Well before "The O.C.," "Dawson's Creek" and any number of other prime-time teen soap operas, there was the show that inspired them all: "Beverly Hills, 90210," created by Aaron Spelling and Darren Star, the writer who went on to "Sex and the City" fame. The teen drama aired on Fox from 1990 to 2000 -- nearly 300 episodes in all. Never mind that the cast member who went on to the greatest post-"90210" success appeared in just 16 episodes: Hilary Swank, who played single mom Carly Reynolds, has since won two Academy Awards. The others, TV's royalty in their day, have had decidedly mixed career results. But with the premiere of Luke Perry's NBC drama "Windfall," and the recent success of Tori Spelling's VH1 sitcom, "So NoTORIous," it's clear that in Hollywood, anything is possible where comebacks are concerned.
For The Record
Los Angeles Times Thursday June 08, 2006 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 National Desk 0 inches; 30 words Type of Material: Correction
"Beverly Hills, 90210": A chart in some copies of Wednesday's Calendar said Jason Priestley crashed his race car at 300 mph. The actor's Kentucky Speedway crash occurred around 180 mph.
Actor: Jason Priestley (Brandon)
Who Were They?: The good egg. Brandon Walsh and his family moved to town from the Twin Cities, and being new in town, it wasn't easy to fit in at this swanky ZIP Code. Once he did, though, Brandon served as rock, glue and general go-to guy in times of crisis. Priestley directed several episodes and became an executive producer of the show.
Post-'90210' Peak: 1997's poignant "Love and Death on Long Island," an indie film costarring John Hurt.
Post-'90210' Nadir: In 2002, the avid car racer barely survived a crash into a wall at nearly 180 mph during a warmup lap at the Kentucky Speedway. He was left with a severe concussion, broken back, fractured feet, lacerated nose and bruised eye socket, and underwent reconstructive surgery. It took him three months to learn how to speak again.
Where Are They Now?: Priestley, 36, has appeared on a number of TV shows, including "Tru Calling," "Without a Trace" and the short-lived "Love Monkey"; now he's filming the Canadian miniseries "Everest '82," due out next year. Married (for the second time) in 2005.
The outlook: "As an actor, you never assume that you are going to obtain that type of stardom. You never have the audacity to think you are going to be the flavor of the month. So when it happens, it is confusing, it is scary, it is shocking, but it also in a way validates what you've been doing as an actor. So you grow to appreciate it, enjoy it. It can be a strange experience."
Career Trajectory: Slow but steady
Actor: Shannen Doherty (Brenda)
Who Were They?: Brandon's troubled, bratty twin sister. Had a tumultuous on-and-off romance with Dylan, her brother's best friend. (She never recovered after their breakup.) Doherty's reportedly diva-like behavior on the set led to an acrimonious departure from the show in 1994.
Post-'90210' Peak: Starred for three seasons as Prue Halliwell in Aaron Spelling's supernatural WB drama, "Charmed."
Post-'90210' Nadir: Sentenced to anger-management counseling by the Beverly Hills Municipal Court in 1996; convicted of drunk driving in 2001; married for about six months to actor Ashley (son of George) Hamilton; married for five minutes (annulled) to producer Rick Salomon (costar of the Paris Hilton sex tape).
The outlook: Where Are They Now?: Doherty, 35, is reportedly heading to Oxygen network to star in a reality show about toxic relationships. Couldn't get a better expert. "Whenever I get frustrated, I tell myself, 'OK, you could be working at a 7-Eleven right now, so never take for granted what you do for a living.' "
Career Trajectory: Still twitching
Actor: Luke Perry (Dylan)
Who Were They?: The bad boy. Dylan was disaffected, always cool and ever mysterious. He also got the most contrived send-off of any character, marrying the daughter of a mobster who had ordered a hit on his father. Eventually, a hit was ordered on Dylan, but the daughter was killed instead, leaving Dylan devastated and prompting him to leave town.
Post-'90210' Peak: Possibly "Windfall," though too soon to tell; otherwise choices are slim, but we'd make it a tie between the reticent gay bird-watcher he played in a "Will & Grace" appearance, and the Krusty the Clown sidekick he played on a "Simpsons" guest spot.
Post-'90210' Nadir: Appearing in a 2004 stage version of "When Harry Met Sally ... " in London, promptly eviscerated by tough and nasty Brit critics.
Where Are They Now?: Perry, 40, is starring in NBC's "Windfall," which premieres Thursday and has been granted the network's vaunted 10 p.m. "ER" slot through the summer. The drama follows a group of friends who pool their money and win a record $386-million lottery jackpot. Complications, resentments and rifts inevitably follow.
The outlook: "You know, some actors aren't very gracious; I'm always trying to be gracious and act with a lot of tact.... You'll never catch me throwing a phone."
Career Trajectory: Climbing fast ... but from subterranean depths
Actor: Jennie Garth (Kelly)