Tonight's "Beverly Hills, 90210" episode largely departs from tales of dating, shopping and teen-age Angst to give its version of a disquieting event of a year ago that drew national attention: Banning High School's refusal to play a football game against Dorsey following shootings at Dorsey's stadium.
"The events surrounding Dorsey and Banning really saddened me," said Charles Rosin, the executive producer of Fox's popular drama (airing at 8 p.m., Channels 11 and 6). "The fantasy of high school sports plays into the psyche of Americana. We have trouble fulfilling that illusion here in Los Angeles County."
Last spring's civil unrest and "the whole disintegration of the whole multicultural city before our eyes" was a second reason to do the episode, according to Rosin.
He said that he, supervising producers Steve Wasserman and Jessica Klein, and Aaron Spelling, whose company produces the series, felt that "if we were going to be a contemporary show in Los Angeles, we have to address the feelings, anger and mistrust that seems to pervade our city."
In tonight's episode, fictitious West Beverly Hills High substitutes for Banning and Shaw High takes Dorsey's role as the South-Central school with an excellent football team deprived of a chance to play host to an undefeated foe.
Much of the story is told in flashbacks as the idealistic Brandon (Jason Priestly), editor of his school newspaper, tries to write an editorial.
Brandon is seen driving through riot-devastated areas of the city en route to Shaw, where he passes though a metal detector to meet his counterpart with the Shaw Courier, Jordan Bonner (Michael Anthony Rawlins). The two students attempt to rescue the game and heal the divisions and feelings of mistrust.
"The distance between the middle and upper-middle classes and those who live in a disadvantaged situation is becoming wider and wider, and we wanted to show that," Rosin said.