The newly Emmy-nominated classic Canadian series 'Degrassi' is returning for an eleventh season (can you believe it?!) -- again, as it was last year, in telenovela style. Are you ready for seven straight drama-packed weeks of teen angst, heartbreaking sorrow and adolescent hormones? Cuz that's what's coming.
Season 11 of 'Degrassi' introduces three new characters, and takes on issues like gang violence, drug abuse, bullying, gender identity, sexuality and teen parenthood. As the school year draws to a close and the senior class prepares to graduate and move on, everyone realizes they'll only be in high school once so it's now or never -- so expect the sparks to fly.
Listen, self-acceptance is a great message to promote, especially to teenagers. But I can't shake the deja vu feeling that settled in while I watched the super-sized 'Born This Way' tribute. Those self-acceptance storylines were just so ... familiar.
A little too familiar, if you ask me.
Here are three plot points from last night's episode, and three places I've seen them done before.
1. Aspiring star considers plastic surgery = 'Degrassi'
I suppose it's not hard for a high-school show to tread the same ground as Canadian institution 'Degrassi,' especially since the long-running, issues-focused show is filming its eleventh season. During 'Degrassi''s fifth season, aspiring actress Manny considered a boob job to further her career, much like Rachel considered a nose job during last night's 'Glee.' Luckily, neither girl ended up going through with the procedure.
Now, Degrassi High has a transgender student, Adam, who is struggling with his first real relationship. In classic 'Degrassi' fashion, Adam is not singled out for his identity (though he was at first by peers), and the show treats him like just another teenager. Kudos to the show, but also to young actress Jordan Todosey, who plays the role with incredible accuracy and compassion.
TV Squad sat down with Jordan on her 16th birthday to talk about male idiosyncrasies, what's in store for Adam's romance, and having to chop her hair off.
In all of his outings since 'Friends,' I've increasingly gotten the sense that Matthew Perry is a dark guy. He seems angry a lot, and he even has scowl lines. Sigh. I loved Chandler Bing -- I wanted to be more than 'Friends' with him, if you know what I mean.
But I guess we all have to move on from early TV crushes. Here, Perry plays an angry, scowling manager of an arena where stuff happens: hockey games, circus acts, and reunion tours of mid-level rock bands. In the pilot, Perry gets dumped by his friend-with-benefits, turns 40 and realizes he doesn't want to be alone anymore. Sounds really funny, right? No wait, I can make it worse: Thomas Schlamme is directing but Aaron Sorkin isn't involved, so get ready for a lot of walk-and-talks without very interesting talk.
I remember when 'The Kids of Degrassi' first aired back in the early '80s -- I'm pretty sure I saw it in the classroom, the last refuge of an exhausted teacher in my downtown Toronto public school. I recognized the streets and even some of the kids, since my father lived in the area, and my mom was always sending me to artsy after-school programs. Even at that tender age, I recognized that 'Degrassi' was different from other television shows. Mostly I noticed that the kids weren't rich, good-looking or well-dressed.
Hey, in television that's already pretty out there.
Now in its tenth year, 'Degrassi: The Next Generation' is known for tackling the toughest of subjects. Ironically, the fictional characters on 'Degrassi' are far more relatable than most reality series, which is why the show has grown and maintained such a loyal following. Teens love how the gloss is stripped -- we see kids with braces, acne, angst and all.
Canadian music channel MuchMusic held a special outdoor screening of the latest 'Degrassi' movie, 'Degrassi Takes Manhattan', in their infamous parking lot, and invited diehard fans to come along.
Like the series, the latest movie doesn't hold back. Starting with a poolside punch and finishing with an impulse wedding, we follow the characters as they graduate high school and have a summer full of unexpected disasters, revelations, and... incest?
Despite this piecemeal distribution, the show has gained quite the following. That being said, the most recent announcement on the upcoming season will be music to their ears.
Variety is reporting the 10th season of 'Degrassi,' which will premiere on July 19 in the U.S. on TeenNick, will shift to a Monday to Thursday telenovela-style format. After the two-hour TV movie titled 'The Heat is On,' the series will air nightly at 9PM ET for six weeks. On Fridays, TeenNick will present a two-hour encore of the week's shows from 9 to 11PM.
In some ways it's a lucky thing that we are not even remotely famous for our television shows. It's true that some shows have broken through the border to the U.S. There are Americans who have heard of 'Degrassi' and 'You Can't Do That On Television' and 'Corner Gas', but they are not a defining part of our nation's character -- take that as good or bad. And none of our shows manage to turn around and define Canada either, the way 'Coronation Street' or 'All in the Family', just two examples, have seemed to define the cultures they came from.
