Episode 1: A Brand New Day


It's a new season, and all I can say is ... who the heck ARE these people? Anyhow, a decent, if not great opener. The Bizarre One was in fine form, but I worry that Michael, being the only "fun" character left, will be made to look increasingly goofy as the season goes on. Heather Locklear is still the "special guest star," and after all these stories, they still use the same slow-motion shot of Kelly Rutherford.

Several shocks to the Melrosian psyche: No more Shooter's! No more D&D! And no more arty slo-mo replays at the commercial breaks! Oh, where is the love?

The Matt Slot goes to ... Megan, who is forced to listen to the weird ramblings of Jennifer Mancini, Marriage Counselor. (And yes, "the Matt Slot" will not change, despite the events of this episode.)

Craig, Billy, and Samantha:

Matt hurriedly drives Billy and Chelsea to the hospital, ducking hordes of paparazzi. The ambulance with last season's salary casualties has arrived. Billy rushes to the nurses' station: "Daaah, my girfriend just came in here! Do ya know which doctor will be attending?" "Hmmm, Dr. Mancini is unavailable, Dr. Burns is off planning to kill Taylor ... I'm sorry, sir, I'll have to make up a name and get back to you." Dr. No Name pops up and tells the weeping Craig that Sydney is dead: "The contract disagreements were too severe." Jennifer tries to console him, but he says, "Waaah! Go 'way! Sydney! Waaaah!"

Matt tells Billy he's heard that Samantha is OK, but Evil Dad is dead. They're stunned by Syd's death. Billy offers condolences to Craig, but he won't hear it, accusing Sam of murdering his wife. "I'll make sure that Sammie pays for that. May you rot in hell! May all of you rot in hell!! Uh, could someone give me a lift home?"

The next day, Billy returns to the hospital to visit Sam. A detective, who's just finished questioning her, tells Billy it's unlikely charges will be brought against her. However, "this could have been avoided if you and she had come forward earlier." Billy stares. [Translation: Andrew Shue realizes he forgot to set his VCR for the "Ally McBeal" premiere that night.] He enters Sam's room; she's bruised, but otherwise fine. "Ah, doy, Billy. Good news. The doctor says some brain cells were bounced around in the crash. I feel smarter!" They profess their love, then hug each other with all the emotion of the Mars Sojourner probing Yogi.

A couple of days later, Craig is accepting the condolences of well-wishers after Sydney's memorial service. "Craig, I'm so sorry. Sydney was the ultimate conniver." "Sniff. Thank you, Mr. Trump. That means a lot to me." Billy and Sam arrive. Billy's unsure about the wisdom of this, but she says, "Doy, Billy, with my new enhanced IQ, I know this is the right thing!" Craig tersely tells them to get lost. Billy still has his job, though, and Craig orders him to keep an eye on D&D ...oh, I mean Sky High (I still can't believe it's gone!) until he returns from Chicago, where he's returning Syd's body to The White Shadow. Billy walks away, muttering to Sam, "Enhanced IQ, my ass!"

Later, Billy and Sam go a crematorium, where Evil Dad's body is about to be toasted. Some creepy guy asks if they have a container for the ashes. Billy hands over his Scooby Doo lunchbox. As they watch the casket go into the flames, Sam stares at her reflection and turns into Lawrence Olivier: "Oh, Billy, my father doth be full of poison, and he hath poisoned me. Yea, verily, he hath covered me in his hate! I share his darkness. Damn you, father! A pox on thee!" Billy says, "Gaaah, gee, take it easy, Sam! No more Kenneth Branagh films fer you."

The next morning, Billy heads off to work. As soon as he leaves, Sam calls up her mother (played by Joanna Cassidy) and breaks the news about Dad. She hadn't even told Mom that Dad had broken out of prison! She wants to send the ashes back home, but a shaken Mom says no: "I am not really interested in anything to do with your father, especially after you wait a whole season to tell me." She hangs up, leaving a distraught Samantha alone.

That night, Billy wakes up around 1 a.m. and sees that Sam isn't in bed. He finds her in their makeshift studio, where she's speedily painting something we can't see. Billy asks if she's OK. She seems really anxious, but she says she got a sudden inspiration and wants to finish it. Billy wastes no time in returning to bed! "Mmmmm, sleeeep..." We then see the painting on Sam's canvas -- and it's nasty! It's her surrounded by hellish flames, with a large hand covering her mouth! It's subtitled: "No, Mr. Spelling! I won't reveal your dark secrets!"

