On the ‘Beverly Hills, 90210’ DVDs, the song doesn’t remain the same (and that’s a problem) (TV commentary)

Normally, my blog talks about positive things in the world of entertainment. But I want to bring up one big negative, for the sake of warning you. CBS DVD has put out a series of “Beverly Hills, 90210” DVDs (the ninth of the 10 seasons was recently released) that do not contain the original music from the show.

As Donald Liebenson reported in his Season 2 DVD review for Amazon.com:

Throwing something of a wet blanket on precious memories of the show is the substitution of generic songs for ‘90210’s’ killer soundtracks of alternative and classic rock and golden oldies. One would think that the Peach Pit has the lamest jukebox on Earth.

It’s more than a wet blanket. The show is flat-out ruined by not having its original music.

In the original show, the Peach Pit had an awesome 1960s-vintage jukebox; later, the Peach Pit After Dark brought in ’90s acts for live shows. “Beverly Hills, 90210” was the first in a wave of shows where music was instrumental in the storytelling; “Buffy,” “Gilmore Girls,” “The O.C.” and many more followed. If you wanted to, you could listen to an episode instead of watching it, and you’d get all the emotions just from the soundtrack. For example, R.E.M.’s “Losing My Religion” aurally signified Brenda and Dylan’s relationship in multiple scenes.

Not on the DVD, though. Now it’s a generic track that screams “1980s straight-to-video movie.”

With very few exceptions, the music has been replaced by softly played generic studio tracks and the occasional softly played generic pop song. In cases where characters sing (notably, Donna’s boyfriend Ray Pruit, from the college years, was a singer-songwriter), entire scenes are chopped out of the episode.

I hadn’t seen Season 1 before I watched it on DVD recently (I got into “90210” via SoapNet reruns a couple years ago, but I had dipped in around Season 2), but even I could tell the soul had been ripped from it. For example, there’s a montage of Brenda trying on a series of outfits that has a cheesy keyboard track playing over it, and I just knew there was supposed to be a peppy ’80s tune playing there.

The packaging includes a small disclaimer that says “Music has been changed for this home entertainment version,” and starting with Season 6 CBS DVD dropped “Complete” from the title (as in “The Complete Fifth Season”), since of course, these sets aren’t complete.

Some fans blame the greedy music business for demanding too high of a fee. Others blame short-sighted TV producers for not buying the home-video music rights in the beginning, when they would’ve been cheaper.

But in this case, I say it’s the DVD distributor who is greedy, releasing these subpar sets, tricking and pilfering fans. That’s why I was able to find Season 1 used for $4.49 (tons of fans bought it and then got rid of it) but the subsequent seasons aren’t as cheap (not as many people bought them).

Before you buy a TV-on-DVD set, check out the reviews at Amazon.com or TVshowsonDVD.com to see if the music has been replaced, what it has been replaced with, and who did the replacing. In the cases of “Roswell” and “Dawson’s Creek” (after Season 1), some music was replaced; however, the original music producers for “Roswell” and the original show runner for “Creek” (Paul Stupin) hand-picked replacement songs by affordable but talented bands to uphold the integrity of the show. (In a way, it’s kind of cool — like watching a “special edition” release. However, I’m holding onto my VHS copies of “Roswell” and “Dawson’s Creek” out of respect for the original music.)

You can also assume that Internet broadcasts (on Hulu.com or other sites) will have the DVD music, not the original music.

Most TV-on-DVD releases, thankfully, have the original music. But if you want a true home library of “Beverly Hills, 90210,” you have to flip to SoapNet and re-learn how to program that old VCR.

CBS DVD shouldn’t have released “Beverly Hills, 90210” on DVD until it had purchased the music rights. It’s disrespectful to both the series and its fans, and it comes off as a blatant money play.

I have to think that at some point in the future the original versions will hit DVD (just as “The Wonder Years,” currently held up by music-rights negotiations, should also hit DVD someday). Eventually, I believe the owners of “90210” and the owners of the music will see the mutual benefit of coming to an agreement and “Original Music Editions” will hit stores. Maybe that’s wishful thinking — the equivalent of sticking my fingers in my ears and ignoring Hollywood’s tradition of greed-driven stupidity.

It’s appropriate, though: Every time that soul-sucking elevator music kicks in on these DVDs, I want to stick my fingers in my ears and shout the words to “Losing My Religion.”

