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FOX gets predictable this fall

The fall television season on FOX kicked off with the premiere of the third season of The OC, followed by the series premiere of Reunion. This highly anticipated night of high school drama, complete with shootings, infidelity, fatal car accidents and abortion, painted an accurate picture of those wonder years. High school may not have been this interesting for the majority, but shows such as these are making up for it.

The third season of The OC literally started with a bang. The episode followed the aftermath of the shooting involving main characters Ryan (Benjamin McKenzie) and Marissa (Mischa Barton). Ryan’s brother, Trey, attacked Marissa last season and upon discovering this, Ryan confronted his brother to defend her honor. The situation got out of hand, as it usually does on The OC, and Marissa shot Trey in order to save Ryan’s life. The new season follows the bunch to the hospital and then through the ensuing legal matters. Based on the preview of future episodes, the show will focus entirely on who is going to jail and whether their Range Rovers will be washed and waxed regularly while he or she is gone.

As everyone knows, spoiled, rich kids are not the only ones who live in The OC; their spoiled, rich parents live there, too. While one of them works through rehab for alcoholism and another collects a substantial inheritance from his wife’s ex-husband, it is obvious why producers would want to throw another adult role model in the mix. Jeri Ryan (Boston Public) joins the cast as Charlotte, a woman who befriends Kirsten (Kelly Rowan) in rehab and seems to enjoy gazing longingly at Kirsten’s husband, Sandy. One can only guess where things will go from here.

Unfortunately, the outlook for this season on the coast looks bleak. The show and its actors seem to have lost their initial luster and can no longer depend on great hair and glistening tans to hold viewer interest. Loyal fans will continue to watch, but maybe the rest of the season will introduce some stimulating story lines or at least another teen heartthrob.

The stroll down memory lane continued with Reunion, a new show that enjoyed major hype by the FOX network. The series follows the twisted lives of six friends from high school graduation in 1986 to the present day, with each episode revealing one year of sins and secrets. There are also some familiar faces, including Amanda Righetti (North Shore, The OC) and Will Estes (American Dreams).

Reunion starts with a great concept but loses itself to the dreaded pitfall of predictability. Within the first episode, there were approximately 10 teen drama cliches, none of which provided much excitement. Issues such as pregnancy, infidelity, unrequited love, abortion and vehicular manslaughter have been presented to audiences time and time again; it is time for some fresh ideas. Despite a promising debut, Reunion will have to distinguish itself from other high school dramas on television if it hopes to survive the season.

Another minor criticism of Reunion concerns the rather unconvincing portrayal of the ’80s, the decade of parachute pants, big hair and unruly fashion sense. The first episode of the show takes place in ’86, but the majority of the characters look like they stepped out of 1995. The costuming could be better, but perhaps they can be forgiven; after all, it is not easy to give a winning performance in Spandex.

The FOX network seems to be taking a calculated risk by airing its most dramatic teen shows on the same night in hopes that fans of The OC will get sucked into Reunion. However, real people are not always as predictable as what they watch.