'Melrose Place' remake divides TV critics
Critical reaction to the "Melrose Place" remake that debuts on the CW tonight depended on whether or not the reviewer was a fan of the original series that ran on Fox throughout the 1990s. First time round, "Melrose Place" drew plenty of viewers even winning the People's Choice award for favorite new series in 1993.
The seven seasons of the original prime-time sudser were snubbed by the Emmy Awards. However, "Melrose Place" resident vixen Heather Locklear did land four consecutive Golden Globe nominations as best actress in a drama series (1994-1997). Though she has not signed on for an encore appearance – yet – her one-time rival Laura Leighton is at the center of the new show. Leighton earned a 2005 supporting Golden Globe nod for her work as the scheming Sydney. And in the new "Melrose Place," she finally gets her comeuppance.
Mary McNamara of the Los Angeles Times admits, "I was a fan of the original 'Melrose Place' though I can't for the life of me remember exactly why." However, she was unimpressed with the new version noting, "Nothing is said that hasn't been said, nothing is done that hasn't been done and as the group of friends who share little save a shoe size and an address gather poolside, even the sunlight looks fake, as if the complex were in a dome, a captive ecosystem on another planet where scientists are attempting an experiment in social regeneration."
Linda Stasi of the New York Post had the opposite reaction: "The new 'Melrose Place' is as good and sometimes better than the old 'Melrose Place.' Think of it as a renovation, or in L.A. terms, a face-lift. In fact, the new tenants actually made me forget the old tenants rather quickly. Well, I didn't forget all of them, because two of them are back but in a new format. Now the series is an ongoing whodunit."
Said Matthew Gilbert of the Boston Globe, "I 'like' the new 'Melrose Place' in that I think it has the potential to be as addictive, and phony, as a can of Pringles potato crisps. The trashy CW series has none of the hokey moral quandaries of the show that precedes it, '90210,' no lesson-learning unless you’re a student of chicanery and double-dealing. The new 'Melrose Place' is just a mess of gossipy plotlines about adultery, murder, and secrets. If it has a moral compass, the arrow is stuck pointing down, to hell."
In his mixed review David Hinckley of the New York Daily News wrote, "It does, however, wisely retain some of the elements that worked in the original, like characters who are interesting without being deep. We watch them because of what they do, not because we think there's a lot there."
Maureen Ryan of the Chicago Tribune said, "Given that I was never a big fan of the original 'Melrose,' which ran on Fox 1992-'99, I can't say whether this one is better or worse. I just know that in a fall season that's about to get very crowded indeed, this remake will have to work harder than this to keep my attention."
And for James Poniewozik of Time, "The problem isn't that the new version – which dives right into the pool (literally) with a murder mystery and re-introduces several characters from the original – is bad, exactly. It's competent. It also seems a little familiar and unnecessary. The luridly lit nightclub scenes, for instance, by now seem familiar from the CW playbook of 'Gossip Girl' and '90210.' "