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‘Bent’ rides in well-worn groove

Pete (David Walton) Alex (AmandPeet) may or may not connect “Bent.”

Pete (David Walton) and Alex (Amanda Peet) may or may not connect in “Bent.”

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‘BENT’ ★★★

8 to 8:30 and 8:30 to 9 p.m. Wednesdays on WMAQ-Channel 5

Updated: April 22, 2012 8:07AM

Alex (Amanda Peet) is a beautiful but repressed, type-A lawyer whose cheating husband is in the slammer for insider trading.

This newly minted single mom needs to remodel her life — but first, her kitchen. She hires a good-looking slacker contractor named Pete (David Walton), a former gambling addict and surfer dude who, as Alex points out, smells like a mix of salt and bong water.

Alex and Pete are opposites. They attract. But neither one wants to admit it, at least not at the same time.

Despite this highly unoriginal setup, NBC’s midseason rom-com “Bent” has its charms — most of which come from the laid-back, likable lothario Pete. We first meet him as he’s trying to slip away from a one-night stand and slip into his wetsuit to catch some gnarly waves.

“Are you a surfer, Tammy?” he asks his most recent conquest, who wakes in time to catch Pete mid-escape.

“Tara,” she corrects him.

“Too soon for nicknames?” he replies.

The scruffy Walton (“Perfect Couples”) is a natural as the good bad boy. His character’s sex drive is far healthier than his work ethic, but Walton makes him easy to root for, especially compared to Alex’s arrogant new doctor boyfriend. (Again, hardly an original concept. And you’ll never guess which guy Alex’s young daughter is rooting for in the blue-vs.-white-collar battle for Mom’s affections.)

The sitcom, from writer and executive producer Tad Quill (“Scrubs,” “Spin City”), shows a sweet side to its characters’ dysfunction. These are people who are “bent, not broken,” a description used by Pete’s narcissistic, underemployed actor father (Jeffrey Tambor, “Arrested Development”).

Pete’s merry band of misfit builders includes J.B. Smoove (“Curb Your Enthusiasm”) and Jesse Plemons (“Friday Night Lights”), who provide a good portion of the show’s laughs.

The will-they-or-won’t-they dance between Alex and Pete has the potential to get old fast, but “Bent” will be off the air long before fatigue sets in. NBC is burning all six episodes in just three weeks, with back-to-back shows starting at 8 p.m. on Wednesdays through April 4.

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