Series: Beverly Hills, 90210
Episode Title: “Twenty Years Ago Today”
Originally Aired: 10/27/1993 (OH MY GOSH…Almost “20 years ago today“. Now how old do you feel??), Season 4
“Brandon meets an attractive grad student; Andrea doubts her feelings for Dan; Dylan is obsessed with protecting himself.”
The episode opens with a Ken Burns-style photo montage of Jim and Cindy Walsh through the years, ending up on a wedding photo on their nightstand. We get a few awkward-tender moments of Walsh-lovin’ and we discover that it’s their 20th anniversary, all the grandparents are coming in for the big anniversary, and apparently Cindy wears her watch to bed.
This episode is special for a few reasons, but one of them is that we get to see Brenda in a ridiculous baseball cap. It’s white, black, and looks exactly like Charlie Brown’s baseball cap. Seriously, imagine Shannen Doherty’s mug in this getup. I really wish she were wearing the signature yellow and black shirt, that would be really special. Anyway, Stuart comes over to take Brenda shopping and gets to meet all the grandparents. He oozes charm in his Stuart ways, complimenting the ladies. Brandon is heading out too, to tutor a basketball student and makes a really lame joke (“Is he any good?” “Not at sociology!!”) and everyone laughs like it’s Saturday night at the Giggle Hut.
Where is everyone?
Next we go to David, who we find out will be watching Erin by himself over the weekend while his dad is in Mexico. Naturally the only reason this could be important to the show’s plot is if something awful happens, so we have that to look forward to. Brandon’s at the gym, waiting to tutor D’Shawn, and has to spend some time working out while he waits. Here he meets the “attractive grad student” you might recognize from the episode description.
After a quick stop at the Walsh house, where Cindy’s mother and mother-in-law are bickering about how to set up the tables for the anniversary party, we check in with Dylan, who is on the mean streets of L.A. He meets some guy named “Gus” (probably not his real name) to buy a gun from the trunk of “Gus”‘s car. Because if you want to protect yourself from future carjackings, you wouldn’t want to make sure you go through the proper channels and protect yourself legally. No no, “Gus” is your man.
I’m sure you’re wondering what on earth Kelly is up to this episode, so I’ll tell you. She’s sitting in a grassy area on campus studying (Why does every college student seem to think sitting on dirt and ants is the best environment for studying chemistry?) and her current love interest, John Sears, spends some time badgering her about going out with him. She’s going through some kind of emotional crisis right now, turmoil about wanting to be with Dylan but not wanting to be depressed and brooding 24/7, so we get a nice long shot of her looking conflicted and angsty as John walks away. Cut to Dylan loading his gun and blowing a bunch of holes in the target at the gun range.
Brandon is meeting up with the grad student, Lucinda. Here’s where I suggest a game for you: Every time this chick refers to herself as an anthropologist, you get to reward yourself with something – a drink, a piece of candy, an eyeroll. But brace yourself, it’s going to happen a lot. Lucinda says she’s 27 years old but there’s no way she’s under 35.
We finally get to see Donna, halfway through the episode. She’s at the beach house, trying to figure out what to wear for the party. Goodness, Donna has so many dilemmas! David and Donna have to go over to Mel’s house to watch Erin. Then we get to listen to Brenda and Brandon blab for a few minutes about love and lasting relationships, all of their 18 year old wisdom imparted to the viewers. Then there’s a nice moment with Jim and his mother where we get a little foreshadowing about a big surprise coming at the end of the episode.
The episode’s tense moment
Brandon has forgotten his parents’ anniversary present (a huge, almost life-size puzzle portrait of Jim and Cindy) at Dylan’s house, so he goes over to retrieve it. Dylan is showering and can’t hear the knocking or yelling, but Brandon is determined to get the present. So determined, in fact, that he THROWS A HAMMER THROUGH THE BACK DOOR, shattering the glass. Now, let’s stop right here. I know it’s an important gift, a big day, but for real? To all my friends — If you throw a hammer through a window of my house to retrieve a stupid anniversary gift that YOU LEFT at my house, we are no longer friends. AND you owe me a window.
But that’s not even the worst part. Dylan is inside and has been having some PTSD issues from the carjacking, so he FLIPS.OUT. when he hears the glass break (understandable) and gets his recently-purchased gun and nearly shoots Brandon. They get in a screaming match but of course it resolves to a Dylan deciding he needs to get rid of the gun. But not right now, we might need it for a plot later!
The Big Party
It’s party time! Everyone’s arriving at the Walsh house. There are a few items of note here. Andrea has brought Dan, her RA/professor/boyfriend and at the party is where he decides to drop the bomb that he doesn’t believe in marriage. Dylan and Kelly are looking at the huge portrait of Jim and Cindy in the foyer and say to one another “I wonder where we’ll be in 20 years.” Let’s find out! Kelly, you’ll have a reality show on CMT called “Jennie Garth: A Little Bit Country” and Dylan? You’ll be in a large amount of TV movies and guest appearances on TV but I think most housewives would agree that they’d like to see more of you. Get to work on that.
There’s a terrible band playing and everyone’s dancing until Stuart goes up to the mic to make the first toast of the evening. Which is odd, because he’s only the boyfriend of their daughter and just met them like 2 episodes ago. Cindy’s mom insinuates that perhaps there will be a Stuart-Brenda wedding in the future, but the Walsh’s aren’t too pleased by this. We immediately go to Stuart and Brenda around the side of the house and ohmygosh he’s proposing! She protests at first since they’ve only known each other for two weeks and then ohmygosh she’s saying yes! Way to steal yours parents’ moment, Bren. Cindy’s slightly-crazy mother runs up to the mic to announce the engagement. Everyone looks stunned and slightly horrified at the news, but the gals all rush to check out the rock. Jim and Cindy are ticked, understandably so, but everyone manages to hold it together through the party.
Meanwhile, Andrea has gone from serious Like to near-hatred of Dan and as fate would have it, Dan sends her to get champagne from the bar and ends up meeting Jesse, who (spoiler alert!) will soon be her husband.
Somehow after his short heart-to-heart with Brenda, Brandon dislodges a piece of the puzzle portrait and the entire thing falls into a pile in the foyer. But it’s okay! They’re the Walshes and everything is always okay! The episode closes with Jim and Cindy dancing in the living room to “What The World Needs Now”. Awww…
All in all, not a terrible episode and certainly not on any Top 10 Best Episodes lists or anything, but it has its moments. It’s one of those episodes that building up to later plot twists and includes a lot of annoying character behaviors, making it a good one to recap.
What’s your favorite TV show from the 90’s?