Melrose Place is an American primetime soap opera that aired on Fox from July 8, 1992 to May 24, 1999, for seven seasons. The show follows the lives of a group of young adults living in an apartment complex called Melrose Place, in Los Angeles, California. The show was created by Darren Star for Fox and executive produced by Aaron Spelling for his company, Spelling Television. It is the second series in the Beverly Hills, 90210 franchise. Season one and season two were broadcast on Wednesday at 9pm, after Beverly Hills, 90210. In 1994, for its third season premiere, the show moved to Monday at 8pm.
The show had many cast changes during the run. Thomas Calabro was the only original cast member to remain on the series throughout its entire run.
Setting and original premise
The show is set in a small apartment courtyard complex located at 4616 Melrose Place in the city of West Hollywood, California.[n 1] Several young individuals reside in the apartments, each with their own dreams and drives. The original format for the show was to have self-contained stories that conclude in every episode, but when that formula proved unpopular, the producers and writers started developing long-term storylines to evolve during the season. By the second season, the show had adopted a full-on soap opera format.
Cast and characters
Melrose Place's premiere season featured eight main characters: Dr. Michael Mancini (Thomas Calabro), a physician who works at Wilshire Memorial Hospital and changes from a kind, devoted husband in Season 1 to a mean, adulterous villain from Season 2 on; Jane Mancini (Josie Bissett), his budding fashion designer wife; Billy Campbell (Andrew Shue), a struggling writer adapting to life out of his parents' control; Alison Parker (Courtney Thorne-Smith), a receptionist at D&D Advertising; Jake Hanson (Grant Show), a struggling manual laborer and motorcycle enthusiast; Matt Fielding (Doug Savant), a gay social worker; Rhonda Blair (Vanessa A. Williams), an aerobics instructor; and Sandy Harling (Amy Locane), a Southern belle and struggling actress who moonlights as a waitress at a local bar called Shooters, the group's main hangout. Locane was written off after 13 episodes and replaced by Daphne Zuniga as Jo Reynolds, a photographer running away from her abusive husband. Williams was not brought back for the second season, her character having become engaged to a wealthy restaurant entrepreneur.
Actress Heather Locklear, who in season one had guest starred as Alison's ambitious and merciless boss Amanda Woodward, was promoted to series regular status in the second season after her character bought and moved into the Melrose Place apartment building. Although she was always billed as a "special guest star", Locklear remained with the show for the rest of its run. Guest Laura Leighton, recurring as Jane's trouble-making younger sister Sydney Andrews in season one, was upgraded to series regular for season three. Marcia Cross, recurring as Dr. Kimberly Shaw in season 1, became a series regular by the end of the second season. Janet Carroll appeared in several episodes as Marion Shaw, Kimberly's domineering mother. Beata Pozniak was featured in Season two in 7 episodes as Dr. Katya Petrova Fielding, a doctor with a daughter from a previous marriage who befriends and ultimately marries a gay man, who becomes an endearing father figure for her child.
Season four saw two new regular characters: Peter Burns (Jack Wagner), the ruthless hospital Chief of Staff introduced in season three; and Brooke Armstrong (Kristin Davis), a young, conniving intern at D&D Advertising also recurring the previous season. Davis's character was subsequently killed off in the middle of the fourth season, while Zuniga left the series at the end of the season. Patrick Muldoon also arrived in the third season as the villainous Richard Hart. Although Muldoon was not billed with the main cast, he appeared in most of the fourth season's episodes and is also Melrose Place's longest recurring character (i.e. not in the opening credits) in terms of number of episodes.
The fifth season saw the addition of Rob Estes as restaurateur Kyle McBride, Lisa Rinna as his opportunistic wife Taylor, and Brooke Langton as Samantha Reilly, an artist and a new tenant in the apartment complex. Bissett and Cross left the series towards the end of the fifth season; Kelly Rutherford was brought in as Megan Lewis, a prostitute hired by Kimberly Shaw to have an affair with Michael Mancini, and David Charvet played Craig Field, Amanda's new co-worker and later Sydney's boyfriend. The season finale featured the exits of series regulars Thorne-Smith, Show, and Leighton.
The season premiere of season six featured the departure of original cast member Savant while Alyssa Milano (recurring as Michael's sister Jennifer Mancini since season five) was bumped to series regular, with Linden Ashby joining the cast as Dr. Brett Cooper and Jamie Luner as his seductive and rich ex-wife, Lexi Sterling.
