A healthy dose of silly teen comedy
The Story So Far...
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.
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.
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