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'Sam & Cat' review: Familiar tween fluff

Nickelodeon’s Jennette McCurdy and Ariana Grande star in

Nickelodeon’s Jennette McCurdy and Ariana Grande star in a spin-off of their characters from “iCarly” and “Victorious” in “Sam & Cat.” (June 2013) Photo Credit: Nickelodeon

THE SHOW "Sam & Cat"

WHEN | WHERE 8 p.m. Saturday on Nickelodeon

WHAT IT'S ABOUT Sam Puckett (Jennette McCurdy) has headed to Los Angeles, as she explores life after the end of her web show (and "iCarly," which concluded last year, on which she co-starred with Miranda Cosgrove). While eating a burrito in L.A., she meets another young woman. She's familiar, too -- Cat Valentine (Ariana Grande, "Victorious"). Cat's grandmother, Nona (Maree Cheatham) wants to move into an old folks home, leaving Cat alone in the apartment the two share. Cat needs a new roommate, and Sam has no place to live, so . . .

MY SAY Kids' TV must seem mysterious to adults who aren't paying attention, so for a crash course in what really matters to your 8-12-year-old who disappears for long hours a day in front of the tube, just one name: Dan Schneider, creator of "Sam & Cat." He's master and commander of your kids' brains, and if that seems frightening, it's not really.

Schneider, a former cast member of the '80s sitcom "Head of the Class," manufactures weightless confections so disarming (and innocuous) that if they have any long-term effect, it's only to hook kids on more Schneider series. "Drake & Josh," gone years now, is the "Gilligan's Island" of children's television -- still incredibly popular, and still on -- while "iCarly" was a monster over its six-year run. Not to mention: "Zoey 101" . . . "What I Like About You" . . . "The Amanda Show" . . . "All That" . . . "Victorious." And starting Saturday, you can add one more name to the Schneider hit parade.

His touch is all here -- The Abbott & Costello, or "Odd Couple" pairing among the leads; the funky (kid) neighbor; the incredibly cool (and cluttered) apartment; and most important, the absence of adult supervision. Cat is the more comical of the pair -- with the singsong voice that plays an octave higher than Grande's normal range, the flaming bottle-red hair, and cartoon mannerisms. Sam remains Sam -- still with swagger, and affected world-weariness. Their new series is filled with logical disconnects -- that's hardly a concern to the target viewer, by the way -- and lots of the same old gags (ditto).

BOTTOM LINE Lively, fun, and same-old-same-old. Kids will love it.



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