The first line of Melrose Place 2.0 is "Don't even think about it." And that's probably good advice if you're going to watch this show.
Since the Melrose: The Next Generation is geared towards the 'tween through twenties set, who are either too young to remember the show, too old to care, or both, I decided not to brush up on my Melrose trivia, to see if this rendition could stand on its own. I did know that Sydney (Laura Leighton) had died in Season 5, only to return to the living last night and die all over again. And this actually gave me a little hope. Maybe this show had a sense of humor. Sadly, that was not the case. It didn't even spiral into completely inconceivable madness in that way only Melrose Place can. But let's relive it all so that you can decide for yourself.
The show opens at a fast paced, sexy bar: people pour drinks, people make out, people make Hollywood deals! But then David gets a call: it's Sydney again. What does that mean? It means that Laura Leighton is back on the show and has a drinking problem. She's also conveniently the new landlord of Melrose Place. David (bastard son of Dr. Mancini from Melrose: The Original) had an affair with her at some point, which is why she called him, and he goes home to check on her, but she's really not that drunk, she just wants to seduce him, and even threatens him -with what I'm not totally sure--so he'll stay.
Confused? Me too but that's okay. I think the confusion actually helps keep things a little more interesting. We move on to the next morning when we meet some more of the complex yet sexy residents.
Riley is The All American Girl. We know this because she only wears the color pink. Like- in every scene. She even has a pink yoga mat for emphasis. She even has a pink toothbrush, which brings us to her boyfriend...
Jonah Miller: The Good Guy. Together Jonah Miller (he's one of those 2-name kinda guys) and Riley make the perfect couple, because their toothbrushes match their pajamas (green and pink, respectively). He is, of course, an aspiring filmmaker. When we first meet the perfect (or are they?) couple, Jonah Miller has forgotten their 5 year anniversary. Or has he? Nope, he's just pretending so he can propose with - a video montage of the two of them running around in slow motion, of course! But when he pops the questions Riley doesn't answer! She's afraid he's not a grown up because he still watches cartoons. Deep.
She also doesn't have much time to answer because suddenly, there's a scream coming from the pool! It's Ashlee Simpson, who just realized that she's married to Pete Wentz! And also, she found Sydney's dead body floating in the pool. The residents are all torn up and shocked. Good Guy Jonah, can't bear to go into work, saying " Our landlord was just murdered, I'm sure the powers that be will understand." Not your normal landlord-tenant relationship, but hey, this isn't your normal building. There's a bloody corpse floating in the pool, and yet by nighttime, the water will be all clean and ready for some sexy swimming again.
Anyway, everyone is all traumatized. And some of them are even suspects. From there, we have so many partial story lines, I'm going to go through it character by character.
There's Auggie. He's the Sexy Aspiring Chef. He's barely in the episode, and mostly wears tight t-shirts, cooks and stands around being all dark and broody. He's also sad when Sydney dies, because they were in AA together and she made him want to be a real chef (and a real boy, perhaps?).
David, who we met earlier (when he was being seduced by Sydney) is The Sexy Bad Boy. We know this because one of his friends casually mentions how he does cocaine and likes to break into places and steal stuff. Also, he wears black t-shirts. David is a suspect because he was with Sydney the night she died. But he claims he got drunk and blacked out after she had her way with him... But wait- then he tells Auggie he's scared he DID do it, and just doesn't remember. Auggie assures David he's not that kind of guy. If I was there, I would have told him it probably takes more than a few drinks to make you forget you murdered someone last night. So, maybe David's more like The Sexy Dumb Guy.
We also learn that Sydney was having the affair with David, to get back at his dad Dr. Mancini, who she was also having an affair with at some point. Dr. Mancini is the other survivor from Melrose: The Good Old Days so we'll call him The Old Guy. He's the happily married doctor, who's not so happily married because he was having an affair with Sydney. We learn that before she was killed, Sydney showed up at the hospital threatening to rat out Dr. M to his wife, if he didn't take her back. So Old Guy has motive too.
Then there's Ella. I think Ella is supposed to be like a Samantha-lite. She's hot, blond, likes the sex, wears bright colors, is brutally honest and even works as a publicist. She also says things like, "I love love I just hate monogamy", which I'm pretty sure was lifted straight out of a Sex and the City episode. (Maybe it's an homage to Melrose's 1990s roots?) We'll call her Sexy with a Soul. Because while she's all superficial sex and sass on the outside, she seems to have a heart. Sexy with a Soul, it turns out, is not-so-secretly in love with Jonah Miller, The Good Guy. She's also bi - but the moments when she shows interest in girls always follow the moments when she's pining after the Good Guy - seeming to suggest that girls like girls only when the boys of their dreams reject them. Very progressive, CW.
