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The Class

TITLE: THE CLASS - CBS FALL 2006


Info:

Premiere Date: Monday, September 18, 2006 (Warner Bros. Television)
Network: CBS
Time: Mondays at 8:00 p.m. et/pt
Cast: Starring Jason Ritter, Lizzy Caplan, Heather Goldenhersh, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Jon Bernthal, Sean Maguire, Lucy Punch, Andrea Anders


Introduction:

THE CLASS is a comedy about the lives of a group of 20-somethings inextricably bound together by sharing the same third grade class. Ethan Haas (Jason Ritter) is head-over-heels in love with his fiancé, for whom he has planned the ultimate surprise party -- a reunion with their third grade classmates to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the day they met. The classmates include Lina Warbler (Heather Goldenhersh), who wears her heart on her sleeve and remains optimistic about love although she was recently dumped; her cynical twin sister, Kat Warbler (Lizzy Kaplan), whose sarcastic tongue hides her kind heart; Duncan Carmello (Jon Bernthal), the well-liked boy in school who is in a band and still lives with his mother Tina (Julie Halston) with whom he constantly bickers; Kyle Lendo (Sean Maguire), who every girl had a crush on and is now happily in love with his live-in boyfriend; Richie Velch (Jesse Tyler Ferguson), a happy kid whose life has gone downhill since third grade until the reunion invitation sparked his curiosity; Holly Ellenbogen (Lucy Punch), whose heart was broken when Kyle cheated on her at the high school prom and can't wait to show him what a successful news anchor she's become and how happily married she is now to Perry (Sam Harris); and pretty, popular Nicole Allen (Andrea Anders), who was once in love with Duncan (Jon Bernthal) and is now the unfulfilled trophy wife of legendary football star/BBQ-grill spokesman Yonk Allen (David Keith). Two decades later, a group of grade-schoolers' lives intersect once again, giving them the uncommon opportunity to learn how everyone turned out and to rebuild old friendships.

PRODUCED BY: craneklarik productions, in association with Warner Bros. Television

EXECUTIVE PRODUCERS: David Crane, Jeffrey Klarik and James Burrows


Cast Details:

Jason Ritter as Ethan Haas, Lizzy Caplan as Kat Warbler, Heather Goldenhersh as Lina Warbler, Jesse Tyler Ferguson as Richie Velch, Jon Bernthal as Duncan Carmello, Sean Maguire as Kyle Lendo, Lucy Punch as Holly Ellenbogen, and Andrea Anders as Nicole Allen.

Jason Ritter is the son of actors Nancy Morgan and the late John Ritter. He is best known to television audiences for his role as Kevin Girardi in the critically-acclaimed CBS drama "Joan of Arcadia." His feature film credits include "Mumford," "Happy Endings," and "Freddy vs. Jason."

Lizzy Caplan is probably best known for her role as Janis Ian in the movie "Mean Girls." Some of her television credits include "Freaks and Geeks," "Undeclared," "Once and Again," "Smallville," "Related," and "Tru Calling."

Heather Goldenhersh's television credits include roles in the movies "The Great Gatsby" and "Tempting Adam" and appearances on "Sex and the City," "Law & Order: Criminal Intent," and "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit." Her feature film credits include "Nicholas Nickleby," "The School of Rock," "The Merchant of Venice," "Kinsey," and the upcoming "The Pleasure of Your Company."

Jesse Tyler Ferguson's television credits include roles in the British series "Absolutely Fabulous" and the movie "Sally Hemings: An American Scandal.” He has also appeared in the feature film "Mercury in Retrograde" and the independent films "Ordinary Sinner" and "Griffin and the Phoenix" and the Tony Award nominated musical "The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee."

Jon Bernthal's television credits include roles in "Law & Order: Criminal Intent," "Without a Trace," "Boston Legal," "Jonny Zero," "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit," "CSI: Miami," and "How I Met Your Mother."

Sean Maguire began acting at the age of five in the award-winning television movie "A Voyage Round My Father" with Sir Lawrence Olivier. He went on to television fame in the United Kingdom in the hit series "Grange Hill," followed by "Dangerfield" and the successful long-running series "EastEnders." His U.S. sitcom starring roles include "Off Centre" and "Eve."

Lucy Punch's television credits include roles in the British series "Days Like These," "Big Bad World," "Let Them Eat Cake," "People Like Us," "Midsomer Murders," "My Family" and "Doc Martin." She has also appeared on American television in "Dinotopia: The Series," "Poirot," as well as the movies "Cinderella," "The 10th Kingdom," "Come Together," "Second Nature" and the Golden Globe winner and Emmy-nominated "The Life and Death of Peter Sellers."

