Tuesdays at 9 p.m.
1 out of 5 stars
For better or for worse — hint: it’s for worse — this isn’t your parents’ “Melrose Place.” Never before would we have heard such evocative and intriguing dialogue as “People will think we hooked up,” retorted ever so wittily and modernly with “It’ll give them something to tweet about.”
The new “Melrose Place” appears to have been written by a team of “cool moms” and “cool dads” who want to be “hip” to what all the “bros” are saying on the “strizzeets.” Nobody in the cast acts his or her age, instead reverting to a demeanor reminiscent of the most obviously scripted scenes of “Laguna Beach.” But considering both shows are aimed at the same demographic, that may not be so accidental — though it’s still very unfortunate.
With its primetime slot on The CW, the new “Melrose” is not hoping to win back the loyal daytime soap fans of yesteryear, but instead to cause a new generation to rise up in cries of “Not now, I’m watching my stories,” or something very similar but with more teen slang in it. It has all the staples of the modern teen drama: sex scandals, attractive lesbians (even “Heroes” is rumored to be using this tactic now), handsome heartthrobs and, obviously, murder.
Yes, murder is afoot. Sultry landlord Sydney Andrews (Laura Leighton of the original “Melrose Place”) returns as an older, more experienced bad girl only to be stabbed and dumped in the pool, much to the shock of her many tenants — each of whom, of course, seems to have some sort of motive to kill her. There’s rich-boy renegade David Breck (Shaun Sipos, “Shark”), his partner-in-sexual-tension Ella Simms (Katie Cassidy, “Harper’s Island”), the charming indie filmmaker Jonah Miller (Michael Rady, “Greek”) and his new fiancée Riley Richmond (Jessica Lucas, “90210”) among others. But in a cast where everyone seems to want to have sex with everybody else, it’s hard to know if any of those relationships will last more than a few weeks. On the other hand, with all the characters so irritating anyway, it’s unlikely anyone will be heartbroken if they start to break up and shuffle around.
Beyond the derivative writing and trashy cast of characters, the show’s editing and camera work render the new “Melrose” difficult to watch even if you can handle the sleaziness. In the blink of an eye, the camera might cut between four or five different camera angles, none of which even features the active character or object. While this is great for people hoping to get motion sickness in the comfort of their own homes, it’s terrible for anyone hoping to be pleasantly entertained for an hour.
And when it comes to sheer entertainment value, “Melrose” just doesn’t deliver. This could change once it moves past its first few weeks, but at present the show inspires a constant uttering of, “We get it. They have troubled pasts. Let’s move on.” The insertion of unnecessary flashbacks only exacerbates this feeling. And whenever a big question is asked, such as why Simms hates Andrews so much, it just gets answered right away. The only major suspense left is the main murder plot, which isn’t enough to tide viewers over from episode to episode.
The new “Melrose Place” certainly isn’t the trashiest option on The CW lineup, but it will still satisfy anyone looking for a promiscuous diversion. That said, without some compelling cliffhangers and believable dialogue, even the sex scenes may not be enough to save the new “Melrose” from the remake junk pile.