The Class builds on twenty-something faux nostalgia, aiming for Gen-Y’ers who swap Fantasy Island quotes even though they were in utero when Ricardo Montalban was rocking his white suit. The freshman CBS comedy is about a group of big kids who were in the same third-grade class and, two decades later, improbably start hanging out again. Each episode opens with a moppety shot of one character Way Back When — these pictures look more ’70s-era than ’80s, but then the ’70s were more ready-made poignant, weren’t they?
Naturally, the clique is a Breakfast Club sampler: the beauty queen (Joey‘s Andrea Anders, still bland), the cool outsider (Freaks and Geeks‘ Lizzy Caplan, still awesome), and some nerds in love (Heather Goldenhersh and Jesse Tyler Ferguson), who are so breathy and twitchy they seem close to seizure. (Tone it down, you two!) Sara Gilbert’s arrival as a shrewish significant other is just another cliché (there’s also a ”straight guy” — Sam Harris’ Perry Pearl — who’s really ”gay”…like, TV gay…like, ”Oh, my popovers!” gay). Caplan, late of Mean Girls and now displaying a robust bitchiness herself, is the dark little star here. Snapping off the best lines — and The Class has some nice ones, if you can endure the hammy stuff the actors sling at each other in loudspeaker voices — Caplan lights up even vanilla Jason Ritter, who plays her ”unexpected” love interest. While she’s pretty great, the show remains merely somewhere on the edge of good.