Sadly, I must say that I’m probably considered an old guy to most of the reviewers of this “Degrassi: The Next Generation” boxed set. At twenty-eight years of age, I’m probably twice as old as most of these folks. But that doesn’t matter because I really love this boxed set. I grew up watching the original Degrassi shows on PBS in Louisiana. Though the cast was roughly two years older than I was, I found myself relating to a lot of them. The new series allows me to catch up with some of my old favorites, as well as introduces me to a new crop of kids going through that great life-changing period we know as junior high and high school.
This new DVD set brings us the first season of the new series. Many of the kids are still pre-teens in this season. We are introduced to Emma, J.T., Toby, Manny, Ashley, Paige, etc. We’re also introduced to some of their parents. One of the parents is very familiar to us old folks. Emma’s mom is Ms. Nelson, or Spike, from the original show. She’ll become quite close with Emma’s media immersion teacher, Mr. Simpson. Once again, the old folks will probably, recognize Mr. Simpson as Snake from the old show. Another returning favorite is Joey Jeremiah. You’ll remember him as the goofy kid that wore a fedorah. Many of the older castmembers show up for a class reunion at the end of episode two.
The new cast is fun to watch. It’s funny how kids these days still deal with many of the same problems that other teenagers deal with. Everything from sex to drug abuse to first loves is dealt with. There are a few new trials and tribulations these days, however. One such temptation is internet romance, which gets Emma into a sticky situation. Another subject dealt with is Ashley having to come to terms with the fact that her father is gay. Though homosexuals have been around forever, I think that this is the first teen show that deals with this particular situation. Spinner is on behavior-controlling prescription drugs(ritelin, forgive the spelling). Jimmy uses those particular drugs to give him an “edge” at basketball. J.T. and Toby check out a little internet porn and, as usual, those blasted parents catch them. These are just a few of the “newer” problems that are addressed on the show.
Some of the problems that have hampered teens since the dawn of time are addressed as well. Toby crushes big-time over Emma, who is captivated by Sean. Sean, meanwhile, comes from a busted, alcoholic family. Paige manipulates her friends to get what she wants. Terry is overweight and thinks that no one will ever like her. Liberty fears failure in the classroom, etc., etc. What you get is a teenage soap-opera that deals with real issues.
Granted, some of the “problems” are hokey and 100% cheese, but this helps break the intensity of some of the dramatic moments. The acting isn’t superb, but it wasn’t with the original show, either. What you end up with is a program that teens and pre-teens can watch without feeling like they are being preached to or lectured. The characters are believable and they deal with their problems in the same way as any average kid would these days.
The DVD extras are fun. There is karaoke, where you get to sing the theme song. There’s a casting call section where you get to see some of the youngsters try out for roles. A blooper reel is included, and some deleted scenes as well. One of the best deleted scenes for us oldsters is one which catches us up on a lot of the old characters from the original shows.
I recommend this boxed set to anyone who wants to relive the old days of their youth. More importantly, I recommend this set to teachers and parents who want to teach their kids without having to hammer a speech down their throats. Kids connect with the characters on this show, and that makes life a little bit easier to deal with once they realize that they aren’t the “only one” who has to deal with any of their particular teenage problems.
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Being an adult in my twenties – I sadly admit to giving into watching Degrassi reruns on “The N” during the wee-hours of the morning. However, I am ever impressed with the range and frankness with which they address teen issues. Their problems have grown with their ages. The characters have not remained static. They have grown the way real kids grow between 13-17, with their problems accrurately affecting their ages.
Sure, some of it is hokey. After all, it is a 22 minute show. There’s a lot to cram in there. However, I think every kid should be watching this show. I’ve seen nothing like it produced in the US. I give the show great credit for addressing a teen struggling with his sexuality, even showing a kiss between two gay teens. I give them great credit for addressing rape, a violent relationship, one character cheating on another and the effects of that, alcohol and drug experimentation. In short, sure, it smacks of after-school special, and it may not run exactly true to life, but it is REAL issues that kids deal with, and I commend the show for its honesty in addressing them.
This is not a complaint about the show. (Degrassi TNG is a GOOD show, as good as its predecessor, and the best sequel series since another show with the title TNG that came out back in 87)
It is how it is presented, at least on this DVD set.
The 15 episodes that make up the first season are on two supposedly cheaply made discs. There is a red back (unlike the silver back on virtually ALL commercial DVDs and most blank ones as well) which gives the impression that this could either be a burned DVD or even pirated (I know it isn’t but at first,one is not sure)
Also all episodes are listed as ONE title. Although there is a menu option to choose each episode, when the second episode is chosen (for example Mother and child Reunion Part 2) it starts at “chapter 9″ . Also there is no closed captioning or subtitles and although episodes may have chapters, there are no menus other then the top menu.
Picture quality seems to be almost on par with SP VHS.
Yes, I know the show was made on the cheap, but it seems that these DVDs were made on the cheaper, and the TRUE value is probably ½ of what is being charged for it.
The biggest appeal for these DVDs at least in the US is that these episodes are presented as seen in Canada (the N didn’t originally show “Jagged little pill” until into the 2nd season, and have totally eliminated the storyline connected with “Accidents will happen” a 3rd season episode.)
Degrassi TNG is a very good show, and deserves much wider exposure then currently offered on the N [they may rerun each episode many times, but there are a lot of folks who do not have digital cable or a dish who would enjoy this show] (perhaps on a network with a wider reach like Nickelodeon, MTV, or even CBS!.)
Did I get the second season? Yes, as it is a quality series. (This review may have led to a better Season 2 disc)