Pity poor Urkel and Screech. Clearly, they were born at the wrong time. Today's TV geeks are such a far cry from the walking punch lines of yore, we're laughing with them more often than at them. And how's this for progress? Some — like Everybody Loves Raymond's unlikely newlywed, Robert Barone — even get the girl. Read on and see for yourself: The tube's new breed of geeks has made it hip to be square.
Seth Cohen, The O.C.:Though his own mom has called this green wallflower a late bloomer, it wasn't long before he put away his toy horse to sow his own wild oats. After all, in the span of a Summer (pun intended), the Chrismukkah elf went from Newport's Most Unwanted to the guy atop two — count 'em, two! — hotties' to-do lists.
Marshall J. Flinkman, Alias: Apparently, the CIA's resident computer nerd knows how to push buttons on more than his PC. His crush, Sydney Bristow, was as shocked as we were to discover that, during her two years MIA, the average Joe had not only gotten himself a sweetheart — fellow operative Carrie Bowman — he'd gotten her pregnant!
Luke Foley, American Dreams: Over on NBC's 1960s-set drama, the times, they are a-changin'. Boy-crazy Roxanne Bojarski got her Dylan-loving, Beatles-bashing record-store coworker to doff his Coke-bottle glasses for a mod makeover. Ever since, the newly groovy dude had to look no further for a date than, of all people, her!
Fred Burkle, Angel: Despite her ability to solve physics problems in her head, Wolfram & Hart's mousy mathlete never comes up with the loneliest number. Since being rescued from an alternate dimension, she's divided two colleagues simply by factoring them into her lineup of suitors, and bewitched winsome Willow to boot.
Kirk Gleason, Gilmore Girls: This season, Stars Hollow's ultimate fifth wheel is on a roll. First, portrayer Sean Gunn got his props as an addition to the series' opening credits. Then, the jack-of-all-trades announced — with trademark subtlety — that his companion at a town meeting wasn't just another date, she was a significant other.
Luke Girardi, Joan of Arcadia: It's a miracle — Joan's kid brother pulled his nose out of his textbooks long enough to develop chemistry with androgynous lab partner Grace Polk. We suspect there's divine intervention afoot, but regardless, since he got himself a kiss, we'd say the honor-roll student deserves another A — this one for achievement.