Sequel keeps spirit of DeGrassi alive

Sequel keeps spirit of DeGrassi alive:[Final Edition]
Observer. Sarnia, Ont.: Oct 10, 2001. pg. B.5.FRO

TORONTO (CP) — In a suburban backyard, a gaggle of 30- somethings gathers around a barbecue. Talk revolves around work and the high price of gassing up the minivan. Then the reminiscing begins.

Remember when Lucy made her horrid horror movie? Remember the musical stylings of the Zit Remedy? Remember when Joey Jeremiah streaked through the cafeteria to raise a few bucks for a car?

Snake and Wheels guffaw and high-five at the memory. Joey smirks as he wraps an arm around his wife, Caitlin. Lucy, fully recovered from a drunk-driving accident that temporarily stole her sight, raises an eyebrow at the criticism of her cinematic work.

Their kids splash around in the pool — except Spike’s daughter Emma, the eldest of the second generation, who slinks off to a shady corner to bury her nose in a gothic novel.

For legions of hardcore fans keeping the legacy of the Degrassi television series alive through fan fiction, this is how the graduates of Degrassi High spend a summer’s afternoon in 2007.

To the cult of devoted fans — spread as far as Australia and Israel and including the likes of Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back director Kevin Smith, who owns every episode — it’s as if the quirky Canadian series, which ran from 1979 to 1991, never died.

And now the spirit of the show will live on in a sequel. Degrassi: The Next Generation, a 15-part, 30-minute drama series, kicks off Sunday on CTV with a one-hour special in which Degrassi alumni return for their 10-year reunion. The special also introduces the new cast of kids, around whom The Next Generation will almost exclusively focus.

Curious fans will likely tune into the special if for no other reason than to see what’s up with Joey, Caitlin, Snake, Lucy, Spike and the others, some of whom — albeit with different names — have been with the series since the beginning.

Degrassi actually got its start in 1979 with Ida Makes a Movie, a film by former schoolteacher Linda Schulyer and her then-partner Kit Hood, about an inner-city girl who wanted to make a movie about cleaning up her neighbourhood. Shot in Toronto’s east end, it snowballed into a series called The Kids of Degrassi Street, which later spawned the beloved Degrassi Junior High and Degrassi High.

Teens and pre-teens watched as a group of Toronto kids struggled with peer pressure, poor grades, teasing, alcohol, smoking and dating. Unlike later American shows like Beverly Hills 90210, these kids had frizzy hair, zits, peach fuzz and squeaky voices. They wore dorky glasses and acid-wash jeans, took public transit and had to be home before curfew.

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