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If exploitive college comedy were an art form, Undergrads would be the Mona Lisa.

Meet Nitz, Rocko, Cal and Gimpy, the freshman foursome at the heart of MTV's newest animated offering. These perfect slices of collegiate stereotype are leaving high school behind and attacking the undergrad experience full-frontal.

Nitz is the Eyor of Undergrads. Hopelessly uninspired and sadly shuffling through the motions, he's the victim of the freshman 15 and a paraphernalia-obsessed decorator.

Buff guy Rocko is the group's fratboy-wannabe. Obsessed with Greek life, he hazes himself after learning pledge tasks are no longer permissible. Dumb as a rock-o, he's the Animal House remnant of the contemporary college scene.

Roommate to Nitz and lover to many, Cal is the ladies' man who never will be. The handsome blonde Valley boy is so light in the loafers he nearly floats off the screen, but his ubiquitous harem of hotties is paradoxically appropriate.

Computer addict Gimpy is the strangest of the foursome. A student at prestigious Techerson Tech (Think MIT minus sunlight), Gimpy enjoys a nerdy following devoted to his wacky schemes. He's also the most hideously rendered of the show's animated heroes.

Undergrads rides high on concept, coasting through a host of typical freshman experiences. With its student activities fairs, bevy of ultimate frisbee teams, naked running and overzealous RAs, the show maneuvers humorously through familiar situations. Only Cal and Nitz are enrolled at the same school, but Undergrads keeps its characters intimate, communicating quite fittingly through AOL Instant Messenger.

Cal's infrequent dialogue is perhaps the show's most uproarious. Dripping with deadpan stupidity, he's more than amused with his dorm's opening social event. "There'll be free cheese... and Boggle!" boasts Doug "the Dougler," the laughable everyman RA. Cal gasps and cries, "I love both those things!"

Despite MTV's promotional push for Gimpy, who appears to be the show's star, Undergrads does best when the remote and maniacal tech-nerd is MIA. While Cal, Nitz and Rocko are drawn with clearly human aesthetics, Gimpy is misshapen and misplaced, like Beavis or Butthead in a Disney movie.

The colorful characters are unlikely bedfellows, but diversity ensures a broad smattering of college humor. Undergrads may grow tired as university pastimes are sequentially exploited--and like any school-based serial, the show may do best to call it quits at graduation. Despite some potty humor and overly obvious "inside" jokes, Undergrads glimmers with the biting wit of Daria and offers a smart, if familiar, taste of college living.


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