On the series premiere of ''Reunion,'' we meet six '80s teen stereotypes and try to figure out which one might have been murdered by another one 20 years later

By Michael Slezak
Updated September 05, 2005 at 04:00 AM EDT
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Sean Faris: A. Rapoport/FOX
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The ”Reunion” premiere: Hot, juicy, and cheesy

Reunion is the TV equivalent of the burger-and-fries special at the local diner. It doesn’t have to be high quality, and it certainly doesn’t have to be innovative. It just has to be hot, juicy, and (most important to me, anyhow) dripping with cheese.

Reunion‘s hotness factor has been taken care of with the casting of its central characters, six high-school pals who come together 20 years later when one of them is brutally murdered. There’s rich boy Craig (Sean Faris), his girlfriend, Samantha (Alexa Davalos), aspiring actress Jenna (Amanda Righetti), earnest middle-class everyman Will (Will Estes), math geek Aaron (Dave Annable), and self-described flat-chested outcast Carla (Chyler Leigh). Whatever their place in the social hierarchy, they’re all such total smokin’ hotties they could easily be mistaken for magazine cover models, as could the police detective who’s trying to crack the case, Detective Marjorino (played by Six Feet Under‘s Mathew St. Patrick).

And juicy? You want juicy? How about a gunshot, a car accident, an arrest, a wrongful conviction, underage drinking, an unexpected pregnancy, an affair between a guy and his best friend’s girlfriend, a planned abortion, two deaths (albeit off camera), bribery, perjury, a near affair between a high-school student and a teacher, and three counts of shoplifting — all in the pilot episode. Strangely enough, though, despite the fact that not one of these soap-mystery clichés is staged with particular freshness, Reunion is almost instantly addictive.

I give credit to the cheese. Thanks to the series’ nifty flashback strategy — each episode will span one year of the story arc, starting with 1986 — Reunion will wade through scads of era-appropriate hits, unfortunate fashion trends, and heavy-handed pop-culture references. (A character says that Wham!’s Andrew Ridgeley is the next John Lennon, thereby assuring someone on the writing staff a place in the circle of hell reserved for facile ironists.) With close to 20 songs and dozens of ridiculous outfits to digest, I felt the need for a couple of Reunion pilot-episode countdowns.

Top Five Reagan-Era Soundtrack Highlights

5. ”Walk Like an Egyptian,” the Bangles

4. ”Talking in Your Sleep,” the Romantics

3. ”Brand New Lover,” Dead or Alive

2. ”Total Eclipse of the Heart,” Bonnie Tyler

1. ”Take On Me,” A-Ha (complete with the video!)

Top Five Guffaw-Inducing Bits of Dialogue

5. ”The guy in the pickup — he’s all banged up!”

4. ”You’re gonna sleep with him, aren’t you? Because that’s what you do, isn’t it? You sleep with guys who don’t give a damn for you.”

3. ”I never would’ve thought that one of those six friends might be brutally murdered in their prime — by an unknown assailant.”

2. ”Not any girl, Jenna. Not any girl.”

1. ”I’m staying here like some exhibit in a science museum, a prisoner of the same — forever.”

Top Five Horrendous-Beautiful Fashion Moments

5. Craig’s pink Izod, collar up (natch)

4. Samantha’s ill-advised red, white, and blue boat-neck sailor blouse

3. Craig’s happenin’ docksider, worn sans sock, shown in close-up pressing the gas pedal moments before the auto accident

2. Jenna’s Madonna-wannabe white-lace skirt and rubber-bracelet debacle

1. Craig’s oversize gray and white vertical-striped sports coat, paired with a seafoam-green T-shirt

My only hope is that in future episodes, the series’ costume designers will be a little more diligent in outfitting Will and Aaron. One of ’em ought to rock a gaudy concert T-shirt, or a fetching pair of parachute pants, or some wicked acid-washed jeans, before the decade concludes. And as for the ladies’ hairstyles, where the heck were the curling irons and the Aqua Net?

Speaking of burning questions, what’s with the fact that none of these teenagers has acne, or braces, or big goofy glasses? And how come Detective Marjorino needed to put on his siren on the way to a murder victim’s funeral? Plus, what was with the cop at the hospital simply accepting Will’s absurdly transparent lie about having been behind the wheel during the accident? Why hadn’t Samantha been to her doctor’s appointment by the time of Will’s court hearing? Are we really supposed to believe he was convicted, like, a week after the accident? Also, how come neither Carla nor Marjorino ever uttered the deceased’s name?

Yeah, yeah, I know — the writers are trying to build us a mystery. But I reserve the right to grumble. After all, most folks realize a good cheeseburger tends to bring with it a bout of heartburn. We’ll just have to see in the weeks ahead if Reunion‘s payoff is worth a little bit of nagging pain.

What do you think? Has Reunion achieved the right cheese-to-meat ratio? Did the pilot episode leave you satisfied, or clutching your stomach? Who do you think was murdered? And who did it?

Reunion

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