'Melrose Place' recap: Sydney's back, but not for long...

melrose-place_l Only 7 minutes into the new Melrose Place, and there’s already a dead body in the pool. We had high hopes that the rebooted show would build on the ’90s original in terms of trashy, scandalous fun, and this pilot starts with even more of a bang. Murder? Check. Inappropriate sexual tension? Check. Prostitution? Check. Lying and blackmail? Check. Girl-on-girl action? Check.

Things kicked off as a still-radiant Laura Leighton returns to the show as Sydney Andrews, who seemingly faked her own death 11 years ago — with the help of old flame/ex-brother-in-law Michael (the also-returning Thomas Calabro) — before returning to the infamous apartment complex as the landlord and resident cougar. Bad-boy tenant David was her latest prey.

Sydney lured David over for drinks late one night and announced: “Something’s happened. I’ve done something really, really bad.” We’ll have to find out what the bad, bad thing is in flashback, because Sydney was soon the body in the pool. The prime suspect was David, who blacked out while drinking with her the night before. He was the first to be questioned by the police, but neighbor and publicist pal Ella lied to give him an alibi.

Now would be a good time to mention that David is Dr. Michael Mancini’s estranged son, and — oh yeah — Syd slept with now-happily-married Michael too. Somehow I  think there’s going to be some tense moments on Father’s Day after David proclaimed to Michael: “I kinda freaked out when I found out Syd came after me to get back at you. But when she told me I was better, that made I all worth it.” But then again, maybe they have something to bond over — Michael has his own motive to kill Syd after she threatened to tell his wife about their affair.

A few doors down, Melrose 2.0 offers our new version of Billy, the show’s would-be moral compass, in aspiring filmmaker Jonah, who reminds me of a geeky-but-cool grown-up Seth from The O.C. He started the episode by proposing to his girlfriend of five years, Riley, but didn’t get the reaction he hoped for (maybe she was unimpressed by the cheesy green-screen shots in his video love letter). Teacher Riley seems stable (read: boring) and eventually said yes to the proposal. Jonah also proved his stability by turning down a chance to fast-track his career by exploiting his tape of a film mogul’s embarrassing liaison with his daughter’s friend.

Still, we fear (or secretly hope?) it might be an rocky engagement for Jonah and Riley. For starters, earnest medical student Lauren told Riley: “You guys are the most perfect couple I know” and that has to be foreshadowing for utter disaster. Also, it seems bisexual Ella directed some lustful looks at Jonah. She consoled herself about their engagement with a lesbian liplock in a bar parking lot, but we’re dying for this new queen bee to stir up big trouble. She’s already a mini Amanda Woodward — she gets the show’s best job, best outfits, best highlights, and certainly the best lines (“I love love, I just hate monogamy”). Can I start the 2010 Emmy campaign for actress Katie Cassidy yet?

Meanwhile, med student Lauren’s dad lost his job and she has to come up with tuition somehow; a cute, rich date offers her $5,000 to sleep with him. She is initially offended but then reconsiders her financial position. (Another thing that might help your medical career, Lauren? Stop taking personal calls every time you’re with a patient! Aren’t cell phones banned in hospitals?)

The only flat characters in the pilot were recovering alcoholic/aspiring chef Augie Kirkpatrick (who comes up with these names!?), who might be getting more interesting as we see him burning bloody evidence in the final scene, and new resident Violet, played by poor Ashlee Simpson-Wentz,  who didn’t have much to work with in this episode. Her “gee-shucks” new-girl-in-town naivete is already growing old. But she does say to Lauren: “You and me, we’re good girls. It’s just not as fun.” You got that right, Violet. Start causing your share of trouble (with Augie?) because Melrose Place certainly isn’t the right address for good girls.

All in all, things are off to a strong start; much more scandalous from the get-go than the rather tame original 1992 first series — juicy characters like Sydney and Amanda didn’t become regulars until later seasons. The vibe is slicker and more up-to-date, with an emo-y soundtrack and references to Twitter and Lady Gaga. One thing remains thankfully the same — the male cast seems to be required to be shirtless as much as possible — even earnest Jonah has been seen barechested in bed and bath scenes and Augie rushed to the pool with button-down conveniently half-off.

I’m hooked already. What about you, PopWatchers? Will you be tuning in to see who killed Sydney, whether or not sweet Jonah turns out to be a cheater, and when Violet inevitably gets corrupted?

Photo Credit: Michael Desmond/The CW

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  • yukoner2

    it was good…. I will keep watching… Auggie is SO cute…

  • yukoner2

    oh.. and of course… David and Seth … ooopppssss… I mean Jonah (had a crush on him on that other 70’s show he was on too)

    • Elizabeth

      He was on “Swingtown”, loved him there!

  • Gary Caulder

    Loved it! I’ve always been a Katie Cassidy fan and this role is perhaps her most interesting yet! I have a feeling she is going to be a big star. She oozes charisma, beauty and talent but also comes off as endearing and genuine in interviews. Ashlee’s role was rather blah. I’ll leave the jury out regarding whether or not she can act but I’m not impressed thus far.

  • Dasie

    I was pleasantly surprised. I initially only tuned in for the lolz, but found myself enjoying the show.

  • jenna

    dont be fooled, sydney is alive…

    • Susan

      I think that the character of Violet is Sydney and Michael’s daughter….it’s a stretch, but this is TV!!

      • k

        i think violet will end up being Syd’s daughter… otherwise, she needs to go back to wherever she came from. also i think ella is crushing on riley– not jonah.

