waynepygram.com: iCarly Reviewed: iBalls

waynepygram.com: iCarly Reviewed: iBalls

"They frosted a cake together?"

 We've talked about iCarly before, but this might be the first time this blog has tackled an actual episode. To sum up, I thought iCarly was a good show overall. It's the last really good show that Dan Schneider created, because Victorious got much worse after season one and never reached its full potential. iCarly was able to reach 100 episodes, have a proper series finale, and guest stars that you would probably expect on The Simpsons or Family Guy. I think the show was really good at balancing the weird Schneider humor with tight stories. Plus, it came out during a time where people weren't really taking advantage of the internet for monetary gain through entertainment. A show like iCarly was about five years ahead of its time, because it would have been just as big if it came out today.

However, somewhere around the fourth season is when I think the show started to lose its way. I'm not saying it became unwatchable, but it was much less interesting than it used to be. The characters (and by extension, the actors) came off as bored most of the time, the pacing became a lot slower, and I feel like the show was negatively influenced by Victorious. iCarly got into strange territory at times, but it was always pretty grounded. I feel like near the end of its run, it really was limping to the finish line and throwing whatever could stick at the wall. I might do a separate post about how Schneider working on iCarly and Victorious at the same time contributed to the decline in quality of both, because it's a lot for me to say and I don't want to make this review longer than it has to be.

So, today, I'm talking about an iCarly episode that I didn't like. It came out in early 2012, so you know all those problems with the show I was talking about earlier? They're here in this episode to some extent.  Even at the time, I wasn't that interested in iCarly. Compared to Victorious and Big Time Rush, it was a distant third. And I don't remember liking this episode when it came out either. But why does this episode only irritate me, not piss me off like certain other shows do? Let's take a look.

The story here is that Freddie wants to prove his creative value to the web show. The producers of Hollywood Download are doing a piece on iCarly, but Freddie is not even approached for an interview because the piece is meant to highlight the creative members of the show. Except for the fact that Gibby and Spencer are only actors, and Spencer only appears sporadically, but whatever. Freddie gets an opportunity to co-host the show with Sam when Carly has to go take care of her sick grandfather, but he bombs terribly when his unfunny skit fails. Freddie then gets the idea to make an episode of the show using 3D technology without the need for special glasses, but it ends up temporarily ruining everyone's eyesight. However, he gets some redemption in the end when it turns out that the 3D webcast cured a girl of her bilateral optic stenosis.

Okay, where do I start? Why does this episode feel like it belongs in season one? The whole thing is written as if Freddie just got hired as the show's technical producer and has to make a name for himself. But he doesn't have to. At this point in the series, everyone knows who Freddie is. He's appeared on camera multiple times doing skits and talking directly to the audience. He was mobbed by a swarm of fangirls at WebiCon. Why is he still being treated like that guy behind a camera that doesn't do anything? And when he wants to co-host iCarly, both Carly and Sam treat it like he's going to show up on camera drunk and start shouting racial slurs at the top of his lungs while wearing a Speedo. They have absolutely no faith in him to do so much as have a back-and-forth with Sam, which he does on the show and off the show every day. And no one really motivates him to try again, or remind him of his value to the show. He does all this himself. It makes me wonder why this story is being done when Freddie should be more than capable of being entertaining at this point.

This also gives me the opportunity to say something that I hope a lot of people are already thinking: iCarly sucks. Not the actual series, but the web show. It's literally just random, interchangeable nonsense combined with Carly and Sam doing something coherent for two or three minutes. And that's it. The writers really exaggerate Carly and Sam's comedic abilities. They're not as nearly as good as the show wants us to think. Anyone can do what they do. They just have good camera presence to pull off the material. The episode points out that Freddie has done skits on the web show before, but Carly and Sam say that doesn't count since they wrote them. And they both agree that a garbage bag filled with yogurt and a face drawn on it (named Baggles) would be a better host than Freddie.

