I wanted to write about some of the new authors on the YA scene this year, but I haven’t finished one of the books I’m reading yet. While I was, somewhat frantically, searching for another idea I got to thinking about some of the new kids’ TV shows that are out there. I have come to really appreciate some of the sitcoms on the Disney Channel and Nickelodeon, but some of them are truly, truly terrible. So, to help you avoid that “I can feel parts of my brain dying as we speak” feeling, I’ve decided to do a quick rundown of the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, starting with Nickelodeon.
I know iCarly isn’t new, but I don’t care. Of all the live-action kids’ shows, it’s my favorite. When we first started watching it, the Mister developed a theory that with the big networks showing more and more dramas, the comedy writers started drifting over to the growing YA sitcom market. I looked into it a little and he may be right. Most of the writers have been in the business for years working on shows like Friends and Family Guy. Not only that, the creator and producer is Daniel Schneider, better known to us Olds as Dennis from Head of the Class. So, iCarly does indeed have some Hollywood muscle behind it.
For those of you who haven’t seen it, it is a classic sitcom. Simple situations turn into Lucy-esque debacles due to overreactions and miscommunication. The basic premise is that Carly and her two best friends, Sam and Freddie, are high school students who make a weekly comedy web show. The web show is goofy fun, featuring Random Dancing and games like What Am I Sitting On? To increase the zaniness, Carly lives with her adult brother Spencer. I have a tiny crush on Spencer. He’s charmingly nuts. And he’s a found-object sculptor with a tendency to make things that burst into flame for no apparent reason. For those of you that have seen the show before, Gibby’s character has really grown. He started off as the weird kid who took his shirt off the moment he entered a room, but he has evolved into Spencer’s sidekick and an unlikely ladies’ man.
I’m not going to say that iCarly is cutting edge comedy. It’s fairly predictable, but the kids are written as kids. The girls aren’t over-sexualized, they actually dress like young people instead of small hookers. When the subject of school romance comes up it is limited to crushes and kisses. All in all, it’s a lot of fun and the Mister and I have been known to watch it after the rest of the kids have gone to bed.
Fresh Beat Band
Fresh Beat Band is a new show for the preschool crowd that is pretty painful to watch. It is a music-based show, starring four musician/friends who get into silly scrapes and sing songs about them. It is a tried and tested formula, and in some cases it works. Disney has a show on right now called Imagination Movers that I really enjoy, but FBB is just too saccharine to be good. I feel like they talk down to their audience and they smile all the time. They smile like people who don’t actually know anything about little kids and are slightly afraid of them. It won’t kill you to watch it, but you will walk away knowing that those are twenty minutes you’ll never get back.
Big Time Rush
Avoid Big Time Rush like the plague. It is about a group of guys from Minnesota who decide to trade in their hockey sticks for microphones and move out to Hollywood. I didn’t like boy bands when they were “good,” they’re even worse when they are hokey comedians on the side. There’s a lot of running and shouting, as well as some hijinks and an evil genius little sister. That’s about all I’ve got on BTR. My daughter likes it, because she’s six, so I’ve seen it lots of times, but all that sticks in my head is the running and shouting. I think my brain has ejected everything else out of self-preservation.