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When "Melrose Place" premiered during the summer of '92, I tried to give the show a chance. I watched several episodes before eventually giving up in disgust.

Not for nothing did this show quickly become tagged "The Young and the Shirtless." Its main goal seemed to be affording the male stars every conceivable opportunity to expose their chests.But I'm always open to a show that can improve itself. Which is why, at the urging of a couple of co-workers, I tuned in to "Melrose" for a couple of episodes at the end of last season.

Surprise! Surprise! The show has gone from being absolutely dreadful to a halfway decent soap opera that occasionally does even better than that.

Now, this is by no means an unqualified endorsement. "Melrose Place" isn't going to be raking in any awards, nor could it by any stretch of the imagination fall into the category of quality television.

It's also not something that kids should be watching.

But at least the producers realized their early mistake - trying to be something more than a soap opera. When they finally decided just to soap things up altogether, the show hit its stride - short though that may be.

There's no doubt that there were a number of miscalculations in the formation of this show. The producers and Fox put on a big push for Grant Show, who plays rebellious hunk Jake on the series.

Show and Jake turned out to be pretty much dull as dishwater. Very attractive dishwater, but dishwater nonetheless.

Meanwhile, Andrew Shue (Billy) - who received none of the hype - turned out to be the most popular man on the show. And turned out to have the best storyline, as the triangle involving Billy, Allison (Courtney Thorne-Smith) and Amanda (Heather Locklear) was the hottest thing on "Melrose" last season.

As a matter of fact, the addition of Locklear was probably the best move the producers made.

(Hey, she should know how to do this stuff after all those years on "Dynasty.")

Other moves were less successful. They've finally given up on the show's only black character, writing Vanessa Williams out. Though much was made of having a gay character, Matt, (Doug Savant), he was given almost nothing to do last season. (That supposedly will be changed this year.)

And the addition of Jo (Daphne Zuniga) didn't do much for anybody.

On the other hand, all those goody-goody characters were too much, so Michael the philandering doctor (Thomas Calabro) was transformed into the resident villain rather effectively.

On tonight's season premiere (8 p.m., Ch. 13) Amanda moves into the building as the new landlord. Jo and Jake move in together, but it doesn't look like a match made in heaven - and Amanda seems rather interested in Jake herself.

Michael and Jane (Josie Bissett) are headed for a particularly nasty divorce. And Allison is still being stalked (in a plotline that better end pretty soon).

Hey, it's not great stuff. But it's becoming decent soap opera.