The fall TV season has only just begun, yet you might well find yourself crying, "Reruns already?!" Why? Although ABC's That Was Then and WB's Do Over differ a bit in tone — the former is earnest to a fault; the latter, sweetly goofy — the comedies have the same premise: grownup gets zapped back to the 1980s to relive his adolescence. And the parallels go way beyond greed-decade music cues and retro fashions.
THAT WAS THEN
Hapless hero: Travis, an almost-30-year-old door salesman, wonders, "Is it wrong when an 11-year-old is cooler than you?"
Shock treatment: Travis wakes up in 1988 after lightning sends a jolt of electricity through his stereo headphones.
Dorky sidekick: Travis breaks it to tress-obsessed chub Pinkus that he eventually goes bald.
Dream girl: A poster of Heather Thomas hangs on Travis's wall, but he really wants Claudia, a blonde who's going out with his brother, Gregg.
Parental guidance: Travis tries to save his folks' marriage by admonishing Mom for doing something nasty with a man other than Dad for no good reason.
Redefining moment: After botching a speech to his classmates his first time around, Travis wins Claudia's admiration by telling his peers that "tomorrow is just another day to make your mark, but why wait?"
Hapless hero: Joel, a 34-year-old paper salesman, confesses, "I was thisclose to getting [hair] plugs."
Shock treatment: Joel wakes up in 1981 after sister Cheryl accidentally jolts him with defibrillator paddles.
Dorky sidekick: Joel reveals to blue-haired bud Pat that he eventually becomes a Republican.
Dream girl: A poster of Catherine Bach hangs on Joel's wall, but he really wants Holly, a blond who's out of his league.
Parental guidance: Joel tries to save his folks' marriage by advising Dad to do something nice for Mom for no reason.
Redefining moment: After botching a speech to his classmates his first time around, Joel wins a student-council election by telling his peers to "seize the day."