Love amongst the teen web phenoms
The Story So Far...
Illustrating the show's rising profile, this season features appearances by Jane Lynch, as Sam's oft-mentioned, but never-before-seen mom, and Jack Black, in a role he was born to play, as a cosplaying video-game fan who sings epic rhymes in battle. Neither is coasting on stunt casting, though they certainly aren't stepping too far outside their comfort zone, as Lynch displays the caustic sass of her popular cheerleading coach, and Black brings the bombastic theatricality of his best Tenacious D work. Despite their familiar performances, they deliver and fit in well with the established world of iCarly. (For those who like playing "Isn't that...?" there's also yet another member of the Glee cast aboard iCarly in a small role (making five in all.))
There are some rather enjoyable stories here featuring old favorites, like Carly's fey, evil foe Nevel, who gets his comeuppance thanks to a viral video, only to turn to Carly and company for help, while Spencer gets a headlining role in "iGet Pranky" which sees him succumb to an old addiction to pranking people.And though he's never been your reviewer's cup of tea, somehow coming off as too weird even for this series, the team's odd pal Gibby (Noah Munck) is elevated to a starring role this time around, getting more screen time, with his little brother/clone Guppy tagging along as his sidekick. But like most of the show's best entries, the best in this season center around Carly, like when her bedroom goes on fire in "iGot a Hot Room" and when she travels to Wisconsin in "iDo."
The big event in this season has to be the crossover between Schneider's two big shows, iCarly and Victorious. The logic behind the two shows meeting is tenuous at best, as Carly and Victorious star Tori (Victoria Justice) are both dating the same guy, who alternates homes between Seattle and Los Angeles on a monthly basis. When Carly becomes suspicious because she sees a picture of Tori and her boyfriend online, the crew heads down to L.A. to check things out in person. Though there's a lot of Tori and her pals in the episode, including a cute plot involving ditzy Cat (Ariana Grande) and her lost voice, it is an iCarly story at its core, and it manages not to drag too much, thanks in part to the presence of both Spencer and his spiritual relative, the Victorious crew's teacher Sikowitz, as well as a cameo from Schneider alumnus Kenan Thompson. (Unfortunately, the extended four-part version of the "movie" is not included, as it explains one of the episode's mysteries.)
The thing that's standing out in these recent episodes is a real focus on the characters' romantic interests, with the last four episodes built around who is dating who, in particular "iStart a Fan War," where the show's "shipper" fans fight, split between Creddies, who want Freddie and Carly to get together, and the Seddies, who want Freddie and Sam to date (note the progressive times we live in, where there are no Cam or Sarly "shippers.") Now, this is a natural development for a show about kids becoming teenagers, but it feels like the silliness of the show is taking a bit of a backseat to the dating drama. In fact, drama on the whole has become the norm, with Sam's battles with her mom, Nevel's battles with public perception and Spencer's battles with several foes, including his own sister. This has been building for a while and doesn't seem to be going anywhere in season four. Hopefully, the fun is there to balance things out.
The audio is presented via clean, crisp Dolby Digital 2.0 tracks that deliver standard balanced sound, as you'd expect from a basic cable series. Nothing will impress, but you won't be disappointed either.
The Bottom Line