Appellate Judge Tom Becker loves a cliffhanger.
Our reviews of Melrose Place: The First & Second Season (published May 16th, 2007), Melrose Place: The Final Season, Volume 2 (published July 29th, 2012), Melrose Place: The Sixth Season, Volume Two (published August 11th, 2011), and Melrose Place: The Third Season (published November 28th, 2007) are also available.
"It's this building, it makes people nuts!"
Like a prom queen gone to seed, Melrose Place found itself sagging long before its seventh, and final, season. Season five saw the exit of several popular characters, as well as the introduction of the trouble-making McBrides, Kyle (Rob Estes, Silk Stalkings) and Taylor (Lisa Rinna, Good Advice), as well as Michael's sister Jennifer (Alyssa Milano, Charmed). To make up for the season five departures of stalwarts Jane, Alison, Jake, Sydney, Matt, and Kimberly, season six introduced Coop (Linden Ashby, Prom Night (2008)) and the intermittently evil and pathetic Lexi (Jamie Luner, Just the Ten of Us). Of the core group that made the show so phenomenally popular, only Michael (Thomas Calabro, Safehouse), Amanda (Heather Locklear, Spin City), late-comer Peter (Jack Wagner, The Bold and the Beautiful), and Billy (Andrew Shue, Gracie) remained at the start of season six.
Unfortunately, between the personnel changes and less-than inspired storylines, season six was a downhill slide for Melrose Place. The trendy, talked-about nighttime soap that once inspired an episode of Seinfeld had lost its mojo. It was still fun, sexy, and all that, it just wasn't appointment viewing any more. Ratings were down, and Fox pulled the show off its schedule in the spring of '98, with six episodes left in season six.
Those episodes were broadcast in the summer of '98, so there was no break between the ending of season six and the beginning of the final, seventh season. Now, the final six of season six (including the two-hour season finale, which has been broken up into two separate episodes for a total of seven), along with the entirety of season seven, are being released on DVD as Melrose Place: The Final Season. Unfortunately, Paramount has seen fit to divvy up the episodes in two sets: Melrose Place: The Final Season, Volume 1 and Melrose Place: The Final Season, Volume 2. If you want to see the entire season (and change), you have to buy both volumes; likewise, if you want to read the entire review, you'll have to click on the link for volume two.
Changes, changes…the first batch of episodes, the season six leftovers, give us Amanda marrying—twice!—as well as Michael becoming a father, and the return of Jane (Josie Bissett, The Secret Life of the American Teenager) as highlights. When the dust clears, a whole bunch of characters—including Billy, Jennifer, Taylor, and Coop—depart. Then, it's on to the serious business of closing down.
When I was young and had way too much time on my hands, I used to occasionally think about what would be a cool way to end Melrose Place. Maybe a serial killer could come and start wiping out the cast members, and then it could turn out to be—Jake, whose experiences left him so scarred he became a psychopath! Or maybe, all the sexual shenanigans could have led to a deadly lice outbreak—Who Shot Amanda Up With Killer Crabs! Or a syphilis epidemic—they could have made an entire season around everyone contacting all the people they slept with to give them the news.
No such luck. The seventh season of Melrose Place introduces a few new characters, but the conflicts are largely the same. It's still fun and sometimes agreeably outrageous, but there's a heavy air of retread and the occasional whiff of desperation powering this now.
Perhaps the most egregious addition to the penicillin-deficient apartment complex is Amanda's long-lost friend Eve, played by daytime soap veteran Rena Sofer (General Hospital).
It seems that Amanda has a long-standing secret that has entailed her making semi-regular trips to San Francisco, something that's somehow gone unnoticed for the past six years. In any event, that secret involves Sofer's Eve, who, of course, turns up at the apartment complex—which, for prime real estate, always seems to have a convenient vacancy (in the opening episodes, no fewer than four people move in). Over the course of the season, we of course learn the terrible secret, and Eve goes from an awkward, socially inept woman to full-loon crazy, and gets one of the worst exits ever. Seriously. It's terrible to see.
But "terrible to see" is an apt description of the entirety of Melrose Place, and it's why people tuned in for seven seasons. If the intrigue isn't quite as intriguing, and the seams are more pronounced than Heather Locklear's unblonde roots, well, let's face it: after a while, there are only but so many different ways you can sleep with your neighbors, kidnap and shoot people, fake your own death, and watch your career go down the tubes, and then rise up and start it all over again.
Four discs, 18 episodes, full frame transfers, stereo sound, no extras.
To be continued…
Melrose Place: The Final Season, Volume 2.
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