[Julie Klausner is a former writer for Best Week Ever with Paul F. Tompkins and author of the forthcoming book, I Don't Care About Your Band. Also she's great, so what better person to recap this season of the rebooted Melrose Place? (No one is better to do so.)]
What is it that young people die of these days? Is it still drive-by’s? Let’s say it’s drive-by’s. Well, think of the new Melrose Place as a dying 22-year-old, riddled with bullets sprayed from the passenger side of a speeding, tricked-out Mercury Marauder. And think of the old cast members, from Melrose Place One: Melrose Placin’, as an anemic blood transfusion. My point is that it’s great to see Josie Bissett in this week’s shitty episode. Let’s all welcome back Jane Andrews-Mancini!
Jane, as established years ago during Al Gore’s glorious Vice-Presidency, is Sydney’s sister, Michael’s ex-wife, and the creator of clothing fashions my friend Jesse told me she was known for calling DEEE-signs, instead of de-SIGNS. And now, Jane is the new landlady of Melrose Place. By the way, did you know Josie Bissett is the author of a book called Tickle Monster? Well, you should, because she is.
So this week. Ugh. This week’s opening montage showed David being followed by an Asiatic gentleman; Lauren being courted by a former John; and Ashlee Simpson-Wentz asking her neighbors for their phone numbers so she could program them into her Palm Centro. After which, everybody all talked about cell phones for a while and I got sad. And then, Jane Andrews entered and I became happy! Enter Tickle Monster! She looks puckered and placid; whatever face fillers she’s getting work well on Jane’s calm doormat of a disposition.
But Jane in her CW incarnation is no doormat! I mean, yes, she delivers her pointed lines with the monotone contentment of a trophy wife pumped to her tan lines with Klonopin. But she still blackmails Muppet Baby Heather Locklear, Ella, saying she has incriminating emails that show Ella was angry enough to kill Sydney the night she was murdered, insisting, in exchange for her silence, that the fictional up-and-coming actress Ella represents, Abby Douglas, wear one of her DEEE-signs the night of her movie premiere. Are DEEE-signs and the band Deee-lite related? They probably are, because of the 90′s.
So Ella agrees, and Jane gets to DEE-signin’ Abby Douglas’s Red Carpet gown. Meanwhile, Auggie, working at Coal/Cole, pitches a food DEEE-sign, or “recipe,” of his own to his boss, Alfredo or something. And he is shunned for having ideas, the shame of which he absorbs with his enormous eyebrows. Then, David shows up at Auggie’s restaurant, which I’m beginning to think is just a China Grill, and applies for a job waiting tables at Abby Douglas’s movie premiere, because Coal/Cole/ The China Grill is ALWAYS hiring residents of Melrose Place. Auggie vouches for him, and Alfredo says, “Prego.”
Then, Ashlee-Simpson Wentz, the finest arm-folding actress in all of the land, coyly accepts the company of the two ethnic private investigators we saw in a previous episode into her stupid apartment.
After asking if it’s okay for her to change out of her hooded robe, she runs away from the cops, who look out the window and say, “We got a runner!” instead of using coded slang to describe what we already see she is doing–a tip of the hat to the median intelligence of the CW’s audience. Speaking of which, it’s time to check in with the retard twins, Riley and Jonah.
Jonah is going to the Abby Douglas movie premiere too, because his old pal from film school directed it. He tells Riley that his friend got his big break after playing golf with an important agent and wonders aloud how fun it would be to play golf and be successful. It’s like listening to the chatter of disabled babies if it were also somehow high-pitched and scored by the Counting Crows.
Meanwhile, Ella’s gay boss expresses concern that Abby Douglas will be wearing one of Jane’s DEEE-signs on the red carpet. More importantly, we learn the name of the movie Abby Douglas will be staring in is called Kensington Squared.
It looks like Carnaby Street meets Sliding Doors! And the poster looks like the cover of a trade magazine! Clearly, this movie is important and Oscar-worthy and Jane better not screw up that dress. At the fitting, we learn that Abby is gay as spring rain when she refuses to wear any shaping garments, explaining “bras are for breeders,” one of my favorite quotes from the all-Lesbian production of Glengarry Glenn Ross I saw in Provincetown a few years ago. After Ella and Abby leave the studio, Jane sees a ghostly visage in the mirror behind her. It’s Ashlee Simpson-Wentz, who, in an exciting twist, is not crossing her arms at all.
I am joking! She can’t not cross ‘dem noodles! How else would we know she was acting? Ashlee tells Jane that Sydney was her mom and that she needs her help because she’s running from the cops. Remember? They had a “runner”? Jane says she can trust her, then calls the cops to tell them she has their runner, or “fugitive,” which is Latin for “talentless beneficiary of nepotism.”
Across town, at a hotel bar, Lauren ignores a call from Ashlee on her chic Palm Centro, and defers a drink from a random guy who assumes she is a hooker. Which she is, but she didn’t go to the bar to meet him; she went to the bar to meet a different guy who knows she is a hooker. Men!
