‘Melrose Place’ Is a Really Good Show
Dear Mom and Pop,
Found a way cool place to live in L.A.! My landlord, Amanda, seems like kind of a bitch, but she’s a total older babe — she must be 30 or something. Everyone else here’s in their 20s, just like me. There’s this beautiful blonde, Jane, who’s divorced from this complete doctor dick named Michael. Now I hear Michael’s married to Jane’s sister Sydney, a redhead who’s a major slut but unbelievably cute. Then there’s a brunette photographer called Jo who’s cool and also real easy on the eyes. I guess Jo offed some dude who got her pregnant, but she seems sorta classy anyway.
Then there’s this adorable blond thing named Alison who works with Amanda in advertising. Unfortunately, she’s with this sappy jock named Billy who’s supposed to be a writer. Sometimes Billy hangs with Jake, who’s muy macho but kinda mysterious. I can’t tell what the hell Jake does for a living, but I’m pretty sure he does Amanda, if you catch my drift. Oh, yeah, then there’s this ultranice guy named Matt who’s a social worker – all I know is he’s been, like, superfriendly to me! I hear things used to be real quiet and boring here last season – I mean, last year – but now shit happens ALL the time. People fight a helluva lot, but you can’t beat the rent or the chicks And, hey, it’s even got a pool. Now THIS is why I moved to California! Oh, by the way, could you please send some money right away? I have two auditions next week!
When Winona Ryder earnestly expresses that brave critical opinion in the Generation X-rated film Reality Bites, a certain smug element of the film’s audiences tends to, well, laugh. Heather Locklear — the veteran TV diva who plays femme fatale Amanda Woodward to the hilt on Melrose Place — appreciates the kind words anyway. “Yeah, I have heard all about that, and though I haven’t actually seen the movie, I’m absolutely sure that Winona meant exactly what she said,” Locklear says with a warm, and thus distinctly un-Amandalike, laugh. “Thanks, Winona. And I must say I really have to agree with you there. Melrose Place is a really good show.”
Locklear’s colleague Andrew Shue — the handsome 27-year-old actor who stars as sensitive hunk Billy Campbell on the show — confronted this potentially embarrassing bite of reality only last night. This morning, Shue is lounging poolside and grabbing a quick bowl of cereal while watching his Melrose cast mates Grant Show (who plays Jake Hanson) and Daphne Zuniga (who plays Jo Beth Reynolds) finish off a sensitive little scene filmed on the courtyard set of Melrose Place, in a huge soundstage deep in California’s earthquake-ravaged San Fernando Valley. After checking the pool’s temperature, Shue confesses to having skipped last night’s Melrose Place. That’s a shame, since the episode was a real MP-palooza in which Jo goes to jail for killing her drug-dealing boy toy, Reed, and Billy and his beloved Alison finally commit to getting hitched. Instead, Shue — who’s now getting ready to jump into the famed Melrose pool for a scene in which Billy chats with Alison, then gracefully towels off while arguing with fellow stud Jake — opted to attend a special screening of the generationally correct Ben Stiller film.
“When Winona Ryder says Melrose is a really good show and everybody laughed,” Shue says, “I was just sitting there in the theater trying to hide my face in my hands.”
Across the pool near the catering table, Show can be heard attempting to communicate to a crew member his character’s subtle motivation for the upcoming scene. “He fucked my girlfriend, man,” Show yells in tones of mock outrage. “Can you believe Billy fucked my girlfriend?” Shue, meanwhile, appears to be in a far more forgiving mood this morning. Perhaps toiling on air as a junior editor for Escapade magazine has lent the actor a degree of journalistic perspective regarding last night’s brush with Reality. “It was actually sort of cool, I guess,” Shue says diplomatically and a bit tentatively. “I’m pretty sure that the audience were laughing with us. I’d certainly like to think so.”
Gallantly, Shue even offers a few good words of mutual admiration for Reality Bites. “I thought it was a really good movie,” he says. “And I think it should do well with the twentysomethings.”
He should know. After debuting in 1992 with a troubled first season that at times rivaled that of the 1962 New York Mets, Melrose Place made a few key trades. The show acquired a journeywoman heavy hitter in the lovely form of Locklear and wisely swapped bothersome Issues and Morals for infinitely more palatable Sex and Villains, emerging as a big winner, particularly with that attractive twentysomething demographic. In its increasingly soapy Heather Era, the Melrose team is looking like an unbeatable new dynasty, having won TV land’s hotly contested generational sweepstakes of 1992, a season that saw Young America offered an absurdly full slate of post-adolescent programming. The Heights took the big fall; 2000 Malibu Road was justifiably condemned; The Class of ’96 dropped out; and The Round Table found itself quickly put away in permanent storage. Sure, a few original residents may have been sent packing — Rhonda and Sandy, we hardly knew ye — but Melrose Place lives on and can proudly claim a recent ratings boost and no rent hike.