Charvet was written out in the middle of season 6, and the beginning of season seven saw the departure of Shue, Rinna, Langton, Milano, and Ashby. The show's seventh season introduced John Haymes Newton as Ryan McBride, Kyle's younger brother, and Rena Sofer as Eve Cleary, a woman from Amanda's past who marries Peter. Sofer was not billed with the main cast. Bissett reprised her role as Jane for the seventh season.
This table includes only main cast characters, those who are listed in the intro title sequence.
|Josie Bissett||Jane Mancini||Main||Main[note 1]||Main|
|Thomas Calabro||Michael Mancini||Main|
|Amy Locane||Sandy Harling||Main[note 2]|
|Doug Savant||Matt Fielding||Main||Main[note 3]|
|Grant Show||Jake Hanson||Main|
|Andrew Shue||Billy Campbell||Main||Main[note 4]|
|Courtney Thorne-Smith||Alison Parker||Main|
|Vanessa A. Williams||Rhonda Blair||Main|
|Daphne Zuniga||Jo Reynolds||Main|
|Heather Locklear||Amanda Woodward||Recurring||Main[note 5]|
|Laura Leighton||Sydney Andrews||Recurring||Main|
|Marcia Cross||Kimberly Shaw||Recurring||Main|
|Jack Wagner||Peter Burns||Recurring||Main|
|Kristin Davis||Brooke Armstrong||Recurring||Main|
|Brooke Langton||Samantha Reilly||Recurring||Main||Main[note 4]|
|Rob Estes||Kyle McBride||Main|
|Lisa Rinna||Taylor McBride||Main||Main[note 4]|
|Kelly Rutherford||Megan Lewis||Main|
|David Charvet||Craig Field||Main|
|Alyssa Milano||Jennifer Mancini||Recurring||Main||Main[note 4]|
|Linden Ashby||Brett Cooper||Main||Main[note 4]|
|Jamie Luner||Lexi Sterling||Main|
|John Haymes Newton||Ryan McBride||Main|
- Josie Bissett only appears in first fifteen episodes of season 5.
- Amy Locane only appears in first thirtheen episodes of season 1.
- Doug Savant appears only in the first episode of season 6.
- Andrew Shue, Brooke Langton, Lisa Rinna, Alyssa Milano and Linden Ashby only appear in first seven episodes of season 7.
- Heather Locklear appears in the opening credits credited as "Special Guest Star".
The series debuted on July 8, 1992 and was an instant smash hit, debuting at #19 on the Nielsen ratings with a 10.3/19 share and 15.4 million viewers. The series finale was watched by 10.38 million viewers.
Melrose Place received mixed reviews from critics. As of September 2014, season 1 has a critics rating of 4.7/10 at Metacritic (this rating is only for the first season, not for the show as a whole). One of the critics, Time's Richard Zoglin, who gave the season a 2.0/10 score, wrote that the soap is "tapping into nothing more than worn plot lines from The Young and the Restless". Conversely, Ken Tucker of Entertainment Weekly, gave the first season a B- rating, writing: "Hey, I make fun of Melrose Place — but I'm hypnotized by it. As warm-weather escapism, it takes all the issues facing this country, from unemployment to sexual harassment, and turns them into crises that can be solved in an hour." In 1997, Mark Harris, who gave the soap's sixth season a D rating, stated: "Although the ever-game, deserves-better Heather Locklear still spits out even the worst lines with snappish authority, and the diabolical-doctor duo of Jack Wagner and Thomas Calabro at least try to look interested, they can't sustain a show that has lost its best asset — a twisted joy in its own trashiness."
Heather Locklear was nominated for four Golden Globe Awards for Best Actress in a Television Series – Drama for her role as Amanda Woodward on Melrose Place, in 1993, 1994, 1995, and 1996. Laura Leighton was nominated in 1995 for Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Series for her role as Sydney Andrews.
In May 1994, at the height of the show's popularity, the female stars, Heather Locklear, Laura Leighton, Courtney Thorne-Smith, Daphne Zuniga and Josie Bissett, were featured on the cover of Rolling Stone.
Seasons and episodes
|First aired||Last aired|
|1||32||July 8, 1992||May 26, 1993|
|2||32||September 8, 1993||May 18, 1994|
|3||32||September 12, 1994||May 22, 1995|
|4||34||September 11, 1995||May 20, 1996|
|5||34||September 9, 1996||May 19, 1997|
|6||27||September 8, 1997||March 30, 1998|
|7||35||July 27, 1998||May 24, 1999|
The original series produced a spin-off series, titled: Models Inc., which ran for one season from 1994–95. The series focused on a Los Angeles modeling agency run by Hillary Michaels (played by Linda Gray), the mother of Melrose's Amanda Woodward.
