January 27, 1997 12:00 PM

NBC (weekdays, check local listings)

C

One might initially suspect that producer Aaron Spelling, in his first attempt at an afternoon soap opera, is simply transferring his Melrose Place formula to daytime. Here we have the predictable assortment of boy-men with impeccable musculature and girl-women in thigh-high shifts (the Heather, this style should be called, or the Locklear). They work as lifeguards, officers on the beach patrol, bartenders. Their relationships are. casual and feverish, if not convincingly erotic. But Spelling and his creative team are onto something new: This soap community has been set beside the mighty Pacific, repeatedly glimpsed as a distant watery horizon. In the ceaseless rhythm of its tides and its monotonous roar, the ocean mocks and makes insignificant the day-today machination’s and dreams of both the young (including Randy Spelling and Ashley Hamilton, who are in the cast but didn’t turn up in the first week’s episodes) and the few who are relatively old (Lesley-Anne Down, 20 years after Upstairs Downstairs, as a dissolute society wife). The ocean whispers of vast nothingness. Of course, if you don’t have a seashell clapped to your ear, as I did, you may have a completely different interpretation.

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