I am killing time these days while the kids are at school by rewatching some of my favourite TV shows from a few years back. Melrose Place used to be a big thing on Sky One in the early 1990s. I had been a big fan of the original 90210 series, and this was launched as a slightly cooler more grown up version of that series, and to help it start smoothly there were guest appearances by some of the actors in 90210 in the earlieer episodes of Melrose Place, and they were the first characters you saw in the first episode.
When I was a teenager, this series was very fresh, set in an appartment block with 20 something characters who were living in the real world rather than with their parents, and having to deal with problems I was not even close to experiencing, I was rather awed by the gorgeous men and women who were in the cast.
Re-visiting this, I find that it is a lot cheesier than I remembered it being at the time. The acting from the cast is pretty dire particularly in the start of the first season. The problems that these people are facing are pretty stereotypical of the period in time, and perhaps not always quite as relevant today. It has dated a fair bit, and if I were new to watching this show then I don't think I would have watched the whole season. My husband has walked in a few times while this has been on and been thoroughly bemused by how rubbish it is, so I have been keeping it as a bit of guilty pleasure viewing. While it is quite bad, there is something quite nostalgic watching something you used to think was brilliant.
The show is based in LA, and Melrose is just down the road from the suburb of Beverly Hills where the 90210 characters live. The link to that show is pretty tenuous. Kellie (Jennie Garth) wants a relationship with one of the main residents in the appartment block, Jake Hanson (Grant Show). She met him while he was working as a handyman at her parents place.
The most central character for me is Alison Parker (Courtney Thorne Smith) who is the first main cast member we meet. She is a girl next door type who is always being dumped on from a great height. Her housemate runs out on her leaving her short on the rent, so she ends up taking in a male room mate, Billy Campbell (Andrew Shue). Both are attracted to each other, and we get a stereotypical will they or won't they get together situation that runs all through series one around relationships they have with other people.
Michael Mancini is the manager of the building, as well as a junior Doctor. He lives with his wife Jane. Sandy and Rhonda share an appartment upstairs. Sandy is only in the show for a few episodes working as a waitress in the bar they all use, Shooters, before she is cast as an actress in a soap opera and leaves for New York. Rhonda is an aerobics instructor. Rhonda and Sandy are perhaps the weakest actresses in the cast so it is no surprise they don't make it to Season Two.
Desperate Housewives fans will probably enjoy seeing younger versions of Bree and Tom Scavo as the characters Dr Kimberley Shaw and Matt Fielding. There are also two latecomers who feature largely in the show in the latter half of the series, Jo Reynolds (Daphne Zuniga) and Amanda Woodward (Heather Locklear).
Prominent plots in the first season include pregnancy, homophobia, adultery, sibling rivalry, on/off romances, domestic violence, racism, recession, drugs and HIV. All are tackled quite sensitively and the majority of the cast warm to the roles and the acting does improve as the series progresses. Strangely, this season has 32 episodes of around 45 minutes, which is 10 more than the 22 you usually see in American drama series. It is a little racy at points, though compared to modern dramas it is not really.
Overall, it is a bit of fluff entertainment. There is not that much to it, but it can be fun to watch and the characters are believable and pretty well developed. Most people will probably laugh at it, but I don't care, I still find I enjoy it.