The new Melrose Place is darker, grittier and perhaps even a bit sexier than its predecessor. It also tests America's ability to suspend its collective disbelief. And it wins.

Television — and the entertainment world as a whole — require viewers to ignore reality and focus on the flashing images. Obviously no one believes Vampire Bill exists or that an ugly girl like Betty Suarez would get hired into the wild world of fashion. Those premises require a standard amount if disbelief, an amount that's given a little leeway when dealing with soap operas, where the unbelievable becomes a regular occurrence. But Beverly Hills, 90210 and its popular spin-off Melrose Place largely eschewed aliens, evil twins and the like. At least they gave us some wiggle room to pretend the happenings were, well, happening.

Tonight's premiere, however, pushed the envelope and successfully shattered our childlike ability to believe, if only for a moment, that the idiot box speaks the truth. The reality of this remake's quest to dazzle becomes abundantly clear. But we suppose that's the place to which the entertainment world was meant to land.