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iCarly: iFight Shelby Marx
I've willfully watched a lot of junk in my day, and been obligated to watch plenty more while writing for DVD Talk. It's a labor of love, and I think I've finally met my match with iCarly, a show so resolutely middle-of-the-road that even the most wretched and evil exploitation film is easier to sit through. With sit-com-standard production values and overly generous acting, iCarly isn't bad. But iCarly fades so quickly from memory, it simply isn't.
Collecting two interminable 45-minute TV movies and two regular 24-minute episodes on one disc, iFight Shelby Marx will test any 40-year-old male to the limits. Wait, "why the hell are you reviewing this?" you ask? Because DVD Talk doesn't have any 13-year-old girls on the payroll, that's why. (Or, I suppose, 13-year-old boys.) The upshot lies herein; I'm as adolescent as any modern male, and I love crappy TV, so even though I'm not part of the theoretical target market, I can still relate. Fact is, iCarly, bland and innocent as it is, typifies a current trend; people don't want to have to think anymore. That might be good when watching 90-minutes of robots bash each other once a year in a movie theater, but when it's a weekly half-hour of junior-league sit-com shtick operating on a two-brain-cell wavelength, you risk sending adults into a coma and turning kids into zombies.
Presented herein, therefore, for you with no brain cells left - and you tweeners, too - is over two hours of iCarly goodness. This in the form of two TV Movies and two regular episodes of iCarly, which should be enough to put everyone into a blissful coma.
iFight Shelby Marx, an iCarly TV Movie, drags on for 45 minutes. We find out what happens when Carly makes a casual remark on her wildly popular Internet talk show about kicking ultimate fighter Shelby Marx's butt. What happens is way too much half-hearted easy humor, since some other Internet wizard has edited Carly's rash joke into a viral hip-hop challenge to Shelby Marx. Gone is Carly's self-deprecating recant with which she ended her show, what's left is a repetitive riff on Carly's supposed braggadocio and fighting prowess - a message which Marx spies and accepts. She just wants extra publicity in a puff-piece grudge match, but of course things go awry. Most notably going awry is any attempt at engaging humor. Carly's nebbish friend offers Marx some raisin toast. Marx's weird, swarthy trainer grabs a piece while hissing, "you put cinnamon on this? Niiiice." Woeful adults who wander into Carly's world won't find her brand of faux-edgy retro humor amusing, nor will teens and tweeners, it's just safe, dull and tiring.
iDate a Bad Boy is yet another TV Movie designed to test the patience of sentient beings. Carly and her brother encounter a juvenile delinquent who quickly has Carly's knickers in a bunch with his bad boy charms. Of course the brother doesn't like it, and of course the bad boy has a deep, dark secret. Carly gets to make out, and your brain gets to check out. You wonder why, though, since there's no edification to be had here either for adults or kids. Yes, there is a Disney-friendly message, but not much else of worth - though somewhat paradoxically (and also obviously) the show is wildly successful in the U.S.
iLook Alike presents one of your standard 24-minute iCarly episodes from the Nickelodeon Channel, which is a small blessing, because there is at least less iCarly to slog through. This time, Carly and her goofy friend Sam find some look-alikes with which they hope to fool Carly's brother Spencer, so they can go to a mixed martial arts fight. The iCarly Awards takes 24 minutes in order to allow Carly to honor the top ten web videos sent to her site. It won't take you 24 minutes to realize this is just more safe-'n'-sassy Disney© humor, engineered to within an inch of its life.
Despite attracting millions of viewers, iCarly represents a particular nadir of television, especially television targeted at kids. It's a blend of slick and bland not to be admired, but feared. Yes, all the timing, yukking and mugging is spot on, and the jokes blindingly facile, but these are not good things, and certainly not things we should use to pass on the majesty of television to our youth. Not pass it on, that is, unless we want them to turn into a generation of unquestioning automatons comfortable with apocalyptic disaster as long as they continue to consume goods. That's what it all about, isn't it?
iCarly: iFight Shelby Marx comes in a so-so presentation of fullscreen 1.33:1 ratio episodes. Minor instances of compression artifacts and some edge enhancement represent the only serious complaints, while an overall acceptably sharp and detailed image (for a contemporary Cable show) won't exactly wow you, but won't seriously bum you out either.
Dolby Digital Stereo Audio is unremarkable but free of defect, with a feel that makes you know you're watching TV! All dialog is clear and understandable, and mixed well with the music.
The biggest extra here is a bonus Pilot Episode of Big Time Rush, which at about 45 minutes takes you down another Nickelodeon road, this one involving the story of a bunch of regular dudes who become a popular boy band and move to Hollywood. Yipee! Behind-the-Scenes Extras kill about five additional minutes of your life with a bit-part profile and some actor-answered fan site questions. Closed Captioning finishes off the extras.
iCarly: iFight Shelby Marx: collects two 45-minute iCarly TV movies and two 24-minute episodes into a single-disk collection in a standard keepcase. That's about as much as should be said about iCarly, a teen/pre-teen-targeted sit-com with low aspirations. Taking contemporary kid issues (not really) such as how to turn your webcast into a multi-million dollar industry, iCarly throws out a bunch of really lame, bland jokes and standard TV tropes without any spark of original life. There's something to be said for safety in this life, but iCarly's brand of safety might just kill your kid's brain. Undiscriminating viewers seem to love it, and for that, this disk may be a good introduction, but if you want to at least raise a discriminating TV viewer, I recommend you Skip It.