While resuscitating a long-dead TV series hardly guarantees success, the new 90210 has generated buzz, resulting in a push from the CW. The old faces are counted on to bring in the post-Clearasil crowd. Hence, the cast also includes Jennie Garth, Doherty’s old on- and offscreen nemesis. “Every reporter rubs his hands together and goes, ‘So, you and Jennie, how’s that going to work out?’” Doherty says, rolling her eyes. “I hadn’t seen her for years, but we get along fine.”

Her phone rings. “It’s my mom,” she says apologetically. “Hey, Mommy, I have some wardrobe choices. Come help me choose.”

Doherty explains that for much of her adult life, her father has been seriously ill, and that she left 90210 to help take care of him. “He’s had six heart attacks, and now he’s been taken off the transplant list because it’s too much of a risk,” she says. “I’m sure some of my mistakes have been acting out against that fear I was going to lose him.”

Doherty drifts into a pensive silence. But then she spies a waitress and requests a plastic container for the remnants of her salad. “I probably shouldn’t do this in front of a reporter,” she says. “But I’m going to be hungry in a few hours and I’m not going to want to go back out.”

Just then Rosa Doherty appears in the restaurant lobby, flashing an incandescent smile. Shannen explains, “Mommy!” As the two hug and walk arm-in-arm into the Malibu sun, for a moment the ocean—and all the sharks in it—seems miles away.