Television Review: Melrose Place, "Pilot"
by R.J. Carter
Published: September 8, 2009
Same address, new generation, and a whole new level of OMG! When 90210 got a generational upgrade, it didn't take the ghost of Aaron Spelling to figure out that Melrose Place would have to follow on soon after. And tonight the CW debuts the pilot episode of another young group of ambitious folks who learn about their own scruples (or lack thereof) as they try to make their way through life while living together in the collective community of Melrose Place.
As Jonah awaits Riley's decision, Ella tries to talk him out of committing so early in life. As Ella puts it, "I love love. I just hate monogamy." (And as we'll later see, Ella likes to keep her options very open.)
For those of you were were around for the original run of the series, you may recognize some of the faces -- most notably that of the substance-abusing Sydney Andrews (Laura Leighton), landlady and cougar-in-residence. To the ruthless publicist Ella Simms (Katie Cassidy), Sydney was a mentor ready to evict her too-big-for-her-britches protege. To Auggie Kirkpatrick (Colin Egglesfield), she was the driving force behind his becoming a sous chef at Coal. And to David Breck (Shaun Sipos, she's a spiteful ex-lover, blackmailing him with sex after using him to get back at her former lover -- David's father, Dr. Michael Mancini (Thomas Calabro).
Life at Melrose Place gets exciting very fast, in a very deadly way when new girl Violet Foster (Ashlee Simpson-Wentz) makes a bloody discovery in the swimming pool -- a corpse who will be familiar to many longtime Melrose fans. Foul play is afoot, and there's no shortage of suspects.
Other new faces among our residents include Lauren Yung (Stephanie Jacobsen), a medical student who suddenly finds herself behind in her tuition payments. When she's offered money to do something she actually would have done for free, she may find herself at a turning point in her life -- most likely the beginning of a downhill slope.
Riley Richmond (Jessica Lucas, "Cloverfield") is a grade school teacher whose boyfriend, Jonah Miller (Michael Rady), is little more than an overgrown kid himself. As Riley explains to Lauren, Jonah still has a box of Legos in the closet, and tends to forget little things like putting gas in the car if he's making his weekly run to the comic book store. So his proposal is something she finds herself a little reticent to accept. It's not until Jonah -- a professional videographer and would-be filmmaker -- is offered $100,000 to forget that he caught a producer on camera in an in flagrante delicto moment with his 18-year-old daughter's best friend that Riley sees something in Jonah that cements her decision.
As the first episode closes, we'll be reminded that what is drawing us into the new series is the MacGuffin of the OMG -- a Gossip Girl whodunnit -- as we see that nobody is beyond suspicion. What's Auggie doing in that attic? Whose house is David wandering around? Who is that Ella is playing tonsil-hockey with? Where is Lauren going so dressed up? And what is Violet's connection -- if any -- to the recently deceased? You'll have to come back to find out, which is exactly what the producers are banking on. And with a gorgeous cast of young up-and-comers, why wouldn't you?
Melrose Place debuts September 9, 2009, 9|8c, on The CW.