Mill Creek Entertainment’s release of Beverly Hills Teens Volume One is a blast from the past for anyone that grew up during the 1980s. This classic cartoon is one of a handful that rose to popularity on the original Family Channel. For those that don’t know, there actually used to be a Family Channel before ABC Family and even Fox Family. It was just The Family Channel. Getting back on topic, Beverly Hills Teens was originally aimed at a very niche audience. Despite that, it was still an important program in its own right. It was important in that it could be argued that it was one of the influences behind the hit 90s teen-centric drama, Beverly Hills 90210. This is just one factor to consider in viewing this classic series. Something else to consider with Beverly Hills Teens is its writing. And its animation style was one more example of what used to make anime an interesting animation genre to watch. Now, those audiences that grew up with this “old school” toon can share those positives with their own kids. And that’s thanks also to the fact that the transfers from VHS to DVD were handled so well. That factor works with the show’s animation and writing to make Beverly Hills Teens Volume One one more that any classic animation fan will appreciate.
It could very easily be argued that Beverly Hills Teens played at least a partial role in the eventual hit 90s primetime drama that was Beverly Hills 90210. Yes, there is a vast difference in the storylines in the two shows. But the fact that only three years separated the two shows’ debuts only serves to cement that argument even more. Considering how long it would have taken to write the scripts for the latter, shop the show around to networks, cast the show, and record the episodes, it would make sense that the same audiences that watched Beverly Hills Teens would be the same people to watch the more teen-centric Beverly Hills 90210. That’s because the same audiences that watched the prior would have been old enough to be more interested in the latter of the two by the time it premiered in 1990. If there is any credence to this possibility, then it would prove without a doubt what makes Beverly Hills Teens at least a slightly important piece of modern television history.
The potential influence that Beverly Hills Teens had on the creation of Beverly Hills 90210 makes the prior important in any discussion of the latter of the pair of TV shows aimed at young viewers. The writing makes Beverly Hills Teens just as interesting to watch, at least in hindsight. The adventures that the kids embark on through the show’s first thirty-two episodes are much like that of so many other cartoons at the time. That familiarity made the show more accessible to its younger audiences. A prime example would be the episode, “Camp Camping.” Wilshire ends up becoming “slave” to Pierce after Pierce “saves” him. This is a story that had been done many times before on other shows, and had been done just as many times after this episode. There’s also a playful stab at the far more classic cartoon, Woody Woodpecker in this episode. The short-lived series (it only lasted for one season) even has the standard kid friendly Halloween episode in “Halloween in the Hills.” While there’s no paranormal activity in this episode, it does teach two lessons. It teaches the lesson of not letting one’s self be bullied by others and about responsibility when Bianca throws a house party when her parents go out of town. As with the previous episode, the lessons taught in this episode are both more common fare for children’s programs of that era. Again, that ability to relate to young audience maintained the show’s importance that much more.
Beverly Hills Teens’ potential influence on the creation of any later shows and the writing behind this short-lived show both exhibit what made it such a hit in its original run among its key audiences. Both factors continue to do so today. There is one more factor to consider in watching this first set of episodes that made the show popular during its run. That factor is the show’s animation. Audiences will note that the animation of Beverly Hills Teens was very much like that of The Littles, which also happened at the time, to run on the original Family Channel. It also bears at least a slight resemblance to the animation used in The Real Ghostbusters. The similarity isn’t full on. But it is there. This form of animation was anime before it became the over the top bizarre art form that it is today. It serves as an example of anime when it was still respectable. It’s something that any of today’s anime fans truly need to see in order to see how anime has de-evolved over time. It’s animation done right. And it is this factor along with the show’s writing and its potential influence as a TV show that it is a classic worth watching once again for those that were fans of the show in its original run on TV. It is available now in stores and online and can be ordered direct from the Mill Creek Direct store at http://www.millcreekent.com/beverly-hills-teens-volume-1-32-eps.html. And for all of the latest from Mill Creek Entertainment, audiences can go online to the Mill Creek Entertainment Facebook page and “Like” it at http://www.facebook.com/MillCreekEnt.
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