An updated version of the series, also called Melrose Place, premiered on September 8, 2009 on The CW Television Network. The series was subject to severe criticism for its bad storylines, unlikeable characters, and suffered from low ratings causing it to be cancelled in May 2010 after one season. However, five actors from the original MP reprise their characters on the sequel: Thomas Calabro, Laura Leighton, Josie Bissett, Daphne Zuniga and Heather Locklear. They have a mini reunion (without Leighton) in episode sixteen ("Santa Fe").
The series has also been released on DVD in Region 2 and 4 by Paramount Home Entertainment.
Due to music licensing issues, most of the original music has been replaced on these DVD releases. Starting with Season 1, some episodes are edited from their original broadcast versions.
The series is ratedin Australia and in New Zealand for its sex scenes and offensive language.
|DVD Name||Ep #||Release dates||Special features|
|Region 1||Region 2 (Scandinavia)||Region 2 (UK)||Region 4|
|The First Season||32||November 7, 2006||November 13, 2006||November 13, 2006||November 1, 2006||Season 1 episode recaps
Behind the scenes featurette
|The Second Season||32||May 1, 2007||April 1, 2007||March 13, 2007||May 3, 2007||Audio Commentary by Series Creator Darren Star
Melrose Place: Meet The Neighbours
Melrose Place: Complex Relationships
Melrose Place: The Best of the Worst
|The Third Season||32||November 13, 2007||December 2, 2007||May 18, 2009||April 9, 2008||Melrose Place: According to Jake
Melrose Place: Seven Minutes in Hell
Everything You Need To Know About Melrose Place Season 3
|The Fourth Season||34||April 15, 2008||March 11, 2009||March 22, 2010||April 2, 2009||None|
|The Fifth Season (Volume One)||19||February 10, 2009||N/A||N/A||N/A||None|
|The Fifth Season (Volume Two)||15||November 24, 2009||N/A||N/A||N/A||None|
|The Sixth Season (Volume One)||13||May 3, 2011||N/A||N/A||N/A||None|
|The Sixth Season (Volume Two)||14||July 19, 2011||N/A||N/A||N/A||None|
|The Seventh Season (Volume One)||18||July 31, 2012||N/A||N/A||N/A||None|
|The Seventh Season (Volume Two)||17||July 31, 2012||N/A||N/A||N/A||None|
On April 1, 2011, all seven seasons of the show were made available to view on Netflix's subscription internet streaming service.
A group of artists and Melrose Place producers formed the GALA Committee, headed by artist Mel Chin, in order to bring artworks out of galleries and into primetime television. GALA artists designed artworks that were used as props by Melrose Place characters in the fourth and fifth seasons, often with hidden political messages:
- When Alison is pregnant, her quilt is decorated with the molecular structure of RU-486.
- A bag of Chinese take-out food is emblazoned with two opposing ideograms translated from Chinese as "Human Rights" and "Turmoil"; both terms were used by the Chinese government to justify a restriction on student protesters of June 4, 1989.
- Bottles behind the counter at Shooters bar are decorated with ads and documents chronicling the history of alcohol.
- As Alison quits D&D Advertising, a framed ad in the background features a bombed-out building. The damage to the structure is in the shape of a liquor bottle, and the words "Total Proof" appear on the poster.
Chin compared the works to viruses, symbiotic and invisible. The project was called "In the Name of the Place", as part of the "Uncommon Sense" art show at the Geffen Contemporary at MOCA, Los Angeles, California in 1997. A portion of the Fifth Season was filmed at the Geffen Contemporary where the project was displayed. The artwork was also shown at the 1997 Kwangju Biennale in Kwangju, Korea and at Grand Arts in Kansas City, Missouri in 1998. Sotheby's Auction house auctioned almost fifty of these artworks for charity.
- In the Beverly Hills, 90210 second-season episode "Mexican Standoff", which served as the backdoor pilot of Melrose Place, Dylan McKay asks Jake Hanson, "So where you livin' these days, man?" To which Jake replies, "Ah, it's a little place off Melrose [Avenue], nothing special." The real street named Melrose Place is in fact located north-east of the intersection of Melrose Avenue and La Cienega Boulevard; however, it features only shops, salons, boutiques and restaurants, and no apartment complexes.
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