I can’t help but feel I’m going to one day regret the following statement, but here goes: I think In Case of Emergency is funny.
In Case of Emergency is a new sitcom ABC premiered last night at 9:30 PM. It has a good cast comprised of Jonathan Silverman, David Arquette, Greg Germann, Kelly Hu, and Lori Loughlin. The premise is simple enough; a bunch of high school friends, Arquette, Silverman, Germann, and Hu, are all experiencing various crises in their lives and need the support of one another. The first three of this group of four have remained friends since high school, while Hu’s character, Kelly (just like the actress's first name), joins the group after Silverman’s character, Harry, meets her at a “sensual massage” parlor where she works.
As for Loughlin (Joanna), she is something of the odd-woman-out. She is first met by David Arquette (Jason) in a hospital, where she works as an emergency room doctor, following an aborted suicide attempt by Jason. All the other characters then meet her again at the hospital after Harry gets beat up by Kelly’s drunk cop boyfriend.
Does any of this sound familiar? Maybe it’s vaguely reminiscent of another comedy that has been on the air since September? Something that airs on CBS called The Class? That show follows far more characters from the same class that have all been brought together for a reunion. The main difference between the two shows lies in the fact that The Class is simply not funny, whereas, at the very least, In Case of Emergency’s pilot episode is. Whether or not that distinction will make a difference with the audience it is simply too soon to tell.
In Case of Emergency and its characters work far better than The Class, and that’s the main reason it is a better show. Where The Class has gone for several broad stereotypes and caricatures, In Case of Emergency has chosen to focus on far fewer people, and consequently has done a much better job drawing them. It is true that the characters in In Case of Emergency are over the top, as are the situations they are put in, but the characters are far less shrill, far more real, and failing that, far more humorous when predicaments arise.
Sadly for In Case of Emergency, not only did The Class premiere first and have a similar basic premise, but there is more than one nearly identical situation in which characters in both shows find themselves. Again, In Case of Emergency handles these situations in a far better manner, but it may not make a difference for its long term survivability. Some of the similarities are generic — bad boyfriends and wives/girlfriends leaving — but some are less so. For instance, Jason contemplates attempting suicide in the pilot of In Case of Emergency, just as a character did in The Class. Whereas The Class plays the actual attempts for a laugh, In Case of Emergency has Jason step back from the brink before going for a laugh, and certainly indicates that this was a momentary thing, not a long, thought out process. While using suicide attempts as a form of levity I think to be distasteful, it is certainly dealt with far better in In Case of Emergency than in The Class.
Will In Case of Emergency survive? Who knows. It’s even unclear if something like The Class would help or hurt it. It is clear however that last night’s results for the show weren’t particularly good; it came in as the number four show in its time slot both in total number of viewers and in the adult 18-49 demographic. While those results certainly aren’t promising, I’ll still be tuning in next week.