Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Melrose Memo V: Canon

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!

-Friends, it's a sad night, as I think we have had a our first true dud episode of this young show's first season. The trajectory the past few weeks has been rocky and then bottomed out big time tonight with a dull and listless ep, which does concern me, but hope does spring eternal and I'm hoping this is a nosedive the folks at 4616 Melrose can pull out of post haste. Let's break it down and see what went wrong (as well as what went right).

-I suppose some kudos must go to the producers of the new Melrose Place for waiting five episodes before going to that old standby of the opening lingerie sequence, but the seal has now been broken.

-Ok, so David and Jonah definitely have a decent Jake-Billy vibe going, but they also play basketball, which gives me flashbacks to those classic McBride brother hoops duels--mixed messages!

-Not that I'm upset to see Jane gones, but...where did she go? And she couldn't have had one scene with Michael?

-This goes against all my previous praise of Katie Cassidy and the fine job she has been doing thus far some what, but I think this episode overexposed Ella to a fault. Cassidy has been plugging along nicely as the principal vixen so far and shown a nice mix of bitchiness and vulnerability, but thrown into as many scenes and plots as she was tonight, she seemed to break down into near caricature, making the Amanda-esque dialogue she usually handles expertly come off as hokey punchlines. Hopefully now that the real Heather Locklear is on set, she can give her spiritual protege some pointers and she can get back on track.

-"It's so obviously fake that it makes it awesome" -Megan on Ella's fabricated sob story to get out of a parking ticket in the flashback.

-Nice to have Sydney back in some capacity this week, but it was definitely an LLL (Limited Laura Leighton) episode, which is no good for anybody. I'm not a huge fan of the Syd-Ella dynamic, as it's one that makes Sydney come off less snarky and spunky and more Mommy Dearest, which I don't want to see. They also need to seriously think about changing the lighting on Sydney's flashbacks, because it's doing Laura Leighton's complexion no favors, which makes me sad.

-I'm definitely concerned that the reduced Sydney stuff and lack of Michael two episodes in a row is the producers/writers trying to phase those characters out and let the younger cast stand on their own, which I think is too much too soon, as the kids are coming along nicely but still have plenty to learn and can benefit plenty from having the originals around. Fortunately, Michael is back next week, Jo is dropping by the week after that, and Amanda is pending, so it seems I'm not the only one who feels this way.

-For those of us who followed the original show, we know the idea of Sydney running an art gallery is both not at all far-fetched and completely far-fetched based on her stint as Samantha's art agent when she was trying to bang Kyle.

-I hope Ashlee Simpson/Violet never learns/tries to speak like a normal human; she's perfect the way she is.

-David has only known Ella for seven months? A timeline clarification on who moved in when would certainly be interesting at some point.

-"Does Riley ever go to work?!" -Megan on her favorite female character.

-Kelly Carlson's hair is pretty tragic, but her performance is worse--how was this woman able to hold her own opposite a titan of his craft like John Cena in as seminal a work as The Marine?

-Lauren's accent was out of control this episode, as were her pouting lips. And kissing your john (who looks disturbingly like an older Chris Brown)? That is violating cardinal hooker etiquette, girl!

-"Auggie's line about 'being on the receiving end' sounded more like it was about butt sex than getting help with his drinking" -Megan, getting increasingly irritated with this episode.

-Cameo alert: Leo from Veronica Mars as the realtor who tries to get Jonah arrested!

-I'll admit it: I enjoy Jonah for the sheer fact that he irks Megan so much. This is our television-watching dynamic.

-Was anybody else waiting for Lauren to invite Riley to be a part of her "whole other life" that she feels excluded from? Anybody? Sean?

-The "big reveal" of that dude surprising Ella on the deck (or whatever) doesn't really work when we've never seen the guy before. That's just a rookie mistake.

-"Careful you don't burn through your trust fund like you do the people around you" -Jonah to David with one of the episode's few decent lines.

-Violet's scam with framing the bartender Auggie liked by stuffing money in her purse was totally obvious (although Megan didn't see it coming), but still a nice tease of more nuttiness to come. Vi definitely slipped ahead of Ella as show MVP this week.

-I did like that Lauren is lying to Riley about why she stood her up and concelaing the hooker stuff from her, because deceit and discord between even the "nice" characters on the show is a step in the right direction. I didn't like that once again an episode ended with an apologies montage (Lauren to Riley, Jonah to David) because that's the kind of inertia and lack of moving the status quo forward that is really hurting this show. I get that we're only five episodes in, but you don't need to resolve every conflict every episode. At least Violet didn't suddenly confess to Auggie that she set up that chick.

-The other thing dragging this down right now is that the pace is downright sluggish, particularly when help up against the breakneck speed at which things moved on the original (or a contemporary like Gossip Girl). I get that we've got a season-long murder mystery, but we need less episodes ending with David and Jonah going to play HORSE and more crazy shit like Auggie burning his bloody chef's uniform in the pilot or Violet's "Sydney's daughter" revelation and crazy eyes underwater shot. If they want this show to stand out from all the other similar stuff out there and stand a chance, they need to step up and take some risks as far as not being afraid to push the soap opera stuff to the point of being a little ridiculous; that's how the original Melrose succeedd, that's how most of the shows that actually do well on The CW stay afloat (I've read articles about One Tree Hill, people), and that's what we need here!

-"It's gonna feel real good when I get to tighten those handcuffs on your cute little wrists" -Detective Rodriguez at least ending the episode on a nice melodramatic note while threatening Ella


A. and E. said...

you guys are like me and my friend known as A&E....

might see if we can get some linkage happening!

Jim McCann said...

I really don't get the Riley love and Jonah hate. Jonah is awesome! Riley is so not a god girl. They want us to think she's Alison but I think she's more Jo, post-boat murder. That chick has a LOT of secrets. Jonah's only mistake is that he can see thru everyone's BS except his own gal's. I don't really think having Ella like Jonah helps either characters much, either. Oh, and as much as I don't like Auggie (Michael HATES that he looks just like Tom Cruise), I cannot wait until Vi makes a full-on Kimberly play for him.

This week was rocky, but it was more plot driven. It's Ella's Bday! And Riley needs a drees! And Lauren gets a new john! And the inept but attractive cop thinks he's closing in on the killer! Oh, and here's this thug that Ella has at her party. The show does better when it focuses on the characters and plot equally. Or when the plots are more outrageous, like you said.

That's my $0.02

(if anyone is wondering, "shienti" is the word verification I am being asked to type in. Is that a word?!?!)

Ben Morse said...

For the record, I was being sarcastic about Megan liking Riley; she hates her.

Jim McCann said...

Thank GOD. For a second I thought she'd been brainwashed! Which would make me then wonder if that had a hand in your pending nuptials. And then I was going to congratulate you on an official Melrose Place wedding!