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'Inbetweeners' review: Smart look at idiots

Cast of MTV's comedy show

Cast of MTV's comedy show "The Inbetweeners," set to debut on Monday, August 20, 2012. Credit: MTV

COMEDY SERIES "The Inbetweeners"

WHEN | WHERE Premieres Monday night at 10:30 on MTV

REASON TO WATCH Who isn't in-between?

WHAT IT'S ABOUT High school has its jocks and nerds on one side. And on the other, kids with crutches and "wall-eaters" prevented from even sitting in the cafeteria. Then there's the rest of us -- the title IBs. Poor narrator Will (Joey Pollari) is the blazer-wearing new kid transferred from private school by his totally hot but suddenly single mom. He falls in with chubby braggart Jay (Zack Pearlman), dim longhair Neil (Mark L. Young) and almost-normal yet sadly simple Simon (Bubba Lewis). "As much as I wished I didn't fit in with these idiots," he admits, "I did."

The idiots are forever in search of booze, chicks and cool, and in the pilot alone, prove that if they could get all these things, they wouldn't have the faintest clue what to do. They mostly fantasize, talk trash and do stupidly embarrassing things. Usually simultaneously.

Tonight's half-hour involves cheap vodka, unwanted arousal, spray paint and several superior ejections of vomit. Next week: an amusement park, a "Muppet yellow" car, the "developmentally disabled" and more spray paint. Episode three: cooking club, Facebook, water guns and mere flour.

MY SAY And yet -- it's good! "The Inbetweeners," based on the British series of the same name (seen here on BBC America and out on DVD), nicely captures guys being, in totally intentional tribute to MTV's girl-centered hit, awkward. The writing, acting and direction mix sharp observations with pinpoint timing. No surprise -- this single-camera American version was developed by Brad Copeland, out of "Arrested Development" and "My Name Is Earl," and directed by Taika Waititi from "Flight of the Conchords."

The guys' vital concerns should be familiar to anyone who is or has been a teen (while possibly less popular with parents who'd rather not confront the bleep-worthy frankness/subject matter of today's teen talk).

BOTTOM LINE The first three episodes totally nail it. Even if the guys never do.


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