'Melrose Place' First Episode: THR's 1992 Review
On July 8, 1992, Fox unveiled Darren Star's Beverly Hills, 90210 spinoff Melrose Place, a show that would become a pop culture staple throughout the decade. The Hollywood Reporter's original review is below.
Melrose Place isn't so much a spinoff as it is a turnoff. This new FBC weekly series, centered on the inhabitants of an apartment house in a hip part of Los Angeles, hopes to attract the same sort of popularity won by Beverly Hills, 90210 by tying its debut about twentysomething adults to some of the teens seen on 90210.
However, the special 90-minute debut of Melrose Place (Darren Star, creator of 90210, is also Place's inventor) registers as an attempt to make a great deal about not very much, the show's premiere only proving a Melrose Place is a Melrose Place is a Melrose Place despite FBC's massive fusillade of promotion.
Place's extended-pilot intro (normally the show will air for an hour) starts with a slick MTV-esque credit role accompanied by a pastiche of central castmembers, and then contends itself with getting into the lives of the scripted dwellers of "Melrose Place."
There's hunky, blue-collar construction worker-carpenter Jake Hanson (Grant Show), who is having deep doubts about continuing his relationship with 90210's Kelly (Jennie Garth) because of the age difference.
In addition to Hanson, other Melrose regulars include struggling actress Sandy Louise Harling (Amy Locane), a curvy, breathy Southern gal working tables at a restaurant-bar; Michael Mancini (Thomas Calabro), an earnest medical intern who also manages the apartment building where the "Melrosers" live; his wife Jane (Josie Bissett), a struggling designer; Matt Fielding (Doug Savant), a social worker running a Hollywood halfway house for runaways; Alison Parker (Courtney Thorne-Smith), a sweet but ambitious midwesterner who is just-out-of-college and works as a receptionist at an ad agency; Billy Campbell (Andrew Shue), a novice ballroom dance instructor who really wants to be a full-time writer and who has just moved in with Alison since her old roommate slipped off in the night without paying rent; and Rhonda Blair (Vanessa Williams), an aerobics instructor who hopes to find Mr. Right.
What this all adds up to in Melrose's premiere is essentially a here-they-are presentation of core characters by way of the 90210 tie-in. And while Melrose's comely denizens sometimes do indicate more about human nature than a GQ or W cover, the angst and Sturm und Drang of Melrose Place's escapades basically manifest not so much as a new p.o.v. but a change in zip codes and sideburn length. — Miles Beller, originally published on July 8, 1992