Saturday, September 16, 2006

TV preview: The Class

• Don't be surprised if this one goes away quickly.

Genre: Sitcom
Logistics: Premiere airs 7 p.m. (Central) Monday on CBS.
Cast: Andrea Anders, Jon Bernthal, Lizzy Caplan, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Heather Goldenhersh, Julie Halston, Sam Harris, David Keith, Sean Maguire, Lucy Punch, Jason Ritter
Verdict: &&

Despite some big talent on its creative team — James Burrows, David Crane (Friends) and Jeffrey Klarik (Mad About You) — The Class has work to do to shed the generic sitcom tag. Though the title suggests otherwise, this isn't a school or college comedy; the titles refers to members of the same third-grade class whose lives intersect. In the premiere, Ethan Haas (Jason Ritter, son of the late John Ritter) calls them together for a surprise engagement party for himself and his girlfriend. While his falls apart, new relationships are born at the gathering. The funniest character is Richie Velch (Jesse Tyler Ferguson), a suicidal loner who runs a car over his new love interest. Other funny bits include a couple with a five-year-old daughter named Oprah and a construction worker who lives at home and bickers with his mom. The storylines are almost exclusively relationship-centered, although episode three squeezes a few yuks out of the rather pointless backdrop of a hurricane coming ashore. With a cast this enormous, things get spread pretty thin over the course of 23 minutes, and I found myself wishing last season's canceled Stockard Channing sitcom Out of Practice, which also spent some time in this Monday block, had been given another chance. The Class is a likely weak link in CBS' Monday comedy block.

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