"I love The Class (8:30 p.m. Mondays, WISH Channel 8). And judging by the ratings, I’m pretty much alone. That’s OK. Not the first time, won‘t be the last. But that’s my pick for best new show of 2006.
This sitcom, based around the reunion of third-grade classmates from a Philadelphia school, is the warmest and most charming series to come along in years. The characters are terrific, the stories engrossing, the cast perfect.
You’ll notice I didn’t say anything about the comedy in that last paragraph. The truth is, thus far in The Class, the “sit” has far outpaced the “com.” That’s a little surprising since this show comes from David Crane (Friends), but he’s earned enough good will that I’m willing to be patient.
In the meantime, he’s given us great situations involving difficult relationships. The perfectly named Richie Velch (Jesse Tyler Ferguson) is a walking ball of nerves who happens to be married when he falls in love with former classmate Lina (Heather Goldenhersh) and then runs over her with his car. And Duncan (Jon Bernthal) reunites with the love of his life, Nicole (Andrea Anders), who’s now the trophy wife of a former football star, the also perfectly named Yonk Allen (David Keith).
Watching these characters deal with their respective obstacles has been a treat from Day 1, and it’s only gotten better, richer and more complicated.
As for the laughs, they’ve tended to come from low-hanging fruit. Holly (Lucy Punch), a dimwitted TV reporter, went out with Kyle (Sean Maguire) in high school until she discovered he was gay. She went on to marry Perry (Sam Harris), the most effeminate man on the planet. Kat (Lizzy Caplan), Lina’s twin sister, is the designated cynic who tosses out the insults — mostly at the earnest Ethan (Jason Ritter). But we’re likely to find out that she has a heart of gold.
OK, so The Class hasn’t yet found its wit. So what? At this point, it’s well worth spending a half-hour with these people every week. And if the writers find their comedic voice, all the better.
As for the best new series, non-network division, check out Dexter on Showtime, featuring Michael C. Hall from Six Feet Under playing a cop who’s also a serial killer. It’s chilling.
And the best line on TV in 2006 came from Liza Weil — Paris on Gilmore Girls — who was speaking to a girl interested in taking her SAT prep class.
Paris: I don’t particularly like to take on such meek, diffident cases. Do you even know what diffident means?
The girl shakes her head.
Paris: That’s OK. That knowledge isn’t really required for the retail doughnut distribution industry.