The Season One finale of Melrose Place aired last week, after only 18 episodes. Whilst that's still a lot, by US standards it's actually short, with the average being 22 episodes for a full series on the main networks. And it's actually bad news - because it means the CW decided not to pick up a full run for the show, and it's still not been renewed for next year, a comfort already being enjoyed by the likes of Gossip Girl, 90210 and The Vampire Diaries. And the reason? Very bad ratings - the show averaging around 1.3m viewers an episode (compared to 90210 which airs before it in the US and gets around 1.8-2m viewers). And the reason for those bad ratings? Unlikeable characters, boring, soapy, ridiculous storylines and no catch, no drama. Just, erm, stolen paintings.
Auggie on the other hand was the angry boring alcoholic and his departure was no loss to the show. His replacement Drew however - beamed down from the planet annoying - is horrendous. They should have just kept the conveyor belt running. His 'cliffhanger' in the finale of the season - "I have the dodgy Mancini valve implant and I DON'T KNOW HOW LONG I'VE GOT TO LIVE!!!!!!!!" - made my face dive into a pillow. Hopefully if this show is given the kiss of life NOT VERY is the answer, and we have yet another person move into the block. Oooh, it could become the ill-fated, doom stricken flat, etc, etc.
The 'stable' group of the new cast have been up and down, with the girls definitely holding court over the boys. JonAH is infuriating - as much as Billy was infuriating on the original. He has no spine, no edge, no attractive bones. I hope there's a horrible stunt accident on the set of his movie and he dies horribly. David, who sadly gets all the yawnorific plots involving jewellery, is actually the best out of the male bunch and his relationship with Lauren the most authentic (cough) on the show. His cliffhanger - being blackmailed by the man he stole from - is again dull, but there is potential there for some double twists and turns as long as the characters are allowed to think for themselves and not succumb to cliché. The reveal about him being the real father of Noah was hilarious, because not only did it suddenly appear then it drastically disappeared, leaving you wondering whether it happened at all! It's as if the scriptwriters put it in as an idea for a story, disbanded it, but then forgot to edit it out of the concerning episode. OOOPS.
Riley is only relevant because Jessica Lucas is so beautiful and radiant. The writing of her character has been incredibly inconsistent and full of holes (a two second affair with Amanda's boyfriend, being sacked from her teaching job yet still managing to afford her flat and go shopping) and she doesn't seem to fit comfortably with any of the love interests she's been given. Other than her stupid schools programme she's trying to get off the ground, her purpose on the show has been linked with one of the men, meaning she is fairly oblivious otherwise. She desperately needs something to do, or to have a dark side or a vice.
Lauren has been very strong this season - she's only just shy of being my favourite character. Her pretty woman storyline has been the most engrossing of the season, and I was surprised and delighted by her confession when it came - I thought it was going to drag for ages, especially with Dr Mancini beginning to blackmail her. Actually I wouldn't have minded that carrying on for a few episodes because it would have led to a great showdown between Michael and David when it all came out. I love Lauren and David together, I think it's very genuine and they're one of those 'couples to root for' - a bit like Liomi in 90210. If we don't get a Season Two then I'm glad we got to see them reunited in the last eppy.
And her wardrobe was just flat out amazing. All of the girls were beautifully dressed (I did fall in love with Riley's coat during her school fundraiser), but Ella pulled off the more daring, adventurous outfits with such a teasing elegance, such as the backless knee high boots she wore earlier on in the season - they were fabulous! She is fabulous. In fact if they don't renew MP, someone please GOD give Ella her own show! Let her take the money she gleaned from Amanda, set up her own PR agency and let's follow the fortunes of that and dump the rest of 'em. I would definitely watch! They could keep the Amanda rivalry going as well, because Katie and Heather Locklear did work well together in their episodes. The painting storyline was dull, dull, DULL! but their bitchy interactions, false niceties and full thronged back stabbing was just what MP should be all about. So Amanda can stay too (although she's just been arrested for a hit and run in real life...!)
Sadly things don't look very promising. One of the show's founding producers, Darren Swimmer, posted this on his Twitter feed recently: "Melrose Place: Thnx for the love, fans. Honestly, a season 2 looks like it ain't gonna happen. All signs say no, but no official word yet." And of all the shows that are desperately trying to get a renewal for September 2010, Melrose Place is pretty far down the list of wants, although there are some fans campaigning out there for its survival. It's not unusual for a show to be renewed so late on in the season, but I would say the CW are checking out all the other options first - looking at shows like Life Unexpected that are currently airing and assessing the strength of their pilot programmes. So the fate of MP could actually rest in the hands of the Gods - it's played its final card, now all it can do is wait upon Ms Ostroff's final decision.
And do I want to see it back? I don't think it's engrossed me enough. I get enough guilty pleasure out of Gossip Girl and 90210 so another show of similar tone and genre vying for my attention needs to pull out all the stops, and I'm afraid I've seen all the stops time and time before. There are characters I enjoy, but I'm not going to pull a hissy fit if they're taken off my screen for good. And Katie Cassidy will only receive good publicity from this 'mess' and she'll hit back with an even stronger role when her agent starts getting bombarded with calls. And if I want a slice of crazy action in LA's most hip and happening complex, then I have the original boxsets to go back to. Perhaps that's where the likely disappointed few should head for, too.