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I was quite a fan of the original series of Melrose Place, screened on Sky one in the early 1990s. Melrose Place was the slightly more grown up spin off of Beverley Hills 90210, and as I enjoyed that I decided to watch this series. I was only 14 at the time Season 2 was aired in 1993, but I have recently rewatched the series to see if it was as good as I remembered. Melrose Place is named after the apartment block that this group of twenty something characters live in. It follows the lives and loves of this random group of people who are friends as well as neighbours.
I felt that the first season was pretty dire in places due to some dodgy acting, but by series two there had been a slight cast reshuffle to get rid of some of the weaker characters (Sandy and Rhonda) and I felt that the remaining cast members and new additions had begun to find their confidence and the show was a lot stronger as a result.
One of the strong plot lines again throughout the series is the on/off relationship between Alison Parker (Courtney Thorne Smith) and Billy Campbell (Andrew Shue). The road is never smooth between this pair, and we see them planning a wedding, but also Alison having some disturbing dreams which lead to her seeing a psychiatrist. She has a lot to make her messed up with her ex partner from Series One, Keith, being a threatening presence.
Another long running plot is serial adulterer, Michael Mancini (Thomas Calabro) who cheats on his wife Jane (Josie Bisset) with fellow Dr Kimberley Shaw (Marcia Cross or Bree from Desperate Housewives) , and then cheats on them both with Janes sister and new cast member, Sydney Andrews played by Laura Leighton. Laura is a strong addition to the cast, with a need to be liked by all, and a tendency to walk her way into trouble. Following the developments in these twisted relationships is really hard work.
Another relative newcomer, Jo Reynolds (Daphne Zuniga) finds herself involved with an old school friend after a reunion, but this is a very dangerous situation for her to be in, and she will end up financially and emotionally damaged by the consequences of this relationship.
Amanda Woodward (Heather Locklear) also moves to a more prominent role in the show, when she buys the apartment block they live in and moves into one of the apartments. She is still an obstacle in Billy and Alison's relationship, and she offends Jo when she starts a rebound relationship with Jake. We see a bit more of a vulnerable side to Amanda this season, when we see her Dad working illegally, and how she actually allows herself to open up to Jake and reveal her insecurities. Its also interesting to meet Amanda's mother in this series and learn how Amanda became the person she currently shows everyone.
I found the plot lines were a bit less of a cliche in this series, and there were some decent issues being dealt with, such as Matt Fielding (Doug Savant) marrying someone to help them remain in America rather than being deported, and the issues being covered were tackled sensitively and in a moralistic way allowing you to see other sides, not just what the media might tell you on some of them.
Like Series one, this is quite a long series compared to more modern tv series with 32 episodes. I felt that the tension was being built up really well throughout the episodes until we reached the cliffhanger at the end of the season.
There was enough to keep me entertained through these episodes without switching off. Plotlines are manipulative, and though some of it is still a bit over acted and over the top, the show is definitely now in its stride. This was a really strong season and not one cast member was a let down for me.