Thursday, September 10, 2009

Pilot Review: Melrose Place

Melrose Place (CW)
Premiered September 8 at 9pm

I’ll note upfront that I’ve never seen the original sudser on which this new reincarnation is based. To me, it doesn’t seem like be a rip-off or a lacking re-envisioning of a series with the same name. Instead, it feels like a whole lot of the other fare I’ve been seeing lately on one of the broadcast networks…the CW.

Regardless of what the actual inspiration for this show was, it fits neatly in with the current and recent slate of the CW’s programming. The promotional posters were nearly identical to the ones for “90210” last year, and while the show isn’t about high schoolers, it may as well be. It boasts the same quality of dialogue and same kind of preposterous characters with inane drama ruling their lives. It fits in perfectly with “Gossip Girl” and “One Tree Hill” in its treatment of gossip and sexual entanglements as fodder for its every plotline. It’s not nearly as entertaining as “90210,” however, though it’s also not as bad-as-can-be-awful as “One Tree Hill.” Still, neither of those things are a compliment. The show’s likely trying too hard to pay tribute to its predecessor and therefore highlighting characters and events that aren’t terribly interesting. I can’t say that with certainty, but even if that’s not the case, the show isn’t very worthwhile.

Each of the characters is equally dull and unexciting. Ella’s trying desperately to be carefree and edgy by mixing it up with both sexes. Jonah’s filmmaking dream would be a bit cooler if he weren’t so utterly lame, and his convenient filming fiasco at the party seems highly illogical and unlikely to actually occur. Sydney’s just sort of hanging out by the pool cruising for a friend, and her presence at this point is nothing but ominous since she’s likely a villain of some kind. The men are each more successively stupid, and it’s almost not worth commenting on them. The mystery of who killed the landlord isn’t very enticing either, and having it drive the season probably isn’t a good idea. This is no “Twin Peaks,” and even that show tanked after Laura Palmer’s killer was revealed.

It’s obvious that not much should be expected quality-wise for this show. Nonetheless, this is far inferior to what it could have been. A few summers ago, the CW aired a show with a similar rich people/murder mystery premise called “Hidden Palms.” While it only lasted eight episodes, it was one hundred times more entertaining than this first hour. Last year’s debut season of “90210” was also much more fun. This show was never going to be good, but if it’s not even entertaining, then what’s the point?

How will it work as a series? Well, with the mystery dominating and the characters, my bet it not very well. Feeling like it needs to pay tribute to the original show may severely hinder its development, and the characters here don’t seem like they would provide fodder for a more substantial series. Keeping the action at the Melrose Place address may also limit the potential of the show.
How long will it last? It being like other CW shows is a good thing in this case. I’m not sure it will catch on as well as “90210” has since it’s not about high school and it’s not really about much. I think it should be given the rest of the season to play out, but I think that may be it. The CW doesn’t have a whole lot of shows though, so they may grant it an undeserving second chance just to keep their slate full.

Pilot grade: F