| On the continuum of television series, we'd put WB's newest offering, the half-hour teen comedy Brutally Normal, pretty much dead center between Ally McBeal and Sabrina. It may not sound like much to you, but considering the obstacles the series had to overcome to rend the tiniest bit of praise from our lips, the above sentence should read something like the Halleluiah chorus.
You see, in classic first-child form, we tend to be bored to tears with all things that do not involve us. Therefore, the moment teen drama ceased to concern us, teen dramas ceased to interest us. (Note: X-Files, due to our as-yet unrequited love for David Duchovny, concerns and interests us greatly.)
Therefore it was with much trepidation that we finally settled down on the couch, preview tape in place, VCR remote in hand, with the full intention of hating every "crush-on-the-boy-in-homeroom-mystery-meat-in-the-cafeteria-oh-my-gawd-how-could-she" moment.
Let's be honest. Brutally Normal is not going to revolutionize television. Its forays into the minds and imaginations of its characters, while amusing, are not groundbreaking. And Normall High still exists in that mystical television suburb populated almost entirely by white, middle-class kids. That being said, it is a damn cute show.
First off the cast is passably youngish looking for television (which makes them, what, 24 in real life?) and attractive---which is important because it allows you, the television viewer, to erroneously remember your departed teenage self as far more good-looking than you really were. Please. Everybody looked like a geek back then; we believe your yearbook photo will bear us out on this one.
The series revolves around smooth-talking Russell (Eddie Kaye Thomas), Anna (Lea Moreno---female, and as such, the conscience of our trio) and uptight-yet-amiable "Pooh" (Mike Damus). If you watch TV, and we believe you do, you've seen this before; Russell boasts about his prowess with the lay-dees...could he be lying? Pooh is taking his SATs...think he'll freak out? Yes, you've seen it before, but rarely so affably and so well-filmed.
Granted, this is all to be taken with a grain of salt. Our official review tape came with a letter clearly stating that the episodes included were rough cuts and as such the music, effects, etc. may by changed. This is Warner Brothers, after all, and by time you see the premiere on January 24th (9:00pm ET) the cast could include a talking puppet or a smart-mouthed female lead with bazooms the size of watermelons. Which would be a shame. Brutally Normal is a competent, comfortable comedy; which is all we're really hoping for on a Monday night.