TV

The Time Has Come To Revive ‘Reunion’

FOX/Reunion

In 2019, it seems like every other television series is a reboot or a revival. Roswell, Temptation Island, Charmed — CBS has Hawaii Five-0/MacGyver/Magnum P.I. under its own banner, and FOX just announced a So NoTORIous-style (right down to the writers) Beverly Hills, 90210 “event series” called 90210 (not to be confused with the Beverly Hills, 90210 CW reboot 90210). This isn’t even necessarily a judgment as much as it is a very obvious observation. But with this observation, it’s only clear now what must be done:

FOX needs to look inside its heart of hearts — or really, its wallet/money bags/Montana Max-type vault of money — and Bring. Back. Reunion.

You might remember my call to action for FOX to bring back Fastlane, a one-season series that aired about three years before Reunion. That has yet to happen, but I remain vigilant. For example, if Tiffani Thiessen is in 90210, that opens the door for her to kill two birds with one stone and also shoot Fastlane. This is how television works.

As for Reunion, the 2005 series followed a group of six friends over the course of 20 years, from high school graduation in 1986 to 2006, where one of the six had ended up murdered the night of their high school reunion, with the other five as the prime suspects. Each episode cut between the present and a year in the life of these characters (the pilot was “1986,” episode two was “1987,” etc.) over these years. Well, that was the intention: Not only were there only 13 episodes produced (ending the series and mystery at “1998”), FOX only aired up to episode nine (“1994”), with the mystery unsolved, even in international airings of all 13 episodes. Oh, and the soundtrack was dope.

The lack of closure on the whodunit component of the series is technically enough of a reason to want to bring the show back, but there are other very valid reasons. Let’s explore them.

Casting-Wise, Reunion Really, Really Nailed It

The six friends in Reunion were played by Sean Faris (Pretty Little Liars), Alexa Davalos (The Man in the High Castle, The Punisher), Will Estes (Blue Bloods), Chyler Leigh (Grey’s Anatomy, Supergirl), Amanda Righetti (The Mentalist, Colony), and Dave Annable (Brothers & Sisters, Red Band Society). Looking back at Reunion, it’s pretty amazing to look at this core six and realize FOX was really on to something on that front, even though the show died a quick death. Especially since a couple of these actors — Leigh and Righetti, especially — were ones FOX tried really hard to “make happen” at this time, which didn’t quite work for the network itself (and is how you get shows like That ‘80s Show and North Shore) but ultimately all worked out for the actors themselves.

So in this particular case, an ideal reboot of this series would simply feature the original cast, all just doing a do-over of these episodes, because those are literally all that need to be “fixed.” And to be fair, they don’t so much need to be fixed as the show need to be able to at least air all of its episodes to be fully comprehended. Really, the bare minimum that FOX could do is revive this series with the original cast, going through every single beat exactly as they did back in 2005, and air (as well as produce) every single episode of season one. Then they can cancel it once more and I’ll never complain about it ever again. It’s a fair trade, especially since FOX is now the network crazy enough to give us The Masked Singer and the 90210 “event series.” I say that as a compliment.

FOX/Reunion

Seriously, The Cast All Pretty Much Grew Into Their Future Looks

At the time, even those of us who enjoyed Reunion got a chuckle out of the subtle grey hairs and the sleek blowouts that were supposed to show the passage of time for these characters and differentiate the present from the past. Because after “20 years,” it really didn’t seem like all that much effort went into aging the actors much. (Of course, they were all 20-somethings anyway originally playing teens.)

But now only about 14 years after the fact, I guess we all kind of owe Reunion an apology? Because apparently, it was right about how these actors would age, especially in the case of Dave Annable — and his salt and pepper situation — and Chyler Leigh — whose girl boss adult character is pretty much her Supergirl character when she’s really on her game. And if you Google Sean Faris, the first image you’ll see of him will feature an ill-advised goatee, just like his character in Reunion’s present day scenes. Who could have known?

Jon Harmon Feldman Doesn’t Seem To Be Doing Anything Right Now, Which Is Perfect

Series co-creator Jon Harmon Feldman has had an interesting career: He created Tru Calling before this and Big Shots and No Ordinary Family afterward, which means there’s really no telling what could happen if he was put back in charge of this Reunion revival that should definitely happen. Other than the fact it would probably be canceled again, unless this revival lands on Netflix. (I will continue to speak about this in absolutes because the biggest thing to note about Reunion is that it’s the type of high-concept series that will always die on traditional broadcast television but could truly thrive on a streaming, binge-based platform.) But the rest of his writing resumé includes The Wonder Years, Dawson’s Creek (very earnest, first season Creek even), original recipe Roswell, American Dreams, Dirty Sexy Money, Salem (a true curveball), and Designated Survivor.

In fact, Designated Survivor is the last credit he has on IMDB right now, as he was the series’ second showrunner. That series is now on its fifth showrunner and has come back from the dead thanks to Netflix, while Reunion is still waiting to be revived.

Sara Goodman — who created Reunion with Feldman — had an even stranger writing resumé, with this as her first credit, followed by Gossip Girl, Rake, Outsiders (both she and Feldman took quick WGN America detours), and Preacher. That’s a pretty tight list (even with Rake), and with her and Feldman’s credits combined, there is absolutely no reason they shouldn’t be allowed a do-over with Reunion.

It’s Just a Solid-As-Hell Premise

I noted how Reunion’s premise is a high-concept one that would basically always die with the weekly network schedule instead of a binge-watching option, but I feel like it’s also worth noting that Reunion surprisingly wasn’t convoluted or too complex to follow. It was definitely a show that relied on shocking late-episode twists — like when Sean Faris’ Craig is revealed as wheelchair-bound in the present, or the reveal of which of the six was murdered, or the detective in charge the homicide case’s personal attachment to all of this — but unlike another one-season FOX show like, say, John Doe, it was apparent Feldman and Goodman had a plan, at least for the intended first 20 episodes of the series. The network didn’t do it any favors though: The show was given the post-O.C. timeslot, but to be fair, it was season three of The O.C. And only three episodes of Reunion aired before it got preempted for the World Series.

It’s honestly ridiculous no one has tried to genuinely reboot this series yet, even if it’s not Feldman and Goodman. And ultimately, that should be “the point” of reboots and revivals outside of the nostalgia (and money-making) factor, to improve upon a premise that wasn’t quite there back in the day or to show how the premise was ahead of its time. Reunion was clearly on the right track in terms of casting in 2005, but the same can be said about its very premise and approach. Bring it back, television gods.

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