Paul Iacono, center left, and Kara Taitz, center right, in...

Paul Iacono, center left, and Kara Taitz, center right, in a scene from the scripted comedy series, "The Hard Times of RJ Berger," premiering Sunday, June 6, 2010 on MTV. Credit: AP

RJ Berger (Paul Iacono) is just like any other teen boy who thinks about girls, often in the privacy of his own room.

He's a nerd and can't seem to do anything about that or the difficulties of his life - so tormented is he by his promiscuous parents (into threesomes, foursomes), semi-goth pal at school, Lily (Kara Taitz), and his own absolute unquenchable lust for Jenny Swanson (Amber Lancaster), whose boyfriend, Max (Jayson Blair), bullies him gleefully.

One day . . . fate intervenes. RJ is forced to play in a basketball game, when his shorts - way too big for him - drop, and the school sees his, um, oversized manhood. Sorry, family newspaper rules forbid me from further describing this show, or repeating some of the language contained, except to say that all of it will be familiar to most potential viewers - guys between the ages of 12 and 14.


To be perfectly clinical about "RJ Berger" - in a TV critic kind of way - this show is noteworthy because one of the creators is Seth Grahame-Smith, the best-selling author (who's also from Rockville Centre). (The other creator is David Katzenberg, who is - irony alert - son of Jeffrey, former Disney studios boss.) In his books, infused with the sensibilities of a Troma auteur, Grahame-Smith has mashed up Jane Austen with zombies, or Lincoln with vampires to create a unique new genre still searching for a name - Really Offbeat Horror Humor will do for now. Therefore, you come to "Berger" hoping for something, anything, that will set it apart, make it funny, wise, silly, different, weird. You leave extremely unsatisfied.


Yes, the vulgarity is astounding, but nothing most 12-year-old "South Park" groupies haven't processed long ago. In fact, subsequent episodes suggest the pilot is a bait and switch. "Berger" is basically a nerd revenge fantasy with one gimmick - unleavened by smart writing or smart anything.



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