Hillary Michaels (Linda Gray) heads L.A. firm Models Inc. and puts her beauties in a beach house where, she decides, “for the most part, they’re happy.” Aaron Spelling, not content to settle for “happy” for his characters, unspools ankle-deep vignettes in this “Melrose Place” spinoff, offering lovelies , ersatz sex and amusingly overwrought dramas all spread under a coat of gloss. It’s a go.
“Melrose” also was launched during the summer to make the most of webs’ repeat skedding; as with that show, the new hour series will be bolstered through the dog days by lightweight, formula plotting, semi-ensemble playing and attractive bods.
To further their cause, writers Frank South and Charles Pratt Jr. spring a mysterious death of a major character as a come-on for next week.
Sarah (Cassidy Rae, in from “Melrose Place”), the newest doll at the factory, is true blue. Right off the bat, nasty, blond Aussie Julie (sloe-eyed Kylie Travis) mucks up sweet Sarah’s first job, so Sarah’s forewarned.
At her first Models party — a stilted, kissy-kissy affair — Sarah and the viewers get the dirt on some of the ciphers.
Beauteous brunette Teri (Stephanie Romanov) is so in demand, she’s jumping ship (and after Hillary’s been oh, so motherlike all this time).
Teri’s older sister, model Carrie (Carrie-Anne Moss), gets her comeuppance from selfish Teri, and photographer Brian Peterson (Cameron Daddo), thinking he can rule Teri, gets blackballed at the agency. Black-haired, smashing Linda (Teresa Hill) has a thing for nasty Eric (David Goldsmith), who’s staking a claim as her “personal manager,” a taboo at Hillary’s hacienda.
Hillary’s private life so far remains private, and Gray plays her blandly for the moment. Hillary does boast son David (a weak Brian Gaskill) as the firm’s veepee and a daughter, Amanda (Heather Locklear, a regular at “Melrose,” but not appearing in this episode).
No one does much acting, since not much is required, but the posturings are pretty. The couplings are so far uninviting, the script by creators South and Pratt off-the-rack material.
Designer Nolan Miller acquits himself admirably as designer Gerard, and Robert Beltran boosts this first episode as a welcome L.A. police cop. Leslie Parsons’ production design succeeds in what it’s doing, and tech credits are slick.
Director Charles Correll keeps a fire lit under the characters, and Tim Truman has furnished an up-type musical background. After the 90-minute shakedown cruise, characters will fall into place so they can live out their fantasy lives, and Spelling will again bring home the bacon.