Televisionista Flashback: "Melrose Place" - When Mondays Were a Bitch
JULY 8, 2007: 15 years ago today FOX unveiled an Aaron Spelling-produced spin-off to "Beverly Hills, 90210" entitled "Melrose Place," a tedious twentysomething morality play that nobody watched. Little did we know that six months later Heather Locklear would spice things up and turn "Melrose" into one of TV's campiest, trashiest, guiltiest pleasures. Take a jump back to 4616, Melrose Place, where "Mondays Are a Bitch."
Mediocre ratings plagued the Darren Star-produced LA apartment complex-set feel-good drama and its denizens from the get-go.
Michael, an ambitious doctor and his wife Jane, a budding fashion designer, had been a loving and saccharine-sweet couple. Ad agency receptionist Alison and her roommate and struggling writer Billy, were too busy dealing with "burning issues" to realize they had hots for each other. And resident gay man and social worker Matt had no sex life whatsoever.
But the audience couldn't care less about the drama's early preaching tone. They wanted to see people making mistakes. As soon as the writers introduced continuing and soapier storylines as part of the mid-course correction, they realized they needed a bad apple, a minx, a cat amongst the pigeons to stir things up. Enter vixen Amanda Woodward.
The 11th hour addition of Heather Locklear, was originally supposed to last only 4 episodes. But then the love triangle between Alison, Billy and Amanda helped "Melrose Place" blossom into one of TV's most brazenly sexy and shameless soap opera and the ratings went up. "Special Guest Star" Heather Locklear never changed her status in the opening credits, but she de facto became the show's principal star.
In its sophomore season, 'Melrose' and its buffed and beautiful creatures with enviable physique found their winning blend of the lusty, deceitful, ridiculous intrigues, dark humor, shocking moments and high camp, all generously sprinkled with Amanda's catty one-liners and micro-skirts.
A sex kitten with an MBA who always gives sage business advice to other characters, Amanda literally buys the apartment complex where everyone lives and moves in. She sleeps with Billy, the moves on to Jake (Grant Show), while she humiliates and torpedoes the hapless Alison with a laser-death glare in between.
But there was suddenly a lot more to Melrose than Amanda. Jane caught her husband Michael sleeping with a beautiful doctor played by Desperate Housewife Marcia Cross. Next, her manipulative kid sister Sydney slept with Michael, who then proposed to his beautiful doc, that's right before he drove her into an early grave. Allegedly.
As the years went by, the storylines got nuttier and the guest stars got prettier. An entire battalion of supermodels marched through the infamous complex gate (Antonio Sabato Jr, Alyssa Milano, David Charvet and even ex-porn-star Traci Lords to name just a few) kept the temperature up.
Unfortunately for West Hollywood's trashiest apartment complex, by the show's sixth season in 1998, the drama had run out of steam and turned into a parody of its former self as more than half of the original cast members jumped the ship and the show jumped the shark. Ratings erosion ensued.
An attempt to revive the show in its final 7th season with the return of the original cast member Josie Bisset and a switch to a lighter tone in storytelling came too late. Aaron Spelling announced the cancellation of "Melrose Place" on February 1, 1999, saying the drama would get a send-off it deserves come May.
Late last year, "Melrose Place" finally arrived on DVD (along with its predecessor 90210) and the show's brilliant second season was released on May 1. Here are now several additional images from the show that redefined the term "guilty pleasure" and raised the bar in shock factor in the prime-time soap-opera genre. Also, check out a video preview of the second season and the two-part Mancini divorce storyline.