Why Melrose Place on the CW Failed and the FOX Version Was a Success
Picture it. August of 1992. I was just a child of ten. The big thing on television that everyone was watching at the time was TGIF on ABC. Back in those days, even with cable TV, we had new channels our parents didn’t have growing up in the 50’s or 60’s like Nickelodeon, VH1 and MTV. There were more choices, but we didn’t have the technology we have today.
With respect to technology in 1992, there were about 70 or so channels thank to cable and all TV’s still had tubes inside them, they were not flat screen where today even the biggest flatscreen is easy to move for one person holding it where a bigger TV back then would take two people to move it around because of how heave they were. All shows were not in HD, widescreen or whatever they started doing around 2004–2007 and then by 2010 everything was in that format with picture quality. If you didn’t have cable, like a few families like myself, you used a TV dial to make sure the channel didn’t have snow on it and the picture was never 100% great. There were no recording devices other than the VCR, and you needed to know how to program that to make sure it recorded your favorite program correctly if you weren’t home or have someone record it for you, or watch it while you recorded it first-run. There was not much going on with the internet as it was only slowly beginning to take off. We didn’t have channel websites, IMDB, Hulu, Netflix, or any video sites where users illegally upload episodes unlike we have today such as videobull.com, so if we missed an episode, we pretty much thought “Damn it! I’ll never see that episode until it gets shown in re-runs someday, that is if a channel decides to re-run this show!” We didn’t have touch screen cell phones with internet where we could watch movies, TV shows, or videos on. We had no social networking sites. Also, we had no TV shows on DVD, which were at least 6 years away. We did have select episodes on VHS that the shows themselves released, but we didn’t have season sets. So just watching a show first run was how we had to do it back then in the 1990s.
I remember not having cable until I was 12 years old in 1994, which at that time, consisted of maybe 70 or so channels. Yet around this time and even before it, I made due with what was on the local networks, and in this era, there was always something good that was on.
Channel surfing when I was in fourth grade, I fell in love with Beverly Hills 90210 on FOX. I didn’t know much about nighttime soap operas as I was thrown in front of sitcoms, mostly, by my parents and also grandparents, such as re-runs of The Brady Bunch, Gilligan’s Island, Gimme A Break! Diff’rent Strokes, The Facts Of Life, Webster, Three’s Company, Benson, Punky Brewster, Small Wonder, Silver Spoons, The Golden Girls, The Cosby Show, and the first-run TGIF episodes I got to experience of Full House, Family Matters, Perfect Strangers and Step By Step, all on ABC, with the exception of ALF, which was on NBC.
Getting into nighttime soaps, I didn’t really know what they were about. Watching Beverly Hills 90210, I got addicted to it for one thing…Jennie Garth, who played Kelly Taylor. I was at the age where I started to fantasize, and this girl was definitely my type. Watching the show for its relationships, I got very much into that as time went on, and the rivalry between Brenda and Kelly for many things. Later in summer of 1992, a new show was premiering called Melrose Place, yet this show didn’t strike me in any way. I wouldn’t give it a try.
In the fall of 1992, I recall watching every episode of Beverly Hills 90210, and, like an idiot, turned the channel once the Melrose Place opening credits were over. The show and its promos did nothing for me, and it was at a time that the show was struggling for good story lines.
Melrose Place began in the summer of 1992 and was executive produced by Aaron Spelling, producer of such soaps as Dynasty and The Colby’s, and by the fall, was not doing too hot with story lines and actors. The show was about several tenants living in a Spanish Style apartment complex in the West Hollywood area. Stories consisted of mostly roommates Billy Campbell (played by Andrew Shue) and Alison Parker (played by Courtney Thorne-Smith) and how they adapted to living together as roommates. It was created by Darren Star who also created Beverly Hills 90210, and it spun off it as well. Billy and Alison’s roommate situation and learning to live together was mostly what the show was about until Heather Locklear showed up towards the end of the first season as Amanda Woodward to shake things up.
Now, this was around the time I started watching the show. It was around April of 1993, when I first watched Melrose Place and gave it a try. The very first episode I ever saw was a very pivotal one, for sure. It was the episode where Billy and Alison finally sleep together. Just watching that episode and sticking with the show until that final scene, I got hooked. Yes, I got hooked because of sex. Not only did I like the character of Kelly on Beverly Hills 90210, I also liked the character of Alison on Melrose Place. Then, the next episode I saw was the one where Billy and Amanda first slept together. Again, waiting a whole episode to see what happens and, bam! Another sex scene! After that point, I was hooked. I forget if they were in re-runs of episodes or first run, but I watched them in spring of 1993.
As the first season of Melrose Place dwindled down, the married couple of the series, Jane and Michael Mancini (played by Josie Bissett and Thomas Calabro) were in turmoil, as Michael, a doctor at Wilshire Memorial Hospital, was having an affair with Kimberly Shaw, a fellow doctor (played by Marcia Cross). In the season one finale, despite Jane and Michael trying to stay together, she tells Kimberly she’s getting a divorce from him. Other events that happened in the season finale were Alison getting stalked by her lover, Keith, (played by William R. Moses), and Amanda, now pregnant wit Billy’s baby, losing it and buying Melrose Place when it goes up for sale.
Yes, pretty lame if you ask me. Where’s the suspense? Where are the cliffhangers?
Around the time I was born, there were four main nighttime soaps that soared throughout the 1980s, and, though I was too young to remember or watch any of them, all had elements that Melrose Place didn’t have in its first season finale. Cliffhangers.
