Melrose Place -- TV Review
It's a perfect locale for the CW, which has set its demographic sights in stone: They want pretty, young things with free evenings to watch (and worship) pretty, young things learning to survive Los Angeles.
Et voila: The remake of "Melrose Place" (the original aired from 1992-99; late producer Aaron Spelling and creator Darren Star are nowhere in sight for this one). The template remains the same: a villa-like setup of apartments ringing a swimming pool, with new fish and sharks alike circling the residences. It's a clever concept that lets small-town nosiness collide with the raging, no-quarter-given big city. And despite the tweeting and texting going on among its way-too-friendly residents, it could be 1992 all over again.
Take two is a canny revamp, well-lit and visually eye-popping in a shadowy-neon way that hints at the old with several familiar faces while showcasing newcomers including redheaded Ashlee Simpson-Wentz.
Writers Todd Slavkin and Darren Swimmer blur the camp/mystery lines and give everyone a secret history, disappointing parental units and mixed motivations. Before the hour's out, one original cast member is murdered, several likely suspects emerge, two residents are tempted to sell out and one couple gets engaged. You'd need a Stanford grad's flow chart to understand all the platonic and nonplatonic relationships here.
But there's something of a "Logan's Run" chill on "MP." Anyone older than 29 is corrupt, ailing or dead, which leaves these kiddies wandering through the dark without guidance. Maybe that's appealing in a Charlie Brown manner -- all the adults are absent or unimportant -- but it doesn't provide much of an incentive to grow up, which is exactly what the characters are supposed to be doing. Who knew "don't trust anyone over 30" would survive the 1960s?
That said, you'd have to be floating face-down in a pool to avoid getting instantly hooked on the intrigue (or lose yourself in the ample music-video moments). It's all brand new and shiny but comfortably familiar and keenly calculated. The pleasures abound within the walls of the new "MP," but be warned: You'll want to take a shower afterward.
Airdate: 9-10 p.m., Tuesday, Sept. 8 (The CW)
Production: CBS Paramount Television Network
Cast: Katie Cassidy, Colin Egglesfield, Stephanie Jacobsen, Jessica Lucas, Michael Rady, Shaun Sipos, Ashlee Simpson-Wentz
Executive producers: Davis Guggenheim, Todd Slavkin, Darren Swimmer
Developer-writers: Todd Slavkin, Darren Swimmer
Producer: Robert Simon
Director: Davis Guggenheim
Director of photography: Checco Varese
Production casting: Collin Daniel, Brett Greenstein, Tess Sanchez