Andrea Anders is best known to television audiences for her role as Alex Garrett in the comedy "Joey." Her other television credits include "One Life to Live," "Law & Order," "The Guiding Light," "Oz," and "Tru Calling."


Pilot Plot:

"Pilot"
Monday, September 18, 8:00PM ET/PT

Ethan Haas (Jason Ritter) is head-over-heels in love with his fiancé, Joanne, for whom he has planned the ultimate surprise party -- a reunion with their third grade classmates from Woodman Elementary to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the day they met. He phones them and invites them to reunion. We are introduced to twin sisters Kat and Heather, Kyle and his partner, Holly and her daughter Oprah, and Duncan and Richie. Nicole comes to the party with her ex-football player husband, Yonk. At the reunion, there is a big incident and various former classmates go out and talk at other locations when the party breaks up. Somebody lands in the hospital after an accident.

Co-starring: Sam Harris (Perry Pearl), Julie Halston (Tina Carmello), David Keith (Yonk Allen)
Guest stars: Kasey Wilson (Joanne), Joe Roseto (Adam), Cristian de la Fuente (Aaron)

Episode #2 - "The Class Visits a Hospital"
Monday, September 25, 8:00PM ET/PT

A group of people go to the hospital to check for updates on the injured person in the pilot episode. Holly and Perry invite Kyle and his partner Aaron for brunch at their home to try and get their daughter Oprah into a presigious school.

Co-starring: Sam Harris (Perry Pearl), Julie Halston (Tina Carmello), David Keith (Yonk Allen)
Guest stars: Meera Simhan (Nurse), Karley Scott Collins (Oprah), Cristian de la Fuente (Aaron)


Analysis:

This show has a lot of promise. David Crane ("Friends") and Jeffrey Klarik ("Mad About You") are both producers with proven track records. With only 22 minutes to work with, I thought they did a good job introducing all the characters. It will be interesting to see how they are developed and who will hook up with who, and how the storylines are intertwined in future episodes. I wasn't too familiar with many of the actors. Many of them lack a lot or any sitcom experience. Some are Broadway vets, so maybe that will be an easy transition to sitcoms. Jason Ritter bears a strong a resemblance to his father. Although this is his first sitcom, I see he has a lot of the same mannerisms and comedic timing. You could picture them both being class clowns. The funniest lines in the pilot went to Kat, Richie, and Duncan's mother, Tina. The second episode continued to show promise and was actually funnier. Despite being set in Philadelphia, I did notice that the cast wasn't very diverse. The creators have said that is something they are actively working on now for future episodes.

Update: I had stated in the original review that the pilot episode was not taped in front of a studio audience, and the laugh track was added later. This information was on tv.com . I've learned that information is incorrect. The episodes were taped in front of a studio audience and no laugh track was added. Those are actual audience members.


Conclusion:

There was reportedly a big bidding war for "The Class," due to the prior success of the creators, between the networks. CBS won the battle. It was one of the first new sitcoms to receive an early pickup. CBS must have a lot of faith in it to launch their powerhouse Monday night schedule.

I feel like I'm the last person to see the pilot. It was already available on Google Video, TiVo, and Innertube on CBS. It will be interesting to see how that strategy affects the ratings for the pilot, as so many people have already viewed it. I guess any exposure is good exposure when you are just starting out. They originally announced that The Class would air at 8:30pm, but they swapped slots with "How I Met Your Mother." Those two appear to be good companion shows. I really like "How I Met Your Mother." There are definitely some similarities, although "The Class" has a larger lead and supporting characters cast. The cast is likable. They just lack a lot of previous sitcom experience, so maybe it will take a few episodes for everything to completely gel. Sitcom vet Sara Gilbert has signed on to appear in a multi-episode arc of the show. She'll play Fern, a character who pops up from Richie's past. I think she would be a great addition to the regular cast. If you liked "Friends," there is a good chance that you will like "The Class." It wouldn't surprise me to see this series become the highest rated new sitcom this season, although I think it would do even better following "How I Met Your Mother." Hurray for the return of the multi-camera sitcom!


Final Numbers (out of 5 stars):

Watchability: 4.5/5
Funniness: 4/5
Overall: 4/5

-- Reviewed by Todd Fuller on 09/16/06

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