Square-jawed jock bullies? Check. Fat, socially awkward, but highly erudite nerds? Check. Unattainable hot girl with boorish boyfriend? Check. Group of mates trying to get laid? Check. E4’s new comedy ticks just about every box ever invented for teen-comedies, a low-brow and slightly predictable piece of easy-going entertainment which oozes high school Americana, Beaver Falls is of guilty of being unadventurous rather than rubbish.
Let’s start by dispelling the rumour that this is Inbetweeners in the states. While this new offering flirts with comedy and contains some decent lines, the writing isn’t quite as incisive as its Channel 4 stable mate. Based around three British lads who rock up to an idyllic youth camp in California to work for the summer. There are a load of hot and cool campers knocking about, but they get landed with a bunch of wheezing tubbies who form the substrata of the camp’s ecosystem. Most of the gags are in the “Did you hear any of that or were you staring at my breasts?” / “that is one serious wedgie!” / “Who wanked on my flip-flop?!” ballpark – which is fine if you like that sort of thing. Two of the lads are on a mission to bed the local talent, the other is nursing a broken heart and there’s an authoritarian camp manager who has a zero tolerance policy on alcohol and sex. It’s basically American Pie for TV, except of course it’s arrived over a decade late.
There are some flashes of brilliance.. (The opening scene in which the Asian lad is interrogated by American customs officials in a padded room is a good one. “Like football do you? What position do you play son?” – “Centre-half?!” – “There’s no such position! Why don’t you tell us what you’re really doing here!”) ..but the one thing that Beaver Falls really does work very effectively are the gags and situations afforded by the mild cultural clashes that occur. In one scene the lads stand-up to the (disturbingly old) bullies who have hung the lads’ young charges from the (American) Football posts by their underwear. “Come on then!” shouts one of them after the American jock threatens to kick their ‘asses’. “You’re not wearing your pads now mate!” he shouts before whipping out a massive sword. “Who brings a sword to a fist-fight?!” says the lead jock (who also doubles up as the aforementioned boorish boyfriend) “You should come to Glasgow!” etc. Yeah have that hunky American dude!