Amanda, Kyle, Jennifer, and more Craig:

The morning after the tragic events, a blissfully unaware Amanda and Kyle wake up in her leopard-print bedsheets. (Aren't those sheets getting a little worn-out by now?) They giggle about how they had sex in the hallway, the kitchen, the living room couch ... They must have had sex at the hair stylist's, too, since Rob Estes' hair has apparently changed from black to brown! Amanda says that she still needs to fly to New York -- not permanently, but just to tell the agency there that she's staying in L.A. after all. She feels obligated to break the news in person.

Late that afternoon, at Shooter's...oh, I mean Upstairs (damn, this is difficult!), Kyle is getting ready to open for the day. He yells at Jennifer for arriving late, obviously unaware of what happened. She tells him about Sydney's death. Kyle is shocked! "Poor Syd. Things never went her way." Jennifer rolls her eyes! She snippily asks why he split from the wedding, then wonders aloud if he feels guilty for leaving Syd to her fate just to have sex with Amanda. (Hmmm, watching Syd's death, having sex with Amanda ... gee, that's a tough choice!) Kyle silences her with a dark look.

In New York City, Amanda tries to tell Eric, her boss from years back, about her refusal. But this guy won't shut up! Obviously lusting for her bod, he reminisces about the good old days, when she started working there as a lowly assistant. (In New York? Didn't she flee Antonio Sabato in Miami and head straight to California?) Finally, when this blowhard pauses for breath, she breaks the news: She's staying in Los Angeles. Eric, not pleased, starts getting very inquisitive about her personal life! Amanda admits there's a new guy in her life, and Eric asks if she's willing to toss away a great opportunity just for sex. Amanda keeps her cool, apologizes, and leaves. Eric simmers for a bit, then feebly throws a vase against a wall. No more guest spots for YOU, young man!

The next day, the jazz is playing loudly at Upstairs. Jennifer taunts Kyle, saying Amanda is never coming back. But Amanda returns on cue! She and Kyle start smooching, and Jennifer whines, "Are we working, or are you going to mate right in front of me?"

Late at night, Craig sits alone in his apartment, surrounded by wedding presents. He angrily gets up, flings open the door, and starts kicking the presents into The Pool! (The Pool responds: "I accept your sacrifice, young one! Say, what's this, a blender?") He sobs and screams, "Waaah! Sydney! I can't return any of these gifts! Waaah! I want my agent! I want David Hasselhoff! Waah!" Jennifer enters the courtyard and tries to calm him down. She finds a package tossed casually on the ground. "Look, Craig, it's from Sydney." It's a watch with the inscription: "Time doesn't matter, unless of course your show is on at 2:30 in the morning, which really sucks. Our love is forever. Your wife, Sydney. P.S.: So long, suckers!" Craig sobs, "Waaah! Jennifer, I'll just cry here like a baby and rest my head on your warm, luscious thighs."

Michael, Matt, Chelsea, Megan, Peter, Taylor, and Jennifer (yes, she gets around):

The Bizarre Dr. Peter Burns walks around the hotel in Carmel where he and Lip Lass are staying. He's obviously deep in thought. He finally returns to his room: "Good God, Taylor, what HAVE you been injecting into those lips? Cottage cheese?" She insists that she's pregnant. To her surprise, Peter says, "I believe you. And I've always trusted you." Uh oh! Something's up! He then gets on his knees and proposes to her! "Oh, Peter, it's fabulous -- a lip stud!" "No, for pity's sake, it's a ring! For your finger!"

At the hospital, Jennifer spoon-feeds tapioca to a bed-ridden Michael, who has bandaged Gumby hands because of his fight with Peter. When Jennifer tells him the news of Peter and Taylor's engagement, he is truly stunned! He expected Peter to kill her! She also says that Megan has moved out of the beach house and into her place. It's all over between the two of them -- unless, of course, Michael would like Jennifer to say a few good words on his behalf. "Okay," he says, "what's in it for you?" She cryptically replies, "One day, I will ask a favor of you, and you will grant me that favor, no matter what it is." He stares at her and says, "You're the weird one in the family, you know that?"

Suddenly, we're in Cleveland! A young man stares at the grave of Kimberly Shaw. "Michael is going to pay for what he did." It's new cast member Linden Ashby, from "Mortal Kombat" and the short-lived "Spy Game" (which, ironically, debuted opposite MP in the spring).

Back at Jennifer's place, Jennifer and Megan chat -- well, Jennifer does most of the talking. She says she'll find a rich husband and stick with him. She adds, "You are one of the most moral people I've known." She then goes on about how Michael rescued Megan from the streets and ruined everything by lying to her. Megan raises a Spock-like eyebrow at the tone of this conversation. If Jennifer is trying to reunite the couple, her tactics need some work! Tom Arnold would do a better job!

