The Drama Club: Original ‘Melrose Place’ Cast Reunites

Melrose Place (The CW)

Melrose Place (The CW)

Melrose Place 1.0 Cast Crashes The Pool Party

As the ‘Melrose Place’ reboot slowly fades into obscurity like an aging C-lister after one two many plastic surgeries, the show is going out with a nostalgic look back at the show it used to be.  The March 30th episode will feature an old school MP reunion, with  Amanda (Heather Locklear), Michael (Thomas Calabro), Jane (Josie Bissett) and Jo (Daphne Zuniga) together again.  Each of these characters has already appeared on the reboot, with Amanda and Michael playing major roles, but this is the first time they have all been together.  In old school fashion, all of them attend a party in the courtyard because they have secret agendas.  Seeing them together made me feel like it was 1999 again — the year the original show went off the air .  Their dermatologists and the lighting directors get some credit, too.

With the exception of Katie Cassidy‘s Ella, none of the new cast can compete with the o.g. ‘Melrose’ — which is not to say that any of them should have a shelf full of Emmys.  ‘Melrose’ just is not, in either of its incarnations, a show that aspired more to be than a guilty pleasure.  But it is interesting to consider why The CW’s other 1990s Fox/Spelling reboot, ‘90210,’ is successful enough to be granted an early pick-up, while ‘Melrose’ has floundered.

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Like ‘90210,’ ‘Melrose’ stumbled out of the gate.  Its early episodes were painfully dull.  What would look like a huge confrontation in the promos would turn out to be an easily resolved misunderstanding.  The original’s concept of wholesome Midwestern teens scared and confused by the shocking debauchery of Beverly Hills life no longer made sense. Backstory established that the Wilsons spent every summer in Beverly Hills with their actress grandmother.  They were already insiders.  The allegedly edgy Beverly Hills kids seemed bland compared to the envelope pushing ‘Gossip Girl.’    The constantly smiling goody two shoes Annie (Shenae Grimes) was a throwback to the squeaky clean teens of the 1980s.  Ethan (Dustin Mulligan) was the leading man with the charisma of balsa wood.   The CW, realizing things were not working, brought in a new showrunner, Rebecca Sinclair, who gradually transformed the show into something frothy and fun.   Today, ‘90210’ is full of cat fights, sapphic teen crushes, and creepy stalkers. In heaven, Aaron Spelling is smiling.  The show moved away from appearances by the original series cast members, focusing on attracting the teenagers of today, not the Gen Xers who loved the original.

‘Melrose Place’ began as a stylishly trashy murder mystery, with original series character Sydney (Laura Leighton) narrating from the grave.  I liked it.  America did not.   It certainly was not a show that was crying out for a remake, with reality shows like ‘The Hills’ and ‘Keeping Up With The Kardashians‘ chronicling the alleged real lives of Los Angeles twentysomethings.  Ashlee Simpson-Wentz‘s bizarre performance as Sydney’s long lost daughter Violet did not help matters.  Like ‘90210,’ ‘Melrose’ embarked on a reboot.  The decision was made to lighten up the show.  Gone was crazy Violet and alcoholic Auggie, replaced by a hot but bland new doctor.  Lauren was no longer prostituting her way through medical school.  David gave up his career as a cat burglar.  Without the darkness that gave the show a  low rent noir vibe that seems as inspired by Nathaniel West and Sunset Boulevard as Darren Starr, the show is really, really dull.  I don’t want to see irritating Jonah sell his terrible sounding screenplay and become the toast of Hollywood.  I don’t care if David buys a restaurant.  The shiny, happy ‘Melrose’ lacks the crazy camp that made the original fun.  So, I will enjoy the mini-‘Melrose’ reunion as a chance to remind myself that, like rave culture, some of things that were cool in the 1990s do not need to be revived.

Ten Things that annoyed me about last night’s ‘Gossip Girl

1. A storyline about Chuck’s mother turning out to be alive, which should have been as epic for the character as Bart’s death, turned out to be about a corporate takeover, not his family issues.

2. Chuck’s mother was sleeping with his uncle who also hooked up with Blair.  This is straddling the fine line between soap opera and Greek tragedy.

3. Jack’s goatee.  It was even worse than last week.

4. Jenny instantly trusted Agnes.  Yeah, she’s an idiot, but even she should have realized bringing a pharmacy’s worth of drugs to a fashion show was a really bad idea.

5. Rufus basically c**kblocked his own son.  Are we supposed to think he is attracted to Vanessa?

6. Gossip Girl’s narration was sub-par. Is she outsourcing her blog?

7. The idea that it would be difficult to lure a bunch of NYU students to a free fashion show.  Even the most hated person in school could make that happen.

8. Nate’s cellphone apparently has a Jenny detector.  Maybe she has one of those microchips that paranoid people have implanted in their dogs.

9. The CEO of Closeted Gay Mormon Target was interested in purchasing Eleanor’s mass market line, but not using Eleanor’s name.  Wouldn’t that defeat the whole purpose?  As real Target has shown, middle America knows who Rodarte is, thanks in large part to shows like Gossip Girl.

10. Jack’s goatee. Again.  He’s like the anti-Sampson.  Growing more hair turned him from sexy bastard to paunchy douchebag.

The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.

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