Premiering tonight on the CW (though the first episode is already available on Hulu) is Canadian series The L.A. Complex. Think of it as a sort of Melrose Place, where a bunch of people who want to be famous in Hollywood live in a motel together. There's the actress, the dancer, the stand up comedian, the music mixer, the new star, and the aging performer. Well, aging by Los Angeles standards, which means she's almost 30. Will any of them succeed?
Despite this being a Canadian show, The L.A. Complex feels like it takes place in Hollywood. And why not? Film and television types have been taking advantage of the tax breaks in our northern neighbor for years. The people who work up there have a pretty good idea of what they are doing.
"Down in L.A." starts a little rough. Perhaps to introduce the characters quickly, small snippets of each are shown, with their names flashing across the screen. These moments are meant to highlight the main cast, and they do, but only in retrospect. They do not last long enough to make a memorable impression, and though only six players are featured, it feels like more, and a bit overwhelming, as before viewers can get an idea of who one person is, the episode is on to the next one.
That being said, it settles down relatively quickly after that, and it has a nice little spice. The cast is mostly young, which one would expect for the CW, but they aren't all gorgeous. Some are, but some are around normal levels of attractiveness. The writing is also sharper, and the personalities more layered, than the typical CW fare. Which means The L.A. Complex should still appeal to CW's bread and butter demographic, but perhaps introduce a little more quality than one might expect from most (not all) of the shows on the network.
There are many flavors at work here. There's a bit of Melrose Place, as mentioned above, because of the basic set up. There's also a little of Undeclared, given the naive eagerness of several of the characters, who haven't yet found their groove. Fame could also be mentioned, because of those trying so hard to get their big break. Though, only parts of the first episode seem like a retread, as other scenes feel fresh and original. The L.A. Complex is a new twist on a classic set up. In all, it's a satisfying mix.