1) I've insulted Miley Cyrus' acting show frequently on this blog. What can I say, she is such an easy target! Nevertheless, to give credit where credit is due, her acting has improved substantially from the early going. She still seems uncomfortable during the dramatic scenes, she's overly shouty, and her delivery on some of the punchlines is head-scratchingly weird. Nevertheless, she's improving in all areas, and she still brings an energy and charm to the role that a lot of other actors would kill to have. Her acting is still probably a net negative on the show, all things considered, but it does contribute to the cuteness of the show. When they come back for a season 2, I wouldn't be surprised to see her acting improve even more. My touchpoint for this is Shia LaBeouf. When he started on Even Stevens he was just OK, nothing really special. But the more the show went on, the more comfortable he became with the character and the better his comedy became, until, by the end of the series, he was an excellent comedic actor. Congrats, Miley
2) The character of "Jake Ryan" was an excellent addition to the show, and I expect to see a noticeable downgrade in the quality of the episodes now that he is gone. Jake Ryan played a famous actor who started to attend Miley's school, and he and Miley had unresolved crushes on each other. Then Miley would get into wacky misadventures attempting to "get with" Jake. High comedy. The actor who played Jake was a natural comedic actor with an easy, winning charm, and the way he and Miley played off of each other has been the highlight of the season to this point, in my opinion. Plus, I read that he is good friends with Brie Larson, which is always a plus. I really hope he comes back. The one episode that had after his (temporary?) exit from the show was one of the worst of the season so far.
3) The show is not so much a ripoff of Lizzie McGuire as it is a ripoff of Lizzie McGuire via ripping off Unfabulous. It's probably not fair to call it an out-and-out ripoff of Unfabulous given that Unfabulous itself was basically an out-and-out ripoff of Lizzie McGuire, but the show's are just too darn similar. There's the obvious, which I've pointed out before, connection of everygirl main character, two best friends (one male, one female) and one sibling (a brother with whom she has a rocky relationship). This is the traditional pre-teen show formula that I believe was pioneered by Lizzie McGuire (and stolen to great effect in Panabaker-vehicle Read It And Weep). In both Unfabulous and Hannah Montana though the main characters are singers/musicians. This obviously plays a much larger role in Hannah. What bothers me about the similarity is in the two "popular girls" in both shows (Maris and Cranberry in Unfabulous I forget their names in Hannah Montana). The popular girls characters are so similar that it just bugs me. Also Miley (the character) seems a lot more similar to Addie Singer than she does to Lizzie McGuire, in my opinion.
4) I feel really sorry for Mitchel Musso. He paid his DC dues in Life is Ruff (a DCOM that is so bad that even though it stars Kay Panabaker, the official actress of the TCR, even I admit it is a terrible movie). Then he finally gets his shot as the star of a show on the Disney Channel, in a signficant role. And it's the biggest hit new Disney Channel show since, hell, That's So Raven I guess. And then his role gradually shrinks over the course of the season, virtually eliminated during the whole Jake Ryan series of episodes, until he is completely marginalized on his own show. In an average Jake Ryan episode, Oliver would have about 5 lines. And his character is horrible! Every time Oliver is on the screen I want him to be off it, not because Mitchel is bad, but because the quality of the writing for his character is so low. Like I said, poor Mitchel Musso.
THE OFFICIAL OPINION OF THE TCR: All in all, still one of the best shows of its type on TV. of all the current tween shows airing on Disney, Nick, and D-Kids, the only ones I will legitimately defend as quality television are Unfabulous, Darcy's Wild Life, and this show. I still say Unfabulous is the best of the lot by a wide margin, but this is a solid #2. I doubt it will ever reach the upper echelon, as I hinted it might in my early review, but it's the best current Disney Channel show by far. And the show is still pretty young, who knows, maybe they'll all but eliminate Oliver and Rico, add back Jake Ryan, improve the consistency of the scriptwriting, and rocket this show up into the top rung of tween shows.