Strange Days at Blake Holsey High
|Black Hole High|
The Strange Days at Blake Holsey High intertitle.
|Also known as||Black Hole High|
|Created by||Jim Rapsas|
|Country of origin||Canada|
|No. of seasons||4|
|No. of episodes||42 (List of episodes)|
|Running time||25 minutes per episode|
|Production company(s)||Fireworks Entertainment|
|Original channel||Discovery Kids
|Original run||October 5, 2002 – January 28, 2006|
Black Hole High (also known as Strange Days at Blake Holsey High) is a Canadian science fiction television program which first aired in North America in October 2002 on NBC and Discovery Kids. It is set at the fictional boarding school of the title, where a Science Club (five students and their teacher) investigates mysterious phenomena, most of which is centered around a wormhole located on the school grounds. Spanning four seasons, the series developed into a success, and has been sold to networks around the globe.
Created by Jim Rapsas, the series intertwines elements of mystery, drama, romance, and comedy. The writing of the show is structured around various scientific principles, with emotional and academic struggles combined with unfolding mysteries of a preternatural nature. In addition to its consistent popularity among children, it has been recognised by adults as strong family entertainment. Forty-two episodes of the series, each roughly twenty-five minutes in length, have been produced, the last three of which premiered in January 2006. Those three final episodes that aired were combined into a film, Strange Days: Conclusions. The show was filmed at the Auchmar Estate on the Hamilton Escarpment in Hamilton, Ontario.
The show revolves around a group of five friends and their favourite teacher. Together they form the Science Club at Blake Holsey High, a boarding school located in southern Ontario. Strange things occur at Blake Holsey High, and the Science Club decides to discover what is going on. They consider what a wormhole, a floating Qigong ball, and Pearadyne Industries - a lab that was destroyed years ago right next to the school - all have to do with the mystery.
Main cast and characters
- Josie Trent (Emma Taylor-Isherwood) - Josie is the show's main protagonist, and her voice is heard over the opening credits. She transfers to Blake Holsey High at the beginning of the series, and is the one who discovered the wormhole first. She is intelligent, curious and headstrong, and is the one who most wants to know what is going on. In Corrine's words, she has "the hots for Vaughn," but the relationship is a rocky one due to trust issues.
- Corrine Baxter (Shadia Simmons) - Josie's best friend and roommate, Corrine is the so-called "brains" (with a self-claimed IQ of 172) in the Science Club. In contrast to Josie's messiness and rebellious attitude, Corrine is compulsively neat and well-behaved. Her intelligence tends to be academically inclined, so she often lacks "street-smarts" and demonstrates a rigid attitude towards the more social aspects of her life, which extends to her reciprocated crush on Marshall.
- Lucas Randall (Michael Seater) - Lucas is a conspiracy theorist, convinced that aliens do exist, and coming up with unorthodox theories that often save the day. He is the most driven member of the Science Club to learn the secrets of the school and true intentions of Victor Pearson and Pearadyne Labs, largely due to the fact that he develops a romantic interest in Josie that is largely unrequited as he views Vaughn as a threat. Eventually he becomes friends with Vaughn and sets his sights on the Josie clone.
- Marshall Wheeler (Noah Reid) - Lucas' best friend and roommate, Marshall is more social and fun loving than Lucas, and helps to keep him down to earth in this way. While he is a notably intelligent and dedicated member of the Science Club, his interests will often drift towards entrepreneurial tendencies and he performs in a band (Magnet 360) with other Blake Holsey students. However, he has trouble expressing his feelings, including his crush on Corrine.
- Vaughn Pearson (Robert Clark) - Vaughn is the fifth student in the Science Club. Vaughn is intelligent but sometimes struggles in school as a result of dyslexia. His father is Victor Pearson, the owner and founder of Pearadyne Industries. Vaughn lives at home with his father for a time, as their house is practically next door to the school, but eventually lives alone at Blake Holsey High. He and Josie develop a mutual attraction to one another, though it is strained by a lack of trust in their relationship. Vaughn at first appears to be a mindless bully who torments the science club but soon grows to accept them as his friends.
- Professor Noel Zachary (Jeff Douglas) - Professor Zachary, or "Z", is the presiding teacher of the Science Club. Like Josie, he is very curious to find out what is going on at Blake Holsey High. He was able to go to school to become a teacher thanks to a scholarship from Pearadyne Industries, and is the only adult that the Science Club fully trusts. As the Science Club's mentor, he is able to provide background and support for the students.
- Principal Amanda Durst (Valerie Boyle) - The disagreeable Principal Durst is a looming presence over the Science Club, and differs with Professor Zachary's easygoing ways. A former science teacher, she is a reluctant conspirator in Victor Pearson's plans.
- Victor Pearson (Lawrence Bayne) - Victor Pearson is a benefactor of the school and a constant antagonist to the Science Club's investigations. Secretive and somewhat ruthless, Victor is deeply distrusted by Josie and Lucas, which puts Victor's son Vaughn in a perpetually awkward position. Although Victor Pearson frequently serves as the villain of the show, he is eventually revealed to be "the good guy" in his long struggle to restore Pearadyne and rescue his time-lost wife.
