Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Melrose Memo VIII: Ocean

The facts: the original Melrose Place is probably my favorite television show of all time. I could write an essay on why, but let's just leave it at "it is" for now. I have waited patiently for a decade, and now at long last my beloved Melrose has been remade for a new generation...but will it be any good? That is what I will explore here each Tuesday night (or Wednesday evening) in the Melrose Memo. I understand that those of you coming here for comics, movie or general geek news probably have little to no interest in hearing my thoughts on this program, but people--it's Melrose Place.

Now, as my friend Sean would say, read on if you wish, but do not allow me to spoil the elaborate mythology of this show for you; in other words, watch before reading!

-Quickie thoughts on the last week's episode, which I missed due to DVR malfunctions but finally caught last night thanks to the CW web site: It was a pretty good episode, in spite of more heavy focus on the Jonah-Riley drama, or perhaps in part because of that as the storyline finally started to go somewhere (or at least seemed to, as I'm writing this bit prior to tonight's episode). And I'm not sure if it's because I know he's on his way off the show now or because he's being paired almost solely with Violet, but I'm starting to actually appreciate Auggie and his terrible acting as a guilty pleasure rather than an annoyance (great timing, douche). However, unquestionably the highlights of last week were the two "so bad it's good" leaps to completely illogical (but correct) conclusions with Ella finding nice clothes and money in Lauren's room and thus assuming she's a prostitute, which was then way outdone by the police somehow finding a fucking kitchen knife that David buried in a random construction sight and immediately knowing it was the murder weapon used on Sydney because it was consistent with the marks left on her or something. What?! Are you shitting me? Is that really how most murder investigations break down (I don't watch CSI)? Because that's fucking awesome! Not even a mention of them finding her DNA or something on it, it just kinda looked right. I know somebody probably dropped off the knife because they're trying to implicate David as opposed to some construction worker just finding it, but even so, just fantastic. I want more of that in my Melrose! And David continued to win me over as possibly my favorite character with his combination of decent acting split with ridiculous angst scenes in graveyards (also, he's short). Good stuff.

-One more item before I get to tonight: how funny/sad is it that for the past three weks The CW has only been running promos for Amanda's return next week, not even bothering to air commercials for the episodes before? I seriously had to check to make sure tonight's was new, because all I've seen is "Big important new Melrose Place on November 17!" ads with nary a mention of anything else. Ok, onto the main event...

-So tonight's episode wasn't bad, but it did have a bit of a placeholder feel to it, which is of course understandable as by the time it was filmed all parties must have known they were T-minus one from the return of Amanda. Still, there was definitely a noticable "spinning the wheels" vibe and that did concern me slightly as I worry they are perhaps putting all their eggs in the Locklear basket.

-I'll start once more with the ongoing Jonah/Riley saga, because come hell or high water, that's where the show's creators seem determined to stay centered at least for the first little bit. I can't entirely blame that gameplan, as Billy/Alison anchored the first couple seasons of Melrose mark one pretty nicely, but one thing that relationship had going for it was that it was at least balanced in terms of the characters' appeal (not the actors' talent), with both having their good and bad points in fairly equal degrees; I think tonight's action showed once and for all what I've been getting a sense of for weeks, and that's that Jonah is just far more likable than Riley, and thus the dynamic gets a bit painful to suffer through. Case in point came first with just how much more fun Jonah is to watch on screen when he's with Ella, but the clincher was that I really found his reconciliation attempt with Riley near the end quite sweet on his part (despite the fact that it's the same old song and dance), but her whining response was just fingers on a chalkboard (to make an unintentional teaching pun). Jessica Lucas is not a bad actress, but the writers on this show need to give her more to do than look annoyed and be a hypocrite, because they're making their supposed heroine real easy to hate and dragging down probably the show's most relatable character in Jonah in the process.

-On the subject of Ella, I've got to say, I was on the record as a huge Katie Cassidy supporter the first few episodes, but she has really slipped ever since she got that spotlight a few weeks back. She's really chewing up dialogue and spitting out cliches, and the weird elongating she does of her face to express shock whenever she gets news about the murder and/or has a potential career setback is just not attractive. Obviously Ella is going to be moving front and center once more when Amanda comes in, so I'm really hoping Heather can mentor Katie back to the great potential she had when this little endeavor started.

