iCarly Season 1, Volume 2 (2009, Paramount)
purchase from Amazon: DVD
Amongst the many teen sitcoms that populate the airwaves, iCarly ranks as one of the best. With a winning cast and well written episodes, the show has plenty pf laughs for kids while rising above the typical sitcom trappings of so many of the other shows aimed at kids. Paramount Video has just released iCarly Season 1, Volume 2, which collects 12 episodes (on 2 DVD’s) from the smash hit series that airs on Nickelodeon. It’s worth your time and money, especially if you have any young girls living in your family. In fact, it was while watching iCarly with my daughter that I came to appreciate how well done the series is. Credit show creator Dan Schneider (The Amanda Show, Zoey 101) for once again assembling a crack team of writers and producers who know how to write for kids while not talking down to them. Having worked with iCarly star Miranda Cosgrove on Drake & Josh, he knew she could carry a show and built a sitcom around her charm, producing great kid friendly entertainment that won’t drive the parents up the wall.
Cosgrove stars as Carly Shay, a junior high teenager who lives with her manic older brother, Spencer (Jerry Trainor), in a Seattle loft apartment. Their father is in the Air Force and stationed overseas; it’s unclear where their mom resides. Spencer, an artist, and Carly have a loving relationship and support each other tirelessly. Spencer has the tough job of juggling the roles of big brother, parent and friend. Across the hall from Carly and Spencer is one her best friends, Freddie (Nathan Kress), an electronics whiz living with his mother. He harbors a not so secret crush on Carly, but she only wants to be friends. Carly’s other best friend is Sam (Jennette McCurdy), a tough, troublemaking tomboy who loves to torment Freddie and always has Carly’s back. Although this collection includes an episode when they have a bitter fight (“iDon’t Want to Fight”) Carly and Sam are as close as sisters, always finding a way to work out their differences. The three friends put on a regular web cam show (called “iCarly”) and it’s during these segments of iCarly that the real fun occurs. Cosgrove and McCurdy has real comic timing together and during the web cam segments they throw lines back and forth with no hesitation, playing off each other like seasoned television veterans.
The four principal characters take on specific roles: Carly is the straight man (but still allowed to be goofy), Sam is the smartass with a heart of gold, Freddie is the nerd and Spencer is the bundle of energy slapstick physical character that pops on screen when an instant laugh is needed. Despite this only being one half of the first season on DVD, the show is well formed and all four actors create a great comedy team. They make the show enjoyable and lift it up when some of the plotlines seem a little familiar. Then again, this is a series intended for kids 7 and older, unjaded from years of television viewing. When watching iCarly with my daughter I was able to see it through her eyes. I saw a main character that is kind and thoughtful, the kind of friend I hope my little girl becomes. All of the characters learn from their mistakes and none are so cynical that I want to shut off the TV when iCarly is on.
Highlights from this DVD set include “iHeart Art” (my daughter’s favorite) in which Spencer nearly gives up on being an artist when his idol doesn’t like his work. This one has a great message about sticking to your dreams. I also like “iPromote Tech-Foots.” The girls are asked to endorse a high tech sports shoe and all of Carly’s fans buy the shoes. When the footwear turns out to be a lemon, Spencer must pose as a lawyer to get them out of the shady deal. Finally, there is “iMight Switch Schools” in which Carly is offered a scholarship to an elite private school. In the end she chooses staying with her friends over the prestige.
Bonus features include behind the scenes extras as well as the pilot episode of True Jackson, VP, Schneider’s next big hit.