From: The Toronto Sun 3/19/1996
By CLAIRE BICKLEY
In Rowdy Roddy Piper’s sci-fi flick They Live, the trick to spotting aliens was that they all wore sunglasses.
In the Twinkie-weight teenage melodrama Malibu Shores, the giveaway is pastels or plaids. Pastels indicate kids from Malibu. Plaids mark those from the Valley. And that, if you don’t know, is as much like being from another yucky planet as can be.
“He’s a Val,” is the instant assessment of the snooty Mals whenever they spot such a subject. Worse yet, some of the Vals are trying to infiltrate.
“Zack lives in the Valley. I live in Malibu. I mean, there’s only 18 miles between them but in reality, they’re worlds apart,” explains Chloe (Keri Russell) at the beginning of the series’ premiere tonight at 8 on NBC and CFTO. This is what happens when Aaron Spelling does Romeo & Juliet.
Chloe lives in a glorious windowed beach house with her glam lawyer mom (Michelle Phillips) and her alcoholic-in-training older brother, Josh (Greg Vaughan). Zack (Russell’s real-life boyfriend,Tony Lucca) lives in a nice-though-modest home but his mother wears tacky clothes and has bad, puffy hair to indicate their place in society.
In Malibu, the adults are sleek. In the Valley, they could stand to lose a few pounds. The teens, regardless of address, are all gorgeous with abundant shiny hair, blinding teeth and tans. To pass time, the Mal kids surf. To fight boredom, the Val kids steal. You will like the Val kids better.
Zack and Chloe meet on the beach. We know it’s love at first sight. How? We have ears, don’t we, and they’re playing love-at-first-sight music on the soundtrack. Scandal ensues. How dare he? How could she? And who knew there was such a strict class system in Southern California? What is this, England?
Who cares, because Malibu Shores isn’t really about boundaries, social or geographic. It’s about threshold. How high is yours for endless giggling? And how willingly will you accept Russell’s ceaseless head-twitching as acting? Every turn of events is obvious, telegraphed long before it occurs. The cast’s unearthly beauty notwithstanding, it’s hard to see why a viewer would tune in again since every conflict is resolved by the first episode’s end. Next week, perhaps they’ll move on to curing cancer and working for world peace.