In the world of TV, spring sweeps mean two things: marriages and mayhem. As series end their seasons (some never to return), these warhorse plots keep getting trotted out. We all remember Joanie marrying Chachi (don't we?). And who can forget ''Who Shot J.R.?''
This May, nobody embodies marriage and mayhem better or worse than Melrose Place's dueling docs Kimberly Shaw and Michael Mancini, a.k.a. Marcia Cross and Thomas Calabro. She ran over him with a car in last May's season finale; he recently returned the favor by not calling 911 when she attempted suicide. Kimberly survived, and then Michael promptly served her with divorce papers. In the May 22 two-hour season send-off, it's her turn for revenge.
''I'm the cliffhanger,'' Cross says immodestly, but not inaccurately. All season long, wigged-out Kimberly has walked off with the show not to mention an infant or two. ''I thought if I went crazy and did things like steal babies, people would go, 'Get her off!''' Cross admits. ''But it was just the opposite. People really enjoyed that wackiness.''
While not as wackily psychotic as his wife, Michael matches her for sheer evil. Witness his leech-like attachment to Heather Locklear's cancer-stricken Amanda that led him to dump Kimberly. Explains Calabro, ''Michael has an ever-strengthening yearning for things, and an ever-strengthening constitution to get them in whatever way possible.''
Though the show's producers tried to keep a lid on this season's finale, a few details have leaked out. But we don't want to ruin anything for anyone, so skip the next six paragraphs if you don't want to know what happens. ''People guess about it and have a lot of fun as it should be,'' says Calabro. ''Melrose Place is the puzzle everybody is constantly trying to solve.''
There will be a new piece to the puzzle when Kimberly goes schizoid and starts speaking to a demon male alter ego, ''Henry,'' in the mirror. (Shades of Twin Peaks' Killer Bob!) ''Kimberly's eyes are like flames. I need to control those powerful eyes with my eyes,'' explains Zitto Kazan, the actor cast as Henry (the previously unknown Kazan also plays a bad guy in this summer's Waterworld). ''It becomes this tango dance, this seduction.''
Unfortunately, what Henry seduces Kimberly into doing attempting to blow up the entire apartment complex has proven to have implications far beyond the show's L.A. soundstage. In the aftermath of the Oklahoma City bombing, Melrose producers have decided to change the episode's ending and not show the explosion.
The collision of fiction and reality left Cross stunned. ''I felt guilty in a way, as if I were perpetuating violence,'' she says. ''But it's a weird line most people can distinguish the fact that our show has nothing to do with [the bombers] in Oklahoma.''
The original plan was to kill off two characters in the blast, but now everything is up in the air. This much we know: Michael will return. ''I've got a contract for next year,'' says Calabro. ''But then again, I almost died last year.''