Throughout the 1980s, nighttime soaps such as Dallas, Dynasty, Falcon Crest and Knots Landing usually ended their season with a big final scene, or two or three final scenes that left one or more characters lives in jeopardy, causing the audience to wonder what will happen next when the show returns in the fall. Some classic cliffhangers of these shows included the character of J.R. (played by Larry Hagman), getting shot on Dallas, The entire Carrington and Colby families on Dynasty getting caught in a Moldavian Massacre at a wedding they were attending, the entire Tuscany Valley rocked by an earthquake on Falcon Crest, and, on Knots Landing, Abby (played by Donna Mills) getting kidnapped while Karen (played by Michele Lee) gets shot in a hotel.
All these nighttime soaps were powerful and they relied on great story lines and even more, cliffhangers, to keep the audience entertained and wanting more. Remember, at that time of these 1980s soaps, there were only three main networks, until FOX came around in the late 1980s, so viewers had to chose from CBS, ABC or NBC, or watch the few cable channels that were around throughout that decade until more were added as the years progressed.
Back to Melrose Place, this sense of “Oh, my God, I have to wait until next week,” or “All summer” if it was a season finale episode, didn’t really happen until early into season 2 of the series. When Kimberly and Michael moved in together things started heating up when Jane’s sister Sydney (played by Laura Leighton) arrived in town to stay. She slept with Michael and when Kimberly found out, they ended their relationship. However, as Michael finally was able to re-kindle their romance, a night of too much alcohol and a proposal to Kimberly while they were both driving in his car, caused a serious accident. Kimberly died shortly after and Sydney got with Michael and blackmailed him into marriage while Matt (played by Doug Savant), changed Michael’s medical records of his blood alcohol level in the hospital so he could still practice medicine, then told Jane what happened and she used it to try to blackmail the newly married couple.
At this time, Melrose Place had finally gotten better. It wasn’t just with the episodes, it was with the promos for the next episodes. Once season 2 began and Michael and Kimberly had that accident, the promos got more and more shocking such as “Next Wednesday, two people from Melrose Place will be involved in a tragic accident,” or “Next Wednesday, one of these people from Melrose Place will commit murder!” Before season 2, the viewers never saw that and the promos weren’t as shocking and entertaining.
As the second season went on, Billy proposed to Alison, Jo (played by Daphne Zuniga) was kidnapped by her drug-smuggling boyfriend, Reed (played by James Wilder), and shot him dead on board his boat the Pretty Lady for self defense, and, as the season slowly came to an end, the biggest surprise of them all…Kimberly was back…from the dead!
I remember watching the episode where Kimberly came back from the dead with my best friend back in April of 1994. We were only in middle school and we were shocked, seeing her gaze at Michael’s beach house as he made love to Sydney, her face twisted with rage. It was here I realized “Oh, my God, the show will never ever be the same again.” And it wasn’t. The next episode ended with Kimberly taking off her wig, revealing a scar from her accident, the next one after that ended with a pregnant Jo getting pushed down the stairs, the one following that ended with Kimberly going to a hit-man to off Michael. And then, the season finale, which was so much better than the season 1 finale.
Season 2 ended with several cliffhangers, yet they were not as strong as the soaps which predeceased Melrose Place. First, Alison bails on her wedding with Billy, realizing her father raped her and goes to San Francisco to see her sister, where her father tracks her down and watches from outside the window at them. Second, Jane was ready to open her own business and needed Michael to help her and Kimberly got Sydney to side with her into destroying Michael which she agreed to do. After Kimberly’s failed attempt at killing Michael in his car through carbon monoxide poisoning, Jane saves his life when she goes to see him at the beach house. Realizing she failed, Kimberly breaks into Jane’s apartment and steals her car keys at Alison’s wedding. At the wedding, Jane threatens to kill Michael for all the pain he’s caused her. Shortly after, Michael gets paged to meet Jane outside the hospital and a woman who appears to be Jane, runs him down with her car. Michael is brought into the E.R. and flat-lines and the final scene shows Jane getting arrested for his attempted murder.
Let’s not waste time after this point of the series. Every episode of season 3 of Melrose Place contained some sort of suspense. Over the top story lines included Kimberly framing both Jane and Sydney for the attempted murder of Michael, Amanda’s father and Jake (played by Grant Show) getting blown up on the Pretty Lady, Jo giving birth to her dead boyfriend’s baby with the help of Kimberly, who steals it and says it was stillborn, Jo having a custody battle with Reed’s parents, ending with Jo getting shot in a two hour special episode for February sweeps in early 1995, and her baby, Austin, going up for adoption while Peter Burns (played by Jack Wagner) shows up as a doctor at Wilshire Memorial and secretly drugs Amanda, costing her D&D, her business she ran for the past several years. Towards the end of the season, Amanda then gets Hodgkin's disease and Michael tries to get with her while treating her, causing Kimberly to go mental, and Jake’s brother, Jess (played by Dan Cortese) shows up and not only steals Jo from him, but also tries to get a hit-man to kill him which was unsuccessfully done, leaving Jake shot and realizing his brother was the cause of it.
In the third season finale, there were two cliffhangers. One, Jake goes to find his brother at his construction site after Jo was beaten badly by him, and the two fight and fall off the building. Second, and the most memorable cliffhanger of the series, Kimberly, to get revenge on all her enemies, plants bombs at Melrose Place, kidnaps and ties Sydney up in the laundry room, and has her call Michael to hear Kimberly’s confession for all the bad she’d done lately in his life only if he shows up at the building for that to happen. As other residents show up that evening after attending the wedding of Billy and Brooke Armstrong (played by Kristin Davis), Kimberly runs into the courtyard and begins to activate the bombs, yet they do not go off, thanks to the Oklahoma City Bombing that happened prior to that, so just as Kimberly was about to push the final button, the show faded out.
That fall in September of 1995, I watched as the Melrose Place complex exploded. And I was even more hooked than ever. At that time, I started recording every episode first-run. As mentioned earlier, there weren’t many chances to see episodes again back in those days, unless the show was in re-runs, and that didn’t happen until summer of 1996 on E!