Lisa's GravatarI recently started watching this on Hulu. Since I was generally too young to have really watched it on TV when it was on, I never really had the chance to bond the music to the moments like I’ve done with other shows. Nevertheless, I can just sense the wrongness at points.
# Posted By Lisa | 7/30/15 7:51 PM
John Hansen's GravatarThe edited-music releases knocked me off my “BH 90210” kick awhile back. If they ever get proper releases, I’ll be back on board. I don’t have much hope for that, though. Thanks for reading.
# Posted By John Hansen | 8/13/15 11:22 AM
Janet's GravatarI am a huge 90210 fan. Have been since it first aired. I know these episodes by heart, especially the music. The music is what makes the show! Once I realized that the season 1 DVD did not have the original music, I stopped buying them. It’s just not the same! When the show ran its course on SOAP.NET it would run the original music. I was so sad that the station went down. Now I can watch them on POP TV, but the music has been changed. Just a bummer…I wish too that they would release the episodes with the original music. I would buy every single one!
# Posted By Janet | 9/22/15 11:52 PM
John Hansen's GravatarI agree. I would also cough up some dough to get my hands on officially released DVDs with all the original music intact. We can only keep asking for it and hoping, I guess. Thanks for reading.
# Posted By John Hansen | 9/23/15 4:04 PM

Brian's GravatarI agree 110%. It’s a travesty.

Almost as bad as how the sci-fi channel cuts up twilight zone episodes.

And on the POP network, not only is the original music replaced on 90210,
but they also cut scenes out of the show.

I cannot believe how little respect companies have for the shows, and the viewer.

They should be shot.

# Posted By Brian | 1/16/16 12:21 AM

Brian's GravatarI agree 110%. It’s a travesty.

Almost as bad as how the sci-fi channel cuts up twilight zone episodes.

And on the POP network, not only is the original music replaced on 90210,
but they also cut scenes out of the show.

I cannot believe how little respect companies have for the shows, and the viewer.

They should be shot.

# Posted By Brian | 1/16/16 12:23 AM

Christine Abate's GravatarI brought every season recently with none of the original music. It is not the same at all. I hope if they do fix it in the future they will refund all of us that brought crap and in addition, give us all a complete set of the 10 seasons for free.

Completely dissatisfied………………………BOO CBS

# Posted By Christine Abate | 2/3/16 1:14 PM
James Martin's GravatarI watched the show a bit when it aired and got into it steady in 2006 when it reran on Tv Tropolis. I liked 1 episode in particular BYOB and DVRed it. Then I bought the DVDs and didn’t really notice the music change until I got to BYOB and was not impressed with the generic sound track. The song at the walsh house party on cable makes it feel like theres a real party going and the generic music makes it feel like a soft social gathering. Anyway so now it’s in my head and I have copies of both from S1-5 and I compare the 2 and the original music wins 95/100. Guess I should have read the fine print on the back of the DVDs.
# Posted By James Martin | 5/3/16 12:55 AM

Todd's GravatarI recently watched 90210 on pop tv. I noticed they were starting from the pilot so I thought it would be fun to record them each day and watch. I love the first four seasons particularly season 2. I quickly found out watching season 1’s episode “One on One” that the music was replaced like so many other shows. I remember the episode from the original airing and soap net because of the temptations and the rembrandts “just the way it is baby”. Such a bummer. back when Soapnet began airing the show I decided to dvd and then convert them into dvd via capture card on my pc. I am thankful I did this because there is no other way to ever see the originals again. It was a long painstaking process but well worth it.

I would like to add that 21 Jump Street another favorite of mine did this same thing. When the dvd’s were first announced in 05 by mill creek I was so excited because they had not been on in syndication since the mid 90s on fx. I couldn’t wait to watch them….10 minutes into the pilot no steve winwood and then I realized no original music except like 90210 the occasional track that the rights must have been acquired. So after some research it was pointed out to me that the German 21 jump street boxset had the original music and all you had to do was get a region free dvd player. I did that and bought the boxset and its great. Maybe this will be an option with 90210 in the future.

In the 90210 pilot on pop tv I was glad at least that they had the track for clear to you by the innocence mission during the motorcycle opening scene. Would have been ridiculous without it.

# Posted By Todd | 4/6/17 7:46 PM
John Hansen's GravatarYeah, I hope we get some option in the future. It’s insane that they don’t just buy the music rights and release the DVDs. There is obviously a market for it. Even if the DVD sets cost a bit more than average, this audience would buy them. At least that’s how it seems to me; I’m obviously going by anecdotal evidence. At any rate, the absence of 90210 properly on DVD remains one of the biggest insanities of the TV-on-DVD industry.
# Posted By John Hansen | 4/7/17 7:30 PM
Kate's GravatarTodd – would love to have a version of the set you recorded from Soap!
# Posted By Kate | 4/14/17 11:01 AM
Kevin Johnson's GravatarTodd definitely interested in a copy.
# Posted By Kevin Johnson | 1/7/18 3:04 PM