It's finally here, folks: the premiere of the new Melrose Place! The rebooted Melrose follows a familiar formula: A dashing array of twentysomethings pursue life and love in Los Angeles, where they all live in the same apartment complex. But there is much that is new as well, including a multiepisode murder storyline in which many of the Place's residents are suspects. Here's a quick primer before you watch the premiere (Tuesday, 9/8c, CW):
Who's back from the original?
Laura Leighton (Sydney Andrews) and Thomas Calabro (Michael Mancini) anchor the cast of young'uns, and their devious characters haven't changed a bit. "I think Sydney's always been sort of doomed to be the center of controversy," says Leighton, "and she's very much in that position." Indeed, as Melrose Place's new landlady, Sydney plays a central role in the season's first few episodes, as we learn about her fractious relationships with the building's tenants — romantic and otherwise.
Calabro, meanwhile, couldn't have been happier to try on Michael's bad-guy hat again. "I was very excited to find out he had even more money than before and ultimate power," he says. "So I thought, you know, if he continues to be an evildoer, that bodes well for his ability to do so." But the actor points out that Michael's motivations are mostly good. "He [does] bad things to preserve his good life," he says. "He has a family and he's trying to keep it together."
What's that, a family? Yes, in addition to an initially unseen nuclear family, Michael is also the father of one of the building's tenants, David (Shaun Sipos), and their relationship is anything but cozy. You see, David inherited the bad-boy gene, and also his pop's taste for redheads.
Who are the other new kids?
Perhaps the biggest name in the new cast is newly redheaded pop star Ashlee Simpson-Wentz, who plays Violet, a small-town girl who recently arrived in L.A. "It's fun to play the innocent side, but the really innocent girl is probably not so innocent," she says. "She's got a dark side."
Also on board are a pair of lovebirds, à la Billy and Allison: filmmaker Jonah (Michael Rady) and schoolteacher Riley (Jessica Lucas), whose initial predicament appears to be whether to grow up and get married. Med student Lauren (Stephanie Jacobsen) takes an interesting career path when she has trouble paying the bills. Chef and recovering alcoholic Auggie (Colin Egglesfield) has a small, but significant role in the first episode.
And Katie Cassidy, daughter of teen pop icon David, plays Ella, a power-hungry publicist who appears to be the heir — and hair — apparent to Heather Locklear's Amanda Woodward. But there's a catch: Ella's sexual preference is more all-encompassing. "We call her 'try-sexual,' which is to say she will try anything," jokes co-executive producer Todd Slavkin.
What's this about a murder?
By the end of the first hour, one of the main characters will be doing a dead-man's float, Sunset Boulevard-style, in the Place's pool. Though we won't reveal the identity of the victim (it has been widely spoiled on the Internet, so, you know, Google it), the repercussions will stretch out for much of the first season, and beyond.
"The idea of mystery and suspense and intrigue is very much a part of the overall tone of the show," says Darren Swimmer, Melrose's co-executive producer. "And so whether or not an initial murder is solved, there will still be plenty of mystery and suspense and some crime elements and fun stuff like that."
Will Heather Locklear return?
"Well, the door is always open for Heather Locklear," says Slavkin. "We're huge fans of hers and, you know, have a great way for her to come into the show." In the meantime, while continuing rumors of Locklear's return swirl, fans of the original can look forward to guest spots by Josie Bissett, who played Michael's first wife Jane, and streetwise photographer Jo Reynolds, played by Daphne Zuniga. Both are scheduled to appear in the first batch of fall episodes.
What else can we look forward to?
At least two of the cast members will work together at a hip Los Angeles eatery, which will take the place of the original's hangout, Shooters. As there is a murderer on the loose, security will be a concern, and the newly installed cameras around the pool will capture more than just swimming. "They kind of said, 'Yeah, some crazy stuff is going to happen and you will see," Rady says. "The scripts keep coming out and we are like, 'What?'"
Are you excited for the new Melrose Place? Who do you think dies in the first episode?