WGBH Boston really went out of there way to please fans of Degrassi High. The shows arrival on DVD has been very anticipated. Degrassi High is the television show that aired after Degrassi Junior High stopped airing back in the 80′s. The show featured the same cast of characters from Degrassi Junior High and chronicled their high school years. The show aired for two seasons and the DVD release includes all 28 episodes of the show.
The first season starts with the kids entering high school and getting reacquainted. Always known for dealing with controversial topics, the season begins with a two part episode titled “A New Start.” One of the twins is pregnant after a summer fling and they have to determine how to proceed. Spike is back and Degrassi and her daughter is in daycare. She is best friends with Liz and starts dating a new guy named Patrick. The gang of Joey, Wheels and Snake are as tight as ever and share their misadventures when it comes to girls, grades and most importantly cars, as cars bring newfound freedom. Some characters from Degrassi Junior High get a little more exposure at Degrassi High. The known bully Dwayne faces a health crisis he struggles to keep secret, worried that it might affect his image. Lucy is still a big flirt and she finds interest in film making. L.D. isn’t featured as much in this series as she is faced with a health crisis that leaves her in the hospital for much of the series. Caitlin finds interest in various causes and dates a new guy at school named Claude for a short time. Michelle is still in her interracial relationship with B.L.T. but its her family situation and her school situation which puts her under a great strain. Keeping with the format of the show, all of the cast members have their time with various hard hitting storylines during the season.
It’s a great series and you could really sit down and watch the entire series in a weekend. Teens today will find the show beneficial and fans of Degrassi The Next Generation may also enjoy the series which features several of the cast members of that show. A great bonus is that the DVD set includes the Degrassi movie “Schools Out.” This has long been a favorite that fans have been waiting for on DVD.
This release completes the Degrassi Junior High/Degrassi High collection on DVD. The four disc set includes twenty eight episodes of the series and the movie “Schools Out” is featured on the fourth disc. Bonus materials include pop quiz, Degrassi High wallpaper, printable materials and printable cast interviews.
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I’ll never forget how in the late ’80s, I would end each day with a snack in front of the TV, while taking in another episode of the educational teenage soap opera “Degrassi High” on PBS. The show’s school bell would ring and that endlessly addictive pop theme song would begin, meaning the start of another great show.
Each episode would look at a single problem or issue, that confronted teenagers in our modern society. This included discussions about a variety of topics including drugs, abortion, homosexuality, teen suicide, AIDS, phyiscal/sexual abuse and women’s rights. The show takes place in a fictional Canadian high school and shows teens from from all walks of life, ethnicity and social groups. Each episode features an issue, while weaving together in a soap opera-ish style, the interests, problems and relationships of the large cast.
This includes the enterprising yet underachieving, Joey Jermiah (Pat Mastroianni), the caring and concerned, Caitlin (Stacie Mistysin), young teen mother, Spike (Amanda Stepto), the feminist, Lucy (Anias Gronofsky), the twins Heather & Erica (Maureen & Angela Deiseach), the troubled orphan, ‘Wheels’ (Neil Hope) and his best friend ‘Snake’ (Stephan Brogan). These are just a few among many characters in the series. The adults in their world include their strict principal, Mr.Raditch (Dan Williams) and the always caring dream of a teacher, Ms. Avery (Michelle Goodeve).
‘Degrassi High’ (seasons 4-5) is basically a sequel to the series known as ‘Degrassi Junior High’ (Seasons 1-3). The kids are now older. Their lives, social relationships and problems are much more mature and complex. Certain characters such as Joey, Caitlin, Spike, Michelle, Dwayne, Heather & Erica, Lucy, Snake and Wheels proved to be popular characters, who the writers have given a lot of the screen time and story arcs to. This includes multi-episode stories, that deal with controversial subjects and stories (WARNING SPOILERS!!) such as Erica getting an abortion, Caitlin’s boyfriend, Claude, committing suicide and Dwayne (Shorty) becoming HIV positive.
I find, that the longer the ‘Degrassi’ Series ran, the better it got. Both the writing and the acting were vastly improved in comparison to the ‘Junior High’ episodes. To me this DVD box set includes some of the best episodes produced in the entire series. The thing about this show is that its’ both endlessly entertaining and addictive. It’s like eating a bag of potato chips. You just just can’t stop! Trust me you will get hooked! Highly recommended!
(One note: This DVD set also includes as an ‘Extra’, the hour and a half ‘Degrassi’ movie, “School’s Out!”, which I think is a much more of a satisfying (and explicit!) goodbye to some of our favorite ‘Degrassi’ characters, than the last episode, “One Last Dance”.)
Finally we get the complete series of Degrassi in this outstanding Degrassi High collection! All episodes are just so good that you’ll want to see them again and again. Good quality and sound in this great collection. Also theres the movie “Degrassi High: School’s Out!” as an extra feature! For all fans and newcomers this definitely belongs to your collection. Rating: 6/5