'Melrose Place' is a steamy hit for the twentysomethings


January 17, 1994|By David Zurawik | David Zurawik,Television Critic

Los Angeles -- Jo is going to get involved with a "dangerous" guy she knew in high school. Amanda's going to get a mom from out of nowhere. And Jake is going to get more involved with Amanda.

Welcome to "Melrose Place" -- the twentysomething, prime-time

soap opera, which is suddenly the hottest show on Fox Television.

How hot?

It's up almost 40 percent in viewers from last year and is beating "Home Improvement" with adults 18 to 34 years old. That's not bad when you consider that "Home Improvement" is the second highest rated show on all TV.

Fox has already renewed the series for next year -- ordering 32 episodes instead of the usual 22 episodes, which make for a full network order.

So, why is "Melrose Place" so hot?

Here's what some of the stars had to say in a series of informal interviews about the show over the week- end.

"It's the same appeal as the Menendez trial or listening to Lorena Bobbitt," says Grant Show, who plays the hunky Jake Hanson.

"It's voyeurism. It's, it's . . . what's the word I'm looking for here? It's kind of, um, a sickness. Yeah it's a sickness.

"It appeals to that sick part in all of us that wants to see the dark side. And "Melrose Place" is a very safe place to see the dark side. Watching "Melrose Place" is a safe way to visit the dark side."

Daphne Zuniga, who plays Jo Reynolds, says it's mainly "sex."

"I came in after the show had already started, and I had never watched it. And the main thing that struck me when I looked at the tapes they gave me was, 'Yeah, everybody looks good, really cute.' So, that was great.

"And I got the sense that they were just trying to see what worked. And they said, 'Sex, yeah, sex works. Good, we'll keep that.' " Zuniga says, "It's great, I love it . . . But I'm surprised how seriously everyone takes these really bizarre situations.

"You start out asking what's the motivation. What's the reality here. But, hey, there is no reality. Throw that out the window, and you just go with the scene you're playing . . . I mean, it's so dramatic . . . "You slept with who? How could you?' "

Heather Locklear says she's flattered when people say the arrival of her character, Amanda Woodward, at "Melrose Place" was the spark that set off the ratings fire. But she says it's not her, it's the conflict Amanda provides.

"Everyone was so nice and good at first. What they needed was a character to add conflict.

"And Amanda definitely makes for conflict."

Locklear says she had just found out from producers that Amanda's mother is going to arrive at Melrose Place in coming weeks and that her mother is then going to be spun off into a new series called "Models Inc." Mom is going to be a high-powered type who runs a modeling agency, which is what the spin-off will be about.

"See, I thought my mother was dead -- I mean my character's mother was dead.

"They told me that mom had abandoned me and then died, and blah, blah, blah, by way of a back-story for Amanda. Now, I just find out she's alive and runs this modeling agency.

"Have you heard who's going to play my mom?" Locklear asked the interviewer.

Maybe Faye Dunaway, she was told.

"Hmmm, that sounds OK. I heard Angie Dickinson maybe. Who knows?"

And that's the way it goes -- in sort of a sudsy, Zen-like flow -- on the red-hot "Melrose Place" these days.

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.