Story lines for the 4th season of Melrose Place included those such as Billy’s new wife Brooke drowning in the Melrose Place pool in the 2 hour February sweeps episode of early 1996, Alison’s new husband Hayley Armstrong who was also Brooke’s father, (played by Perry King), drowning at sea after falling off his yacht, Amanda’s ex-husband Jack Parezi (played by Antonio Sabato Jr.) coming back and stalking her, and after his untimely death, his brother Bobby Parezi (played by John Enos III)coming back to re-kindle their romance, only to have a jealous Peter cause Bobby’s downfall and Bobby’s untimely death by his lawyer, Alycia Barnett (played by Ann Marie Johnson), also killed in an auto accident that same episode, Kimberly getting stalked by a psychopath and kidnapped by him in her car, only to be rescued by Michael as the car exploded with the psychopath inside, Richard Hart (played by Patrick Muldoon), raping Jane, and Kimberly having multiple personality disorder and kidnapping Peter and dragging him to a mental institution for a lobotomy when he was wanted for Bobby Parezi’s death.
As season 4 concluded of Melrose Place, and, personally, I believe this was the strongest season finale of the entire series, Jo left for Bosnia with a doctor and several cliffhangers were thrown at the viewers. One included Peter in Jail after escaping the mental hospital and Amanda getting told by a detective that she didn’t marry Peter Burns but some impostor, another cliffhanger including Kimberly, who Michael was able to get through to when he tracked her down at the mental hospital, only to watch her fall off a scaffolding and when he took her to Wilshire Memorial Hospital she tells him she’ll testify for Peter in the Bobby Parezi murder case just as she flat-lines, and the biggest cliffhanger, Jane and Sydney go to kill Richard for him raping Jane but Sydney takes the bullets out of the gun, whacks Richard over the head with a shovel, the two sisters bury him in a field where nobody will find him, and as they drive off, his hand comes out of the ground!
After this point, Melrose Place started to lose steam, in my opinion. It was still amazing, there were still insane story lines including Richard stalking Jane and Sydney until being shot dead by an officer, but as season 5 opened up, there was a mix of original characters and new characters brought in, and as the fifth season progressed, several long-time stars departed, including Josie Bissett, Marcia Cross, Grant Show, Courtney Thorne-Smith, and Laura Leighton. First, Jane left to move back home with her parents in Chicago, who were actually her adoptive parents, then Kimberly died of cancer and from a seizure in front of the beach house, and in the season finale, Jake and Alison divorced and went their separate ways, Peter found out that Michael and Taylor (played by Lisa Rinna) drugged him and claimed he had rage epilepsy which ended with Peter throwing Michael through a glass wall at Burns Mancini office and him whisking Taylor to a romantic getaway, ready to throw her off a cliff when she tells him she’s pregnant. Finally, in the last scene, Sydney, on her wedding night to Craig Fields (played by David Charvet), gets accidentally run over by Samantha Reilly played by Brooke Langton.
According to a lot of original fans, Melrose Place should have ended at the conclusion of the 1996–1997 season with “Who’s Afraid Of Amanda Woodward?” being the series finale, even if written differently than it originally was conceived, wrapping up the characters in fitting ways. A lot of long-time fans wanted to see Billy and Alison married, as did myself, but with Courtney Thorne-Smith leaving the series and Andrew Shue sticking around, that wasn’t going to happen. Also, long time locations of Shooters and D&D advertising closed after the conclusion of this episode as Amanda lost her business and Jake sold his bar.
As season 6 of Melrose Place opened, the character of Matt was written out of the series and moved away to take a hospital job elsewhere and the producers made note that the season would steer away from the car chases and explosions and be more about romance. Right there, I realized that was the beginning of the end of the series. Sex scenes were fun to watch, but once Melrose Place got sinister, those scenes that were over the top insane were what made me keep tuning in for the next five years!
Season 6 of Melrose Place started off big! Kimberly’s mother came back and stalked Michael for several episodes and tried to kill him, only to get locked up in a mental hospital. That story line was pretty much the strongest of all the early episodes of the season. A new character Brett Copper “Coop” (played by Linden Ashby) started off as mysterious, but as time went on, he was only a wimp. At first I thought, “Okay, this guy had an affair with Kimberly in Ohio when her mother whisked her away after the accident with Michael in season 2, he’s come back for revenge on him since she’s dead,” but then when Kimberly’s mother showed up and stabbed Megan (played by Kelly Rutherford), Michael’s newest wife, Coop stood by her side and won her love, leaving Michael divorced once again, his fourth divorce since the series began. Another bad story line in season 6 was the constant grieving of Craig Fields over Sydney’s death and his slow destruction as the season went on with him teaming up with Michael who stole Coop’s idea for a glove to be used in surgeries Michael named the “Mancini Glove”. The rivalry between Coop and Michael was silly and childish as Coop did not turn into a psychopath or killer. Shortly before the end of season 6, not being able to live without Sydney, Craig took his life by gunshot to the head in his car.
Most of the stories in season 5 and into season 6 of Melrose Place had to do with newcomers Kyle and Taylor McBride (played by Rob Estes and Lisa Rinna). I did not care for either character. Taylor was only there because Peter was married to her dead sister Beth years ago, and she wanted to get with him in LA, Kyle was only there just to open a restaurant called “Kyle’s”, to have an affair with Sydney and then get with Amanda when both married couples decided to get a divorce and they open “Upstairs” a Jazz Club. It was a big bulk of season 5, and it was not that entertaining to watch. This big bulk just continued into season 6, where Taylor tried getting back with Kyle after Peter left her for lying to him about being pregnant and drugging him the previous season. As the season progressed, it was very lame watching Taylor want to get with Kyle over and over and him and Amanda trying to marry one another with something interfering. The other big boring story line of season 6 included Billy and Samantha having their own affairs with other people. That lasted practically the whole second half of season 6 and was so repetitive.
