THE SHOW "Big Time Rush"

WHEN | WHERE Friday night at 8:30 on Nickelodeon

REASON TO WATCH A hot newcomer on Nick seen by 6.8 million when it debuted earlier this month: the biggest live-action debut in Nick history, thanks to its white-hot lead-in "iCarly" (11.2 million).

WHAT IT'S ABOUT Think a modern-day version of "The Monkees." Four hockey players from Minnesota come to Hollywood to start a boy band called Big Time Rush. They're cute, zany, craaazy, and cute (did I say that, already?). They even sing now and then (and dance).

There's Kendall (Kendall Schmidt), sort of the leader of the group; James (James Maslow), good hair, a little spacey, girl magnet; Carlos (Carlos Pena), the funny one with the hockey helmet; and Logan (Logan Henderson), brainy, keeps the guys focused. They've got their own personal record-company-exec-Svengali, Gustavo Rocque (Steve Glickman), blustery boss of Rocque Records, who screams . . . a lot . . . loudly. Gustavo has big plans for the lads. Stardom! If they survive Gustavo's own knuckle-dragging style of star-making. Friday, Gustavo adds a fifth member to the group - a bad boy. The guys decide it's not going to work. (A review copy was not available.)

MY SAY "The Monkees" was one of the greatest TV ideas of all time, and you know what they say about The Greatest TV Ideas of All Time? They bear repeating . . . over and over and over. "Big Time Rush" is the latest iteration, and it's a particularly shrewd one. A collaboration with Sony Music (yeah, a tour, records, etc. can be expected after the current 20-episode season wraps), "BTR" has a precise grasp of a current crop of pop rock now flooding the teen market - specifically the teen girl market.

In physical style and sound, these guys are a little to a lot like such bands as The White Tie Affair, All Time Low, We the Kings, and A Rocket to the Moon. As such, "BTR" is crafty and well crafted. But what's best, improbably, is that it doesn't feel like Armani-clad sharks pieced it together to make a fast buck. Scott Fellows ("Ned's Declassified School Survival Guide") is the able show-runner.

BOTTOM LINE This "Monkees" for a new generation is full of charm and vitality, but there's not quite enough music here; these guys , who perform original material and not covers, may need their own Neil Diamond or Carole King (scribes of some Monkees favorites) to help build a memorable playlist. Get that and "Big Time Rush" will be a rocket to the moon.

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