TV Preview

'In Case of Emergency': Try Changing Channels

David Arquette stars in ABC's supposed sitcom.
David Arquette stars in ABC's supposed sitcom. (By Scott Garfield -- Abc Via Associated Press)
By John Maynard
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, January 3, 2007

You have to wonder whether ABC's dreadful new sitcom, "In Case of Emergency," got its name after somebody at the network said: "We should only put this show in our lineup only in case of emergency."

Apparently there's an emergency tonight at 9:30, when this unwatchable sitcom makes its debut.

"Emergency" centers on four people who knew each other in high school but are now in their late 30s and facing the low points of their lives. And anybody who sits through this may feel they're right there with them.

Jonathan Silverman (he was NBC's "Single Guy" for two merciless seasons) is the central character, Harry, a divorced father who writes greeting cards for a living. He's also very, very lonely, which is why he finds himself, in the opening scene, in a Korean massage parlor.

He's there for more than a massage.

Who should appear to administer this "massage" but Kelly (Kelly Hu), valedictorian of Harry's class in high school, sporting a fake Korean accent and a tight red dress (most of her clothes seem to be tight).

Obviously, something went horribly wrong in her life, but will the show be on long enough for us to find out? Let's hope not.

Rounding out the foursome are Sherman (Greg Germann of "Ally McBeal"), a former fattie turned diet guru who goes on a high-calorie binge after his wife leaves him, and suicidal financial whiz Jason (David Arquette), who might be heading to the big house because of financial shenanigans at his firm.

Arquette is easily the most annoying member of the cast as an oversexed goofball -- overacting and pratfalling his way through the two episodes made available for preview. After a failed suicide attempt sends him to the hospital, Jason falls for his attending doctor (Lori Loughlin) and is willing to do anything to avoid being discharged. At one point, he makes a pass at a patient in hopes that she will strike back. She does, with a bedpan.

There's nothing unlikable about the rest of the cast, but their attempts at farce make you just want to get away from them. Food-crazed Sherman hijacks a pastry truck and, after getting arrested, makes his one phone call at the jailhouse to a pizza delivery service.

Constantly being pursued by Kelly's unstable boyfriend, Harry finds himself in ridiculous situations like jumping off a roof onto a moving car.

"Clearly, we've all hit a low point," Harry says to the gang.

Yes, and so has ABC.

In Case of Emergency (30 minutes) premieres tonight at 9:30 on Channel 7.

© 2007 The Washington Post Company