Not a lousy soap opera but a scintillating parody of a lousy soap opera, Sunset Beachis executive producer Aaron Spelling's bid to prove that he's a cat whose hepness didn't peak with Melrose Place. Whatever action doesn't take place on this fictional L.A. beach (dig the un-soapy exterior shots!) seems to occur in a happening ''cyber-coffeehouse'' called the Java Web (free access to both the Internet and nettlesome intercourse!). The Web is run by Ben (Clive Robertson), a sneery, secretive Brit who looks like Bryan Ferry after a bender. Chief among the large cast is Lesley-Anne Down, irresistible as a hooked-on-vodka matron who may or may not have murdered her lover. Equally hootable is the deceased's daughter, played by Sarah Buxton, whose bratty, greedy Annie tries to hide a gun the size of a toaster by shoving it down the back of her skintight leather jeans suddenly, she's the Hunchbutt of Sunset Beach. Best Hairline Combined With a Moronic Squint: Ashley Hamilton, as the grandson of the founder of Sunset Beach, ''The Town That Romance Built.'' In this context, the fact that the best, most straightforward acting is being done by Sam Behrens General Hospital's Jake, here playing Down's husband only serves to make him look like the only person not in on the joke.
Me, I guess I'm hooked.