So we’ve arrived at week 2 of 90210, and are beginning to get a better sense, perhaps, of how it’s going to shape up as a series. For sure, last night’s episode was at least as much about the adult characters as it was about the teens, which immediately distinguishes it from Gossip Girl and The Hills, two shows whose audience 90210 wants to attract (along with, it hopes for the sake of its ad sales, at least a million more viewers than those two series). I saw it as a sign of impudent strength that 90210 took a shot at MTV’s putative “reality” show, when, in the midst of emoting, Ethan told Annie he was going to “save most of that for my audition for The Hills.”

More 90210, including Ryan + Kelly, the return of Shannen Doherty, and a real-live tour of the set of West Beverly High, after the jump!

addCredit(“Shenae Grimes and Tristan Wilds: Michael Diamond Desmond”)

If most subplots in last night’s episode felt like we’d seen ’embefore, it was still, well, kinda cute. It’s hard to dislike an episodebuilt around a bowling alley — bowling is noisy, old-fashioned, andfitfully fun: the opposite of last week’s straining-to-be-too-cool fortwo hours. The notion of the Wilson clan having a mandatory “familynight” of knocking down pins — accompanied, it turned out, by most ofthe Wilson kids’ friends — was initially alarming. I feared the moreseasoned bowlers on the Lucky Strike alleys would mistake thefar-too-skinny Annie and Silver for pins and start aiming at them. Eatmore of those fries, girls!

I suppose there’s some core dramatic problem with the fact that 90210‘scentral love triangle (that would be Annie-Ethan-Ty) didn’t turn up theheat at all last night. Heck, the night’s biggest smooch went toteacher Ryan kissing guidance counselor Kelly, and you know when JennieGarth is still at the center of a 90210, it’s got to worry The CW about keeping its youth demo down. On the other hand: yay, Jennie Garth!

And questions of frail weight gain aside, I liked the way JessicaStroup handled Silver’s my-mom’s-a-drunk-so-I-sleep-at-women’s-sheltersplot. Silver’s got an undercurrent of anger that works nicely againstthe soppiness of that setup. Plus, just as last week Jessica Walterproved that the best acting on this show is done by mature womendepicting women with drinking problems, darned if Silver’s mom didn’tturn in the night’s best performance as a truly mean drunk. (By theway, why no Walter? We need her swanning around sarcastically. As forthe other notable absence: the coming attractions revealed that we’llsee one of Shannen Doherty’s handful of scheduled appearances nextweek.)

I also liked the slight twist on thedaughter-catching-daddy-having-an-affair scenes. Naomi’s extravagantwoe — “I saw my dad kissing another woman!” as if Naomi doesn’t cheaton guys her own young self — was countered by her mom’s calm acceptanceof it all. She knows about the affair and lives with it, because itkeeps her in the 90210 zip code. I’d say she was decadently cynical,but actually with real estate in the tank, she probably just realizesshe’d get nothing in a split-up.

Oh, and how about the fact that we must presume that Navid’s porn-producer dad showed him and his 90210 pals an advance cut of Quantum of Solace?Mind you, once again the following grade is for last night’s episodeonly. But for the slight improvements over last week and for theclever/coy Bond film reference, I’m giving it a B-.

Join Jessica Shaw on a tour of West Beverly High, and let us know what you thought of the episode below!