'Do Over' goes back to the future

Thursday, September 19, 2002

What if you were offered the chance to live your teen years all over again? Would it be a dream come true � or a cosmic nightmare? "Do Over" (7:30 p.m., WB), concerns Joel Larsen, a 34-year-old salesman with a less-than-wonderful life who finds himself transported back in time to 1981, when he (Penn Badgley) was only 14 years old.

At first Larsen thinks he is having a bad dream, but once he reconciles himself to his peculiar plight, he seizes the chance to change his life, and the lives of his loved ones. Maybe if he does it right this time, he will be happier and more successful; his sister (Angela Goethals) will not become a drug addict; his Mom (Gigi Rice) and Dad (Michael Milhoan) won't divorce; and his idealistic best friend (Josh Wise) won't become an ambulance-chasing lawyer.

"Do Over" has fun with the music and fashions of the early Reagan era, while avoiding the pitfalls of "That 80's Show."

The writers of this sitcom may believe that we can change our lives if we're given enough chances at redemption. I prefer the wisdom of Greek philosophers who wrote that "character is destiny." And characters like Joel Larsen seem destined to annoy, even if given a million years to do over.

� Fans of over-the-top, grade Z horror movies should definitely catch "The Rats" (7 p.m., Fox). Madchen Amick ("Twin Peaks") stars as Susan Costello, the manager of New York's poshest department store, who hires Jack Carver (Vincent Spano), the city's best exterminator, when she discovers a small rodent problem in her dressing room. Carver uses high-tech black light gadgets to show Costello that her entire store is covered in rat feces, and that she is working on top of a colony of vicious, genetically altered super-rats bent on taking over New York City.

Tonight's other highlights

� Sixteen more people I don't care about participate on "Survivor: Thailand" (7 p.m., CBS), the fifth installment of the "reality" game.

� Jennifer Aniston and Ron Livingston star in the 1999 comedy "Office Space" (7 p.m., Comedy Central) directed by Mike Judge ("King of the Hill").

� Scheduled on "Primetime" (9 p.m., ABC): Pakistan confronts the brutal treatment of its women. A former Mississippi governor uses his minister to snoop on his cheating spouse.