1 9 9 2 – 1 9 9 9 (USA)
227 x 60 minute episodes
A spin-off from Beverly Hills 90210, this show proved equally popular. Though defended by creator Darren Star as having “a tiny strain of reality” the night-time soap was a gloriously OTT depiction of yuppie life.
Almost without exception the residents who tanned themselves around the pool of the condo complex at 4616 Melrose Place in the fashionable Melrose district of Los Angeles were libidinous, neurotic and infinitely ambitious.
Initially, however, the show lingered on ‘issues’ – which generated disappointing ratings. This was rectified by the invention of double-crossing Amanda Woodward (played to bitchy perfection by ex-Dynasty and TJ Hooker actress Heather Locklear).
No sooner installed as artistic director of the D&D advertising agency, than Woodward began seducing most of the pec-perfect Melrose Place men, even token nice guy Billy Campbell (Andrew Shue) and the boyfriend of her mother (played by Linda Gray of Dallas fame). Such dastardliness only prompted the other women of Melrose Place to out-bed and out-scheme Woodward.
The most improbable plot saw photographer Jo Reynolds (Daphne Zuniga) in a custody battle for her son – after she had killed his father, the drug smuggler, Carter – then lose her child to her sister, get the boy back, then hire the babysitter from hell, then give him away.
Almost as ridiculous was the story in which Dr Kimberly Shaw (Marcia Cross) ran over her lover Michael Mancini (Thomas Calabro) while disguised as his ex-wife. The motive was revenge, for Kimberly had been disfigured (but only on the top of her pretty head) in a car accident she blamed on Mancini.
Later, the psychopathic Shaw blew 4616 Melrose Place – but conveniently, not all its residents – into the Californian heavens.
Such melodramatic characters and addictive storylines made Melrose Place the second top drama series amongst the 18 to 25 age group in the US.
Fox TV used the series to spin-off Models Inc, based around Linda Gray’s Hillary Michaels character, while wunderkind Darren Star went on to create the soap Central Park West, set amidst New York’s publishing scene.