A series reboot has the detriment of trying to recreate greatness while making something entirely original. Last night, the first episode of Melrose Place did neither. Did no one learn anything the first time around?
It's not that the pilot was as horrible, but it could have been better—like Ashlee Simpson-Wentz's nose job. Right now it is taking both the best and the worst parts of the original series to make something that is kind of confused. Melrose began as a 90210 spin-off with a bunch of earnest twentysomethings trying to make it big in L.A. It was all very boring and no one watched. Then Heather Locklear showed up with a bunch of bitchiness and intrigue. Everyone forgot about their standards and morals and the sudsy drama took off.
Like a good old-fashioned episode of MP, last night started off with bitchy schemer Sydney creating a whole bunch of drama, but this time with a whole new cast of characters. She ends up dead in the pool, killing the best thing the series had going for it. Apparently devilish doctor Michael helped her fake her death on her wedding day 11 years ago, and she eventually returned to town, and started sleeping not only with Michael, but also the son he never mentioned before, David. That totally sounds like something Sydney would do. Now everyone has a motive to see her dead, including bland recovering alcoholic Auggie, and bisexual publicist Ella, who takes the voracious and crafty crown from Locklear's Amanda and wears it well. We love Ella.
Who we don't love is earnest filmmaker Jonah and his dishrag of a fiance Riley (PS—Riley and Auggie are dogs names). Riley is a first grade teacher. That means that she is sweet and innocent and not someone we want to be friends with. When Jonah accidentally films a prominent producer making out with his teenage daughter's best friend, he turns down $100K and a chance to make a film because he has morals. No you don't! You're a character on Melrose. You're supposed to make bad decisions and then deal with the crushing consequences. What we learned in the '90s from original sad sacks Billy and Allison is that we don't want to see upright citizens, we want to see glamorous people making selfish decisions and doing horrible things to each other.
That's why Lauren gets our kudos. At first, her hard-working, financially-strapped med student seemed like a dud. That is until she accepted an offer from a rich hottie to sleep with him for $5,000. Now that is some serious Melrose Place nonsense of the first degree. Look for the regret and shame spiral followed in coming weeks. It will be glorious to behold.
Who we didn't see much of is Violet (played by Simpson-Wentz). Who wants to bet that she is Syndey's daughter who she gave up for adoption and that she's the one who stabbed her biological mother and dumped her in the famous pool? She's not the only one hiding secrets. The final montage of naughtiness shows us that Auggie has bloody clothes (which automatically means he's not the killer, that's way too easy), that David is an art thief (they still have those?), and that Riley and Jonah make sweet, sweet love. Yawn. Sure, everyone has secrets, but no one seems like they're going to plant a bomb and blow up the apartment complex or steal a baby. If we wanted to see people committing misdemeanors, we'd watch One Tree Hill.
But, like Sydney said in her first scene, she thought she could return to the original location and recreate what they once had. Well, that's wrong. A friend suggested that this new version is so close to the original that it's going to suck until Heather Locklear shows up and rescues it. While that's a sweet theory we just think that everyone needs to forget that they're good people living in reality. Just like people would rather see the Joker than Batman, they're watching this to see the villains win. This is Melrose Place—an alternate universe where anything is possible and fans will believe anything, if you give us a good enough reason to tune in.