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TV Reviews : ‘Freshman’ Tee-Hees at Teen Concerns

You won’t see green slime, firing squads or rat burgers, but Nickelodeon’s new half-hour series “Welcome Freshmen,” airing tonight at 6:30 p.m. (with repeats Sunday at 1:30 and 7 p.m.), does bear a strong resemblance to that other Nickelodeon icon of good-natured grossness, “You Can’t Do That on Television.”

It’s hard to imagine high-schoolers watching, but a younger audience may appreciate Coach Roach and his “butt-stomping gym class”; a history lesson in Egyptian embalming; slobby Mr. Lumpky, who sneezes into his sweater and sleeps on a hook in the closet, and the maniacal vice principal who gleefully terrorizes his students.

Created by Robert Mittenthal, each segment begins and ends with a nod to relevancy. But the “typical” teen regulars’ few observations about being yourself--and the grainy, cinema verite credit sequences--are an awkward mix with the giggly sketches, silly fun, mild scatology and banter.

The show should either make the elements mesh, or take a leaf from its apparent inspiration: You won’t catch “You Can’t Do That on Television” being relevant; that’s part of its happily outrageous appeal.

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