Here's tonight's TV lineup (all times Eastern). All shows listed are new, unless otherwise noted.
Once again the schedule is light on the original. It may be time to clean out your DVR.
Cartoon Network: 'Batman: 'The Brave and the Bold'-- Fan of the show
8:00 to 9:00
The CW: 'Smallville'
NBC: 'Secrets of the Mountain' -- New made-for-TV movie
Disney Channel: 'The Suite Life on Deck' and 'Wizards of Waverly Place' -- 'Wizards' guest-stars Shakira
Nickelodeon: 'Big Time Rush' and 'The Troop'
9:00 to 10:00
ABC: 'Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution'
Animal Planet: 'I Shouldn't Be Alive'
Cartoon Network: 'Star Wars: The Clone Wars'
CMT: 'Gator 911' and 'Danger Coast'
HBO: 'The Ricky Gervais Show' and 'The Life & Times of Tim'
National Geographic: 'Dog Whisperer'
SyFy: 'Stargate Universe'
Teen Nick: 'Degrassi: The Next Generation'
TLC: 'The What Not to Wear Awards'
10:00 to 11:00
CBS: 'Miami Medical'
NBC: 'Dateline NBC'
E!: 'The Soup' and 'Forbes: Heiresses Gone Wild'
Food Network: 'Private Chefs of Beverly Hills'
HBO: 'Real Time with Bill Maher' -- Jesse Ventura
Starz: 'Spartacus: Blood and Sand'
11:00 to Midnight
Comedy Central: 'Comedy Central Presents' -- Bret Ernst and Iliza Shlesinger
Check your local TV listings for more information. After the jump, the late night talk shows.
I find myself buying more old shows on DVD than I do new shows. I have no interest at all in buying C.S.I., Desperate Housewives, Two and a Half Men, Brothers & Sisters, or Supernatural, and there are no classic shows being released so it looks like I'm going to save money (again) this week.
Heroes? I like the show well enough, but I just can't imagine I'm going to want to watch this season again. Maybe I'll get it at some point, just so I can make sure I have the whole series, but who knows.
- Sci-Fi has more of their Twilight Zone marathon all night.
- Animal Planet has a Whale Wars marathon all night.
- At 8, NBC has a new Chopping Block, then a new, two-hour Dateline.
- FOX has a new Are You Smarter Than A Fifth Grader at 8, followed by a new Mental.
- PBS has a new Washington Week at 8, then new episodes of NOW and Bill Moyers Journal.
- ESPN has the Winn Dixie 250 race at 8.
- ESPN2 has The Complete Wimbledon at 8.
- The N has a new Degrassi: The Next Generation.
- Also at 8: BBC America has a new Friday Night with Jonathan Ross.
- At 8:30, ABC has a new episode of The Goode Family.
- At 9, Travel Channel has two new episodes of Ghost Adventures.
- At 10, E! has a new episode of The Soup.
Check your local TV listings for more.
After the jump, the late night talk shows.
The bad news? Summer's almost over and it's nearly time for school again.
The good news? We've got just the thing to ease you into back-to-school mode: Our countdown of TV's 21 best school shows ever.
So sharpen your No. 2 pencil and dive in to see which series just make the grade and which ones are at the top of the class.
Universe will follow a new cast of characters on the adventure that comes after they explore a ship launched by the Ancients, Destiny. The reconnaissance mission takes a dramatic turn when they discover that the ship can never return to Earth. They are along for the ride as the ship carries on with it's pre-programmed navigational schedule. The adventure comes during periodic stops at stargates. The danger is that if anyone is left behind, there is no way to go back for them.
The beginning of fall will always mean one thing -- back-to-school season.
And in honor of this special time of year, we present you with a pop quiz all about TV schools.
Where did Felicity go to college? Was a baby ever born at Bayside High? Please keep your eyes on your own paper. Pencils out ... you may begin.
I'm sure that thirty-something IT guys with freakish beards is not the demographic that The-N is searching for, but they've hooked me just the same. Instant Star, Beyond The Break, and South Of Nowhere have all long ago earned their season passes on my DVR, and I can be sucked into a Degrassi marathon on occasion.
If you share my predilection for Canadian teen drama, you might be interested to know that Instant Star is back with all new episodes tomorrow. And if you like the teen drama from the north but haven't managed to get on board with Jude's adventures just yet, you can catch up with a huge marathon tomorrow. Starting at 1AM, there will be 15 hours worth of episodes leading up to the fourth season premiere at 5PM PST. That premiere will, of course, answer the big question... As The-N's promo department puts it, "OMG! Who did Jude choose?!"
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