E4 is adding something to its stash of teen comedy dramas that sounds vaguely dirty, but aren't at all. Beaver Falls (E4, Wednesday at 9pm), is about three British graduates who sign up for summer jobs at an elite American holiday camp. When the child delivery bus turns up, off skip taut, bronzed girls and jocks with jaws like anchors. But our scruffy, irresponsible chaps are charged with babysitting a murky sub-sect: the camp’s fat boy rejects. It’s all beautifully bromantic. The underdogs bond and battle the handsome, meat-headed establishment, etc.
But can Brits and Americans successfully coexist in comedy? We’re used to accommodating token “outsiders” (Daphne in Frasier, Emily in Friends, etc) but this time it’s a more balanced mix of us and them. As we bounce between accents, an odd but not entirely horrible rhythm develops. At times, the contrast even teases out extra or bigger laughs. But the writing and boundaries are as British as Bovril and bacon butties. There are drugs, sex and the kids are allowed to swear a bit. Americans are uptight about bad languag--especially in the mouths of children--so this perceived leash slackening creates an enjoyably insubordinate buzz.
Beaver Falls will effectively replace the mediocre but much-loved (by everyone but me, it seems) Inbetweeners, which concludes with two special episodes and a movie this August. That show won record audiences and E4 have used its comedy-nerd formula to concoct a substitute. And actually, I prefer The Falls. Twenty-something Brits, Flynn, Barry and A-Rab (FYI, the party line is: A-Rab is an endearing--and not at all racist--nickname) are adorably moronic. Their underlings include a boy who was previously in with the alphas but got fat, and a silent, compulsive masturbator. Perhaps this first episode relies too heavily on jokes about misplaced deposits of semen, but it’s hard not to enjoy them all.
Thanks to the US/UK thing, Beaver Falls will come off as pioneering. But actually, it doesn’t have the poise, flair or, I suspect, the longevity of stable-mates Skins and Misfits. Still, it’s undemanding, ultra-light fare crammed with daft laughs. And just because no one’s likely to get murdered, groomed by a cult or carted off to rehab (or, if they do, the impact will be batted away with a few pithy sentences), doesn’t mean that BF will flop. And if, like me, you’re not currently accepting applications for a new favourite supernatural drama (enough already), you’ll appreciate that there’s nothing paranormal brewing in The Falls. If Teen Wolf, a fetching vampire or, worse still, a lonely beaver ghost had cropped up, I’d have been out for BF’s blood.