Oh, and Ella may have killed Sydney. She makes up an alibi for David (Sexy Black T-shirt Bad Boy) and gets him out of police questioning. Aside from the fact that David's pissed because now everyone will think he and Ella hooked up (which is apparently worse than them thinking you're a murderer), it seems like a pretty kind gesture on Ella's part. But wait....is he really her alibi? Turns out, the night Sydney was killed (Yup, Sydney got around that night. It's almost like she knew she was running out of time...) she evicted Ella, because Ella told David, Sydney was also doing his father, which lead to David dumping Sydney. Anyway, Sydney tells Ella she's not stopping at eviction, she won't rest until Ella's the "pathetic wannabe" she was before she moved to Melrose Place. Oooh burn. If being called a Wannabe doesn't make you want to stab someone to death, I don't know what does.
And then there's Lauren, who I like to call Dr. Dirty. Dr. Dirty is played by Stephanie Jabcobsen, who's usually in Sci-Fi/ Action type shows. Sadly, the only action she sees in this show, is with the guy she sleeps with for five thousand dollars. But don't judge her yet- it's to pay for medical school. Yup, it's that classic "Whoring myself out to pay for Med School" storyline that actually feels tired. Even (and I'm ashamed to know this) Private Practice has done it. Anyway, Dr. Dirty's dad was laid off and if she doesn't come up with a big chunk of money for school, and soon, she's screwed. But then she realizes she can avoid being screwed that way, if she just...well you get the idea.
It's a story we're all familiar with that goes something like this. Girl meets cute guy at hospital. Guy takes her out for dinner. Girl and Guy hit it off. Guy asks her back to his hotel. Girl says not on the first date. Guy says there won't be a second date, because I'm flying home tomorrow. Girl is visibly sad, because she really likes Guy. Guy offers Girl five thousand dollars to have sex with him. Girl storms off upset, goes home, tells New Girl Ashlee Simpson, who seems weirdly encouraging of the idea. Girl punches numbers on a calculator for a few minutes, then goes to hotel to do the dude and collect the cash.
Oh I'm sorry- have I not mentioned Sexy New Girl Ashlee Simpson? Well, considering she doesn't have any lines until the last ten minutes of the episode, she's easy to forget. Yes, Ashlee Simpson is the New Girl, who claims that she's a "good girl". (Labels like "good" and "bad" get thrown around a lot at Melrose Place. It's a very moral apartment complex--adultery, lies and murder aside.) But when she says it, there's a weird glint in her eye like, maybe she's not so good after all. I mean, she has red hair. She also just moved to Melrose Place like- yesterday and suddenly the landlord dies? Oh wait- there's more: she steals a picture of Sydney at the end of the episode. They must have a past! What could it be?! Ashlee also seems pretty interested in Auggie, the sexy chef. Like too interested. What could that mean?
Speaking of Auggie, whatever happened to him? Oh wait- there he is in the last two seconds of the show, riding a motorcycle into some dark alley, starting a fire, and.... What's that? Pulling a bloody shirt out of his bag and burning it? His weird steely gaze glowing in the light of fire? Did he do it? And if so, why? Maybe he's just mad because he has such a weird name.
Oh, and I almost forgot: Sexy Good Guy and Sexy All American Girl get engaged at the end. When he accidentally films a powerful producer making out with his teenage daughter's friend at her birthday party, Producer offers Good Guy $100,000 to write a screenplay, if he'll just give the incriminating tape back. But Good Guy is a good guy. He wants to make it on his own and says: No thank you Evil Adulterous Producer! This story makes All American Girl realize Good Guy is a grown up, so she says yes. During the montage at the end when David's stealing stuff, Auggie's burning the evidence, Ella is rebounding with a lady and Dr. Dirty is uh- paying the bills, Good guy and All American Girl are cuddling happily in a bathtub.
So that's the moral world of Melrose Place. There is good, and there is lots of bad, and the lines along which they're drawn are pretty ridiculous. But if you're good, you get to do it in a bubble bath with your fiancé.
So who killed Sydney? Was it Auggie? Was he working alone, or with someone else? And why? Will Sydney remain a series regular in flashbacks, or did they really just bring Laura Leighton back to kill her again? And will she rise from the dead a second time? I have absolutely no idea, but maybe next week we'll get some answers. Though I may just read the dictionary instead-- it might be easier to follow. And it might be more interesting. Though it can't possibly be as sexy. Then again, it just might be.
The sexy new cast of Melrose: The Final Frontier (from variety.com)
(from left): Dr. Dirty, Sexy Aspiring Chef/ Possible Murderer, Sexy New (Bad) Girl, Sexy Bad Boy, Sexy with a Soul, Sexy Good Guy (note the "filmmaker" hat), Sexy All American Girl (note the pink)