For us, Heather Locklear will always be that iconic blonde with the dishy résumé who drove Wayne Campbell’s crotch to distraction. So it stung Monday to wake up and find out that Locklear’s latest brush with fame involves a DUI allegation and a wide-eyed, terrified-looking mug shot, as if the ghost of Dr. Kimberly Shaw had just appeared before her and ripped off another wig. Certainly, Locklear has had her share of awkward publicity in the last year or so, but she’s hardly another club-hopping starlet with delusions of invincibility — which is why her arrest both surprised us and felt dishearteningly like the depressing third act of her True Hollywood Story.
It’s tragic that the aughts have not been kinder to Locklear’s kick-ass legacy. She rocked on T.J. Hooker. She ruled as scheming Sammy Jo from Dynasty, who deployed hot pants and a demi-mullet in her quest to turn Steven Carrington straight, and did not let a raging inferno stop her from a good old-fashioned catfight. Locklear even rescued Michael J. Fox’s Spin City. But it’s her work as Melrose Place’s catty Amanda Woodward that cemented her as one of our soap idols, arguably a nineties Joan Collins but with less caviar. It takes a unique actress to drive her employees to alcoholism and her fictional boss to hang himself over his desk, yet still have us rooting for her character (despite doing it all in micro-minis, terrible roots, and clunky mules). Even Gay Matt probably thought twice about tapping that.
Ergo, it must’ve been ego-bruising to shift from Infallible Show-Saving Angel to playing Hilary Duff’s downtrodden mom in The Perfect Man. There’s an entire tween generation that knows Locklear only from a guest spot on Hannah Montana, and the only onscreen drama Heather has seen in years was TV coverage of the 911 call that claimed she was suicidal — later alleged to be overblown — and Locklear’s stint in treatment for depression. For someone who had worked on high-profile TV projects since her college-student days, that had to be a bitter pill. And for those of us who occasionally handle a quandary by wondering, What would Amanda Woodward do? (the answer, generally, is “threaten to ruin someone”), it’s troubling to think we may be witnessing a real-life nadir that would, on TV, be backed by the discordant growl of Melrose’s Electric Guitars of Melodramatic Doom.
But if this awkwardness is Locklear’s rock bottom — and we sincerely hope things don’t get worse — then at least it’s a good time in the industry for a resurrection. Finally, television has started welcoming sexy actresses of a certain age: Dana Delany revitalized Desperate Housewives, Angela Bassett is set to star on ER, and Kyra Sedgwick and Glenn Close enjoyed renaissances on basic cable. So, since Locklear famously saved Melrose from boring irrelevance, it stands to reason she could also save the new 90210 from its fatal lack of bitchery (even BRENDA has no claws). The dull Lipstick Jungle needs a hot villain. We’d even love seeing Heather lick the horn-rimmed glasses off her old Dynasty co-star Jack Coleman as they go toe-to-toe on Heroes.
Basically, there’s a lot Locklear could do if she gets the chance, so we’re crossing our fingers that her phoenix rises from the ashes — preferably in sassy lingerie on show that appreciates her history. Hey, Desperate Housewives already employs two ex-Melrose stars. Maybe we can get a rematch of the time Marcia Cross tried to electrocute her by throwing a floor lamp into the hot tub where Amanda Woodward was canoodling with Michael Mancini. We’ve been awaiting that one for ten years.