Melrose Place had finally lost its steam, and by the end of season 6, an earlier planned finale was the nail in the coffin for the series. Producers decided to end season 6 by tagging two “hour long episodes” towards the end of the season as the season finale, “M.P. Confidential” and “The Nasty-Minded Professor”, which they aired in March of 1998. It was the most pathetic season finale ever next to season 1. There was talk that the show was returning for a 7th season, and that Melrose Place would be cleaning house and going with a smaller cast. Right there I knew that season 7 would possibly be the final season of the series.
The season 6 “mock” finale of Melrose Place was awful. Billy found out his new wife, Samantha Reilly, was having an affair with a baseball player named Jeff Baylor (played by Dan Gauthier) while he and Jennifer Mancini, Michael’s sister (played by Alyssa Milano) were also having an affair. The other story line, which happened several episodes earlier, was that Amanda and Kyle were now married, finally, and an ex-marine love of his named Christine Denton (played by Susan Walters), killed herself at the train tracks because she couldn’t have him. What Kyle didn’t know was she was an impostor pretending to be Christine and it was a scheme all planned by Taylor. In the last scene of the “faux” finale, Amanda takes Rory, a new man she’s seeing (played by Anthony Tyler Quinn) to the Dominican Republic as she gets her divorce from Kyle, doesn’t realize he’s trying to take her business from her, and he asks her to marry him which she accepts.
That’s all? I was hoping for something bigger. In fact, when Melrose Place returned in the summer of 1998, several months later, they advertised it as a “Summer Of Love”, where the characters of Billy, Samantha, Jennifer, Coop and Taylor would all exit. The seven summer episodes were horrible. They were planned as being the last episodes of season 6 and would have aired in April/May of 1998, had they not ended the season earlier. In fact, the first summer episode was how they should have ended season 6, tagging on the previous episode with the first summer episode would have been smarter to do for the 6th season “mock finale”, as the first summer episode, which now became season 7’s premiere, ends with Kyle showing up to stop Amanda from marrying Rory in the Dominican Republic and a pregnant Taylor with Michael’s baby, ready to commit suicide in her car through carbon monoxide poisoning at Michael’s beach house. Instead, we had to wait several months just to see this. It would have been more effective had they ended season 6 with Taylor’s attempted suicide and just done 6 summer episodes instead for season 7.
As I watched the last two summer episodes of Melrose Place’s “Summer Of Love”,titled “Buona Sera, Mr. Campbell Pt I/II”, I thought “These two episodes were supposed to be the real season 6 finale, so I’m expecting some sort of deaths or cliffhangers.” Instead, all we get is a dumb rainstorm for most of the episode, Amanda being kidnapped thanks to Peter, Kyle and Peter going to look for her at the cabin to deliver the ransom money, her escaping her kidnappers, Coop and Lexi (played by Jamie Luner), quarreling and him stalking her on her new boat, then him deciding to take a doctor job in Philadelphia and turning his life around, Taylor giving birth to Michael Jr. and moving back to Boston with him, Jane, now back in LA, all lovey-dovey with Michael, Billy and Jennifer going off to Rome, Samantha going off with her baseball player, Jeff, and finally, Peter rescuing Amanda from her kidnappers. In the final scene, when Amanda calls Peter later to thank him, Kyle listens from the bedroom. Some original finale, huh? Both the tagged on earlier finale and the true finale of season 6 plain and simple…sucked. No cliffhangers. Nothing to look forward to, really, of who will live and die?
Season 7 of Melrose Place was so much better than season 6. It had its share of over the top story lines but also had fun with its characters such as Michael and Lexi. The biggest event that was both dramatic and fun in the final season was the Melrose Place rooftop collapse onto Amanda’s bed the night of Jane and Michael’s second wedding where Michael starts to have sex with Megan on the roof after Jane leaves him, just minutes after they re-marry. The final season contained a secret journal of Amanda’s, given to her by Matt’s mother after his tragic death when he came back to town to visit his friends after getting a job in another county in California. I knew that because of the journal, that was going to be the final season…and it was.
The journal contained the elements of many of the story lines in the final season of Melrose Place, especially Eve Clearly, Amanda’s high school friend, (played by Rena Sofer), showing up, marrying Peter, and Kyle tracking her down and finding out she killed someone. Amanda then revealed that in high school, Eve’s boyfriend, Kent Demar, tried to rape Amanda, and Eve pushed him from the bleachers. Amanda went back later that night because she forgot something at the site, and when she got there, Kent, still alive, grabbed her, so Amanda struck him and it was enough to kill him. Eve, not being rich like Amanda, served prison time while Amanda got off free. When Peter found out Eve’s secret past, he still loved her and defended her, but as time went on, things all changed.
In the fall of 1998, around December, it was announced that Jamie Luner who played Lexi Sterling would exit the show at the conclusion of the 7th season. The producers didn’t know if they were getting a renewal or not, but they let fans know that they’d stage two endings, one with a classic cliffhanger that would conclude when the show came back for an 8th season in the fall of 1999, and one that would close the door on the most sinister address in Hollywood. In January of 1999, it was announced that the show was being cancelled, even though Aaron Spelling stated in an interview “We deserved one more year.” In my opinion, yes, it was time for the show to end, I was getting tired of recording every episode first run since season 4, the show was horrible in season 6, but it got better in season 7, yet with the small cast left, and the character of Lexi getting written off, there really wasn’t much left to do with the show.
