September 30, 2002 12:00 PM

WB (Thursdays, 8:30 p.m. ET)

When two new shows have the same premise—present-day guy transported to the ’80s to relive his adolescence—there’s something to be said for arriving first. This series is set to premiere Sept. 19, eight days before ABC’s That Was Then, and it comes off as a standard high school sitcom save for the time-travel twist.

Joel Larsen (newcomer Penn Badgley) is a high school freshman who knows he was 34 when an electric shock threw him back 20 years. (He constantly reminds us of his self-awareness through voice-over narration.) This time around maybe he can bond with his loudmouth dad (Michael Milhoan), stand up to that bullying jock, attract that unattainable blonde who shakes her hair in slo-mo. Badgley is engaging as a teen who’s smarter—or at least more experienced—than he lets on, but the writers seem to think we’ll laugh if they simply tick off ’80s pop-culture references.

Bottom Line: Won’t bear much repetition

You May Like