Monday’s “9021OMG” podcast, the last of March, covered “April is the Cruelest Month.”
“April is the Cruelest Month” is the 19th episode of “Beverly Hills, 90210.” It is a significant installment in a few different ways. First off, a pre-“Friends” Matthew Perry guest-stars as West Beverly tennis standout Roger in a rather dark plot that has Brandon (Jason Priestley) concerned for Roger’s life. Second, Tori Spelling’s Donna finally gets a more prominent storyline with her SAT results indicating she has a learning disability.
And third, this is the first episode written by the then-married Jessica Klein and Steve Wasserman, who would go on to become executive producers of the show and write dozens of memorable episodes. Furthermore, the hour was directed by Daniel Attias, who helmed more episodes of “Beverly Hills, 90210” than any other director.
So what did Tori have to say about this pivotal episode for her character? And what did she and Jennie think of Matthew Perry’s dark turn? Read on…
First off, I’m not feeling great, so I’m doing this week’s reaction in paragraph-style chunks. It will not be as detailed as usual. I thought about skipping this week altogether, but I strongly believe in fulfilling my commitments, and hopefully you will think this format at least still gives you the gist of things.
They started off by wishing everyone a “happy spring.” Tori said a lot of people DMed her after last week’s podcast to tell her the proper phrasing is “sliding” into someone’s DMs, not “slipping” or “dropping.” Jennie and Tori then introduced the episode. The description came word-for-word from IMDb. Jennie correctly gave the writers and director, and of Jessica and Steve, said they always “affectionately referred” to them as the “WasserKleins.” I never heard that before. Sisanie thought it was “cute.” “They were the best,” Jennie said. Jennie thought the incorporation of Roger’s script and the dramatizations of it was a good “hook.” Tori felt like it was a soap or TV movie. Jennie: “Good job, WasserKleins.” Well, Jessica and Steve came from the soap world, but no one mentioned that.
They noted how this episode took place before Matthew did “Friends” and Sisanie quipped, “And ironically enough, he had no friends.” Jennie counted and said they used the word “friends” in scenes with Matthew seven times in the episode. Superfan Sisanie wanted to know if “Friends” was in the works at this time and said they needed some “fact-checks.” Jennie guessed “Friends” premiered in 1998. Yeah… no. It was 1994. Nothing about this episode, in 1991, had anything to do with “Friends” at the time that it was made. Tori told a story about seeing Matthew at the Emmys. She remembered him being “really cool.” Tori: “And George Clooney was there too. And he was eyeing you up and down, Garth.” Tori remarked how Matthew is known today for comedy but he was a great “dramatic actor” in this episode. Sisanie couldn’t see him as a “high school kid.” They discussed how Matthew was skilled at tennis in real life and how that might’ve been on his acting résumé since people used to put special skills on them back in the day. Tori thought skateboarding and roller-skating was on hers. Jennie was skeptical of the skateboarding claim. But Tori wondered if Matthew’s tennis skills helped him score the role. Tori: “We’ll have to ask him after this break — just kidding, he’s not here.” I did wonder over the weekend if there was going to be some miracle of miracles where they got him to come on the podcast. Would’ve been cool.
Jennie compared Brandon to the Hardy Boys with his investigating and said he screamed “journalist.” Tori: “He would’ve been such a good Hardy Boy if they remade the Hardy Boys 30 years ago.” Jennie noted how this was the A storyline and brought up the SAT storyline as the B one. They discussed SAT scores and no one seemed to know what a good score was. Sisanie and Tori said that their score was like Donna’s. Tori wondered, “Did my dad tell them to write this episode because of how bad I did on my SATs? I didn’t have a learning disability, but I did so bad, you guys.” Donna got a 630 and Tori said she got a 740. Sisanie: “I think I was right there with you, Tori. I remember it being 7 or 800, maybe, but not great.” Jennie didn’t take the SATs. They thought Brenda and Brandon’s matching scores were funny.
Jennie was amused by Cindy doing the taxes and said how she’s always hated tax month in real life because it would overshadow her birthday due to people being stressed. They didn’t understand why Jim wasn’t doing the taxes since he’s an accountant. Jennie brought up Donna smoking, exclaiming, “What the eff?!” Tori called it her “big episode so far” and said she was “very, very excited and super stressed-out.” She thought it was “typical” (of TV / movie cliches, I guess) that the storyline had Donna so quickly drift into the wrong crowd after something went wrong at school. Tori said she wasn’t a smoker but tried to copy Jason and Shannen sometimes and had to hide her urge to cough. Superfan Sisanie: “Was this your first crying scene?” Sisanie, you’ve been watching the show every week. Did you see her cry in any of the episodes before this? Goodness. Tori said she was “so scared” to shoot that scene. Jennie said she watched it “twice” because she was “so captured” by Tori’s face. There was a tangent about eyebrows.