Fans were thrown many different scenarios in magazines that explained many story lines that would happen in the final episodes, most story line exposures were fake. One included the story of Kyle getting killed and Amanda selling Melrose Place to someone who was going to knock it down and as she drives off in the final scene to begin her new life in New Mexico, she watches the front wall of the building crumble down during the start of its demolition. Another story was that in the series finale, Natalie, who moved out in the pilot, would return. That didn’t happen either.
The final episodes consisted of Kyle being a druggie when he thinks he’s sterile and burning down his dream house he and Amanda were planning on moving into, then going to rehab and breaking out, thinking Peter was responsible for impregnating Amanda, causing her to lose the baby when she falls through a window at the Jazz Club, Amanda and Kyle making up and putting the building for sale, then divorcing, Amanda trying to land another account for her business at AWA and Eve and Peter quarreling because of it, bringing both Amanda and Peter closer together again and Peter and Eve finally divorcing, Amanda revealing to the police she did kill Kent Demar, Peter wanted for stealing funds from Wilshire Memorial which was all Michael’s doing, and Kyle’s brother Ryan (played by John Haymes Newton), revealing he had a ten year old child at a boarding school in New York and he and Megan finally getting together to get married while Michael and Lexi grow closer together after Michael’s second marriage to Jane, earlier in the season, came to an end.
The final episode of Melrose Place consisted of Amanda and Peter faking their deaths in a cabin explosion to escape the law. That’s it. No return appearances from anyone. Michael tried to marry Lexi in the Melrose Place pool, but she refused him. Jane was pregnant with Michael’s baby and she had gotten with Kyle and the two decided that soon they would get married and the baby would be his and Michael would never know a thing. Michael gets his happy ending, becoming Chief Of Staff at Wilshire Memorial Hospital, while Lexi, the new owner of Melrose Place, does not have anymore tenants to mess with…they all moved out!
On May 24, 1999, I watched the final episode of Melrose Place and thought “Man, it would be nice to move to LA someday and write the reunion of this show.”
The last episode of the show should have really been two hours. The last time we see a scene at Melrose Place is the night Michael tried to marry Lexi in the pool in the 3rd act. Sadly, that’s the last we see of it in the episode, as the final act contains Amanda and Peter’s funeral with Eve’s arrest for violating her parole when she tried running over both Amanda and Peter earlier in the episode, Michael becoming Chief of Staff at Wilshire Memorial Hospital, Eve locked in prison, Jane and Kyle at the beach house getting a locket from Amanda for their baby which they find out will be a girl, and the final scene with Peter and Amanda getting married on an island. According to a fan who bought the script of the final episode “Asses to Ashes”, there were two cut scenes. At the funeral, Michael walks up to Megan and tells her something along the lines of “You know, I’ve slept with so many women here today, I don’t know where to go next?” as she brushes him off and ignores him, and a scene just after when Eve is shown in prison, consisted of the “should have been final shot at the Melrose Place complex” where Lexi returns home after the funeral and a couple are there to look at apartments. The wife, ironically, is Natalie, who moved out in the Pilot. As she goes to check out an apartment, her husband checks out Lexi and the two flirt with their eyes. That scene got cut because the producers thought the fans would not have cared about Natalie as too much time had passed since the Pilot. Also, it was said that other cast members, who’s characters had survived and moved away were asked to participate at the funeral scene, yet everyone turned the scene down, including Grant Show, Andrew Shue, and Courtney Thorne-Smith. Courtney, it was revealed, did want to do the scene, but fell ill the day of the shooting so her appearance did not happen.
Fast forward to 10 years later. I had moved to LA in 2005 and had been there for 4 years. I almost got into the MFA program for Screenwriting at UCLA after being interviewed in spring of 2005, yet was passed and got into its one year certificate program, held jobs in offices, and also was a CBS page. It was a lot of fun. I had worked on some of the most memorable events back in 2007 that happened at The Price Is Right including Bob Barker’s last show. All that and my education and prior PA work on other indie sets and films wasn’t even enough to get a Production Assistant job on the show I planned on working on someday when I moved to LA, Melrose Place, if it ever had a revival.
A lot had happened in technology since Melrose Place ended on FOX in May of 1999. In the next 10 years that followed, TVs were all now flat screen and all shows were shot and presented in HD, more and more people had computers at home and internet, dial up internet was a thing of the past, wireless was slowly starting to take off with computers and printers, cellphones went through several changes until finally coming out with touch screens, more cable channels began to take off, social media sites took off such as myspace and facebook, you tube and other video sites were all over the internet such as Hulu and Amazon, TV on DVD had really taken off, VCRs were now a thing of the past, and if you missed an episode of your favorite TV show, you’d most likely get to watch it online in some way on some website that had a video uploader, whether on the channel website itself or where it was uploaded illegally or through a paid video service online. Little by little, TV ratings were not the way they were when Melrose Place was originally on the air. Everyone had to watch it first run because it might be the only time to see the episodes if they weren’t shown in re-runs in the near or even worse, distant future.
In 2008, it was announced that the CW was bringing back 90210. I didn’t even tune in. The CW is mostly a teen network, and the ratings were in the 2 millions, if lucky, per episode aired for each series. At this time, there were so many cable channels, there was TV on DVD, there was you tube and all sites uploading illegally the episodes of series’ so fans could watch them if they didn’t catch them first run. All this affected the ratings of 90210. Had the show been on FOX, it probably would have had a bigger fan base and also higher ratings, as on FOX, shows on there had ratings of 6 or 7 million per episode.
A year later, there was talk Melrose Place was coming back and CW would be bringing it back as well. I watched the Pilot of 90210 finally, and I didn’t get hooked. Even with the return of Jennie Garth, it just wasn’t the same. There wasn’t anything wrong with continuity though, they seemed to be okay on that with relating it to the original series and didn’t make up wild stories that never existed back then.
