June 28, 1999 12:00 PM

NBC (Weekdays; check local listings)

If life has seemed empty since Melrose Place ended its prime-time run in May, you may want to fill the void by getting involved in this 2½-year-old daytime soap, also produced by Aaron Spelling’s company. But better act fast: In April, when NBC announced the cancellation of Another World (expiring June 25 at age 35), it gave the low-rated Sunset Beach only a tepid endorsement and a six-month extension.

Like Melrose Place, this show features sex and scheming in Southern California, and it sometimes winks at the audience to signal that the absurdity is no accident. But the occasional disaster-movie parody or Jerry Springer guest shot can’t redeem the daily tedium of trite plots (beautiful amnesiac; child of uncertain parentage; two brothers, cop and priest, in love with the same minx) and ham acting. The serial’s top male heartthrob, Ben Evans (Clive Robertson), summed things up when he said on a recent episode, “This is ridiculous…. Can we just move on?” According to the promos, NBC’s new Passions (premiering July 5) “redefines daytime drama.” Sunset Beach would do well to redefine itself as an all-out comedy.

Bottom Line: Let the sun set

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