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October 7, 2015

The Class - an early look

by Joel Keller, posted Sep 12th 2006 11:32AM
The Class cast
When I previewed rough-cut pilot of The Class (premieres Monday, Sept. 18 at 8 PM ET) back in June, I had my doubts about whether the loose association of the characters in the show would be able to withstand the rigors of a long-term series. The finished pilot didn't change my mind. But CBS was nice enough to include the second episode on the same screener as the pilot, and I'll tell you this: the show has potential. It seems an especially good companion for How I Met Your Mother, which it will preceed on Mondays, since both cater to the same late-20s crowd. But The Class does so without the cutsiness that can sometimes seep into HIMYM.

More on the second episode in a second (and a more complete review the day it airs). The "loose thread" I mentioned in the last paragraph is that the eight friends are brought together by Ethan Haas (Jason Ritter), who wants to reunite his and his fiance's third-grade class and throw his beloved a surprise party twenty years after they first met. Unfortunately, things don't go asa planned for Ethan.

But that's not the important part; the important part is that we meet seven other people from that third-grade class. We have opposite twin sisters Kat and Lina Warbler (Lizzy Caplan and Heather Goldenhersh); Kat's a cynical photographer and Linda is an emotional sort who wears a red bucket hat because it looks "jaunty." Richie Velch (Jesse Tyler Ferguson) is a depressive sort who goes to the party and meets someone that gives him hope. Duncan Carmello (Jon Bernthal) still lives with his mom and still pines for the one that got away, Nicole Allen (Andrea Anders), who is now married to much older former football star Yonk Allen (David Keith). Meanwhile, Holly Ellenbogen (Lucy Punch) is still angry at Kyle Lendo (Sean Maguire) for sleeping with a boy at their prom; he's happy in his relationship, and so is she... even though she doesn't notice something unusual about her husband Perry (Sam Harris).

Got that? Yep, that's a lot to keep track of. But the pilot does a good job of keeping everyone straight. Which makes sense, since producers David Crane (Friends), Jeffery Klarik (Mad About You), and James Burrows (Cheers) are used to juggling storylines for ensemble casts. Unfortunately, because of this juggling, we just scratch the surface of all the characters in the pilot, which is what gave me my intitial negative impression. Kat, Linda, and Richie are the only ones that stood out for me, and it seemed like Ferguson was channeling David Schwimmer for the entire half-hour. Yes, there were some funny lines in the pilot, but not enough to make me want to stick around.

But the second episode shows more promise. Now we see the relationships aligning and strengthening, as things play out the day after the infamous party. Since the humor is starting to come more naturally from the characters themselves and not one-liners, the episode is definitely funnier than the pilot. And we avoid the awkwardness in the David Keith scenes, where it definitely looks like they reshot his scenes in the pilot after they recast him in the part (if you look closely enough, you'll see the previous actor who played Yonk in the background of some of the party scenes).

So, if you are underwhelmed by the pilot of The Class, hang on for another week or so. Your patience will pay off, and then you won't have to figure out what to watch before HIMYM starts.

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I liked this show quite a lot. Quite a lot of people have commented that it is somewhat slow. I rather like that it is not fast paced like every other American show. It reminds me of some of the very funny British comedies. It also seems more like a play than a TV show. I love the acting of all the main actos except for the actors who play Nicole and Ethan. Making it more multi-cultural would have helped. Given that the main characters have already been decided prehaps the creators could introduce characters of other ethnicities as the friends or romantic interests of these main characters.

December 10 2006 at 8:16 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Ronald Brewer

I watched part of a couple of episodes of The Class, mainly because of all the hype CBS is throwing out. I checked out these reviews just to see if I was very out of touch, and apparently I'm not. I cannot sit through a whole episode. Very flat on the humor. And the actors don't seem to put much effort into the performances. Really boring.

October 28 2006 at 11:04 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I actually thought this show was quite funny. I truly think it will become the next "Friends."

September 19 2006 at 9:13 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

i gave this one 5 minutes, and was so turned off i deleted it immediately. blech!

September 13 2006 at 1:27 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I saw the pilot on an American Airlines flight from NYC to LA. Seems a bit slow. I hope the it will pick up in the next few eps. I must say though CBS is sure doing one hell of a job promoting all of it's shows this season. I have never seen anything like it. EVERY subway poster is a new CBS show promotion as well as using the airlines to get new viewers. That marketing department deserves some kudos.
Oh, I also saw the pilot for "Shark" good show but do we really need another law drama.

September 12 2006 at 4:41 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

By the way, I saw the first episode after recording it from one of the late-night preview screenings CBS is putting on various cable channels for TiVo users. Search for "The Class Sneak Preview" and you'll find it.

September 12 2006 at 2:29 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

This is my contest pick for cancellation, so on the one hand I kind of hope it tanks, but Jason Ritter's in it, so now I kind of hope it doesn't tank.

September 12 2006 at 2:22 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Everything in "The Class" seemed slightly off to me... which was strange, especially for something directed by the great James Burroughs. I know that one actor (the guy playing the older ex-football-playing husband) was replaced early on, and it seemed as if maybe some other aspects of the show weren't quite ready ready for filming when this pilot was made.

For instance, I think Jason Ritter's character is supposed to be an everyday nice guy, sort of like Ted in "How I Met Your Mother" or the main guy in a bunch of other sitcoms. So why did they nerd up his clothes and haircut so much? He looked so geeky that you wonder how he got a girlfriend in the first place.

Meanwhile, you get the feeling Lizzy Caplan's character is supposed to be the punkish one, what with her cynical disposition and spiky hair. (That's what passes for punk these days, anyway.) So why did she wear a business suit to the party? It seemed totally out of place.

And the suicidal guy is just too realistically troubled to be funny. His character might work in a darker comedy like "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia," but here he was just a downer. (It's also weird when sad things on this show get big laughs from the audience/laugh track -- for instance, when Andrea Anders says her husband is nice sometimes and mean sometimes, and someone else points out that that's what her father was like.)

And finally, I hate to say this, but Heather Goldenhersh -- who plays the sweet, waifish girl -- has a minor speech impediment that became incredibly distracting. She sounded as if she just came back from the dentist and the novocaine hadn't worn off yet. I kept wondering if it was supposed to be part of the character, or it's just the way the actress talks.

Maybe the show will get better as it goes along, but this episode just seemed surprisingly amateurish considering the talent involved. Frankly, with all the hurdles new shows have to go through these days, I'm surprised it made it to the air.

September 12 2006 at 2:15 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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