Review: 'iCarly' is not just some web gimmick

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Posted Tuesday, September 23, 2008 at 12:01 AM Central

by Tim Briscoe

It's hard to believe Ricky Smith has become such a TV power player.

You remember Ricky Smith, don't you? He was the nerdy next door neighbor to John Cusack's Lane Myer in Better Off Dead. Yeah, that Ricky... The one who sits around crocheting all day and snorting nasal spray.

Dan Schneider is the actor who portrayed Ricky in the 1985 movie. (He was also Dennis Blunden on TV's Head of the Class.) Schneider moved on from acting to become something of a teen comedy impresario. He's written and produced several successful TV shows for Nickelodeon including Drake & Josh and Zoey 101.

In the process he's helped launch the careers of many current and upcoming stars like Amanda Bynes, Kenan Thompson, Drake Bell, Jamie Lynn Spears, and Josh Peck.

His latest hit for the network is iCarly. It stars Miranda Cosgrove in the title role of Carly Shay. Cosgrove previously appeared as the devilish little sister Megan on Schneider's Drake & Josh series. Jerry Trainor, who plays Carly's older brother Spencer, also had a small role on the former show.

iCarly: Season 1, Volume 1 has just been released on DVD. It contains the first 13 episodes as well as a Miranda Cosgrove music video and making-of.

The concept behind iCarly is an inspired one. A teen girl and her friends become school celebrities after they create a popular web variety show featuring some YouTube-esque clips.

Yeah, it may seem like a gimmick to get web browsing-kids to watch a TV show. Really, the web angle is nothing more than the backdrop for the show. Carly and her friends just happen to produce a web show -- just like many real-life teens just happen to be uploaders of clips to YouTube.

The show is really about Carly and her guardian older brother who live in a Seattle apartment. She's an average teen juggling friends, school, crushes -- and her new-found internet fame. Sam (Jeannette McCurdy) and Freddie (Nathan Kress) are her best friends and co-producers of the web show.

Schneider has proven he knows talent when he sees it. His progeny Cosgrove is quite a find. She's destined to become a TV, music and movies triple threat like Disney-ites Miley Cyrus, Selena Gomez, and Demi Lovato. Cosgrove has a hit song with the show's theme "Leave It All to Me."

Rubber-faced Trainor is very reminiscent of Jim Carrey. So much so that he becomes quite annoying. He can provide a few laughs but his appearance is more a distraction than an asset. McCurdy as Carly's tomboy best bud Sam is also rather abrasive.

On the other hand, the show offers some really fun comedy. It's really the best of the teen comedy breed.

I initially didn't like Paramount's trend of splitting TV seasons into two releases on DVD... Season 1, Volume 1 here, Volume 2 approximately four to five months from now.

I've always preferred to have my favorite shows as a complete season release. For one thing, it makes for less clutter on the DVD shelf. But, for a kids show or a show that's less familiar, it's easier to swallow in sections. However, it would make more sense to have the first volume released while the same season same is wrapping up on TV.

All in all, iCarly is a solid show. It's one you'll enjoy watching with the kids. Sign up now to be notified when Volume 2 of iCarly is announced on DVD.

Grade: B-

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