Meanwhile, at the premiere of Kensington Squared, Jonah runs into his old film school pal, and Riley, wearing an evening dress adorned with fancy suspenders, makes good with the aforementioned hotshot agent by talking up her fiancée and mentioning how much he likes golf.
Back in the kitchen of The Cole/Coal China Grill, David notices the Asiatic gentleman who was spying on him earlier in the episode and gets “anger eyes.” And Ella gets a call from Jane, who’s concerned because Abby Douglas says her DEE-sign doesn’t fit her in the hips. She runs over to the premiere, where Riley had to duck out, because she too received a phone call from Ashlee on her young, hip, not-at-all like the phone your dad clips to his Eddie Bauer jeans, Palm Centro. But unlike all the other residents of Melrose Place the place, Riley The Bus With My Sister is the only idiot who actually picked up. She steps outside the party to take the call, and learns is that Ashlee Simpson-Wentz is in jail. I’ll say she’s in jail, all right: Talent Jail!
Riley leaves the premiere to bail out Ashlee, who meanwhile tells the failsafe duo of Ethnic Cop/Also Ethnic Cop from her interrogation room that she is Sydney’s daughter.
Then, Lauren gets a text on her new iPhone from the John she arranged to meet at the bar that says he won’t be able to make their date that night. I’m joking! She got the text on her Palm Centro.
The guy who solicited her earlier offers to buy her a drink, and introduces himself as Victor. She uses the opportunity to say “Victor? That’s starts with a ‘V,’ right? You know what else starts with a ‘V’?” then points to her groin, cackling. No, I’m joking again. She accepts Victor’s drink offer, then purses her lips in reluctant submission to her sorry circumstances.
Back at the premiere, David mercilessly beats the Asian shadower at China Grill, not because he was spying on their recipe for shitake mushroom potstickers, but because Michael hired him, and David HATES Michael.
And Ella decides to side with her Sapphic client instead of clothing DEE-signer and budding blackmail artiste Tickle Monster when Abby Douglas decides Jane’s dress doesn’t fit her well. Jane gives Ella the ol’ Melrose Threaten, reminding her that she knows things about her and has emails, and “I guess we’ll just see” is what they agree to disagree about.
Back at China Grill, Auggie shoulders the blame for David’s misbehavior because he vouched for his friend with anger eyes, and later gets passed over for a promotion because Alfredo wants to put him in his place. And Jonah comes home to tell Riley that the big-time agent he met at the premiere wanted to see what he calls his “backwards movie, ‘Living in Reverse.’” I actually believe Jonah shot a movie backwards and called it that, just like I believe art therapy is helpful to mentally disabled persons who need to draw their feelings.
Riley tells Jonah that she bailed out Ashlee, who appears in the corner, arms crossed over a towel, like some kind of charmless, useless ghost with no singing or acting ability whatsoever.
She explains to the morons who live in reverse that she ran from the cops because she stole money from her adopted parents, not because she killed Sydney, who is by the way her mother! Riley and Jonah are shocked about Ashlee being Syd’s daughter, because it’s easy to surprise people like them just by blowing the remains of a dandelion into the wind.
Meanwhile, Lauren gets stiffed by Victor, literally, and then afterwards, when he refuses to pay her, then shoves her against the mahogany bureau of the W Hotel’s finest prostitution suite when she fights back. She gets in trouble with the security guard downstairs, who is on to her hookerin’, and before he calls the cops, Kimber from Nip/Tuck stops him, saying Lauren’s with her, and her gorgeous, God-formed face.
It turns out Kimber is a Hollywood Madam, who signs Lauren, or whatever it’s called when that happens. So good for her, and good for all of us.
Back at the apartment complex, Ella and David join forces once she tells him that Jane is trying to blackmail her because Abby wouldn’t wear one of her DEE-signs. David tells Ella he has dirt on Jane from his dad’s computer files, and Ella is so turned on at the idea of blackmailing a blackmailer, she shoves her darty, Muppet Baby Heather Locklear tongue in and out of David’s chubby pink mouth, and it is revolting. David later confronts Jane about the time she burned down her DEE-sign shop in the first Melrose Place and tells her to step off, and Ella receives an email from Jane saying all is forgiven.
Then, everybody hangs out by the pool and talks about how shocking it is that Ashlee is Sydney’s daughter while they the eat the peanut butter marshmallow treats she baked, which must have been hard for her to do with her arms crossed the whole time.
Ashlee does some wonderful acting with her lips, eyes and hair, as people chow down on her nutty s’mores, and Ella tells David that despite their night together of tongue-darting blonde harmony, they’re through. The show ends in the office of the ethnic cops, one of whom answers the phone, “Rodriguez,” so I’ll just call him Latin now. Jane, calling from her DEEE-sign studio, tells Officer Latino Rodriguez that she has evidence proving Ella had reason to kill Sydney.
So it turns out she lied before about them being cool, which is shocking. Because nobody has ever lied in an email, right? “Can’t wait to hear what you think, hope to see you soon, looking forward to getting together and going to see some live jazz, I’m attaching a jpeg of this really cool Palm Centro.”
Yeesh. This show.