- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 7, 2005

California dreamin’

When we last saw the “O.C.” bunch during the show’s second season finale, Kirsten (Kelly Rowan) was headed to rehab, Ryan (Benjamin McKenzie) and Marissa (Mischa Barton) were involved in a shooting, and Seth (Adam Brody) was given to sometimes funny, sometimes annoying under-his-breath diatribes.

Well, season three, debuting at 8 tonight on Fox, picks up where last year’s action ended, its teenage angst intact.

After playing up the Ryan and Marissa shooting as one of the biggest events in the show’s short history, that story arc is over, ending almost as quickly as the bullet left the chamber. It’s all figured out by the end of tonight’s installment.

One of the more interesting developments in the season premiere is Kirsten’s marriage to Sandy (Peter Gallagher) and her eventual departure from rehab. We’re also introduced to Charlotte (Jeri Ryan), a mysterious friend from Kirsten’s rehab stint who in typical “O.C.” fashion has something more than friendship in mind for Kirsten.

In response to audience demand, the show gives increased exposure this season to Summer (Rachel Bilson) — with both added camera time and storylines.

While many faithful viewers will tune in just to find out about the shooting, new “O.C.” fans may be slightly confused about the goings-on. It might be helpful to check out last year’s synopsis in advance.

A flawed ‘Reunion’

Class reunions can be stodgy affairs. But not on Fox.

“Reunion,” a new drama, bowing tonight at 9, follows the class of 1986 from graduation day through the present to solve a murder. The victim is one of six high school pals, a tight-knit group whose complex lives —after just one episode — are equivalent to all the melodrama “Dawson’s Creek” piled on viewers during its entire run.

The show’s wrinkle? Each episode will be set one year after the previous installment. Hence, week two’s show takes place in 1987, and the following week in 1988.

Think of the “24” concept, only this time on steroids.

No one knows how the show’s cast (which includes Mathew St. Patrick, formerly Keith Charles on HBO’s “Six Feet Under,” as Detective Marjorino) will convincingly age over two decades. “Reunion’s” bigger worries involve forced nostalgia and contrived plotting.

It’s all well and good for a period drama to feature details from the era, but “Reunion” drowns in ‘80s rock, fashions and pop culture bons mots. OK, we get it. It’s 1986. Now on with the show.

The biggest drama facing the six pals involves a drunk driving accident which leaves an innocent man dead. How the friends face up to the tragedy could lead to the killing years later — or it might be one of several red herrings likely to come our way.

Of course, if “Reunion’s” dramatic heft doesn’t catch up to its neat premise, we may never find out the killer’s identity.

Game on

The NFL kicks offs its regular season tonight in Foxboro, Mass., with a matchup between defending Super Bowl champions the New England Patriots and the Oakland Raiders.

Wait, there’s more.

Always in the hunt for extra exposure (Remember Britney Spear’s tiny referee outfit on the Mall last year?), the NFL has recruited a stellar lineup of musical heavyweights to rev up the pre-game show. Green Day, Santana, Trisha Yearwood, Maroon 5 and Kanye West — who promised not to include any more incendiary rants against the prez — will perform live, while the Rolling Stones will provide footage from their recent Detroit concert. Freddie Prinze Jr. hosts the affair, beginning at 8 p.m. on ABC.

Annan’s hot seat

Embattled United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan sits down with TV5 USA this weekend to discuss, among other topics, reform for the world body.

The first 24-hour French language channel, available to Comcast subscribers, will air the discussion (led by the channel’s Xavier Lambrechts), Sunday at 12:30 p.m.

Conducted in French, the discussion will include the U.N.’s battles against poverty and human rights abuses, and the potential reforms the agency may face.

Compiled by Christian Toto and Thomas Walter from staff and wire reports.

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