Reunion is a pretty high-concept series. The entire season will span 20 years, each episode being one year beginning with the pilot which is primarily set in 1986. Centering around a group of 6 friends, the series becomes a mystery once it is established that one of the six friends has been murdered. The twist is that the murderer could be another one of the six.
While many shows can sound interesting and intriguing on paper, the success of a series depends on the execution, how it is presented on screen.
That being said, Reunion is solid. However, it is not without its faults. First off, while the soundtrack can become nostalgic, the random bursts of 80s hits seemed awkward. Compared to another music-infused “blast from the past” series, American Dreams, the 60s tunes fit in with the original premise of the show. Reunion‘s “Time After Time” use of 80s music seemed forced.
Instead of gradually setting up what seems to be very interesting lives for the 6 friends, we are bombarded with too much in the first 10 minutes of the series. After best friends Will (Will Estes) and Craig (Sean Faris) escape a seemingly horrible accident practically unharmed, we learn that Will has possibly impregnated Craig’s girlfriend Samantha (Alexa Davalos). We now learn that there seems to be sexual tension between Aaron, Jenna, and Carla (Dave Annable, Amanda Righetti, Chyler Leigh) with Carla in love with Aaron who’s in love with Jenna who’s basically a slut. Then Will gets arrested after protecting Craig and is convinced by Craig’s father to take the blame.
All that and it hasn’t even been the 2nd commercial break yet. The “throw ’em at the audience” way of storytelling during the entire episode left me going “Huh?” “What just happened?” Plus, the non-abortion and the judge handing down a harder sentence on Will has definitely not unexpected. Hopefully, predictability will not take over the series.
Despite the increasingly convoluted way of storytelling, Reunion does succeed at being suspenseful and mysterious, even though its soapy elements sometimes overtakes quality. The one year in 44 minutes seems like a stretch, but it turned out okay in this pilot.
The standouts among the cast are definitely Chyler Leigh (Clara) and Will Estes (Will). Estes, while not given much to work with, seems more comfortable on screen. Though his character is not as deep as the JJ Pryor he played on NBC’s American Dreams, his is able to take Will out of the sappy, lovesick teen that would probably be seen if another actor were in the role.
Chyler Leigh is able to also break away from the rest of the cast. Clara, the pretty, yet seemingly shy one of the group goes through many emotions during the first hour and Leigh is able to carry herself through each one.
Reunion is definitely a step up from its lead-in, The OC, but there is definitely room for improvement.
Airs Thursdays at 9PM on FOX/KTVU 2