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TELEVISION REVIEW

'Just for Kicks' shows girls how to get along

''Just for Kicks" is a solid but unoriginal new series about an all-girls soccer team. On one level, it's a high school soap opera in which the 14-year-old classmates work out their rivalries on the field. And on a slightly deeper but no less obvious level, it's a primer for girls on how to cope with peer pressure and competition. The melodrama is all in the name of arming young female viewers against the ''mean girls" phenomenon.

Created by Whoopi Goldberg, ''Just for Kicks" goes where a million other live-action youth shows have already gone. The premiere episode, tomorrow night at 7 on Nickelodeon, introduces the lead characters, most of whom are in different cliques at the same New York City school. Alexa (Francesca Catalano) is a cheerleader whose A-list friends are disgusted by the idea of soccer. Freddie (Mallory Low) is a jock who's a klutz off the field, both physically and socially. Lauren (Katija Pevec) is a shy Everygirl with artsy leanings, and Vida (Jessica Williams) is a confident leader.

These types would probably never mix in the cafeteria, but once they make the Power Strikers, they're forced to face their prejudices and grudges toward one another. If the teammates don't find peace together, their game will suffer. The most glaring hostility is between girly Alexa and tomboy Freddie, who calls Alexa's circle of friends ''The Plastic People's Popularity Club." The two girls must learn to coexist, despite their mutual contempt. And then there are open rifts between the team's veterans and rookies that must be mended.

Naturally, boy problems are afoot, too, notably Lauren's major crush on Alexa's dreamy brother Chris (Jerad Anderson). Chris has a girlfriend, but he's sending Alexa strong signals that he's interested in her. In the parlance of ''My So-Called Life," a much richer high school drama, he's her Jordan Catalano. Also, the coach of the Power Strikers is a cute Brit who makes all the players sigh.

The show diligently blends characters of different race and class to form a microcosm of sorts. The need for cooperation among soccer teammates functions as a metaphor for cooperation among kids from different backgrounds. Wisely, though, Goldberg and her crew keep the theme at the level of subtext. The show doesn't ''tell" so much as ''show" the issue. Diversity may be the biggest lesson in ''Just for Kicks," if not the loudest.

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