My question is, why not FOX? Why did they pass on the two shows that made the network in the 1990s next to The Simpsons? Why did they pass on 90210 and Melrose Place? Sure, gone were the days that shows on that network were not pulling in 10–20+million or more ratings per episode as they had been years past, when there were only few networks and hardly much advancement in technology, but when people think of FOX today in 2016, they think of the shows that made that channel in the 1990s such as The Simpsons, Married With Children, Beverly Hills 90210, Melrose Place, Party Of Five and The X-Files. All six of these shows were long-running, they were all successful shows and lasted 6 or more seasons. The CW version of 90210 was strong enough to pull in ratings to get 5 seasons in its run, whereas Beverly Hills 90210 on FOX ran for 10 seasons. Talk about a cut-back in seasons. Melrose Place on Fox lasted 7 seasons total, so I wonder how few seasons it would get in its run on the CW. Let’s find out.
Let’s take things to January of 2009. I began calling the production office for Melrose Place, only to get told “We haven’t even started pre-production”. In this town, it’s all who you know. And doing that really did hurt this series revival in every way. By the time I called several weeks later, as told to, I was told “We already have our people.” As a PA, I could have been amazing on that show, but also, I would have probably been the only crew member who knew the entire original series. This is where problems came into play as not only the high up producers, but everyone from the top to the bottom wrung of the ladder most likely were not devote fans of the series. They were all connection based hired and what’s surprising is those original characters who came back, the actors who portrayed them, let the producers re-create the past for their characters. It made no sense. Especially with the characters of Michael and Sydney and the story that opened the new series in the first three episodes with flashbacks of their characters.
Living in Hollywood, you meet people, you get to know things sometimes ironically. I had heard from several friends who were extras on the show that the production was very shoddy. A lot of the extras were divas, the cast, all the newbies, especially Ashlee Simpson, did not know lines, even the PA’s they chose over me and were most likely connection based were lazy, and there’s video on you tube of one falling alseep in the set of the courtyard and Michael Rady who played the character of Jonah Miller, found it amusing and had fun with the guy. If I was a PA and that happened, I’d probably have been fired or threatened to be fired. Again, connection based jobs are the best, aren’t they? But perhaps the biggest setback of all of the CW version of Melrose Place , the producers were “scrambling” to find out how they were able to successfully prove “Sydney Andrews” faked her death back in the season 5 finale of the original when she was run over on her wedding day. That’s what they wanted to do. Bring back a character who died, because Melrose Place was good at bringing dead characters back and characters faking deaths…think Kimberly.
One time, I met someone, who told me “ I worked an episode of the show before. I was there for episode 3 and I watched as the producers were watching the season 5 finale on tape. They didn’t know how they were going to explain Sydney’s faked death back in 1997 in episode 3 of the new series. None of them had even seen the show before.” Now, that’s in no way of spoiling the show because the show already aired back in 2009, that episode had already aired, and the series had been cancelled by the time this person had told me this. I was shocked. I know better than to reveal story lines of anything that tapes or behind the scenes stuff, but in this case, this was something all the original fans could decipher just by watching the show…the new producers didn’t watch the original Melrose Place, or least, if they watched sometimes, were not devoted fans. Even if that story was not true I heard from someone who worked episode 3 of the series, just watching all the original character returns and how the new producers wrote these characters as being one way in the original when they weren’t, showed they were not devoted fans of the original.
Bingo. Connection-based people to do whatever they want and change the history of the original Melrose Place any way they feel like it because they never watched the original devotedly. Okay, so the CW brought Melrose Place back. But it deserved to die a fast death. One, they brought back Sydney just to kill her in the Pilot, making it a murder mystery that I solved the second I learned that Michael was re-married again. Of course, his wife, Vanessa (played by Brooke Burns) would be the killer! It’s not that hard to figure out! Sure enough, she was. It took 12 episodes to wrap up, and 6 episodes later, the show was cancelled.
Now, getting back to the first few episodes of the CW Melrose Place , which explained how Sydney faked her death and other “crap” as I want to put it…Sydney was in a flashback scene with Michael, in episode 3, which supposedly happened right after her accident the night of her wedding. Michael was at work at Wilshire Memorial Hospital and had bandages on his hands to signify how Peter had “Just thrown him through a window in their Burns Mancini office” the night before. What was pathetic was the bandages were not closing Michael’s fists, he was able to freely move in them and do things. In the final scene we see him in the season 5 finale, his hands are fully covered after being in surgery for them and he fingers aren’t shown. In the original season 6 premiere, he still had full bandages where he couldn’t move at all, and this was after he had to be in surgery to get them, and all throughout season 5, didn’t even situate with Sydney, since she left working as a receptionist at Burns Mancini office. Michael tells Sydney in episode 3 in the flashback “Who did this to you?” which she replies “Someone from my past. They said they’d kill my husband.”
Wait…Why is Michael working the night after he was pushed by Peter into a glass wall? In the original series, he had Megan call 9–1–1 in the season 5 finale after Peter threw him through the glass wall, and looked at his hands which were all cut up. The next time we see Michael is the next morning, and he’s had surgery on his hands and they are covered so he can’t move them at all as Megan tells him she’s very upset at him drugging Peter, that night, Sydney got married and had her accident, then the next time we see Michael is in the season 6 premiere, and he STILL has bandages covering his fingers fully, he had them into the first few episodes of season 6, which would be maybe a month after Sydney was killed. How in the world did the producers think the original fans would not spot that, unless they didn’t watch the first several episodes of season 6 and wanted to think we’d be stupid to think the bandages didn’t fully cover his hands? Remember in the season 6 premiere he was so upset he couldn’t move his hands he goes “Nurse! I need some help here!”
