September 08, 2005

TV: Reunion

Reunion premiered tonight on Fox. The show opens at a funeral, where we learn that one of a group of six friends has been brutally murdered; there is much linguistic hoop-jumping to keep us from finding out the gender of the deceased.

We flash back to 1986, as the six are graduating high school, and begin a standard-issue teen soap. Will and Craig are in a car accident; Will (who was sober) claims to have been driving so that Craig (who was drunk) won't lose his license, and gets sent to jail for a year when the driver of the other car dies. Samantha is Craig's girlfriend, but she's pregnant with Will's baby. Carla loves Aaron, but Aaron loves Jenna. Yadda yadda yadda.

The gimmick is that each episode will take place (primarily) in the next year of their lives (next week will be 1987), with occasional scenes set in the present as we watch Detective Marjorino (Six Feet Under's Mathew St. Patrick, the only actual actor in the cast) work on solving the case.

The same six models will play the lead characters over the 20-year period, as we watch their relationships develop and find out how they got to the point of violent murder. We only saw one of them in present-day makeup tonight, and it was not a good omen; the passing of 20 years was signified by a new haircut.

It's a great concept -- the long-term story arcs of Lost meet the "let's play with time" attitude of 24 -- but so far, it's just a teen soap with a hint of mystery overlaid, and it's not a particularly good soap at that. The most fun I had during the show was checking each of the many, many pop songs used as background music to make sure the show wasn't cheating by playing songs from later than 1986. (For the most part, they weren't, though there was one song that didn't start to get radio play until later in the year than the summer setting of the episode.)

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