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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Big Time Rush
Big Time Rush
Paramount // Unrated // March 29, 2011
List Price: $19.99 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Francis Rizzo III | posted May 22, 2011 | E-mail the Author
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In 10 Words or Less
Like an updated version of The Monkees

Reviewer's Bias*
Loves: Good sitcoms, Hockey
Likes: The Monkees, Some Nickelodeon sitcoms
Dislikes: boy bands
Hates: Season "volumes"

The Show
As the father of a rapidly-aging young girl, I've found myself watching quite a few television shows I never thought I would grace with my attention, mostly from the realm of Nickelodeon. One of the more recent additions to the line-up is Big Tine Rush, a live-action tween/teen sitcom focused a boy band trying to make it in the hard world of pop music. It would be hard to craft a description engineered to be less interesting to me, and yet, as I plowed through this collection from the series' beginnings, I frequently found myself amended and entertained. Say what you will about Nickelodeon's teen programming, but they've got the art of making a solid sitcom down to a science.

Though this one doesn't hail from the hit-making factory of iCarly creator Dan Schneider, it's got impressive creative DNA nonetheless, with creator Scott Fellows (Ned's Declassified School Survival Guide, The Fairly OddParents) and director Savage Steve Holland setting the tone in the first episode. And that tone should be instantly recognizable to anyone who's watched The Monkees (Fellows' stated inspiration), as it's cartoonish and over-the-top, never taking itself seriously. The four leads, playing a quartet of hockey players from Minnesota who fall into a chance at music stardom thanks to the ambitions of the group's pretty-boy, are updated versions of Davy Jones and company. In their neatly compartmentalized characters, they show themselves to be fun, all-out comic actors who put out just enough self-respect to make their pratfalls and failures funny, while being eminently likable, as well as heartthrobs to the young girls watching. The choice of making them hockey players from the heartland instantly gave them credibility as nice guys (with the added benefit of earning my interest.)

This set covers the show's first story arc, as the boys are discovered by music mogul Gustavo Roque, a big blowhard looking for his first hit in nearly a decade. Roque only really wants Kendall, the tall, low-key fellow with big eyebrows, but he makes including his pals as part of his deal, and the group is off to California for three months (with Kendall's mom and sister in tow) to record a demo. Along the way, they have to learn to be stars, acclimate to the world of wannabe celebrities and cope with their love for every up-and-coming starlet who crosses their path, as well as impress the record company's nutty leader, otherwise they are headed back to Minnesota. It's pretty impressive that the show managed to stretch out this storyline over 11 episodes without it getting old, and the sense of humor doesn't wallow in the realm of kiddie comedy, pulling out some genuinely absurd laughs.

With all the cartoonish sound effects, visual gags and outlandish schemes built around a life in music, the comparisons to the Monkees are easy, but the new guys hold their own (even in terms of the music, which though it's boy band pop, it's catchy boy band pop.) As the group's fame-hunting "face," James Maslow is excellent, delivering disbelief when his beauty doesn't get him what he wants, while dim-bulb Carlos (Carlos Pena) keeps his goofy character from becoming ridiculous (which is not easy when you're often wearing a hockey helmet.) Kendall Schmidt and Logan Henderson round out the crew as the tender one and the smart one, respectively, and they help ground the group as the most down-to-earth members. In addition to the band's talents, the acting is uniformly good all around, with Stephen Kramer Glickman's Gustavo being enjoyably loud, Matt Riedy as the loony boss of Roque Records and Camille, the resident drama queen, played by the adorable Erin Sanders.

The DVDs
The first 11 episodes of the first season of Big Time Rush are split between two DVDs, which are packed in a clear, standard-width, dual-hub keepcase. The DVDs feature static full-frame menu with options to play all the episodes, select shows and check out extras (where accessible.) There are no audio options or subtitles, but closed captioning is included.

The Quality
Oddly, though the series airs in widescreen on Nickelodeon, these episodes are presented with full-frame transfers. They still look quite good, with appropriate color and a good level of fine detail, but not getting the full image is annoying. There are no issues with dirt, damage or digital artifacts though.

Recreating the TV presentation well, the Dolby Digital 2.0 audio tracks are clean and clear, delivering the dialogue and music equally well, but lack any dynamic mixing, putting everything out in a center-balanced manner.

The Extras
There are a few extras included, raising the game for Nickelodeon DVDs, first of which is an on-screen trivia track on the episode "Big Time Break." What's nice is the track was made for the people who would actually check it out, not the audience for the show, as the trivia is mainly about the production of the series, not notes about the stars' favorite tv shows. It's a pretty good track if you have any interest in the series. Also included on the disc is a photo gallery of the group, with a selection of pictures for each guys (obviously aimed at the show's audience.)

The final extra, which isn't mentioned on the box, is a code for a digital copy of the TV movie (read: double episode) "Big Time Beach Party." Featuring guest appearances by Tom Kenny and Russell Brand, it's not a bad episode, but it does borrow from one of the episodes on this set ("Big Time Mansion".) Unfortunately it's only available for Windows computers. If you have one though, there's another 40 minutes of BTR to enjoy.

The Bottom Line
As a non-fan of boy band pop and someone who is certainly not in this series' target demographic, your reviewer was surprised to find how enjoyable this show is, though you'd certainly get more mileage out of it by being a tween girl. The DVD video presentation is disappointing, but it sounds fine, and the extras are impressive for a Nick DVD, so feel comfortable with a purchase if you know someone into Big Time Rush.

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 follow him on Twitter

*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.

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