Picks and Pans Review: Brutally Normal
The WB (Mondays, 9 p.m. ET)
As a cranky critic well past his teen years, I'm inclined to remark that The "WB needs another high school series the way suburbia needs another strip mall. But The WB has a constitutional right not to care about fogies like me. In effect, the network is saying to its young target audience: Hey, if you like Popular, here's the shorter, funnier version.
The new half-hour comedy focuses on three sophomores at Wicker H. Normall High: nervous, naive Pooh (Mike Damus, late of Teen Angel); Russell (Eddie Kaye Thomas from American Pie), a would-be stud who's not quite as cool as the image he tries to project; and intelligent Anna (Lea Moreno), who may be more mature than her sexy single mom, Gogi (Joanna Pacula). Yes, the lead characters seem vaguely familiar, and the plots aren't what you'd call groundbreaking either. In the first of two episodes on Jan. 24, Russell puts the moves on a pretty twentysomething only to discover she's his substitute teacher. The only surprise is that he's surprised.
The flights of surrealism (Russell shrinks to little-boy size; a civics teacher turns into Thomas Jefferson) are alternately clever and gratuitous, but at certain moments the writers show a commendable tendency to stress irony over high jinks.
Bottom Line: Normal or slightly above
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