So let’s dissect this even more about Michael’s hands. In the season finale of season 5, both of his hands were cut up very badly. Very, very badly after falling through a glass wall in the Burns Mancini office thanks to Peter. That night, he had surgery on them. The last time we see him is as he’s recovering in his hospital room. The bandages the prop department gave the character to wear consisted of thick gauze-like, almost like socks, placed over Michael’s hands, completely covering his fingers/fists and it made him impossible to eat, write, and do tasks with them. He was confined to a hospital bed and a wheelchair in the season 6 premiere and his hands were still in the same casing. He needed help eating, doing stuff, et. In episode 2, of season 6, his hands were still completely bandaged, yet the tips of his fingers were visible. By episode 3, his hands were completely bandaged, except he had his fingers exposed and was able to hold and phone, eat, and do other tasks with them. My theory is this, the producers just watched the season 5 finale, or, they watched at least the first few episodes of season 6 and wanted us original fans to be tricked that Michael’s hands weren’t completely covered and he was up and back to work the night after his accident. Not only that, but the “Someone from my past will kill my husband,” the only stinking way that would work is if Samantha or or father were who the line related to that Sydney told Michael in the hospital, and that made NO SENSE whatsoever.
The producers on the CW version of Melrose Place, if they were smart, could have had Michael hear from outside in the hallway from his hospital bed that Sydney Andrews was brought in from the accident, have him jump out of bed, and let an assistant work on his dirty work while showing he was fully bandaged and that Megan was off grabbing a coffee or something, or she left for the evening. That would have been a more “believable” flashback. And they should NOT have had Sydney say it was someone from her past tht wanted to kill her husband. How stupid are these writers to do that if they even watched the season 5 finale to see how they could explain her faked death. Sam and her father were NOT from her past. Sam’s father didn’t even know her. Instead, we got something that made no sense. It was as if Michael had surgery very quickly on his hands and went right back to work the next night when Sydney’s wedding happened. Remember, true fans, his hands were completely covered in the original, he couldn’t move them until at least several episodes into season 6, and Sydney’s funeral was in the season premiere of season 6. Biggest mistake of the producers who devised that flashback scene!
Many fans of the CW Melrose Place thought the Martin Abbott camp were the people out to get Sydney, while I thought it could have either been them or Carter, her wealthy ex-boyfriend she dated before marrying Craig (played by Chad Lowe) who could have returned to whisk her away to paradise while secretly attending her wedding and then paying off a doctor to bring her to a safe place away from LA and all the hurt.
Looking back at the final scene of season 5, Sydney was happy. Craig was happy. Sydney was accidentally run over by Samantha because her father was trying to escape the law and ran into her and then a bus stop. Neither had any connection to Martin Abbott, Sydney’s past, or wanted her dead. In the end, this whole story line the producers thought up was stupid because Samantha and her father were in that car. Nobody else. Nothing would have ended up making complete sense of how she faked her death. Even if Carter whisked her away because he was at her wedding secretly and then he died on an island and left her his money because he was rich, or Martin Abbott kidnapped her and she broke free and stole his money, signifying how Sydney could have had the money to buy up Melrose Place from Lexi or whoever the owner was before her, it still wouldn’t have made complete sense with “Someone from my past that wanted to kill my husband ran me over (Samantha/her father).” However, 15 episodes more air after episode 3, and we don’t find out who this person from her past is (which still would have not made complete sense as the new writers re-wrote the original history and messed with it).
Also, the writers of the CW Melrose Place lied about Sydney’s past, saying she drank when she forced Michael to marry her in season 2 of the original series and she became a drunk. Wrong! She was a prostitute in season 2 and did drugs at times but was never a drunk. Also, Sydney claimed to Michael that she served a lengthy prison sentence for faking her death back in 1997. So, just how did she get the money to purchase Melrose Place? There are what? Eight units, a pool, a laundry room…plus all the extensive work she did on the place? How did she purchase it? It had to be over several million dollars. She was poor. For sure Craig had no money left, he was broke in the end as well, so she couldn’t just come back from the dead and claim his fortune which he didn’t have.As far as we all know, Lexi owned the building still and then Sydney purchased it from her. But where is Lexi now? Why is she no longer the owner? We don’t get the answers to these questions. Why? Because the writers were not fans of the original.
Let’s take things to when Amanda first shows up in episode 10 of the CW version of Melrose Place. No news about how she got away with faking her death, nothing about where Peter is today or if they had any kids after they faked their deaths, just “I got sick of Island life and Peter.” She just shows up and that’ s it.
When Jane returns in episode 4, we don’t find out anything except she had a new boutique that burned down recently, but we don’t find out any information about Kyle, if she married him, if she had Michael’s baby… nothing. The writers did not want to touch upon that, whether the outcome was positive or negative.
When Jo came back, she was very dull and still a photographer. When she left at the end of season 4 in the original, she left with a Doctor to work in Bosnia, but we don’t even hear about him once. We don’t know if they married or if Jo left him. We also don’t even get to hear her explain she had a child who’s a teenager in present day-2009 and in a few years she’ll be able to meet him when he’s eighteen and learns he was adopted. Nothing.
Michael’s return was also bad. They claimed he had a baby named David with another woman before he and Jane moved to Melrose Place and he’d send David’s mother child support until she died and then some time in the early 2000s he took David in because he was only 13. The Character of David was originally supposed to be Jake’s son, who appeared in the original show, but the writers thought of the brilliant idea to tag him on as Michael’s since Grant Show was “unavailable” for filming. Michael was not funny as he was in the original. He was darker and meaner. Not the fun, sneaky, Michael Mancini we all knew.
