What a sordid mess!
Melrose Placelingered in the dark recesses of viewers’ hearts and souls as the guiltiest of pleasures for seven seasons. Wrapping up at the end of its seventh season with a ridiculously clichéd fake death twist for two major characters, the ingredients for it all are here in the fifth season – or the first half of it.
(Don’t get me started, Paramount. You know better.)
So yes, if you like sleazy characters getting in to even sleazier situations with expository dialogue and ludicrous plot twists, rejoice. The first 19 episodes of what many think are the show’s best moments have finally arrived on DVD.
In this season, Michael juggles two marriages, one to a healthy, vibrant Megan; the other to terminally ill Dr. Kimberly Shaw. His love for both leads to the season’s most compellingly laughable moments. Heather Locklear also returns, channeling Joan Collins from Dynasty for her portrayal of Amanda, an admirably shrewish bitch of a woman that you’re either supposed to love or hate depending on what side of the women’s rights fence you fall on.
One character dies from a heart attack. A gay couple – still pioneers at this point in TV history – ends their relationship amid allegations of abuse. A seemingly happy couple feels their relationship ripped apart at the seams when an unwanted pregnancy leads to bitter disputes about what to do with the baby. All this as well as the usual game of musical beds make Melrose Place a sizzling place to be. Good thing each apartment comes with full-sized bathrooms. You’ll need a shower after these. Of course, it being Melrose Place, you won’t be taking one alone.
The shows come packaged in their original 4:3 full frame aspect ratio, and as such hold up well in comparison with their initial airings. Of course, these particular episodes are 12-13 years old, so video technology has improved somewhat in the days since, but colors are still strong, and contrast is passable. No work was required, and very little was given. Still, there is very little to complain about.
The sound is a standard 2.0 English stereo presentation. There have been sharper, but the volume makes up for it with a nice bold delivery that leaves viewers never in the dark about what is going on, and what is being said. Fans of the series will not be as pleased as the casual viewer, as the technology is in place for enhanced performance. Instead, the audio, much like the video, is just a good transfer from the original broadcasts.
Paramount skimps worst of all in the extras department – nothing of any kind.
For every dead teenager film I’ve gleefully wrapped myself up in – hey, I used to teach school, it was a nice release – it’s difficult, nay, hypocritical, to wag an accusatory finger of condemnation at the clientele that frequent Melrose Place’s seedy back rooms. So I won’t. Easier it is, however, to fault Paramount for putting so little effort into a series that is so well-loved by minions of fans. For the fans that gave up hundreds of hours of their lives to the gods of Melrose Place, it’s hard to argue against the fact they deserved better. If you find yourself in that throng, don’t be too sad. What’s left over from the nineties is still in very good shape – there’s just nothing else to offer.