STUDIO:  Nickelodeon/Paramount
MSRP:  $19.99
RUNNING TIME:  311 Minutes
“Leave It All To Me” Music Video
Making of the “Leave It All To Me” Music Video
Behind the Scenes Extras

The Pitch

“It’s Wayne‘s World meets Saved by the Bell!”

The Humans

Miranda Cosgrove, Jeanette McCurdy, Nathan Kress, Jerry Trainor

The Nutshell

Carly (Cosgrove), Sam (McCurdy) and Freddie (Kress) are typical junior high kids who get into typical junior high things.  Oh and they also built a fairly elaborate and automated television studio in Carly’s attic where they produce and broadcast their web show iCarly.

I know it doesn’t fit, but when I saw this picture all I could think was “Did you see that movie, goat?  Say hello to ya motha for me.”

The Lowdown

I’ll be honest – there’s not a whole lot to say about iCarly that can’t be said about any other tween sitcom on the two Big Kids’ Networks.  Hell the formula on most of these shows is exactly the same across the board:  You take one female lead who is special or talented in some way, add two best friends (one female, one male), throw in some supporting characters (usually a parent or guardian and a younger sibling) and mix in a little junior high dramedy and BAM – you got yourself a tween comedy.  Hannah Montana, That’s So Raven, Tru Jackson VP, iCarly – they’re all basically exactly the same.

The only big difference is in what makes the female lead special.  And, as I said earlier – Carly’s big thing is her webcast and the whole glossy tech spin the show itself has.  In some ways it doesn’t work – these kids have more gadgets than most adults who make pretty respectable livings and the tv studio they built in Carly’s attic is a little TOO up-to-date – but in the overall scheme of things it fits well.  As someone who works with a lot of these same technologies every day, a lot of the time I feel like the people writing it have done their homework (although they occasionally embellish to make things look or sound cooler) and with the way the technology is integrated and presented, it feels very simple and organic.  But, because the high-tech mumbo jumbo takes a backseat to the kids and their personalities, you never get the sense that our cast is talking down to their audience.

“It just FELL OUT!”  “I KNOW!  And she PUT IT BACK IN!”

But while the webshow takes up the majority of the show’s focus, there’s also the junior high school aspect – which is basically just a carbon copy of every other school in every other one of these shows.  I always did find it a little odd though that EVERYBODY at school apparently watches iCarly (seriously – in the show’s universe, Carly’s webcast is INSANELY popular) but nobody really pays Carly herself any extra attention.  That’s not necessarily a bad thing as it keeps Carly and co. grounded as regular, relatable kids, but it just felt a little off.

Earlier I mentioned personalities and the cast of characters is pretty decent.  Cosgrove is better here as Carly than she is as Megan in her other Nick show Drake & Josh (which, in my opinion, is the better show, but I‘ll save that for another review).  Carly is a role that’s more suited to her actual personality – she’s sweet and fairly charming and doesn’t overplay any aspect of her character.  Jeannette McCurdy’s Sam is kinda fun but a bit TOO over the top and a lot of times she just comes across like a bitch.  She’s the only character that strays too far into “charicature,” but she has enough bright spots to keep us on her side and her and Carly’s friendship feels real.  Kress’ Freddie, the show’s tech producer, probably has the hardest role, having to keep all of his AV Club nerdiness and tech knowledge in that small area between too much and not enough.  And because he doesn’t totally fit the stereotypical “nerd” frame, he has no trouble also coming off like a regular kid.  Other than the main three we have Spencer (Trainor), Carly’s older brother and legal guardian who is arguably the best part about the whole show and Ms. Benson (Mary Scheer) who only has one note but is pretty cute as Freddie’s extremely overbearing mom.

Sometimes Miranda would forget which set she was on.

In the end the show does seem to simplify a lot of things that aren’t necessarily simple and it makes no apologies for its paint-by-numbers structure, but it does it all in a pretty clever way.  It’s funny and sometimes pretty smart and even though it’s not the BEST tween show on tv right now (again – Drake & Josh) it’s very likeable.  This specific set includes 14 episodes from the first season on 2 discs.  Notable ones include “iNevel,” where the gang gets into a kerfuffle with the most popular web critic around; “iWanna Stay with Spencer,” where Carly’s grandfather threatens to take her away from Spencer and iWant a World Record, where the kids try to break the world record for longest consecutive webcast.

“That’s right – IT’S THE GREAT PUMPKIN, CHARLIE BROWN!  And if you don’t turn over Snoopy by midnight, the same fate awaits the Little Red-Haired Girl!”

The Package

The art is snappy – purple with some techy accents.  Cosgrove front and center and Sam, Freddie and Spencer in the back.  I like it – it’s simple and it catches your eye.

Special features include the “Leave It All To Me“ (The show’s theme song – performed by Cosgrove herself) music video and the making-of.  The video itself is cute enough, I suppose.  It’s not just clips from the show so that’s a plus.

There’s also some BTS stuff – interviews and outtakes and such.  Nothing to write home about but there ya go.

OVERALL 7.0 out of 10