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Because we play both sides of the ball …

I posted earlier about Tom Brady’s torn ACL. Well, NFL defensive star Shawne Merriman, who plays outside linebacker for the San Diego Chargers, also will be missing the rest of the season. He played injured against the Panthers last Sunday, but it seems his knee won’t hold up.

So in an effort not to give the quarterback all the attention, a moment to acknowledge Merriman’s lost season. Merriman also happens to star in one of my favorite sports commercials of all time. (He’s number 56.)

Back to school — West Beverly, that is

I haven’t been in high school for a long time, and yet such is the draw of high school soaps that despite what seemed to me reasonable attempts at resisting, I finally broke down and watched the two-hour premiere of the new Beverly Hills 90210.

Officially, the new show’s name is just “90210,” so I guess the ZIP Code is fabulous enough to stand on its own now. It was, in any case, as craptastic as the original and quite possibly just as addictive.

The formula is similar: a brother and sister from the Heartland — back then it was Minnesota, this time Kansas — transfer into West Beverly Hills High School and find themselves out of place in a world of expensive cars and Prada backpacks. The producers, understanding that the perception of what it means to be ubber-rich has changed drastically from the early 1990s, have had to up the ante a bit. Brenda Walsh’s first misadventure involved a fake ID and going out to fancy dinner with a guy who thought she was a college student, not a wee lass of 16. In the new series, out-of-town girl Annie’s crush takes her out to dinner in San Francisco, courtesy of his private jet. Kids today.

Gossip Girl showcases equally lavish lifestyles, even for the “poor” Humphreys, whose massive Brooklyn apartment would likely be priced in the seven figures. I enjoyed that show’s first season. Lately, though, it’s gotten a little too pleased with itself and with the massive hype that surrounds it, generated primarily, I think, by New York-based entertainment writers who want the world to believe everyone in Manhattan lives that life. I love the city, but life for most people there is a lot more Seinfeld than Gossip Girl.

Getting back to 90210, though, there are other ways in which the show has been updated. Annie’s brother is Dixon, an African-American kid her family adopted. I’m glad to see at least an attempt at a more diverse cast, especially if brings back to TV the likes of Tristan Wilds, of the late, wonderful, best-show-ever The Wire. (No word yet on whether this show will remember, like The O.C. apparently did, that there are Jews in California.) The natives include jock boy Ethan, bratty rich girl Naomi, drug addicted drama queen Adrianna, wannabe rebel Erin “Silver” Silver (Kelly and David’s little sister!) and Dixon’s soon-to-be best friend Navid, an amalgamation of Andrea Zucherman (whose daughter with Jesse makes a brief cameo in the pilot) and Steve Sanders.

The acting is meh. The dialogue is cringe-inducing at times, though Annie and Dixon’s grandma (played by Arrested Development’s Jessica Walter doing her best to keep Lucille Bluth’s memory alive) does get some funny lines. Still, I found comfort in the cheese and predictability. It was nice to see that Kelly Taylor turned out all right after all the drama the first show put her through. And she has a kid! Who is the father? Is it Dylan? And Nat is back! Still running the Peach Pit!

The nostalgia will die down after a few episodes, at which point I may find that this show, like the first, is just silly, and I’ll eventually stop watching. Still, for now it’s kind of nice to know that even Brenda can go home again.