      • D

        I think Violet is Syd’s daughter AND she killed her! She’s a big bad wolf in sheep’s clothing. o_O

      • B-

        If you watched closely, her whole “Aww Shucks” naive routine is an act. She subtly suggested to Lauren that $5000K was a lot of money and made her change her mind. She seems to be entirely too interested in Auggie and he burned the clothes at the end. Something is up there. And finally taking the picture. She is Sydney’s daughter and if she is her daughter, she will be as equally conniving. Ashlee gets crap for her character now, but with a slew of capable actors on the show, you have to think, why did they cast her? Is it because of her “fame”? Nope. It has to be because she brought the “CRAZY!” convincingly during her audition. You know Melrose and crazy red heads go hand and hand…

      • gigi

        Violet is Sydneys kid. Remember in the orginal show Sydney had a kid she gave up for adoption named Violet…and there you got it!

      • angei

        I agree! when i saw them on the cover of tv guide i was like she has to be sydneys daughter!! and I think Syd is alive somehow too. FINGERS CROSSED!

      • Rachel

        I don’t remember Sydney having a kid. When did that happen?

      • ZeeZee

        violet is sydney’s daughter because in earlier articles and during the casting phase it was reported a couple of times that this character is Sydney’s daughter. I just wish they gave her better lines…hope her character gets better….

  • Jacoblover

    I think the show started pretty great. Trashy, scandolous, murder, hot chicks and hot guys and I so miss that complex. Hoping to see Heather Locklear and other alumni to make a guest appearance. Oh yeah and Augie is seriously the hottest man on tv right now.. Well right up there with Jason Stackhouse. That face, those eyes, that voice.. Hoping to see multiple shirtless scenes of Augie throughout the season.. Wish melrose place was on HBO actually!! LOL..

  • Isabel

    I loved it, I think the reviews of this series really splits up who the old arrogant bitter uncool farts are (most television critics), and us (who are still young or young at heart and enjoy life and stuff like this show.)

  • DW

    God, Jonah is gorgeous. Sydney, Michael, and more shirtless Michael Rady is all I need to keep me watching. And yes, I hope Sydney is still alive!

  • Emily

    I hated it, I hope it gets canceled.

    • Danny

      slaps Emily across the face and throws her in the pool

    • Jess

      Ditto! I thought it was dreadful!

    • Couldn’t agree more

      5 minutes in and I was soooo bored! Half way through and I was done. Didn’t even finish the episode. The only interesting character was Ella. The rest were boring. and way to formula. And of all the old characters they could have brought back they brought Micheal and Sydney- lame. Atleast I know not waist DVR space on it.

  • Donna

    I was obsessed with the old melrose so I could not wait for the melrose 2.0 to start!!! And I was soooo disappointed!!! I like Ashley Simpson as an actor but on this show I can’t even stand her! I just don’t think it’s goingto go for very long, but I hope I’m wrong

  • steelsheen11b

    Man you people will WATCH anything and proclaim it good. This show SUCKED. Isn’t tomorrow a school day for most of you? what the hell are you doing up watching this dreck? Here’s a quarter go buy some discerment fools.

    • Gael

      in the day and age that tyra banks is winning emmy’s idk what you’re expecting.
      furthermore, most television ISNT quality television, but people want fun, mystery, scandal–its an escape for a reason.
      here’s a quarter, go buy a clue.

  • alex

    It should’ve started out tame with a buildup. That’s why the first Melrose was successful. Everybody in this one is too cookie cutter over-the-top playing to their stereotypes. You already know who’s the bitch, who’s the good girl, who’s the good guy, who’s the bad boy, etc. It’s only the first episode and they’re already where Melrose was in its 7th season.

    • chris

      That isn’t entirely acurate. The first season of the original was incredibly dull so the producers changed the formula of the show to make it more trashy and over the top to regain viewers. Also, I’d say most of those stereotypes were present in the original as well.

  • Linda Lavin

    Jonah is so cute and sweet. I’d treat him so much better than dumbass Riley.

  • Don J

    I thought it was pretty good. Loved Katie Cassidy’s character Ella. Awesome presence and very sexy. Some hokey dialogue and silly subplots, but the show IMO delivered the goods. You all have to keep in mind that when the original Melrose Place premiered 17 years ago, it was a fricking train wreck and nearly got cancelled. This version was really geared towards a young 20-something audience, so anyone over the age of 30 IMO might have a hard time watching it.

    • Julie

      I agree Don. It is geared towards the age group we ONCE were…17 years (gasp) ago.

      The promos looked good – hate Ashlee Simpson…she’s like nails on a chalkboard. Haven’t seen the epi yet, but will.

    • Have a Brain

      So basically anyone who is looking for a show to be…..well written, with better lines, witt, and oh a point other than networks attempt to make a quick profit. Got it. Thanks.

  • Courtney

    I gave it a shot as I was unwillingly hooked into 90210 last season. But frankly, I was bored throughout most of the episode. Granted, I was too young when the first Melrose Place was on the air but that didn’t stop me from enjoying 90210. I felt that the slow-mo shooting was cheesy, the characters unoriginal, and the acting (especially Ashlee) kind of blah.

    • JeffreyMixed

      Could not agree with your assessment more. I will give it a chance – as it usually takes time for a soap to develop – but I was unimpressed. Too much dark lighting at times, no theme song and too many characters. Also trying to hard with the Ella “Bitch” character.

      Also, it was REALLY obnoxious to see the CW logo at bottom right promoting “Vampire Diaries” throughout. Very distracting.

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