Monday, September 18, 2006

TV premiering tonight: The Class & Studio 60

[I know, a little late. But with the fall season starting in earnest this week, it's getting tough to keep up. If you can't get enough of my opinions on the new TV season, check out my Las Vegas Weekly fall preview (scroll down), my takes on Fox and NBC in Media Life Magazine (somewhat mangled by the editor), and my chat with Steve Bornfeld on a myriad of TV topics, including new fall shows.]

Apparently The Class (CBS, Mondays, 8 p.m.) has been reworked a bit since the pilot I saw, but I can't imagine that a few tweaks here or there could make it anything more than the latest attempt by one of the creators of Friends (in this case David Crane) to replicate the success of that show (this has given us such TV classics as Jesse and Related). It's a little odd for CBS, whose sitcoms tend to be a bit more family-oriented, but even with its focus on younger people this show is still dull and predictable, as well as sometimes irritating and often very forced. It certainly doesn't have any of the comfortable charm of Friends (which in its evolution into a TV behemoth is actually now sort of underrated), although it's not nearly as bad as some of this season's other new sitcoms, and it could do perfectly well alongside the other bland, familiar comedies on CBS.

I don't know what I could say about Aaron Sorkin's Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip (NBC, Mondays, 10 p.m.) that hasn't already been said by critics and hype-mongers alike, so I'll just say that this one lives up to its billing. If you're a Sorkin fan, you'll love it, as it does exactly what Sorkin does best, stylized banter and endearing self-importance intact. It's got a great cast to deliver Sorkin's smart writing, including Matthew Perry, surprisingly effective as a dramatic actor; Bradley Whitford, who really kept The West Wing going; Steven Weber, also a surprisingly effective dramatic actor; and Amanda Peet, who's easily the best thing on the show and give such an assured, powerful performance that it's like you've never even seen her act before. I don't want to kill this show with hyperbole, because others have already nearly done it for me. Trust me, just watch it.

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