Wednesday, December 06, 2006

This Class Gets A Failing Grade

(I should have written this yesterday, but a number of things kept me from doing much of anything Tuesday.) One of the things about reviewing a show that has entered a string of reruns - particularly if you don't or can't watch the show on a regular basis - is that you don't know whether the show has improved since the episode you're reviewing. Of course its the same with judging a show by its pilot or second episode. When a show is good that's not a problem because the expectation is that they'll keep up the standard, but when the show is bad or at least underwhelming then you wonder if it will get better or work out the problems. That's the problem I had with The Class. I don't normally get to see the show, since it runs on my bowling night but my current sojourn at my brother's place gave me the opportunity to watch it. I was less than pleased. The episode I saw was "The Class Blows The Whistle", which was the fourth episode of the series. In it Lina (Heather Goldenhersh) goes out on a second date with Richie (Jesse Tyler Ferguson), while her twin sister Kat (Lizzy Caplan) initially balks at and the decdes to fix Ethan (Jason Ritter) up on a blind date with a woman who is "really easy." Meanwhile Nicole (Andrea Anders) is dismayed to discover that her husband Yonk (David Keith) is becoming friends with her old high school boyfriend Duncan (Jon Benrthal) for whom she still has feelings (and maybe more - it wasn't clear from the episode). Finally Holly (Lucy Punch) is driving Kyle (Sean MacGuire) and his boyfriend Aaron (Cristian de la Fuente) to distraction with her efforts to to get her daughter Oprah into the exclusive private school where Kyle teaches. That's a very basic summary of the episode and I think it illustrates one of the major problems that this show has, at least at this stage of its development - too many storylines without providing a real focus for the episode, or even tying the stories together. There were four unrelated story sequences and except for a couple of phone calls between Kat and Lina there is nothing holding the elements together. It was as if the writer and producers decided that they had to use the entire cast in the episode even if there's really no reason for it. The Class was created by David Crane - who was the creator of Friends - along with his life partner Jeffrey Klarik. Seemingly he has forgotten one of the things that helped hold Friends together as a show. While the series had a large cast it usually had a primary story thread and a secondary storyline with at least some connection between the two. There are other problems with the show. The character of Perry Pearl (Sam Harris) who is married to Holly is so highly effeminate as to represent a gay stereotype, to the point where Holly seems to be the only person who doesn't realize that her husband is gay. It is a concept that gets very old, very fast. Another joke that got old fast was Holly's inability to understand Aaron when he was speaking. Although Aaron (who is Hispanic) speaks with little or no accent, to Holly he is virtually incomprehensible. Either this is an effort to show how stupid Holly is, or whether it's meant as a way for Holly not to interact with Aaron, it's not terribly funny. The acting here is adequate even though none of the actors really delivers a standout performance. That in itself is vaguely disappointing, given that the cast contains a number of reasonably good young actors including Ritter, Anders and MacGuire. They have the ability to deliver strong performances but at least in the episode that I saw they were betrayed by the less than stellar writing and the format that the producers decided to impose on the episode. With all of the elements taken together (and remember I was only able to see one early episode so there is the chance that this show might have improved from what I saw), it's hardly a series that I can recommend. Find something else to watch in this half hour. It's better than some of the comedies that debuted this season but there are plenty of shows that are superior to this.

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