In 10 Words or Less
A healthy dose of silly teen comedy
Likes: Jerry Trainor, Jennette McCurdy
Dislikes: Most Teen Sitcoms
The Story So Far...
iCarly follows the comedic adventures of Carly (Miranda Cosgrove) and Sam (Jennette McCurdy), best friends and co-hosts of a popular web series, shot with the help of their tech-savvy pal Freddie (Nathan Kress.) Living without parents, with her flighty artist brother/legal guardian Spencer (Jerry Trainor), Carly is always getting roped into new situations, either through her own actions or those of her friends. The show has aired on Nickelodeon for several seasons, while there have been several iCarly DVD releases to date, and DVDTalk has several reviews.
When I reviewed a previous iCarly release, it was with a pretty hefty dose of skepticism, as I couldn't imagine enjoying a Nickelodeon teen sitcom, considering A) I'm not a teen, and B) I don't enjoy most non-music-based Nickelodeon TV. But as I've seen more episodes, thanks to my daughter's growing fandom, I find a growing fondness for the series. It's not as though I would seek out iCarly when flipping around the channels, but if my little girl is watching, I'm not so quick to find other things to busy myself with in order to block it out. There's actually a lot to like about iCarly, as seen in these episodes, from the end of the show's second season.
The dynamic between Carly (Miranda Cosgrove), Sam (Jennette McCurdy) and Freddie (Nathan Kress) is what powers the show, with the tight friendship between the girls and the conflicted presence of Freddie (who longs for Carly and clashes with Sam) providing most of the plots and laughs. At least six episodes focus on how they get along, with Sam's volatile (and violent) personality being central to the storylines, whether it's her attempts to be more feminine, her jealousy of the return of Carly's first best friend or her differences with her identical twin sister Melanie. As frustrating as her aggressiveness can be, she serves as a more engaging protagonist than the more down to earth Carly, who would be the star of a rather boring show without her pal.
Of course, to have a quality show, you need a quality supporting cast, and iCarly has a pair of top-notch actors in Kress and Jerry Trainor, who plays Spencer, the man-child artist who's Carly's older brother and guardian (there's no real adult in the Shay household.) Kress plays well as the classic put-upon guy friend, getting the frustration of liking Carly, but not having that feeling reciprocated, while jousting with Sam, who is more than willing to get physical with Freddie, but not in a way a guy would want. Trainor, though, is probably the most valuable player of the bunch, as his wacky character brings the easy, pure laughs with his slapstick performances, carrying the load for the group.
There are some very enjoyable episodes in this set, led by "iWant My Website Back," where a credit card snafu on Spencer's part leads to Carly losing control of the iCarly site, as it falls into the hands of an insane fan and then her mortal enemy, Nevel Papperman (Reed Alexander.) Papperman is such a classic villain, delivering his evil with a strangely feminine touch that makes him all the more interesting. If I can think of any good comparison, he's a younger Francis from Pee-Wee's Big Adventure, and I think we can all get behind that. One of the show's biggest strengths has to be the odd little side characters it creates, especially if they turn out to be Carly's foes.
Also included in this set are two double-length episodes, "iDate a Bad Boy" and "iFight Shelby Marx." "Bad Boy is a bit of a stretch for such a treatment, as Carly takes up with a guy who steals Spencer's motorcycle, and finds out he may not be such a tough guy after all, but "Shelby Marx," with fellow Nick star Victoria Justice as the titular Shelby, is an entertaining entry, with Sam's big mouth (aided by the evil Nevel, once again) getting Carly in trouble. The regular episodes usually feature better pacing though, especially the focused Disney-parody in "iTake on Dingo" where the huge conglomerate "The Dingo Channel" is ripping off Carly's show, and "iThink They Kissed" where Sam and Freddie keep a secret from Carly, turning things around in their friendship triangle.
In a clear single-width keepcase, this two-disc set offers up 14 episodes (four of which are halves of two-part episodes) including the final 12 shows of the second season, and, oddly, the first two of Season Three. The discs have static, full-frame menus, with options to play all the episodes, select shows and check out the extras (on the second disc.) There are no audio options and no subtitles, though closed captioning is included.
For 12 of the episodes, you get fine-looking full-frame transfers, but for the two-part "iFight Shelby Marx" the show is presented in letterboxed widescreen. Either way, the image is without any noticeable problems with dirt, damage or compression artifacts, and the series' bright colors look great, presented with a nice level of fine detail.
The audio is presented via distortion-free Dolby Digital 2.0 tracks that deliver the usual center-focused basic-cable sound you'd expect from a Nickelodeon show. But once in a while, you get a bit of impressive mixing, like when Freddie and his mom can be heard in the hallway, with the audio isolated in the right speaker.
Can't help but feel a bit disappointed in the extras here, as the four short featurettes (previously aired on Nick's online channel) are a bit of a let down from the trivia track (and bonus episode) on the iSpace Out DVD. But even so, the content here is pretty enjoyable. Up first is the two-minute Is That Me I See?, which gives more screentime to the doppelgangers from iLook Alike. It's followed by another two-minute clip, this one an interview with Aria Wallace (deranged iCarly superfan Mandy), conducted by everyone's favorite fey villain-portrayer Reed Alexander (in character?)
Two minutes is the magic number it seems, as Locker Tour checks in at the same length, but it's likely to be iCarly fans' favorite, as you get some real insider info, looking into the kids' on-set lockers, decorated to fit the characters. The same goes for Doors to Nowhere, yet again a two-minute entry, which shows you where the various doors and staircases on the set lead to, as shown by the cast. Fun stuff overall, but in the end, too short.
The Bottom Line
Against everything I ever expected from a Nickelodeon teen sitcom, and everything expected of an adult man, I find myself increasingly enjoying iCarly, and these 12 episodes only enhance that feeling. The DVDs look and sound very nice, but only offer some brief bonus content, making the value of the episodes to you (or your child) the only deciding factor.
Francis Rizzo III is a native Long Islander, where he works in academia. In his spare time, he enjoys watching hockey, writing and spending time with his wife, daughter and puppy.Check out 1106 - A Moment in Fictional Time or his convention blog called Conning Fellow
*The Reviewer's Bias section is an attempt to help readers use the review to its best effect. By knowing where the reviewer's biases lie on the film's subject matter, one can read the review with the right mindset.