DVD Review: Melrose Place (The Complete Series)

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Whenever I think of Melrose Place, my mind goes back to how my friend Lisa K. hosted a spaghetti dinner when the series was at its height in the mid-90s. Every Monday night, you’d fill a plate full of noodles and watch the tawdriness evolve. There were plenty of people hooked on the series. Her second floor apartment didn’t have an empty space on the sofas. The guests would wait until the commercial breaks to either comment on the over-the-top Soap Opera moments or get a quick backstory on what happened previously. We were young people in our twenties fresh out of college. The show seemed like it was talking to us although none of us were having a steamy affair with Heather Locklear. 

Melrose Place is about the residents of 4616 Melrose Place in Los Angeles. This is an intimate apartment complex that surrounded a pool. The eight residents were all about being intimate with each other. There was the stud Jake Hanson (Grant Show). Dr. Michael Mancini (Thomas Calabro) and his wife Jane (Josie Bissett) are managing his medical career and being the building supervisor. Matt Fielding (Doug Savant) was the not so obvious gay social worker. Rhonda Blair (Vanessa Williams) was an aerobics instructor. Sandy Harling (Amy Locane) was a bartender looking for her big acting break. Alison (Courtney Thorne-Smith) is working her way up an advertising agency when she finds her roommate has bailed on her. Thus she brings in aspiring screenwriter Billy Campbell (Andrew Shue) to split the rent. The show has all 8 characters always interacting as if they’re best friends and sometimes lovers. For those of us who had moved into apartment complexes, we’d realized nobody wanted to get to know your neighbors in the complex. Half the time you were too busy working to pay the rent. There was always something creepy about the water in the apartment’s pool and rarely was anyone that looked like Josie Bissett were suntanning near the diving board. The show was so unrealistic with its depiction of apartment living. Even though we hung out at Lisa’s apartment, most of us didn’t live in her neighborhood.

The one thing the series did get right is the massive turnover at an apartment building. At the end of the seven seasons, the only remaining original cast member was Dr. Michael Mancini (Thomas Calabro). The tenant turnover started fast when Amy Locane’s Southern girl was gone with the wind before the first season was a third of the way through. She was quickly replaced by Jo (The Sure Thing’s Daphne Zuniga).  Vanessa Williams didn’t return after the first season. Her character didn’t get too many entertaining storylines. The first half of the debut season was a bit realistic as it delved into the struggles people have in their twenties as they attempt to be considered adults. Things changed halfway through the first season when Heather Locklear appeared as Alison’s boss. She brought the fire to the residents when she immediately made a play for Billy behind Alison’s back. Heather Locklear pushed the show from being a drama into the realm of a primetime soap opera with so many “did that really just happen” elements. One of the casting highlights came in season three when Traci Lords appeared as Rikki. She was part of a polygamous cult trying to recruit the tenants. Who wouldn’t want to sign up for a cult with Traci Lords? This storyline got me completely hooked on the show. 

As the seasons progressed, more characters came and went. There were plenty of shocking moments to talk about on Tuesday morning including when one character revealed they were wearing a wig and had serious surgery. Not to give away too much, but there were plenty of people getting shot or blown up. There was a lot of hooking up between characters so that you could never be sure who was sleeping in which apartment. 

Melrose Place: The Complete Series is highly addictive. It’s worth revisiting for old fans and indulging for people who have yet to rent their first apartment. I highly recommend watching Melrose Place with your favorite pasta to get the full effect of an evening in the ‘90s.

The video is 1.33:1 full frame. The show appears to have been shot on film and edited and mastered on standard definition video. There’s a bit of fuzziness even though the ‘90s style comes through sharp. The audio is Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo. The sound mix works for both the peppy soundtrack and the occasional explosions. Only the last three seasons are subtitled. 

Beginnings (5:29) has Darren Star talk about how he wanted to make a series about post-college kids in their 20s trying to get used to being an adult. Starr talks about how the building reflected an apartment complex he lived at during this time of his life. He mentions how Fox didn’t let him let the characters get frisky until halfway through the first season. He discusses his approach to the sequel that wasn’t really connected that hard to Beverly Hills 90210

Friends & Neighbors (6:25) has the actors discuss their characters and how they relate to each other. Darren Star says the characters came into their own over the season. He talks about each character and their actor. 

Neighbors & Friends (5:52) has Andrew Shue talk about being Billy. Darren says part of him is in the character since he was once an aspiring writer. Darren’s roommate at UCLA was Daphne Zuniga and she ended up on the show. He also had a roomie who bolted in the middle of the night. 

Season One Episode Guide is text with the logline for the various episodes. 

Melrose Place Behind The Scenes (5:00) is a launch premier piece. Aaron Spelling talks about the show. Matt is called “politically corrected” instead of Gay. 

Amanda (2:16) talks about the arrival of Heather Locklear on the show. Darren Star didn’t have much of a character when she arrived to play Alison’s boss. She creatively opened up the show with her sharky way. 

New Style Profile (4:45) is from Fox Behind the Scenes. They push the hype and how show was a ratings success. They show a giant street party held to celebrate the launch. 

Meet The Neighbors is a graphic interface with postcards of the characters to help keep them straight. 

The Best of the Worst Part 1 (12:04) are clips of the extreme moments from the season. You might want to watch this after completing the season.

The Best of the Worst Part 2 (9:05) are more highlights of the tawdry moments. 

Audio Commentary with Darren Star on “Collision Course” and “The Bitch Is Back.” 

Complex Relationships – Billy and Alison (9:32) deep dives into the characters’ relationship. It’s a summary of the season with clips and an announcer summing things up.

Complex Relationships – Amanda, Jake, Jo and Reed (10:14) goes into how these two women all about Jake. 

Complex Relationship – Michael, Jane, Kimberly, Sydney and Matt (17:20) gets into the tangled web of three women and Matt gets married. 

According to Jake (19:21) has Darren Star talk about how the show reflected about his time at an apartment complex. He used Jake to launch the show by having him date a character on Beverly Hills 90210. Aaron Spelling gets praised for giving Grant Show his big break. He talks about the show getting more salacious after the first few episodes. 

Seven Minutes In Hell (7:09) is the biggest nightmares of the season. This was Alison’s drinking problem season.

Everything You Needed to Know About Melrose Place Season 3 (14:58) is hosted by Michael Colton and John Aboud. They joke how they live there, but aren’t interesting to get their stories on the show. They insert themselves into the opening. They summarize the attempted murders, explosions, kidnappings and shootings. 

CBS DVD presents Melrose Place: The Complete Series. Created by Darren Star. Starring Josie Bissett, Thomas Calabro, Marcia Cross, Kristin Davis, Laura Leighton, Amy Locane, Alyssa Milano, Lisa Rinna, Doug Savant, Grant Show, Andrew Shue, Courtney Thorne-Smith, Jack Wagner, Vanessa A. Williams, Daphne Zuniga, Heather Locklear and Traci Lords. Rated: Unrated. Boxset Contents: 226 Episodes on 54 DVDs. Release Date: October 4, 2022.

Joe Corey is the writer and director of "Danger! Health Films" currently streaming on Night Flight and Amazon Prime. He's the author of "The Seven Secrets of Great Walmart People Greeters." This is the last how to get a job book you'll ever need. He was Associate Producer of the documentary "Moving Midway." He's worked as local crew on several reality shows including Candid Camera, American's Most Wanted, Extreme Makeover Home Edition and ESPN's Gaters. He's been featured on The Today Show and CBS's 48 Hours. Dom DeLuise once said, "Joe, you look like an axe murderer." He was in charge of research and programming at the Moving Image Archive.