If you take 10 years away from "thirtysomething," you get Fox's new "Melrose Place." Well, not exactly.

If you take 10 years away from “thirtysomething,” you get Fox’s new “Melrose Place.” Well, not exactly.

What you get for the most part is a “thirtysomething” minus the years, the wit, the plot complexities and the rapport between ensemble members.

The story revolves around Melrose Place, an apartment complex in Hollywood where a group of eight young-adult residents struggle to get a start in life. The issue in the program’s opening moments is Courtney Thorne-Smith’s quest to find a new roommate after her previous one skipped out on her.

Her fellow apartment-dwellers must confront such problems as “finding Mr. Right,” whether to continue dating a beautiful high school student, and determining if getting out of bed before noon is a worthwhile endeavor.

These are not weighty issues, but they are about relationships, which are the linchpin of these ensemble series. To be fair, “Melrose” has the task of introducing all of its characters to a first-time audience. In the process, the show spreads itself too thin.

One of the more interesting situations is the relationship between a medical intern and his wife, who are trying to cope with his long hours at work.

Josie Bissett and Thomas Calabro are believable in their portrayal of this very real problem. But we don’t get to see enough of them–even in the 1 1/2 -hour format–to fully understand what they are going through.

The writing by Star–of “Beverly Hills, 90210″ fame–is spotty, ranging from truly hackneyed dialogue to some fairly inspired material.

On the trite side, hunk Grant Show is at a bar speaking to his ex-girlfriend Amy Locane about his current flame, who happens to be a high school student.

In analyzing Show’s relationships with the opposite sex, Locane tells him, “When it comes to women, you don’t think with your brain.”

And then she informs him, “You romanced me so hard, you turned me inside out.” Ouch.

On the other hand, a sequence in which Alison is interviewing potential roommates contains some fresh, funny moments.

But for the most part, “Melrose Place” doesn’t leave the shallow end of the pool.

Still, despite some of the weaknesses, show might yet aspire to the “thirtysomething” level, given some time and some fine tuning.

Melrose Place

(Wed. (8), 8:30-10 p.m., Fox)

Production

Filmed in Los Angeles by Darren Star Prods. in association with Spelling Inc. Executive producers, Aaron Spelling, E. Duke Vincent, Darren Star; supervising producer, Fred Rappaport; producer, Chip Hayes; co-producer, Chuck Pratt; director, Howard Deutsch; writer, Star; music; Jay Ferguson; director of photography, Tim Shurstedt.

Cast

Cast: Josie Bissett, Thomas Calabro, Amy Locane, Doug Savant, Grant Show, Andrew Shue, Courtney Thorne-Smith, Vanessa Williams.
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