Yes, ladies and gentleman, the 90s fabulously bizzaro and much beloved prime-time soap Melrose Place has been resurrected by the CW, following the moderate success of 90210, the remake of yet another Aaron Spelling classic Beverly Hills 90210.
I have a feeling that execs in CW are not as imaginative as you’d hope studio execs to be. “Hey, we remade 90210 and it turned out be doing kinda okay-ish in the ratings, so how bout if we bring back Melrose Place too? Ooh, and we can bring Sydney back from the dead, and Ashlee Simpson-Wentz can play Sydney’s long lost daughter, the one she didn’t even know she had! You know she’s got flaming red hair like Sydney!”
Forgive me if I’m not so excited about Melrose 2.o, but there are just so many things wrong about that show.
First, the beautiful hard-bodied cast can’t act their way out of a Birkin bag. Forget about Ashlee Simpson-Wentz, we kinda expect her not to be good, but the rest of the supposed actors and actresses were just as bad, if not worse. Stephanie Jacobsen, who plays med student Lauren Yung, can’t seem to nail her accent down. Every now and then, she’d slip and her Aussie accent would come out. I am so disappointed in her. Yvonne Strahovski, Anna Torv, Chris Egan and Ryan Kwanten, her fellow countrymen and women didn’t seem to have a problem mastering the American accent.
But, Stephanie Jacobsen is not the only one who missed the mark completely. The rest of the cast, except for Katie Cassidy and old-favorite Thomas Calabro (yes, Michael Mancini is back), were just as horrible. Michael Rady, who plays Seth Cohen-like aspiring filmmaker Jonah Miler (Melrose 2.0’s resident good guy), looked like he was having trouble spewing all those supposedly witty and somewhat geeky comments. Adam Brody’s Seth Cohen could definitely wipe the floor with Michael Rady’s Jonah Miller. The irony is of course that Michael Rady was actually a better actor when he played Greek fisherman Costos Dunas in Sisterhood of The Traveling Pants. You’d think he’d be better playing a budding filmmaker.
Jessica Lucas was also flat as Jonah’s fiancee Riley Richmond. Her reaction when Jonah proposed to her was somewhere between bored and “I totally forgot my line”. Maybe she can’t act without a CGI monster chasing her around Manhattan? Colin Egglesfield who plays chef Auggie Kirkpatrick (seriously, WHO came up with these names?) looked like he was reading from a cue card the whole time, despite his best effort to look stoic and pensive a la Balthazar Getty’s Tommy Walker (Brothers & Sisters). And lastly, Shaun Sipos, who plays Michael Mancini’s illegitimate son David Breck (no, he’s not the son of Jane Mancini, if my calculation is correct, Michael Mancini must’ve impregnated his mother way before he even met Jane Mancini), tries to be a cross between Chuck Bass and Ryan Atwood (with a dash of Parker from Leverage, with the whole art thief thing), but ending up as bland as Nate Archibald on a bad day.
Second, I do understand that since the original Melrose Place was a haven for kooky storylines and outrageous plots, they are trying to please the rabid fan base by introducing equally kooky storylines and outrageous plots, but somehow this time they don’t work, at all. Even though I appreciate the season long murder mystery a la Veronica Mars (with the original uber bitch Sydney Andrews floating face down on the pool ten minutes into the pilot), the other storylines are just well, annoying. Of course the high-powered bisexual publicist Ella would be pining for the sweet and a little dorky Jonah, because who else would she be pining for? Michael Mancini, oh no, that is so last century! This is the age of the geek, baby! And of course struggling med student Lauren Yung would be offered $5000 for sex with a hot, young New York real estate mogul. Because hot, young New York real estate mogul can’t get laid if they don’t shell out the dough. Of course Michael Mancini’s illegitimate son would be having an affair with cougar Sydney Andrews, because nothing says rebellion like banging your father’s ex and discovering that you’re better in bed. Of course the seemingly perfect couple would start to have problems the minute he proposed, because problems never arise until the guy pops the question after 5 years of pre-marital bliss. Of course the guy who looked the most distraught about Sydney’s death would be the one burning his bloody chef uniform in the tunnel, because the audience would never see it coming. And of course the wide-eye, impressionable newcomer would be the single white female type who may or may not be Sydney Andrew’s long lost daughter, because why else would you cast red head Ashlee Simpson-Wentz?
Sure, those storylines may work in the 90s, but we have since been entertained by the beautiful people in The OC, with illegitimate daughter popping out of nowhere and Mischa Barton’s on and off screen breakdowns, or the sexually-overactive surgeons in Grey’s Anatomy, whose penchant for sleeping with each other would put the old residents of Melrose Place to shame, or the many murderous residents in seemingly perfect suburbia of Wisteria Lane, where five Desperate Housewives do more than just figuratively stab each other in the back, or even the crazy scheming, sexually-charged, excessive lives of the Upper East Side wealthy teenagers in Gossip Girl who at the tender age of 17 do a lot more than just dipping their toes on the dark side.
The only bright spot in an otherwise boring show, is Katie Cassidy as Ella Simms, the show’s resident uber bitch. Not only was she pitch-perfect portraying the ruthless, high-powered bisexual publicist, from the first few minutes of her appearance alone, you can see that she’ll be the new Amanda Woodward, and we’ll love to hate her just as much, if not more. More kudos for her ability to show Ella Simms’ vulnerability without coming off as pathetic, which was something that was lacking in Heather Locklear’s Amanda Woodward. Ella Simms just appears more real, while Amanda Woodward did tend to be a little too unbelievable at times.
So what’s my conclusion about Melrose Place 2.0? Well, I’d say find a better way to spend your Tuesday night because I think it’s going to be another CW’s failed experience in rehashing a tired old recipe for a new, pickier audience. Aside from the cool soundtrack and Katie Cassidy, you’re not really missing much by not watching this show.
What did you think about Melrose 2.0? Love it or loathe it?