-Also, I'll take this opportunity to give my semi-regular reminder that Ella's supposed bi-sexuality remains in complete remission after the writers seemingly felt they needed to mention it two times early on to justify having it in the press packets (and I also maintain that an Ella/Riley romance is the root to salvaging both characters).

-In sharp contrast to Katie Cassidy, as I touched on above, Shaun Sipos has done a complete 180 as well but in the right direction and taken David from a character I could have cared less about to probably my favorite dude on the show. It bears repeating from previous weeks that he has chemistry with everybody, which is of course an invaluable asset on an ensemble show like Melrose Place. I seriously would like to see him in more scenes/any scenes with Riley just to see what the result would be (hopefully it would not be akin Alison's mid-series castration of Jake on the original). The stuff with his little brother tonight should have been gag-worthy and way out of place on a primetime soap, however Sipos made it not just bearable, but really good character-building stuff.

-Not only is David a rad older brother, a badass criminal Robin Hood and a total stud, but who else could pull of those scarves he wears in the hot L.A. sun and/or indoors? Nobody, my friends.

-Lauren once again showed herself to be an awful prostitute as she should have charged way more for cuddling than she did (prostitutes never cuddle...I have heard). Also, I love how shocked she was that Michael called on her during rounds, given that that's the whole point of rounds. Maybe she sucks so badly at her dual professions because nobody will ever let her just finish reading her damn book when she's poolside.

-"What if she didn't talk this whole episode? How amazing would that be?" -Megan on silent Riley two minutes into the show and about five seconds before she was sadly disappointed

-This marks the second episode that Colin Egglesfield has missed entirely, and I believe he's the only regular cast member to miss any. As always, I barely noticed, as I mistook various chairs and street lamps with equal charisma for him.

-Riley would be a pretty awful detective as the whole "his blood being on the murder weapon proves nothing" argument seems destined to fail.

-Of course Ella is having a lunch meeting at Coal, the only restaurant in L.A. Is Kyle's still open?

-What a horrible tease to put Michael and Violet together and then have it only be for two scenes! Seriously, those two are magic together. It's insane how much Vi morphs into Sydney when she's around Michael. It was also nice to see Michael give her a taste of her own blackmail medicine and prove he's still got the goods. "Who says doctors don't make housecalls anymore," indeed, Dr. Mancini.

-I doubt that any aspiring filmmaker has met as many of his heroes in as short a span as Jonah, who seemingly has interactions with one every two weeks at minimum, and still can't find any success career-wise whatsoever.

-The creepy German director who met with Ella and Jonah was superlative! I want him to show up every week and hit on another girl only to sheepishly back off and stay stuff in German. I also love that he's an independent director known for his thrillers now working on a Jerry Bruckheimer/Matt Damon vehicle who has a great idea for a romantic comedy--that's a rare breed.

-"Auggie and I have become...intimate." -Violet--how can you fire this woman?!

-Noah's slo-mo fall off the cage as David screamed on in horror was like every first aid video I ever had to watch as a camp counselor, complete with 1980's slow motion effects.

-"Wait, he drank 'a vat of wine' and now they're letting him drive?" -Megan on Ella and Jonah's irresponsible handling of their client

-I did enjoy Ella's blatant come-on to Jonah, even if I still don't quite get what her attraction to him is. That kind of cards-on-the-table invitation to cheat on your significant other is truly vintage Melrose. I say let the bed-hopping begin!

-Is Auggie IMing Riley from his surfboard? Also, I'm betting his "I ruined my life" texts have more to do with punching out his boss, losing his job, and sleeping with a psycho redhead than murdering another psycho redhead.

-Is Violet the only one who actually uses the pool? I remember nobody ever going swimming being a major complaint in the early seasons of version one, then they answered it by having Taylor and then Lexi being the only ones to ever use it; apparently that pool is just not designed for more than one person.

-No, not Leticia! Megan agonized greatly over the firing of the Mancini housekeeper/awesome stereotype who could not keep up with a toddler at the beginning of the episode.

-The real Michael Mancini would never engage in the male bonding bullshit he did with David near the end, son or no son!

-A good drinking game for this show might be a shot every time somebody tells Lauren what an amazing doctor she is going to be. Once she saves some guy's life in the middle of the street with a ballpoint pen ala one Peter Burns, then I will be a believer.

-When David and Lauren kissed, I was thinking two things: "Watch out David, those lips are like a Venus Flytrap!" and "Is Lauren mentally calculating a tab?

-Next week...Amanda!

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