Photo Credit: CW
Before we even get a chance to learn everyone's name, Sydney is dead. Yeah, that Sydney. From the original show. If you didn't watch the original show (neither did I), she's one of the old faces making way for the new ones. She makes a lot of room when she ends up face down in the apartment pool. This freaks everyone out to have all seen their landlord taken away in a body bag, but not enough to derail these new characters from returning to their own problems so we can get to know them. Convenient.
The only character of the lot who really seems troubled by Sydney's murder is David, supposed illegitimate son of Dr. Michael Mancini from the original series. The grief might be because David happened to be the last person to see her alive. He had a thing going on with Sydney and was the only one to respond to a distress call the night of her death. He's detained as a possible suspect until his friend Ella bails him out with a fake alibi, saying he was with her all night. A flashback tells us that Sydney was planning to evict Ella because she told David that Sydney was sleeping with his father. Motive? Maybe.
Then, there's the cutesy couple, Jonah and Riley, highlighted mainly by Jonah's man-child antics. He's a filmmaker who uses his iMovie tricks to propose to Riley who is hesitant to accept because of the aforementioned immaturity. The proposal is also conveniently interrupted by a scream upon the discovery of Sydney's dead body, allowing it to become a story arc. See how that works, melodrama writers? It takes the rejection of a $100,000 offer from Thomas Sterling -- another throwback character -- after Jonah accidentally catches him on film cheating on his wife to get Riley to say yes to Jonah. She's so easy.
We also have a struggling doctor, Lauren, who can't afford to go to medical school and sinks to accepting an indecent proposal from a patient's son after wrestling with the moral dilemma of sex for money. Come on. Could there ever be any doubt she would accept the offer? Where's the predictable, sordid plot twists we've come to expect from a show bearing the name Melrose Place. Oh. Never mind.
Then we have the characters that are touched on lightly, which you know means they are hiding something. There's Auggie the cook. Ashlee Simpson-Wentz's character Violet is the new girl in the complex and happens to be the one to stumble upon Sydney's corpse. Her words of wisdom (you know there's a problem when Ashlee Simpson-Wentz's character is the one doling out wisdom) lead Lauren to mull over her hooker potential. That looks like the start of a beautiful friendship right there.
Everything becomes a jumbled mess at the end as the episode tries to connect everyone. There's some sort of odd, makeshift memorial held for Sydney with all the new characters in attendance, which only consists of a brief toast. It becomes quite clear that Ella has a thing for Jonah when she reacts in disgust at the announcement of Riley's acceptance of his proposal. David tries to mack on her and gets shot down. He goes and does some cat burglary instead to cool off. Ella goes out and gets freaky with some random woman while being tailed by police. Violet asks out Auggie, but he blows her off to go dispose of some bloody clothes. And... wait, what?! It's always the characters you don't develop.
Welcome to the new old Melrose Place where everything is still sleazy, but covered with the glaze of 2009.