Part character drama and part mystery, "Reunion" marks a groundbreaking concept in series television as it chronicles the lives of a group of friends over the course of 20 years – in just one season. Each episode represents a year in time from 1986 to 2006, starting off in present day at the funeral of one of the six friends. Before the identity of the deceased is revealed, viewers are transported back to 1986, where the group is celebrating their high school graduation. It isn’t until mid-season that the deceased’s identity is revealed, and not until the season finale when viewers find out which of the friends is responsible for the deceased’s death.
"This series is truly different from any other show I’ve seen," says Will Estes, who plays Will on the series. "It’s a very sweet, genuine coming-of-age story, almost in the tradition of Pretty in Pink or The Breakfast Club, if I can be so bold as to compare ourselves to those two films. You almost forget it’s a murder mystery."
Besides featuring the "American Dreams" alumnus, "Reunion" also plays home to several other familiar faces, including Sean Faris from "Life As We Know It" and Not Another Teen Movie’s Chyler Leigh. Each of the six cast mates play their characters throughout the course of the series, which might seem a bit unbelievable considering the majority of the cast is only in their early 20s. Estes isn’t too worried, though.
"I have a leg up since I’m almost 27," he jokes. "Really, though, we have fantastic makeup artists. But it is a challenge. Being in your 30s isn’t really old. I think it would be easier to play 65 or 75 because the difference is so noticeable. When you are in your 30s you don’t have a walker."
Given "Reunion’s" unique way of unraveling the murder mystery, Estes admits that – unlike "Desperate Housewives" – the show isn’t really built around a season two. Once viewers discover who the murderer is, the story comes to an end. The actor says there’s talk, though, of continuing the series – should it be a success – around one of the characters, but changing the rest of the cast. However, if ratings are high enough, Estes is sure there’s a way to keep the cast that put the show on the map, or at least the ones who survive.
At press time, even Estes is unaware of the deceased character’s identity. "We’re in the dark ourselves," he admits. "I don’t think it’s even been written yet. I think there are just different scenarios out there at this point."
Whether or not his character survives or is brought back for season two, Estes has been in this business long enough to know to look "two steps ahead." The Los Angeles native has already talked to his agent about what’s next on the agenda, and admits that at some point in his career he would like to go back to college.
"I was going to a junior college and dropped out to focus on work, but I still might go back. Shaq just got his degree online, so there’s always a chance."
In the meantime, though, Estes is focused on the present and is keeping his fingers crossed that "Reunion" will be the success Fox wants it to be. "Acting is the coolest thing that’s ever been handed to me, and I’m committed to it. The more you put into it the more you get out of it, and I believe that. So I’m just focused on what’s in front of me now and hoping we get through the season.
"I’ve been doing this a long time, and I know there are two million kids out there who would trade places with me in a second," Estes continues. "But I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of this. And if I’m lucky enough to eventually be a part of something that’s a huge success, hopefully I’ll feel like I deserve it at that point. This business has been good to me, though. I know I really am living the American dream."
"Reunion" premieres Thursday, Sept. 8 at 9 p.m. on Fox.