'Inbetweeners' offers heart and smarts

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Fans of "Freaks and Geeks" or "American Pie" will recognize and welcome the coming-of-age humor in BBC America's "The Inbetweeners" (9 p.m. Monday). It's occasionally randy and sophomoric, but there are also some smarts and heart mixed in.

New-kid-in-school Will (Simon Bird) attempts to make friends and gets knocked around and mocked for his name tag and briefcase. He's a smart kid who instantly recognizes that "to be seen with me is a form of social death."

Eventually he does form a bond with Simon (Joe Thomas), who lusts after an out-of-his-league blond; forever-horny Jay (James Buckley), who claims to be more sexually experienced; and Neil (Blake Harrison), who lives with his divorced father.

Their adventures are often outrageously humiliating -- in episode two, Simon vomits on the blond's little brother -- and the guys get themselves into ridiculous, "Seinfeld"-worthy situations. (Will throws a Frisbee, hits a woman in a wheelchair and she refuses to give it back, leading others in the park to think he's trying to steal from her).

"The Inbetweeners" definitely has the air of a Judd Apatow comedy -- perhaps more "Undeclared" than "Freaks and Geeks" -- and there's nothing wrong with that.

After this week's premiere, "The Inbetweeners" will move to 9:30 p.m. Wednesday.

First Published January 24, 2010 5:00 AM

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