Melrose Place: The Second Season

Melrose Place: The Second Season
The bitch is back! Season two of Melrose Place (1993 to ’94) was the season the drama hit its stride, and is probably the best of its seven-year run. With Heather Locklear firmly established as freakishly articulate boss from hell Amanda Woodward, and the metamorphosis of Kimberly (Marcia Cross) from ice queen to vengeance-crazed villainess (she’s alive! And bald! And totally nuts!), the show found its addictive blend of melodrama and 20-something relationship show. Gone are the awkward 90210 connections, replaced by stalkers, reclusive millionaires, obsessive exes, models and a murderous drug dealer. Although the Jo/Jake/Amanda/Billy/Alison daisy chain is prominent, this season really belongs to the dastardly Kimberly/Michael/Sydney triangle. This is the season where Michael apparently kills Kimberly, Sydney blackmails Michael into marrying her, Michael tries to murder Sydney and Kimberly returns from the dead (well, Cleveland, actually) and plots with Sydney to murder Michael. In between, Sydney concentrates on her career as a high-class hooker, madam, stripper and finally, skanky hooker. Like the first season box set, the extras are disappointing. There are several cheesy highlight reels with the production values of a PowerPoint presentation and Darren Star’s commentary on two key episodes is superficial. I would have loved to hear him talk about the season’s big moment that wasn’t: Matt and Rob’s kiss in the season finale. It should have been the first gay kiss on a network show but pressure from Fox turned it into a slo-mo suggestion, a cowardly evasion that GLAAD called "defamation by invisibility.” Thirteen years later, it is hard to understand what the fuss was all about. Sure, the show is dated but it is surprisingly not so much the fashions or the music (replaced with generic catalogue stuff for clearance reasons) as the conventional soap opera dialogue that makes it feel so old. Melrose has a clear legacy in shows like Desperate Housewives and The O.C. but ever since Friends debuted in 1994 prime time has been blessed (or plagued) with fast-talking, witty repartee alongside its melodrama. Blame Darren Star as well, his next show after Melrose was the considerably smarter Sex in the City. (Paramount)