Perhaps the biggest disappointment in the new CW revival was the fact that in episode 16 they had a reunion, with Jane, Michael, Amanda and Jo all in the courtyard at a party. It lasted a mere minute and had nothing to do with “catching up”. That was the last time the writers could have righted the wrongs they had done in the first 15 episodes, and finally cleared things up, but all we got from Amanda was “Isn’t this nice. A little mini reunion in the courtyard. Let’s do it again in twenty years.”
Aside from the returning characters, the new characters on the CW Melrose Place were okay and the writers wrote them well enough. They weren’t great, but they were watchable. The only character that made no sense and was a total waste was Riley Richmond (played by Jessica Lucas). They claimed she was a school teacher but we never saw her once in a school and she was always taking days off. It would have been fun to see something like a school shooting story line evolve, but the writers did not know what they were doing with her character and she was then fired as a teacher halfway throughout the season.
The whole idea of Sydney having a daughter was believable, as Violet Foster (played by Ashlee Simpson) looked a lot like Sydney and given the time frame, it could be speculated that Sydney gave Violet up for adoption after she dropped out of college because she got pregnant and gave birth in 1991 and Violet was now 18 and free to be on her own. I never saw anything wrong with that, even though the character of Sydney and her character history on the original series was messed up the most with the new writers.
The character of Jonah Miller (played by Michael Rady), I believe, was the show’s attempt to have a sort of “Billy” character. He tried to be funny and sweet and struggled to become a big film maker. But it is not that believable that in 18 episodes he can have his own movie he directed at a major Hollywood studio. I think it should have taken much longer for him to reach that goal. I mean, he wasn’t even a PA on a set, he was just an independent filmmaker, capturing stuff such as weddings, birthday parties, et. to make money.
The character of Ella Simms (played by Katie Cassidy) was a lot like Amanda in the original, yet acted too much like a teenie-bopper that it got old. They should have made her act more like an adult.
The character of Lauren Yung (played by Stephany Jacobsen) was pretty believable to watch. The one thing the producers got right was the times and the struggling people were going through back in 2009 in the economy, and Lauren struggled to pay her bills and afford Med School. So she turned to prostitution to pay her way which opened several dangerous stories that followed in the 18 episode run of her character.
The character of Auggie Kirkpatrick (played by Colin Egglesfield), felt like he was a mix of Kyle and Jake from the original. He was a chef, he drove a motorcycle, he acted all tough, and he had problems with alcohol. In my opinion, he should have stayed on the series passed episode 12, yet his character and Violet’s were written off by moving away and driving off into the sunset together to start a new life elsewhere.
Before the show ended on CW, the character of Drew Pragin (played by Nick Zano) was introduced. I did not care for the character one bit. He was a doctor alongside Michael Mancini, and Michael, after Violet killed Vanessa for killing Sydney, turned even more evil than ever and framed Drew for having drugs in his locker at the hospital. Drew, in his final scenes, reveals that Michael did surgery on him a while back and put in a bad heart valve that has a flaw, and he will die soon like all the other patients Michael treated.
What ruined the CW version of Melrose Place most of all was the original fans like myself, we wanted to see better writers who “knew” the original. We didn’t get that. None of the original writers came back such as Darren Star, Charles Pratt Jr. or Carol Mendelsohn, all were huge writers on the original and knew the original characters histories . Most writers for the CW version of the series were connection based and had worked on CW shows and did not watch the original Melrose Place faithfully.
Now, had I been fortunate to have been a production assistant on the CW Melrose Place, I could have helped out in any way, even just advising the crew on what happened in the original series. They were very baffled and didn’t do a good job with any of the past character returns. All in all, it turned a lot of viewers away from the new series. Little by little, 2 million ratings got lower and lower and the season finale, episode 18, which ended up being the series finale ended with Lauren protesting that Michael not operate on a patient because his heart valve has flaws, David going back to stealing to protect Lauren from getting hurt, and Amanda getting arrested for selling stolen artwork, something the Amanda on the original Melrose Place would have never done. Not that I have anything against the new writers who wrote the CW version, but they should have at least been advised by writers of the original, or looked at in-depth episode guides online, which they probably did not do.
Being a screenwriter, I made my own version of a much stronger season finale for the CW version of Melrose Place and titled it “Beverly”. Yeah, it was dumb enough all the episode titles were named after one location that they shot each episode at, but regular episode titles would have worked much better like they did on the original show. In my version, I added one additional episode and cleared up all the questions original fans like myself wanted to see answered.
In my finale, which would be episode 19, P and K of WPK show up and one of the women is Alison Parker. She bails Amanda out of jail, and Judy Kramer, their other partner, has surprising info on Amanda’s past, revealing that Ella is really her daughter and that her father is Jack Parezi, and years ago her father, Palmer Woodward, brought her to a mental hospital to keep her safe in Florida while telling Jack that Amanda died in a skiing accident while she gave birth to Ella and Palmer put the baby up for adoption and told Amanda the whole thing was just a bad nightmare. Also in my version of the finale, David gets threatened more by Morgan’s father, Mr. McKellan, who has his own plans with Lauren by having her kidnapped by a gangster who holds her up in his hotel room at knifepoint, Drew collapsing while working out, Jonah and Riley staying friends and getting into a car crash after a friendly dinner at Denny’s, and Michael being fired from ever practicing medicine again and committing suicide, while his son, David, goes to rob a jewelry store for Mr. McKellan and the guy in charge has orders to kill him and a shot is fired. Many questions would have also been answered such as “Where’s Kyle?” “Did Jane have the baby?” “How did Sydney buy Melrose Place?” “Where is Lexi?” and, “Where is Peter?”
I ask you, which series was better, Melrose Place on FOX which lasted seven seasons and 227 episodes, or Melrose Place on CW which lasted one season and 18 episodes and ruined every original character’s return and left so many original questions unanswered?