September 8, 2009

new show review: melrose place

Here's the first of my reviews for the new fall shows. I'll try to write about as many pilots as possible (because I know you're on the edge of your seats). As usual, the CW got out in front with the first premieres of the season.

Obviously, Melrose Place is a reboot of the original 1990s series by the same name about an apartment complex in Los Angeles where the residents' lives are intertwined. While the two iterations share the premise - here's where I think they will differ. Like the original 90210, Melrose Place began at PG-13 with stories like Billy's personal crisis about whether or not he wanted to take over his family business. The show ended at R with murder and adultery... in every episode. From what I gather, the reboot is starting where the original ended.

Here's the cast/residents of Melrose place. Boyfriend and girlfriend Jonah Hill and Riley Richmond are played by Michael Rady (Greek, Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants) and Jessica Lucas (90210, Cloverfield). Amanda replacement and Hollywood publicist Ella Simms is played by Katie Cassidy (Harper's Island, Supernatural). Auggie Kirkpatrick, a recovering alcoholic chef, is played by Colin Egglesfield (All My Children). David Breck, the bad boy and son of Michael Mancini, is played by Shaun Sipos (Shark). New Melrose resident, small town girl Violet Foster is played by Ashlee Simpson-Wentz. Young, responsible medical intern Lauren Yung (also Ella's roommate) is played by Stephanie Jacobsen (Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles).

The pilot begins with the infamous Sydney. Back from the dead? Well, not for long anway. She shows up, once again, face down in a bloody pool. We know Sydney has a history of drug and alcohol abuse and a lingering affair with David, whose father Michael took him in when he was 13 (mother unknown so far), oh and apparently Michael helped Syndey fake her own death the last time around. Sydney also helped Ella get her apartment and ultimately very successful job and threatened to kick her out of the building on the night she died. The last known contact with Sydney was David, who passed out drunk doesn't remember anything until Violet screamed upon discovering the body.

Jonah is a filmmaker, who is represented by Ella. And she wants him. She's not thrilled that Jonah proposed to Riley that morning...may not be a problem though since she hasn't said yes yet. Jonah is filming a 16-year-old's birthday party when he accidentally records the birthday girl's film producer father making out with a teenager. He offers to Jonah $100,000 to write a screenplay in order to ensure his silence. Oh Hollywood. Good guy Jonah rejects the offer and Riley accepts his proposal.

Meanwhile, Lauren is struggling to pay her med school bills after her father lost his job, but she just happens to score a date with a patient's cute son, who creepily offers her $5,000 to "pay the bills". Upon returning from creepy date, Lauren runs into Violet, who we haven't seen much of yet. I really wanted Ashlee to be a good actor, I really did.

In retro land, we see that Michael now has a wife and son, but was at some point in the recent past fooled around with Sydney. Apparently, he couldn't shake the lady for the past 11 years.

The episode ends with an impromptu memorial service for Sydney around the pool (morbid). Looks like the mystery will unfold throughout this season. The closing music sequence shows Jonah and Riley heading upstairs to celebrate, Lauren showing up at creepy guy's hotel, David stealing a $1.3 million painting from what looks like Michael's house, Ella drinking alone making out with a lady stranger, Auggie burning some bloody clothes, and Violet stealing a framed photo of Sydney from her memorial. Do we think that was her mother?

Overall, the pilot was good, but not great. Actually, it was a little slow until the last two minutes. There's some good acting from more experienced cast members like Michael Rady, and some others are falling a little flat. I'm not hooked, but I'll probably give it a few more episodes to see where it goes.


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