After a break, they were joined by Sharon Case, who played Roger’s girlfriend. Tori was excited that Sharon was calling in from “The Young & the Restless” set. Sharon said she was a “huge fan” of “Beverly Hills, 90210” and watched all the seasons after she was on two episodes in season 1 — this one and “Spring Dance.” Sharon wasn’t sure if they intended it to be the same character in both hours; she thought there wasn’t a name given in this episode. For what it’s worth, IMDb calls her “Darla Dillon” for this episode and “Darla Diller” for “Spring Dance.” Sharon recalled being told how she wouldn’t be working with the core cast for this episode but instead an “up-and-coming” actor… Matthew. She was a little disappointed, but then was happy to come back in “Spring Dance” and work with Ian. Sharon thinks she might’ve imagined a kissing scene with Matthew because she thought they did one, but when she watched it recently, there was no such scene. Tori: “It probably did happen and it got cut.” Sharon said she was “hoping to do more” episodes, but moved to New York City and went on to work on “As the World Turns.” She’s now been on “Y&R” for 27 years.
Tori said she and Jennie are “fans of the soap world” (so am I!) and wanted to know how many hours Sharon is on set. She said she got there today at 6:30 A.M. and would probably be there til around 4. They marveled over how much Sharon has to memorize and discussed how they think relying so much on their short-term memory has affected their long-term memory. Sharon went on to discuss some of the differences of working on a soap, especially post-quarantine. She said they are still following social-distancing protocols in scenes (except if your scene partner is someone you quarantine with, like a real-life significant other, which Sharon apparently has — she didn’t name him, but I think she’s referring to co-star Mark Grossman). But Tori and Jennie said they did not have to do that on recent projects. That’s likely because those projects had more of a protective bubble than “Y&R” does. Tori: “Sorry, we’re totally not talking about ‘90210’ because we’re so fascinated.” Jennie congratulated Sharon on her success and awards while Sharon gave credit to the fans.
Jennie wanted to know what it was like for Sharon working with Ian, but noted they haven’t gotten to that episode yet. (Well, you will in two weeks.) Sharon said, “The show was so big already and I felt like, gosh, what am I doing here?” Actually, the show was juuuuuuust starting to take off then, before really soaring in the season 2 summer episodes. In any case, she called it “nerve-wracking” but a “good experience.” Sharon further said it felt more like she was on “Beverly Hills, 90210” that time because she was working with one of the core characters while she didn’t for her first appearance. Tori wanted to know if Ian flirted with Sharon. She said no, but that he was “silly” and “funny.” Tori said “Spring Dance” is “one of the most memorable episodes of all 10 seasons” and she was glad Sharon got to be in it. Sharon said, “It was really a great show. And it was great at the ending when everyone’s on the dance floor together and passing the crown around. It was a really lovely show.” They complimented one another on not aging and Tori asked for permission to “slide” into Sharon’s DMs. Jennie joked that it sounds “dangerous.”
Sisanie then had Sharon play their usual “rapid-fire” game. For favorite character, Sharon first said Matthew because she didn’t really meet anyone else besides Ian, but when prodded to name a character as a fan, she said Dylan. For Team Dylan or Team Brandon, she said Dylan but called it a “tough pick.” For favorite ‘90s fashion item, she said the scrunchie, which she still wears “every day.” For “Kiss, Marry, or Kick to the Curb,” she said kiss Dylan, “probably marry him too,” and kick Ian to the curb because that’s what her character did. Jennie told everyone to watch “Y&R” and follow Sharon on social media.
After another break, Tori marveled over how “soap opera stars just don’t age.” She then flipped out upon learning Sharon is 50 years old — aka older than her. Tori: “Jennifer Eve, fuck that shit! I’m furious right now.” They speculated the reason why soap stars look good is because they’re indoors on set all day and out of the sun. There was a tangent about Death Becomes Her and then the subject shifted back to Matthew. Tori told a story about being at a party where a huge celebrity — in both fame and stature, apparently — approached her and insisted she come to another party and started leading her away. She didn’t want to go and locked eyes with Matthew and mouthed “help.” And he “swooped in” and pretended to be Tori’s boyfriend. The dude was in awe that “Chandler” was her boyfriend and walked away, leaving Tori alone. Tori: “I’ll never forget that moment because he saved me.” Jennie: “Wow, I’m sorry, people. I don’t have a story that can top that about Matthew Perry.”
