[Ed. note: The Videogum team grows once more! Please join me in welcoming Julie Klausner as the newest contributor to the site. She is a former writer for Best Week Ever with Paul F. Tompkins and author of the forthcoming book, I Don’t Care About Your Band, also she’s great, so what better person to recap this season of the rebooted Melrose Place? (No one is better to do so.)]
Here’s what I know about the original Melrose Place. People would threaten each other, and backstab each other, and there was a crapton of shtupping, and sometimes people went blind or crazy when somebody set their apartments on fire. Oh, and most importantly, on Melrose Place, people could die and then they’d come back to life, because Fuck You, I’m Aaron Spelling.
So, with the weight of the original show’s legacy on the CW’s bony shoulders and the low-to-no stakes of being able to kill and revive characters’ lives at will, the new Melrose debuted last night. And here is watch what happened.
The show opens with a montage set to a hip, happening tune. It’s very hot, very young, very hotsy-totsy. A ton of young, swanky jerks enjoy bottle service and make out at a fashionable Los Angeles nightclub when Sydney, who died in the original series, “text phones” a young gentleman, David, to come home now, because she’s in trouble. I’ll say Sydney’s in trouble: she passed away in the original series! She is dead. She’d do better to text Beetlejuice three times!
David, who we find out is the son of Michael Mancini, also from the original series, tells Ella, a publicist who serves as the Muppet Babies version of Heather Locklear’s Amanda Green, that he’s leaving the club. He also tells Auggie, a chef wearing Asian pajamas, that he’s going to check on Sydney.
I don’t know if he also tells the valet and the restroom attendant that he’s leaving, but he may as well, because the cast of this show is enormous. He also calls Lauren, who’s a doctor! She takes the call when she’s in her scrubs, doctorin’ around, and she, too, learns that David is going to check in on Sydney.
Soon, he is home to Melrose Place, the titular apartment complex, and Sydney, who is the landlady now, is a vision in a shirt made out of a scarf.
She is a cougarly vision, and she barely speaks in consonants or vowels anymore– she just takes differently-paced deep breaths at this young boy’s dumb face. She threatens to blackmail him, and they bone, and it’s beautiful.
The next morning we meet an adorable couple, Jonah, who proposes to his girlfriend Riley in the form of a video he made that features green screen effects and underwater photography. But before she says yes or no, they’re interrupted by the screams of Ashlee Simpson-Wentz. But we can’t say for sure that it was her screaming. It could have been pre-recorded, right? Hey remember this?
She is terrible.
Well, Ashlee is by the pool, doing the first of many instances of her patented “arm crossing” version of acting.
All forty-five twenty year olds from the cast run out and see what she’s lip-screaming about, to see a dead body in the pool with blood all around it. It’s a dandy allusion to Sunset Boulevard, but that matters as much as the fact that the guy who directed An Inconvenient Truth also directed this episode, because of course he did.
So once Sydney is discovered dead—again—the episode becomes a Murder Mystery Dinner Party. David is questioned at the cops’ office (is that what it’s called?), and Muppet Baby Heather Locklear meets him there and gives him the alibi that she was with him at the time. “It’ll give ‘em something to tweet about,” she tells him, and Bonnie Raitt somewhere twitches involuntary.
Meanwhile, Lauren the doctor tends to a lady whose son looks like the guy from the Verizon Wireless ads, and also wants to fuck her. She then learns that her dad got laid off from his job, and that she will have to pay her tuition herself. Which is also an inconvenient truth.
Then, Michael Mancini, who must be getting some fillers made out of stem cells or something because he looks FANTASTIC, arrives in a futuristic space-car to pick up David, who gets the task of throwing the crumb to the four remaining viewers who remember that Sydney was supposed to be dead. He shoulders the exposition with the casualness of a hippie in cargo shorts when Michael calls his time at Melrose Place a time in his life he’d want to forget. “Yeah, I don’t blame you. Helping Syd fake her death eleven years ago? I wouldn’t want to remember that either.” So, see? She faked her death before! So shut up! Fuck You, I’m Aaron Spelling!
Meanwhile, Ella, who’s bisexual, b.t.dubbs, takes Jonah to a birthday party for a girl whose dad is a famous producer or director something else important and Jonah is in charge of videographing the event. It’s dullsville until he gets footage of the guy making out with his daughter’s best friend, and ends up fielding an offer to turn his short film into a feature, which is a spicy meatball for something you usually just throw up on YouTube, but Jonah just stares at the producer blankly like an emo ape. More like Whitemail!
Meanwhile, Lauren goes on a date with the Verizon Guy, who tells her that he has a “radical idea”: prostitution! He found out that she needs money, and offers her five grand to have sex with him. Talk about an indecent proposal! I’m from the 90’s.
So Lauren goes back to the complex, and runs into awful Ashlee Simpson by the pool, who insists on doing more acting with her arms.
This time they’re in the pockets of her jean shorts and she is just the worst. Lauren decides to open up to her about the prostitution thing and Ashlee Simpson tells her “be a hooker.” Thanks for this, Ashlee. Good talk!
Jonah tells Riley that he stumbled into this blackmail opportunity, but that’s not who he is, so he turned it down. And Riley is so impressed by his moral resolve that she belatedly says yes to his proposal in the following way:
“You ARE a grown up. An adorable grown up. Who I want to grow very old with. I do, Jonah. I do!”
Sounds like a segway into a memorial! All of the ninety seven people who live at Melrose Place get together and toast Sydney, who is eulogized as having been “never boring.” Soon it’s montage time!
Over a totally different happening tune, we get to see the characters interact with that which they love most. Riley and Jonah waltz until their clothes are on the floor. David browses a fine art catalog of expensive paintings and then breaks into a house because apparently he’s an art thief? Mini Locklear browses slutty girls at a nightclub because she’s bisexual, Lauren enters the lobby of Verizon’s hotel to experiment with hookin,’ Ashlee steals the framed photo of Sydney from their makeshift shrine, and finally, Auggie, the chef who’s been pretty quiet, goes into an alley, takes out his Asian pajamas which we notice are covered in blood, and lights them on fire. And as it burns, the song’s lyrics tells us, “This is the world that we live in,” because the title of the show was maybe too specific.