Why is the series trying to sell us the idea that Carly and Sam are God's gift to comedy? Like they're funny enough to write for The Simpsons in the 1990s when 95% of the skits they came up with were garbage? I get that Freddie's script wasn't funny, but is it really that much worse than stuff like Gibby being turned into a pizza, or a skit where the person is supposed to guess what they're licking/sitting on? Carly and Sam have charisma, but as people, they're not funny. As content creators, they're not funny. Drake and Josh were legitimately funny characters and people. Kenan and Kel were legitimately funny characters and people. Carly and Sam come up with material like the proper way to spank a tuna fish, or brushing your teeth with mustard while saying vocabulary words, and we're supposed to see that as high-level comedy. I don't understand it at all.

So the majority of this episode is just Freddie being humiliated, talked down to, ignored, and disrespected. And even at the end when the girl comes to tell him about the 3D webcast fixing her vision, she would rather take a picture with the yogurt trash bag than the person that changed her life. To really drive it home, she also makes a joke about how Freddie's 3D technology could cure "tens of people," like what he did isn't really all that impressive in the grand scheme of things. And his 3D webcast still led to the majority of people who watched it having vision problems, so there's almost no use for the technology at all. This episode is just a big middle finger to Freddie, when it should have been about how him being the technical producer makes him no less creative than Carly and Sam. Instead, all I get from this is that his role doesn't matter, and on some level, Carly and Sam saw Freddie as inferior to them the whole time.

Episode Grade: D+
Episode MVP: Nathan Kress. Freddie gets the bulk of the material here and you really do feel for him in his attempts to make people see that he has creative ability. The worst part is that it's not like Freddie deserves that treatment. He's just really passionate about technology, does his job well and wants recognition for what he does.

EXTRA THOUGHTS
-There actually was an episode in season one that did this plot better. It was when Freddie started dating someone that was only using him by stealing him away from the web show to make one with her. We see that without Freddie being the technical producer, iCarly falls apart and even Sam admits at the end that Freddie is just as important to the show as the girls. It's called "iWill Date Freddie," and if you get a chance, check it out.

-It really doesn't make any sense as to why the woman from Hollywood Download wants nothing to do with Freddie. Like I said before, his name is mentioned countless times on the web show, he speaks directly to the audience, and he has appeared in skits. He even dated Sam, one of the show's stars. Freddie has never been low-key about his job. If you watch the web show, you know who he is. I get what story they're trying to tell, but it doesn't make any sense with the character they're telling it with. Like, if this was about Gibby needing to prove himself and show everyone his value to the show, it would work.

-The subplot was just there, nothing to write home about. Spencer decides to get a personal assistant named Marty, and the joke is that he doesn't need him. The other joke is that Marty might possibly be attracted to Spencer because their interactions really border on them having something going on. Spencer's stories on the show were always hit and miss. He could get something golden like "iGet Pranky," or he could get something like this. I chose the opening quote from the creepy montage of Spencer and Marty having fun together. In that montage, the two are ordering a smoothie when an old lady bumps into them. Marty gets pissed and shoves the lady to the ground. It's one of the only things in this episode that I thought was funny.

-Speaking of funny, I have no idea why Freddie thought his robot skit would be. I mean, he's been the technical producer for five years. You're telling me he didn't pick up anything from working with Carly and Sam, and is oblivious to what fans of the show might want to see? Did Sam not look through Freddie's script and at least try to edit it? Why would she let her friend make a fool out of himself, when she could have just told him to write something new?

-I swear, the web show has such a weird structure. It's like things can just stop abruptly and it's never addressed after that. Freddie's in the middle of the robot skit, Sam breaks character and asks him if he still wants to do this, and Freddie just walks off the set realizing he failed. Sam then ignores it completely and introduces Baggles. Apparently, her saying that Baggles has a "sinus infection" and spewing yogurt from his "nose" is supposed to be genius comedy. And what happened for the rest of the show? Did Freddie never come back and Sam just didn't give a shit?

-Spencer trying to high-five Freddie for his 3D webcast and slapping him in the forehead by accident was also pretty funny. I have no idea what he said before he slapped Freddie. It sounded like "that cap" or something.

-There's a skit where Sam is talking in a southern accent and telling Gibby to shoot a basketball through a hoop, which is the 3D picture. Gibby then says he wants to eat the hoop with a spoon, and then marshmallows get thrown at the camera. Yeah, I don't know either. Why is this considered five-star comedy and Freddie was treated like Amy Schumer stand-up?
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