Wednesday, October 24, 2012
Nickelodeon's "iCarly"- Season 1, Volume 1
I will just state it at the outset. Although I am 40 years old, and "iCarly," the hit Nickelodeon sitcom, is meant for my children, I honestly think it is the funniest comedy on television right now.
Carly Shay (Miranda Cosgrove) is a junior high schooler in Seattle, living with her older twenty-something brother, pop artist Spencer (Jerry Trainor). Their father is in the military, stationed overseas, and the two live in a giant three story loft apartment with an elevator. Carly's best friend (and budding juvenile delinquent) is Sam (Jennette McCurdy) who lives with her as yet unseen mom. The two also pal around with Freddie (Nathan Kress), a technical whiz whose love for Carly is well known.
Carly, Sam, and Freddie webcast the internet show "iCarly," and the Nickelodeon series follows their rising popularity, and dealings with everyday life at school and home. The DVD features thirteen episodes from the show's first season, plus some special features. I have listed each episode individually, along with a capsule review, and my IMDB.com rating (1-10, with 10 being the best), and favorite line from the episode:
"iPilot" (written by Dan Schneider, directed by Steve Hoefer)
Because this is the pilot episode, there is some pretty obvious plot exposition mixed into the story of how Carly, Sam, and Freddie decided to do a webcast. We also get to meet sympathetic school Principal Franklin (Tim Russ) and mean teacher Miss Briggs (a hysterical Mindy Sterling). Despite the newness and some awkwardness (Freddie luckily loses the shrillness after this episode), I laughed all the way through. 7/10.
Favorite line: "Yeah, except he doesn't have Miss Briggs' crazy pointy boobs."
"iWant More Viewers" (written by Steve Holland & Steve Molaro, directed by Adam Weissman)
Freddie and Spencer team up against Carly and Sam to see who can come up with the best idea to get more viewers. Hysterical from start to finish, especially the "Messin' With Lewbert" bit. 9/10.
Favorite line: "Pee on Carl?"
"iHatch Chicks" (written by Steven Molaro, directed by David Kendall)
A science experiment goes wrong and Carly, Sam, Freddie, Spencer, and Freddie's science project partner Duke must find six baby chicks in the giant three story apartment. Consistently funny, with many memorable lines. My seven year old son's reaction upon seeing Miranda Cosgrove in a swimsuit? "Carly's hot." 9/10.
Favorite line (tough call): "Wow, I've never seen dried beef make a boy so happy."
"iDream of Dance" (written by Dan Schneider, directed by Adam Weissman)
The "iCarly" team decide to open their site to dance videos from their viewers, and are inundated with over three thousand. The trio slogs through a few hundred, fall asleep, and dream themselves into some nicely choreographed dance routines. The music is fun, the backup dancers are sensational, and Trainor's final dance sealed this as my favorite episode of the first season. 10/10.
Favorite lines (no way I could come up with just one): "How dare you children boo a dancing Scotsman!," "Because I move my legs in a fiery explosion of flailing limbs and floppy passion, wanna see it?," "If he's a nub, then someday I want to be Mrs. Carly Nub," "Get out of here, Gibby, this is my nightmare!," and "Oh, Juiceboy's got a friend."
"iLike Jake" (written by Dan Schneider, directed by Steve Hoefer)
When Jake, the hottest guy in school, breaks up with his girlfriend, Carly books him on the web show so he can sing, not realizing he is terrible. Strong plot and pacing, and nice work from Austin Butler as Jake. 8/10.
Favorite line: "The internet can distort room size."
"iWanna Stay with Spencer" (written by Arthur Gradstein, directed by Adam Weissman)
After Carly almost gets hurt by one of Spencer's nutty sculptures, their grandfather decides Carly needs to come live with him in nearby Yakima. Trainor really gets to shine here. 8/10.
Favorite line: "What's her next phase? Stealing cars? Swimming with hobos?"
"iNevel" (written by Steve Holland, directed by Steve Hoefer)
My second favorite episode has Carly meeting Nevel, an eleven year old boy who gives "iCarly" a bad review on his hugely popular website after Carly rejects his advances. I don't know if he was eligible, but Reed Alexander is Emmy worthy as Nevel. 10/10.
