Fall Preview 09: MELROSE PLACE


You’ve seen the commercials. You’ve heard the hype. Now there’s only one thing you want to know: Which of the new fall shows are worth watching and which should be avoided at all costs? In this continuing series, we give you the scoop on some of the most highly-anticipated shows of the season. Which will be the next GREY’S ANATOMY… and which will be the new JOEY? To kick things off, we check out The CW’s reboot of the camp classic MELROSE PLACE.

Why We’ll Watch: If there’s one thing you want from a good — not to mention potentially-great — primetime soap, it’s a killer story. MP kicks off with a great one when the body of original bad girl Sydney is found — where else? — floating in the apartment complex’s infamous pool. But never fear: Flasbacks keep her portrayer, Laura Leighton, alive and well while propelling the story forward. The great thing about this opening gambit is that it’s a payoff for fans of the original series without alienating the new, younger crowd the show is obviously courting. Talk about your win/win! Quicker than you can say “Peyton Place” we begin learning about the secret lives of the tenants-turned-suspects, including trampy PR exec Emma (with blonde bombshell Katie Cassidy stepping into the sexy stiletto heels formerly occupied by Heather Locklear’s Amanda) and troubled hunk David — played by Shaun Sipos — following in the footsteps of his bad boy dad, Michael (the devilsh-as-ever Thomas Calabro). As Ashlee Simpson-Wentz’ turn as Violet, there’s not much to say based on the pilot, although her final scene indicates there’s a lot more to the character than meets the eye.

What We’ll Fast-Forward Through: Everybody knows that the original MELROSE really took off once the characters, to borrow a phrase from THE REAL WORLD, stop being polite and start getting real… nasty. Nobody cared about the marital discord between Jane and Michael… until he got invovled with nasty-but-pre-nutty Kimberly. In this version, we get too-happy-for-their-own-good newlyweds Riley Richmond and Jonah Miller (played by Jessica Lucas and Michael Rady respectively) and can’t help but want to push them off the happiness wagon. Sorry, misery not only loves company, but it’s more entertaining. There’s a reason there aren’t many happy folks on soap operas!

Watch Live Or DVR?:  In the end, the new MELROSE proves much more successful than the network’s reboot of 90210. While the high school drama feels like a soulless attempt to modernize a once-successful show, MELROSE manages to feel more like a continuation of the original. Here’s hoping that the writers remember that the original was most successful when it balanced real emotions with a tad of crazy. Once Kimberly began blowing things up and trying to give people lobotomies with drills, it was all over. In the final analysis, this is a show we’ll definitely DVR, but it’ll have to prove itself before we commit to live viewings.