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‘Melrose Place’ Redux: Thoughts on Old vs. New

September 13, 2009
Photo Credit: The CW

Photo Credit: The CW

Read on for my take on the Melrose Place 2.0 pilot (spoilers for the episode, and lots of 90s nostalgia are implied):

I didn’t watch the original Melrose Place when it aired in the 90s.  Of course, I was a big Beverly Hills 90210 fan, as was everybody else my age.  Melrose was a bit too adult for me, and I wasn’t allowed to watch that much TV anyway (I’ve made up for that in spades in my adult years).  However, a couple years ago I decided to try out the original Melrose, in all its soapy glory via the wonder of Netflix.  The production values and acting abilities left much to be desired, but I could not turn away.  I made my way through all the seasons currently released on dvd (seasons 1-5.5), so unfortunately I have yet to experience the wonder of Alyssa Milano as Michael’s trouble-making little sister.  I did, however, get to revel in the crazy evilness of Kimberly (played to perfection by Marcia Cross), the fabulous bitchiness of Amanda (Heather Locklear’s calling in life was to play that role), the dastardly deeds of Michael Mancini (Thomas Calabro plays such a charming narcissist, if ever there was one), and trouble-maker Sydney (played by the gorgeous Laura Leighton, whom I regard as the second coming of Sami Brady).  Oh, and I was absolutely thrilled to see Kelly Rutherford play the hooker with the heart of gold.  There were absolutely no limits to where this show would go.  Thus, when I heard the news that the CW was producing Melrose Place 2.0, I was excited … that is, until I actually watched the pilot last week.

The pilot for the re-imagined Melrose was rather dull and lackluster, in my opinion.  I’m not giving up on the show, but I really hope that it improves—or maybe that it get worse (perhaps the show-runners need to aspire to the fascination of “so bad it’s good”).  Laura Leighton reprises her role as the deliciously awful Sydney, but she was dead within the first 10 minutes (or was it 5?).  Thomas Calabro also returned, in his role as Michael Mancini—he didn’t get killed off, but he was also under-used.  It is also confirmed that Josie Bisset (Michael’s ex-wife Jane, and also Sydney’s estranged sister) will appear on future episodes of the new drama, but as I pretty much hated her character, that does not excite me.

This 1995 photo shows the cast of "Melrose Place", from top left; Heather Locklear, Grant Show, Doug Savant and Thomas Calabro. Seated from left; Andrew Shue, Courtney Thorne-Smith, Laura Leighton, Daphne Zuniga and Josie Bissett. (AP Photo)

This 1995 photo shows the cast of "Melrose Place", from top left; Heather Locklear, Grant Show, Doug Savant and Thomas Calabro. Seated from left; Andrew Shue, Courtney Thorne-Smith, Laura Leighton, Daphne Zuniga and Josie Bissett. (AP Photo)

But what about the actual episode?  The highlight for me was Katie Cassidy’s turn as Ella, the Amanda-type character.  Katie was fabulous on Supernatural and Harper’s Island, and she seems to be in a different league than the rest of the new cast.   It seems that the old love triangle between Amanda-Billy-Allison may replay itself this season with Ella-Jonah-Riley.  Could be fun.  It could also make me want to tear my eyes out.  I’m just not sure.

What did you think?

Melrose Place 2.0 Pictured: (l-r) Ashlee Simpson-Wentz as Violet, Colin Egglesfield as Auggie, Katie Cassidy as Ella,  Laura Leighton as Sydney, Thomas Calabro as Dr. Michael Mancini, Stephanie Jacobsen as Lauren, Shaun Sipos as David,  Jessica Lucas as Riley, Michael Rady as Jonah. Photo Credit: Frank Ockenfels/The CW ©2009 The CW Network, LLC.  All rights reserved.

Melrose Place 2.0 Pictured: (l-r) Ashlee Simpson-Wentz as Violet, Colin Egglesfield as Auggie, Katie Cassidy as Ella, Laura Leighton as Sydney, Thomas Calabro as Dr. Michael Mancini, Stephanie Jacobsen as Lauren, Shaun Sipos as David, Jessica Lucas as Riley, Michael Rady as Jonah. Photo Credit: Frank Ockenfels/The CW ©2009 The CW Network, LLC. All rights reserved.

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