Jennie called Roger’s dad “super intense” and asked if Tori and Sisanie had parents like that or if their friends did. Sisanie said everyone knows somebody who does, but then wondered if it was meant to portray Beverly Hills parents and then said it reminded her of the recent college admissions scandal. I kind of tuned out until things took a right turn with Jennie saying she didn’t want to talk about “the back door” and Tori couldn’t believe she went in a dirty direction. Tori: “You just made my day.” Getting back on track, Tori reiterated how she liked the “script within a script” aspect of the episode and how it felt like a movie. As for fashion, they liked one of Kelly’s outfits, and Jennie thought Dylan looked really “hot” in his striped man-blouse. They discussed the Fred Segal scene and Jennie insisted it was a set while Tori insisted they went to the actual store. Jennie also said that, for the first time, she “noticed some very clear ADR lines,” and then explained what ADR is. She and Tori both noticed it in a Donna scene and Tori called doing those pseudo-voiceovers “no easy task.” Jennie called it “so hard” and shared how she hated doing it. Tori brought up how they thought they’d have fancy mics for “BH90210,” since audio equipment has improved so much since “Beverly Hills, 90210,” but they were still stuck with old “dinosaur” stuff.
For favorite lines, Jennie liked Andrea saying, “C’mon, Brandon, we all have the urge to kill our parents once in a while. It doesn’t mean we’re gonna do it.” They were stunned by the line and the fact that Andrea was the one to say it. Tori said her favorite line was “dirty” but didn’t remember what it was, but thought it might’ve been “finger the gun.” Jennie also liked Brandon saying he got the tickets from a “friend” because, you know, “Friends.” Tori: “I’m gonna go out on a limb and say we collectively helped manifest ‘Friends’ for Matthew Perry.” Jennie said she was seeing a “pattern” because last week’s episode, “It’s Only A Test,” was “foreshadowing of the future” with Shannen and now this episode was with Matthew. This led Tori to coin “9021-oracle.” Jennie said next week’s episode is “Spring Training” and speculated, “Maybe something will be told in that episode that will come into fruition later in life.” Calling it now: One of them will have a story about taking in a dog like Brenda does.
The first fan question was a listener who wanted to know who was their favorite ex-boyfriend character / actor besides anyone in the main cast. Tori said she knew who Jennie was going to pick and Jennie guessed Tori was thinking of “the cowboy,” aka Greg Vaughan as Cliff, but then they remembered Cliff was Donna’s boyfriend. But Tori’s guess for Jennie was Matt / Daniel Cosgrove. Jennie immediately agreed. Jennie: “They were together for a while. He was like a lawyer? I don’t even know what season that was.” Of course she doesn’t. Superfan Sisanie liked him and recalled that he “worked above your store.” Jennie said she and Tori “loved him.” Tori said they “bow to him” and called him “one of the funniest human beings ever.” Jennie recalled that Matt wasn’t funny at all, but when the cameras stopped rolling, Daniel’s humor would come through. They said they have to have him on the podcast and, well, I have a bridge to sell you if you think this podcast is making it to season 9. Sure, they could have him on before then, but then they’d be going against their supposed “no spoilers” rule. Tori brought up how Daniel was on “You,” but no one mentioned his prolific soap career.
Tori then confessed that she loved Kelly with Colin. You loved Kelly with a drug addict who helped turn her into an addict herself? Ooooookay. Jennie apparently made some kind of face suggesting she didn’t agree and then called him a “bad influence.” Tori said it was “just fun to watch.” As for Donna, Tori said she loved Ray — “I mean, before he pushed her down the stairs.” She said she loved working with Jamie Walters and that they were “really good friends” and would “laugh all day.” Jennie called him a “good guy.” (Technically, Jamie and Daniel shouldn’t have been eligible answers since they were part of the main cast.) Tori noted how Jennie loves Greg and Jennie said she can picture him in the makeup trailer and how she would try not to be “obvi” about looking at him “because I was probably married or pregnant or something, I don’t even know, but looking over, lusting over him, thinking, ‘I wish that was my storyline with him.’” This amused Tori and Sisanie greatly. (For the record, the timeline would’ve overlapped with Jennie being pregnant with her first child.)