Favorite line: "Do you feel the rue? Ya feel it!"
"iScream on Halloween" (written by Jake Farrow, directed by Steve Hoefer)
In this Halloween themed episode, Carly, Sam, and Freddie webcast from a haunted apartment in their building while Spencer tries to carve a giant pumpkin and keep trick or treaters at bay (he forgot to buy candy). A lesser episode in the "iCarly" canon, but still funny here and there. 6/10.
Favorite line: "You gotta sick mama!"
"iSpy a Mean Teacher" (written by Steven Molaro, directed by Steve Hoefer)
Carly and Freddie decide to follow Miss Briggs around with a video camera to see what teachers do outside of school, and end up getting trapped in her apartment. Very, very funny stuff, with the entire cast doing well. 9/10.
Favorite lines (tie): "My Aunt Maggie's boobs look more real than that, and they're ridiculous," and "You dented my blow stick and punctured my squeeze bag!"
"iWant to Date Freddie" (written by Steve Holland, directed by Adam Weissman)
Freddie's new girlfriend Valerie wants to do a web show of her own, and tries to steal both Freddie and Sam from "iCarly." More fast moving than a network sitcom, with Freddie's first date and Valerie's web show the highlights. 9/10.
Favorite line: "You won't get respect if your back's not erect."
"iWant a World Record" (written by Dan Schneider, directed by Roger Christiansen)
Carly, Sam, and Freddie try to get into the Jonas Book of World Records by continuously streaming their webshow for over twenty-four hours. Typically surreal, and funny, episode with excellent supporting guest cast. 9/10.
Favorite line: "I'm obsessed with the fattest priest. The chubby ones mean nothing to me."
"iRue the Day" (written by Dan Schneider, directed by David Kendall)
Nevel returns to ruin "iCarly" just as they are getting the pop group Plain White T's on the webcast. Alexander as Nevel still cracks me up. 8/10.
Favorite line: "You feel it, Carly? You feel the rue? Ya feel it!"
"iPromise Not to Tell" (written by Dicky Murphy, directed by Steve Hoefer)
The final episode of this two disc set has Sam hacking into the school's computer and changing Carly and Freddie's grades. They then lie to family and school administration to cover for Sam. Chock full of funny lines, which make up for a couple of awkwardly played scenes. 8/10.
Favorite line: "Hobos can't afford cable."
"Leave it All to Me" Music Video
Cosgrove also sings the infectious theme song to the series, with a little help from former "Drake & Josh" co-star Drake Bell. The video is kind of meh, but the song will stay with you for days. 7/10.
Extended and Exclusive Making of the Video "Leave it All to Me"
The "iCarly" cast also appears in the music video, and are pretty entertaining behind the scenes, too. 7/10.
These video bites are about ninety seconds long, and show the cast goofing off behind the scenes. All of them are naturally funny, although you won't learn any huge insight here. 7/10.
So, what can I say? I am a forty year old man who laughs at junior high antics. Although, the show's creator, Dan Schneider, is a comedic genius. He is about my age, and adds a touch of surrealism, some great running gags, and an excellent cast to Nickelodeon, making an even better show than his last hit- "Drake & Josh." My one complaint about the DVD collection is that a couple of the shows are out of order, which makes for some "huh?" moments when we meet new characters. I have been keeping up with Season 2, with "iPie" quite possibly the funniest sitcom episode in cable television history. I can find nothing bad about the cast, all of them shine, including guest and recurring characters like Freddie's mom (Mary Scheer) and evil doorman Lewbert. Miranda Cosgrove, Jennette McCurdy, Nathan Kress, and Jerry Trainor have such a great chemistry onscreen, it's creepy.
Sure, you might watch this and not find it that hilarious, and that's okay. I am completely immature. You can have your "Two and a Half Men" (which is only funny when that kid is on) or your "How I Met Your Mother" (which is only funny when Doogie Howser is on), I will take my "iCarly" DVD set with its running jokes (Schneider's name appearing here and there, hobo jokes, the word 'nub') and giggle alone, waiting anxiously for Season 1, Volume 2 to come out in a little while. I told everyone at work I bought this set for my kids, and that is partially true, but I think I enjoy it more. Thank you, Dan Schneider. (* * * *) out of five stars.