Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Melrose Memo VI: Shoreline

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!

-With memories of last week's sub-par episode still dancing in my head along with the general slow coast downwards of this show since it debuted, I was concerned that this would be the week that the new Melrose Place truly shattered my heart and killed a little bit of my soul; thankfully, it was Thomas Calabro to the rescue, baby! Ok, to be fair, while the Michael-Violet brilliance was a large part of turning the momentum around big-time and making for maybe the best episode since Nightingale, it was not the only component--and they didn't even have Sydney outside of a blurry camera phone video this week! My faith is most definitely restored that the seeds for a rockin' show are here and when they are pulled together Melrose magic is made.

-Let's jump right into it and talk Michael-Violet. I don't know if Ashlee Simpson is way more talented than everybody thought, has found the perfect role, or I'm just a sucker for melodrama and crazy eyes (the last one is definitely true, just not necessarily mutually exclusive from the other two), but she is absolutely nailing it as Violet and had her best performance to date tonight. It's not just that she can play crazy--and boy can she play crazy--but in her interactions with and seduction of Michael tonight she showed that she can turn on a dime to pull off sexy without coming off as a caricature or uncomfortable, something not every actress can do. Simpson definitely shares more with Laura Leighton and Marcia Cross than just hair color and I think she was built for this show.

-On the other side of the equation, Thomas Calabro got to shine on more than one level tonight, as he was able to play both "classic" Michael and current Michael and we got more of a glimpse at how the two relate. In everything down to his facial expressions in interacting with Violet during the hospital and bar scenes, Calabro showed off the old pervy Michael who was his own worst enemy because he couldn't resist anything with a vagina, then the wind went right out of his sails as soon as his wife called and reminded him what a drag his life is now, really illustrating the inner conflict he's got going and also providing Violet with just the window she needs.

-Together, Violet/Simpson and Michael/Calabro just have fabulous chemistry as their scenes were absolutely electric. I love that Violet came up with a great if over-the-top master plan, from drinking enough Red Bull to fake a heart problem to applying for the nanny position just so she could fuck with Michael a little bit more. I saw that show of Violet playing with Michael's kid coming the minute he entered the house (Megan saw it coming from right when his wife called and said the new sitter sucked), but Simpson's sinister smile was so pitch perfect that it wouldn't have mattered if I had predicted it during the credits. The only time I felt like this little subplot fell flat was that Michael's reaction to learning Vi was Sydney's daughter wasn't quite operatic enough, but the promise of more Michael vs Violet to come, particularly now that they've done the deed, is just awesome.

-The rest of the show felt miles away from the Michael/Violet stuff, which is actually perfect, as in the heyday most stuff with Michael/Kimberly/Sydney/etc. felt a world apart from whatever Alison was doing and that was great because you felt like you got more bang for your buck.
-I have to ask: does Kelly Carlson ever go anywhere but to that one table at that one restaurant? Is that her office? She's still awful, by the way. I like Jim McCann's suggestion that they should just bring back the actress who played Sydney's madam on the original (he knew her name, I am not looking it up) to go full circle.

-David and Lauren have a unique chemistry, but I feel like I say that about David and everybody. I think maybe Shaun Sipos is better at just playing off other actors than actually acting, but then I guess that is acting after a fashion, isn't it.

-Lauren is eternally pensive--thoughtful and concerned. I love how oblivious she is to the rules of prostitution and how she stumbled into it yet manages to be consistently shocked when she is asked to do stuff like, y'know, have sex with other people.

-Jonah and Riley were much better this week because their storyline was actually kinda interesting and because it didn't lead to another pointless bickering session you knew would be resolved by the end of the episode (looks like we're getting that next week though). Ella also had a nice return to form after her overexposure last week as Katie Cassidy was back to being wonderfully witty and catty tonight. Just as Amanda needed a good scene of dressing down poor, stupid Alison whenever she had an off scene, so too does Ella need Riley.

-"The pockets are specifically designed to make every woman's ass look great." -Visionary fashion designer Anton V selling his work to the public with class.

-Ella's zany gay boss was actually pretty good this week as well. Is it bigoted of me to find it unbelievable that two gay dudes, one of whom works in the fashion industry, share a common love of NBA basketball though? I apologize if it is. I also apologize for not being sure if Anton's "I've got a craving for tuna tar tar" line to Ella's boss near the end of the episode is code for "I've got a craving for your penis."

-An excellent observation by Megan: how did Riley know where the fashion shoot was taking place to bring Jonah his camera? At no point in their phone conversation did he mention where he was. Dammit, Melrose Place, we demand rigid continuity!

-Riley sounds like she has the most intense first grade class in the history of ever. She can't miss a week because there are tests, projects and field trips? I think in first grade I went on one field trip all year and it was to the park down the street. Also, a "test" consisted of spelling my three-letter name correctly.

-Another great master plan in a night full of them: Lauren's hooker buddy's "I'll kiss him while you run right by" move to distract David on the boat.

-Jonah's pineapple and peanut butter concoction makes me want to vomit on pretty much every conceivable level.

-Michael's car is a fucking Transformer! Are you watching this shit, Jordan?!

-"I just want to lay on your giant lips." -Megan on what kind of post-op care David wanted from Lauren.

-I'm glad that Jonah didn't actually pressure Riley into taking the modeling job...unless he secretly did which is even better!

-How many times did somebody say "Riley Richmond" tonight? It was a drinking game asking to be played.

-Riley's sub's name is apparently Mr. Hammock. Just saying.

-How fantastic is Riley, who just managed to pay Jonah's half of the rent by transitioning from first grade teacher to burgeoning supermodel, telling her fiance "This is our life, Jonah"?

-The producers really need to consult me on putting together the trailers for the next episode. What possessed them to think the Lauren-David stuff was a better tease for this week than just cramming the preview full of Michael and Violet? Similarly, I'm wagering Auggie (who was not missed this week) yelling his lines at the camera will not be next week's highlight.


Megan Morse said...

Just a correction:

That video at the end wasn't Sydney. Violet taped herself and Michael when they were doing it in his robot car. So Sydney had 0 screen time :)

By the way, Lauren's lips are huge...just huge!

Ben Morse said...

I totally thought Violet was her mom--she's THAT good!

Jim McCann said...

TV's Kristian Alfonso, aka Hope Brady of Days of Our Lives is who needs to return as the madame. She had sets and wasn't always applying make-up to her face.


Awesome episode & I think next week is the return of Jo to give Riley the model shoot from hell. This will either be perfection, or viewer hell. We shall see...

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It's curious, this tv show lost it's shine a few years ago, what a shame.