kelly visits jake melrose place
Credit: Image: CBS

Daring, sexy, and addictive.

Fans of the 1990s, rejoice: CBS All Access has decided to give us all access to Melrose Place, that seven-season spinoff (1992 – 1999) of the original Beverly Hills, 90210. You might have been around for the original airing 28 years ago (if so, hi Gen-X’ers!), or maybe you weren’t old enough then but are starved for what is now a true time capsule of a series, full of scrunchies, neon signs, boom boxes – and no cell phones. So strap in as presents the recap of the Melrose Place pilot, and it’s gonna be a wild, sexy ride.

Called simply Pilot, the premiere episode crams a lot into its runtime, and it has to. In quick succession, we meet no fewer than eight new or nearly-new characters, including Dr. Michael Mancini (played by Thomas Calabro) and his wife Jane Andrews Mancini (Josie Bissett); and singletons Billy Campbell (Andrew Shue), Matt Fielding (Doug Savant), Jake Hanson (Grant Show; Ryan’s Hope’s Rick Hyde), Alison Parker (Courtney Thorne-Smith), Rhonda Blair (Vanessa Williams; Days of our Lives’ Valerie Grant), Sandy Louise Harling (Amy Locane). Several 90210 faves like Kelly Taylor (played by Jennie Garth), David Silver (Brian Austin Green), Steve Sanders (Ian Ziering; Guiding Light’s Cameron Stewart) and Donna Martin (Tori Spelling) also stop by, but don’t get invested – they’re just here to whet your appetite.

Baby, Baby, where did my roommate go

Everything kicks off as Alison’s roommate absconds in the middle of the night. “This has got to be the worst thing that has happened to me,” Alison says, then races over to her neighbors to tell them the bad news without changing out of her nightshirt. Everybody lives in Melrose Place, a sweet terra-cotta colored apartment complex where everyone has a view of the common pool. As she roams from apartment to apartment, we get to meet everybody – and also enjoy several well-sculpted bare male torsos on display. But everybody’s pals here, right?

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Under the gun to find a new roommate before Michael (who works 18 hours a day as a doctor and doubles as the apartment complex manager) tosses her out, Alison scribbles a want ad while driving to work. Some short time later, she cycles through a montage of Inappropriate Potential Roommates.

michael and jane talk to alison melrose place

Fortunately a roommate has been bequeathed to her by Natalie, who recommended Billy, a hunky aspiring-writer-who-teaches-at-Arthur-Murray-Dance-School-to-make-ends-meet, and after Alison and Billy spar over differing personal approaches to life (he’s super-gabby and she’s super-uptight), she agrees to let him move in.

billy and alison laugh melrose place

Elsewhere, Alison has other problems to cope with, like a sleazy ad exec whose car she dings and who takes her to a cocktail party to network, then who predictably shoulders his way into her apartment later on, expecting a little quid-pro-quo.

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Romantic hits, misses and splashing around

Kelly has the hots for Jake, and shows up several times at his door to wonder why they just can’t make things work together. He’s reluctant to be dating a high schooler and takes her to dinner, but her high school buds – David, Donna and Steve – show up to keep an eye on things and Jake ends things.

Michael, when he’s not threatening Alison with an eviction notice, works. A lot. His wife Jane also works, but in the back room of a clothing store, then comes home and makes him romantic meals he has a hard time getting excited about, because, well, 18 hour days. She’s feeling lonely and abandoned.

jane and rhonda shop melrose place

Not everybody has a big spotlight just yet. Sandy is a cocktail waitress at Shooters at night, then lounges around the pool during the day saying things in an insinuating Southern belle accent. Matt’s main job right now is to goof around with Rhonda, who’s an aerobics instructor looking for love. When one of her fitness students asks her out, things are looking up – but the date turns into a sad trombone moment when he pitches her his vitamin supplement business.

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In the end, Billy shapes up into a not-too-annoying roommate. We’re pretty sure that he and Alison are headed for an opposites-attract romance in the future, but for now, his big moment comes when Alison’s sleazy boss gets handsy and Billy has to break things up before they get truly hairy. So Alison is, by the end of the episode, once again worried about finances: What if she doesn’t have a job next time she goes into work?

Fortunately, things end on a more pleasant note. The Melrose gang is really each other’s substitute family, and everybody ends up in the pool together, splashing their cares away for now and hoping Billy’s grill, which hasn’t been cleaned in years, can still cook some burgers and dogs. If Melrose Place is something you’d like to watch, readers can stream seven seasons on Google Play, Hulu, Netflix and Prime Video today. And if you liked Melrose Place, you might want to check out Dynasty’s reboot which is scandalous.

jane and jake splash in pool melrose place

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