COLLEGE October 20, 2001
By Kristen Ferguson
This was a high school reunion many people waited almost a decade
The characters so many of us grew up with during the 1980s and early
90s finally reunited for the first time in ten years in Degrassi Reunion,
the first episode in a new Degrassi series which premiered on CTV
last Oct. 12.
A lot has changed in the past decade: Joey Jeremiah is a bald-headed
car salesman raising a five-year-old daughter on his own after his
wife died a year ago.
Spike is a short-haired brunette, and Caitlin hosts an environmental
documentary which apparently makes her famous enough to appear on
magazine covers and ride in a limousine everywhere she goes.
As for Snake, he's now Mr. Simpson, the new Degrassi Community School
media arts teacher.
Yes, there's a new generation of Degrassi kids in town. Spike's daughter
Emma and her friends are about to enter junior high, making those
of us who can remember Spike going into labour at the Grade eight
graduation dance feel really old.
The original Degrassi series was one of the first TV shows portraying
serious teenage problems in a realistic way and this new series promises
to follow in its footsteps, even though some of those problems didn't
exist when the first Degrassi series aired.
For instance, Emma exchanges e-mail with who she believes to be a
teenage boy, meets in a hotel room, and finds out the boy is really
a creepy pedophile more than twice her age in the Degrassi Reunion
One of the reasons I was anxious to watch this show was because the
original Degrassi series finale ended on such a depressing note: Joey
and Caitlin broke up, Wheels kills a child in a drunk driving accident,
Lucy is blinded and paralysed while in the car with Wheels, and the
Zits have a falling-out and go their separate ways.
I was glad to see things end more optimistically for the characters
this time around. Lucy can walk around with a cane and see well enough
to consider buying a car from Joey. Wheels is out of jail and briefly
appears at the reunion to apologize to Lucy.
No, Joey and Caitlin do not get back together, but he does help her
break up with her sleazebag director fiance and they share a touching
scene in the Degrassi Community School girls' washroom.
I always thought the original Degrassi series was more like a documentary
than a TV show. The school could have been easily mistaken for any
Canadian high school or junior high and the students seemed like real
people instead of actors portraying characters.
This new series definitely felt like, well, a TV show. There were
more overly dramatic moments such as when Emma's friends just happen
to guess her computer password and sneak into her e-mail account,
or when Spike and Snake happen to arrive just in the nick of time
to rescue Emma from the creepy Internet pedophile.
There was also a bit more violence than I remember from the original
Degrassi series, like when Joey gets into a fistfight with Caitlin's
sleazy director fiance in the middle of her reunion speech or when
Snake slams the creepy Internet pedophile against a wall and threatens
to break his neck.
We also don't get to know much about the new characters, except for
Emma and her friend J.T., who could easily pass for Joey Jeremiah,
Jr. with his fedora, brightly-coloured shirts and class-clown attitude.
But I'm sure we'll find out more about them as the series progresses.
You can also find out more about the show, read guestbook messages
from the Degrassi characters who didn't make it to the reunion, and
even register to become a virtual Degrassi Community School student
at their official website, www.degrassi.tv.
Overall, I think the new series still needs a little fine-tuning,
but I'll continue to tune in, if only to find out whether or not Joey
and Caitlin finally do get back together this time around.