Perhaps in the beginning, Nickelodeon's Big Time Rush was a cynical effort to one-up the popularity of the Jonas Brothers, whose success was fostered by rival Disney. Big Time Rush, after all, has three words in its name instead of two, and four members (Kendall, James, Carlos and Logan), not three. Oh, and none of these guys are related.
But, really, Big Time Rush belongs, both in its construction and artifice, to a far older pedigree: The Monkees—another commercial construct built to pull in television ratings, sell albums and capitalize on the success of … The Beatles.
"I think they might have said, 'Who are The Monkees?' and I think I slapped one of them," executive producer Scott Fellows told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette when this series launched. "I think the similarity is the energy and the comedy and the spirit of it. Yes, I love The Monkees. … Hey [hey], if we can get half that success, we'll be excited."
I think they can be excited now. While the Jonases are still out there … somewhere … they're not on the Disney Channel anymore except in reruns. Big Time Rush? Well, let's just say the show keeps on getting renewed.
Onscreen, these largely wholesome guys live at the swanky Palm Woods Hotel, a residence for aspiring musicians and actors, along with Kendall's mom and little sister. Which reminds me to make a quick note about Mom: She isn't always shown to be the brightest bulb in the chandelier—especially when lil' sis manipulates her—but she's sweet and loving.
BTR, the show, rarely gets into any serious trouble. But BTR, the band, can get into quite a lot, what with the guys' silliness and sometimes downright cluelessness. The frolicsome friends are also sometimes girl crazy to the point of panting like winded dachshunds when they see a pretty one. Their dates can dress a bit provocatively—at least by kids' show standards—flaunting small amounts of cleavage and leg. Kisses are traded. And the guys occasionally engage in slightly suggestive banter (both sexually and scatologically).
The rest of the time they're showcasing the sort of goofy innocence that made the Jonases stars before them. Indeed, the bandmates all have a gift for slapstick comedy and self-deprecating humor. They rarely if ever utter even mild curse words. At worst, the outlandish plots that swirl around them can sometimes feel irreverent and/or disrespectful—if it's possible at all for a show so silly to ever be taken seriously.
"Big Time Bloopers"
After the tape of their newest episode gets crushed in a Naked Gun-inspired gag, the BTR guys opt to run a bloopers show, filled with outtakes from their first three seasons. Thus, the half-hour is devoted to showcasing the slapstick comedy that initially made BTR a Nickelodeon hit: Characters trip, fall and fly around, sometimes through walls. They're hit in the head with everything from footballs to fish. Etcetera.
We also see evidence of the show's girl-crazy vibe: One of the guys gets covered with lipstick smooches, for instance. All four offer silly Tangled-esque "smolders." Carlos, while wearing a bear suit, pretends to smooch a female co-star. For a gag, a guy is shown in drag.
Carlos holds a live cockroach in his mouth. Characters in bear costumes attack a guest star. Cast members sometimes come close to uttering profanities—uttering a suggestive "sh—" that trails into nothing, for instance. The only actual profanities we hear are a half-dozen misuses of God's name.
"Big Time Wedding"
The band receives a visit from the king of Kerplankistan and his beautiful daughter. When the king tells the princess to choose a BTR boy to marry, the once swooning band suddenly scrambles away in horror. Still, James wants to prove he'd have been the guy she picked, so he returns to the scene of the silliness, inadvertently proposing in the process. When he tries to escape, a skirmish ensues, with minor hitting, punching, Nerf-like gun shooting and tackling. At the almost-wedding, people throw plates and brandish swords.
The overall effect is goofy with a hint of racism.
Canadian Buddha Bob, meanwhile, is being deported for an expired work visa. Kendall's little sister Katie argues with and lies to the immigration officer, saying Bob is engaged … to her mother. So a quickie (and unofficial) ceremony is performed by a New Age minister to fool the Feds.
Gas and scat are joked about. (Bob's last name is "Poopsalot," for example.) "Bolsheviks!" stands in for foul language. A woman wears a dress that reveals a lot of leg and a little cleavage. Others are called "hot," and boy-crazy girls chase the band.
"Big Time Halloween"
The boys of BTR succumb to a Halloween fantasy, transforming into old movie monsters. James is a vampire who sheds his shirt (displaying his Twilight-style glistening torso) and runs from a Buffy-style slayer. Carlos becomes green-faced "Frankencarlos." Logan is a zombie who drops body parts—or has them stolen by a dog. And Kendall is a werewolf afraid to tell his girlfriend, Jo, about his true nature.
"If a girl can't accept you for who you are, than maybe she's not the girl for you," Kendall's mother tells him—as she and her daughter, dressed as witches, bake the most disgusting cake ever.
The episode feels like an old Munsters show, filled with all manner of campy creepisms. Witches wave their wands every now and then to conjure various items or spruce up their cake. Far more troubling: Arthur Griffin, normally the show's media mogul, appears in the guise of the devil—wearing red and exhorting people to "Hail me!"
James' hunter wears short shorts and a tank top, and the two kiss in the hallway. He also flirts with other women. Jo tells Kendall that she knew he was a werewolf by the way he marks his territory.