with Chuck, who is looking good in his summer wear.

Although can anybody in real life actually pull some of those clothes off? Great for TV but realistic? I'm really asking actually. I want to know if I need to update my wardrobe.

The whole Duchess set up was so obvious but I still laughed out loud when Chuck set Blair up to look like a fool in front of her new boytoys step-mom (Madchen Amick). Loved it even more when Blair caught The Duchess with Nate, who noted that the best case scenario would be to become Blair's step-dad. Brilliant.

I'm glad they brought back Connor Paolo as Eric for Jenny to have a friend again, and if the writers were smart, they'd start hooking Eric up with some more hot boys. I never understand when they start these soap operas and DON'T stick in a gay or two anymore? Don't they know their target audience? Girls and gays. And the gays are easy to keep happy. Stick some mancandy, preferably occasionally shirtless and we are THERE (bonus if mancandy has a mancandy of his own) and if the gays are there, the girls will follow! You'd think they would know by now. (I'm talking to you 90210)

Ah yes, mancandy.

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