Another fan wanted to know if Tori and Jennie have watched “castmates’ subsequent projects” — like Jennie on “What I Like About You,” Ian in Sharknado, Shannen’s reality show, or Luke’s “full frontal” on “Oz.” Jennie said she watched the Sharknado films and called them “amazing.” She said she “definitely tuned in to see Luke on ‘Oz,’” but neither she nor Tori remembered there being a “full-frontal experience.” Superfan Sisanie: “I didn’t even know there was a full-frontal.” Jennie then wondered if it was “just butt,” which, uh, would not count as “full-frontal.” And I can confirm it was most definitely NOT just butt. Jennie then said how Tori likes to crack how she (Jennie) has never watched any of her (Tori’s) work. Amusingly, Jennie then tried to prove that wasn’t true but largely failed. She said she did watch Tori’s reality shows sometimes “when the kids were little.” Tori said she “loved” Jennie’s own reality show, which Jennie called “rough.” And I would agree with that assessment. Superfan Sisanie wanted to know if she could “go back and watch these.” Tori went on to say she was a “fan” of “What I Like About You” and said it was a “huge moment” for Jennie to go from a hit drama to a hit comedy. Tori: “It was amazing so I was super-proud of her.” Tori confirmed she watched all of the Sharknado films and was impressed when Jennie pointed out Tori was in one of them. Jennie: “I know things.” Tori then brought up “Breaking Up with Shannen Doherty,” which Sisanie and Jennie claimed to remember after Tori described the premise.
Sisanie reiterated that she wanted to go back and watch Jennie and Tori’s reality shows, to which Tori advised, “Watch ‘Tori & Dean,’ not ‘True Tori.’” That led Jennie to ask Tori if she regretted doing that one. Tori said she only regretted the second season, which Jennie apparently rightly told her not to do. Tori explained that it should’ve been a “self-contained” season, not a series, and called it “well done” and said it helped her have a “voice” with what she was going “through” (which she did not say was Dean’s cheating), but the second season was “just silly.” Tori: “Only your best friend will tell you the truth. Sometimes in this business you have a lot of BS people. She told me, she was like, ‘I don’t think it’s the right move to do a second season,’ and she was totally right. It was a trainwreck.” Sisanie wanted to know if their kids have “watched any of your extra work.” Jennie said her kids have watched “What I Like About You” and revealed, “When my oldest daughter misses me, she starts Googling me just to discover things and see pictures of me and see videos.” This moved Sisanie greatly.
Jennie wrapped up the podcast without Tori answering whether her kids have seen her “extra work.” Jennie reminded everyone to do their “homework” and watch “Spring Training,” before noting, “We only have a few more episodes.” When Sisanie said she thought there were just three left, Jennie exclaimed, “So we have to start planning our wrap party!” Tori then shared an unrelated story about hearing from a fan who has the floral couch from the beach apartment because the furniture was auctioned off after the series ended. Tori then said how the beach apartment is on Airbnb and it would be “fun” for the wrap party to be there. Then they joked about the fan loaning them the couch. Jennie said it might be “too much for people” if fans were scoping out the beach apartment and then looked up and saw them on the balcony. Sisanie called it “frozen in time” because it looks (from the outside, anyway) just as it did on the show. Tori then joked about doing a “hidden camera show” and said they should dress up like their characters and stand up there and see if people do a double-take. They then marveled over nearing the end of one season of “9021OMG” and insisted you can’t have just “one.” Hmm. They ended with Jennie telling Tori to tell everyone how to buy their merch.
This was the first installment that I thought had an actually clever name — “The One with Matthew Perry.” Most of the titles before this have been pretty random and dumb. Fortunately, the substance of this edition wasn’t too random or dumb either. They stayed mostly on topic, like last week, and I just find the focused ones so much easier to get through. Clearly I still took a lot of notes, as you can see by the lengths of those (admittedly ugly and chunky / clunky) paragraphs above. If you feel strongly about preferring one format or the other, let me know. I’m curious.
I, too, have noticed that they’re (finally) nearing the end of season 1 and I’ve had a lot of thoughts. Like: Will they actually continue with season 2? Is iHeart renewing the podcast on a season-by-season basis or a year-by-year basis? If it’s the latter, they could be locked in til November… or whenever their current contract ends. And if they do go on to season 2, will there be a hiatus between seasons first or will they immediately go from one season to the next with just a week in between? I could certainly do without a wrap party, especially if they’re going to charge fans again.
Notably, next week’s episode, “Spring Training,” is the same one the “Beverly Hills 90210 Show” is covering this week. You know I’ll be comparing and contrasting. So let’s meet back here next Monday, shall we?
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