We return to Carmel, where Taylor gives Peter some lip about his TV habits. "Why are you always watching golf?" The Bizarre One, mesmerized, says, "I love golf, Taylor." She tries to get frisky, but he says, "I want to save the physical stuff until after the wedding." She persists and eventually causes his glass of wine to spill on his shirt. He grumbles, "That's a 1996 Ernest and Julio Gallo you're wasting!" She goes into his suitcase to get another shirt. (He hasn't unpacked?) She finds a white shirt -- with blood on it! The bare-chested Bizarre One watches and calmly asks, "Aren't you going to ask about the blood? Take you time answering -- I want to show off my pecs." "Oh! I, uh, figure you cut yourself shaving." Gee, he must shave his chest hair! "I got into a fight with Michael. It came out in one of those 'rage epilepsy' attacks." He watches her reaction carefully. "I guess I'll have to stay on that medication after all." Will Taylor fess up? "Uh, yeah, I guess so." Hmmm, I think Lippie just failed her final test!

At Wilshire Memorial, Matt tells Michael that he wants to do his residency at an AIDS clinic in San Francisco. Incredulous, Michael says, "You had the opportunity to train under the most ruthless doctor in California, but if you wanna be a do-gooder, so be it." He says he knows one of the doctors there, and he'll put in a good word for Matt. Suddenly, in walks the man who stood by Kimberly's grave. He introduces himself as Dr. Brett Cooper ("Coop" for short). He just joined the staff, so he came by to introduce himself to Michael -- who is still the chief of staff, believe it or not! (Didn't Megan say that she told people the whole truth about what he did to Peter?) Anyhow, the mysterious Dr. Cooper says he knows a hand surgeon at UCLA; he'll ask him to take a look at Michael's mitts. Michael is thankful!

Back in Carmel, the Bizarre wedding commences. Peter and Taylor are getting married in front of a bunch of non-speaking people, probably recent employees of D&D. Taylor is ecstatic! When the priest mentions if anyone wants to speak now or forever hold their peace, yadda yadda yadda, Peter says, "I think I do!" Before a shocked Lippie, priest, and audience, Peter verbally tears into her! "Did you think I was insane AND stupid?!?" He tells her he knows everything about her scheme with Michael -- the drugging, the fake beatings, the USA Network movies, etc. -- just so she could take the place of her dead sister. Let's not forget the destruction of his marriage with Amanda! "How could you believe that I wanted to marry you, or even touch you?!" She crumples to the ground, but he keeps at it! "To me, you're lower than a slug! The thought that you are pregnant with my child makes me want to vomit!" He stalks off, leaving a shattered Lippie behind. The witnesses say, "We skipped Bingo night for this?"

At the hospital, Matt wheels Michael toward his office as Michael worries that Peter will soon return and change the wallpaper. In the office, they see the new Dr. Cooper hovering over Michael's desk. Coop says he was just looking for Michael. He adds that he's searching for a place to live. Michael says he should take Matt's apartment. Matt is confused, but Michael adds, "Oh, didn't I tell you? I talked to that guy in San Francisco -- you got that job." Matt is psyched! After Coop leaves, Michael tells Matt, "We haven't always seen eye to eye, but you've been a friend, and I'm going to miss you." Matt says likewise. Michael adds, "After you save the world, come back and help me corrupt it, OK?"

That night, Matt and Chelsea look around a strangely deserted Melrose Place. He wanted to say goodbye, but nobody's home! He waxes nostalgic: "I never lived anywhere like this. It seems like just yesterday that I was sitting by the pool with Rhonda." "Uncle Matt, that's because you saw the repeat on E! last week." "Well, let's get going. I'm off to San Francisco, and we should get you to Stanford University before Bill and Hilary get worried." An oddly appropriate farewell for Matt: He rarely had scenes with the Melrose inhabitants anyway! Bye, Matt! Bye, Chelsea!

At Upstairs, Kyle and Amanda banter nastily with the returned Lip Lass, who says she's through with Peter Burns. Amanda hopes this means she'll see less of her, but it turns out that Matt leased out Jake's old pad to her just before he left. D'OH!

As Michael sleeps in his hospital bed, Peter sneaks in and grabs him by the throat! "Hi, Mikey, I'm back!" An evilly smiling Bizarre One swears to destroy him. "You got a lot of pain coming your way, Michael, and I'm gonna enjoy every minute of it! I think I'll like this season -- I've turned back into a nasty son of a bitch!"

Next Week: Megan tries to mediate! Jennifer channels Sydney! Lippie IS pregnant -- but not by Peter! Craig seeks vehicular revenge!

--Ken Hart

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