An Undeclared winner

BILL BRIOUX

, Last Updated: 2:31 PM ET

School's finally in tonight for Undeclared, the smart new campus comedy from Freaks And Geeks creator Judd Apatow. Fox and Global's got it at 8:30 p.m.

Like every other fall launch, the premiere was pushed back a week due to the Sept. 11 attacks. This one is worth the wait and is my pick for the funniest new comedy of the fall.

Apatow, a college drop-out, says he based this series on his own school days. "I just know I didn't get laid in college," he told TV critics last July. "That sounds like a show."

The comedy features a terrific ensemble cast. Montreal-native Jay Baruchel (Almost Famous), who grew up on Are You Afraid Of The Dark and Popular Mechanics For Kids, plays Apatow's alter-ego, Steven Karp. Karp is a dorky late bloomer who grew seven inches over the summer. As a freshman, he's about to get the education of his life at the fictitious University of Eastern California.

His new roommate is Lloyd (Charlie Hunnan), a suave Brit who comes complete with that killer, babe magnet accent. This is the new Odd Couple.

Another Canuck, Vancouver's Seth Rogan (last seen on Freaks And Geeks and also a writer on this show), is among his new campus pals, along with Carla Gallo, Timm Sharp, Christina Payano and Monica Keena.

Steve's nerdy dad, Hal (Rufus Wainwright's cool dad, musician Loudon Wainwright III), turns up as the life of the party at tonight's freshman bash.

Don't miss the second episode, which features Adam Sandler in one of the gutsiest guest star turns ever. Sandler plays himself as a total sleazeball on a randy campus comedy tour and actually sleeps with one of the college girls!

Like Freaks And Geeks, Undeclared sails by without a laugh track, one of several new comedies this fall to ditch the old comedy crutch. Freaks And Geeks had fans, but many viewers were turned off by the bummer attitude of the show's realistic young leads. This time, Apatow just goes for laughs and it works.

Tonight also marks the debut of The Guardian, an odd drama bowing at 9 p.m. on CBS (it also premieres tomorrow night at 10 p.m. on CH). The series stars Australian actor Simon Baker (Red Planet) as a jerk of a lawyer who gets nailed on a drug charge. His probation: Help out at a childcare centre (run by former Cybill star Alan Rosenberg).

A grumpier-than-usual Dabney Coleman stars as Baker's hard-ass dad and law boss. It's a muddled, moody mess, and should get trounced by tonight's one-hour Frasier return.


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