New show ‘Reunion’ on FOX to unravel mysterious death

Special to the Daily Sundial

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Reunion” premiered Sept. 8 on FOX and definitely has one of the most intriguing premises of any new show this season. It is also one of the most ambitious TV shows in recent memory.

The plot revolves around six childhood friends, one of whom has been murdered. As Detective Marjorino (“Six Feet Under’s” Mathew St. Patrick) investigates the murder, the trail leads him back 20 years.

Each episode is a flashback to a pivotal point during their lives in a different year.

The pilot is set in 1986. The backdrop of the second episode is in 1987. The third episode takes place during 1988, and so on.

These segments are bookended by questions from Marjorino, who is probing the murder as he interrogates one of the friends.

The story slowly advances every week, year by year, until the killer and the dead are revealed.

The pilot starts off in 2006, at the funeral of the murdered friend, which is the so-called “Reunion.” During the eulogy, the plot flashes back to 1986, when the group is graduating high school. It is clear that one friend killed the other, but who died and who did it are not questions that are going to be revealed quickly.

Two romantic triangles quickly unfold, introducing us to the troubled lives of these six friends. Rich boy Craig (Sean Faris from the now-canceled “Life as we Know it”) wants to conquer the Ivy Leagues with girlfriend Samantha (Alexa Davalos) at his side, unaware that she has slept with his best friend Will (Will Estes of “American Dreams”) and is pregnant with his child.

Nerdy Aaron (Dave Annable) longs to make a move on party girl Jenna (Amanda Righetti of “The O.C. and “North Shore”), who wants to be an actress. Jenna is unaware that Carla (Chyler Leigh), a pharmacist’s daughter, wants to be more than just friends.

It is simple soap opera fluff, but the fact that every plot point plays a key role in unlocking the mystery is fascinating.

Things get even more complicated. After a drunken night of partying, Craig and Will get into a car accident, killing an innocent driver, which sets off many of the series’ events, and could be a possible clue to who was murdered and why, questions not answered in the pilot. By the end of the episode, Will is carted off to prison, taking the blame for Craig, who was actually the one driving.

While the initial story line had me hooked, and the pilot was just engaging enough to keep me watching, the episode fell just a tad below expectations.

The acting was unfortunately sub par, and some of the dialogue was cheesy.

The innovative plot might keep this show refreshing, and the episode did end with a cliffhanger that already has me waiting to see what will happen next.

“You want to know about 1987?” 38-year-old Carla asks of Detective Marjorino in the final moments of the pilot, as she’s being interrogated. “1987 started off with a bang.”

We are then lead to believe that someone will get shot in the beginning of the next episode and possibly die, or not, because anything could happen on this show.

While the pilot was a tad disappointing, “Reunion” is still the season’s most unexpected and innovative guilty pleasure.

The show puts a new spin on the standard young adult soap opera with the ingenious narrative that juxtaposes the present with the past.

It is also interesting to see how the producers will handle a new year in every episode and how these characters will evolve as they age so quickly.

A pregnant Samantha will already give birth in episode 2, and Will is going to be getting out of prison.

In a couple of months, all the principal actors will be playing older than they actually are, which should also make for interesting viewing. Even though the pilot was standard compared to the premise, it might be worthwhile to give this “Reunion” a chance.

Sahag Gureghian can be reached at ane@sundial.csun.edu.