WB's 'Do Over' a fun flashback to teen years
The gods of television programming have long been cruel. Remember last year's Tuesday night dilemma? "The Guardian" vs. "24" vs. "NYPD Blue" vs. "Smallville" vs. "Frasier" and "Scrubs"?
Now there's a new twist. This fall's funniest new comedy
airs opposite last fall's funniest new comedy.
The WB's "Do Over" premieres at 8:30 tonight, but in two weeks it will be up against new episodes of NBC's "Scrubs" (not to mention CBS's "Survivor: Thailand"). Better learn to program that dusty VCR.
"Do Over" is one of two new series -- the other is "That Was Then" on ABC -- that sends a thirtysomething guy back in time to the '80s to relive high school. "Do Over" is far superior
, with a funny, occasionally bawdy script by series creators Rick Weiner and Kenny Schwartz and a terrific performance by newcomer Penn Badgley, who brings to mind Michael J. Fox in his "Family Ties" era.
Joel sets out to right the wrongs of the forthcoming 20 years, which include his parents' divorce, his sister's substance abuse and his own thinning hair and dead-end job. He also tries to get closer to his father (Michael Milhoan), a thoughtless meathead.
The '80s setting gives producers license to use music from the era and toss in pop culture gags. Upcoming episodes include odes to "The Blues Brothers" and "Star Wars," which could be a "So what?" given how many times it's been done before, but "Do Over" finds an entertaining way to bring "Star Wars" into its story that's unexpected, original and hilarious.
Joel laments that for the next 20 years he'll have nothing to watch on TV but reruns, but he finds ways to make this foreknowledge work to his advantage. In a speech to the student body at school, he urges them: "Carpe diem! Seize the day!"
"So I'm stealing from 'Dead Poet's Society,' " Joel says in his narration. "They won't know for another eight years!"
The idea of returning to high school is generally viewed as nightmarish, but watching Joel and his friends go through it may make you happily wistful.