- The Janitor (Tony Munch) - The Janitor is an enigmatic character who seems to understand the mysteries at Blake Holsey High, but reveals little. In the last episode, Josie's clone tells Josie that the Janitor is an Observer's observer, sent from the far future to the past to make sure that the past occurs the way it should.
Significant objects and locations
- Qigong Ball/Chi Ball/Floating Ball: Once a normal ball used to handle stress, but became a source of unlimited potential. Josie had used these balls for relaxation, but during Science Club, one was taken from her by Professor Zachary. The other one was affected by the energy of the wormhole in a trip to the 1970s, which made it gravity-less. It defies the laws of physics, which was why a younger Victor Pearson steals it from Josie years ago when he was in Blake Holsey High. Presenting it to Sarah Lynch, they started their plan to create Pearadyne Industries. Using the Chi Ball to power their lab, it caused an explosion, which led the destruction of Pearadyne and Sarah's disappearance. Consequently, a wormhole formed at Blake Holsey and caused other strange occurrences. When Josie finds the ball again, she assumes that Vaughn and Victor had plotted to use it. Josie steals it back from them and replaces it with the Chi Ball's original normal partner, leaving Victor under the impression that the Chi Ball has somehow lost its power. However, Josie's clone from the future steals the floating ball back and places it back into Victor's hands.
- Wormhole: A powerful vortex that can lead to either the future or the past that can be found in the office of Blake Holsey's science teacher. The exact time and duration the wormhole is open is apparently sporadic and it is uncertain when it will lead. Many agents have attempted to keep the knowledge of the wormhole a secret from everyone, however the energy released from the wormhole has affected the students and the school due to the emotions and conditions of the students.
- Pearadyne Industries/Labs: A laboratory created by Victor Pearson and Sarah Lynch. It was used to create inventions and master quantum physics. On October 4, 1987, Pearadyne was destroyed in an explosion that covered the disappearance of many workers, including Sarah Lynch (Vaughn's mother).
Strange Days at Blake Holsey High began airing in Canada on Global and on NBC, as well as VRAK.TV in Quebec. In the United States, meanwhile, it aired on Discovery Kids and NBC. In late March 2003, almost six months after its North American debut, the series was sold to several international markets at the annual MipTV, which was held at Cannes, France. The United Kingdom broadcasting network ITV acquired the terrestrial television right to the series, while the pay television rights were sold to Fox Kids (which became Jetix in 2005) in Europe and Latin America, who showed the series in countries including the UK, Argentina, Mexico, Brazil, Chile, and Panama. Fox Kids Europe has a partnership deal with the Disney Channel, which enabled the show to be broadcast in Australia, New Zealand, France and Asia. In Russia (Tomsk), the series airs on CTC. In Denmark, it airs on TV2 Denmark. It also airs in other European countries such as Norway (and other Scandinavian nations), the Netherlands, Portugal, Israel, Poland (it airs on Jetix), Turkey and Italy, as well as Colombia in South America. The children's television channel in the UK, PopGirl, acquired the rights to show the series in 2012 with a host of other acquired programmes including another season of Life With Derek, Family Biz, Mortified and Zoey 101. They were bought together and Black Hole High was the last to be shown. Coming Soon trailers started broadcasting on the channel until its 29 September debut. It was the first airing of the show in almost five years. The series is currently airing.
Fireworks Entertainment, the company behind Strange Days at Blake Holsey High, closed down after the production of Season 3. There were three additional episodes of the series, which aired as a finale film event on January 28, 2006 on the Discovery Kids channel, as "Strange Days Conclusions". As of June 2006, no episode or season of Strange Days at Blake Holsey High has been legally released to DVD in any country. In 2004 it was announced that a DVD box set of season one was to be released in the United Kingdom on July 26, 2004, and websites such as Amazon.com put up the DVD for pre-order. The release was later pulled without explanation.
Strange Days at Blake Holsey High has been nominated for several awards, but won none. Writers Jeff King, Jeff Schechter and Thérèse Beaupré were nominated for episodes broadcast in the year 2003 at the 31st Daytime Emmy Awards in 2004, in the category Outstanding Writing in a Children's Series. Emma Taylor-Isherwood, Shadia Simmons and Robert Clark were each given Young Artist Award nominations in early 2003, although Taylor-Isherwood was placed in the supporting category, Simmons was elevated to lead, and Clark was considered a "guest actor". Simmons received a second nomination the following year, alongside Talia Schlanger (Madison). The Academy of Canadian Cinema and Television nominated creative team Tony Thatcher, Adam Haight, Jeff King and Kevin May for Best Children's or Youth Fiction Program or Series at the annual Gemini Awards in late 2004, and the Directors Guild of Canada also recognised the show in areas such as sound editing, team achievement, and the product as a whole in 2003 and 2004.
In 2006 Strange Days was nominated for two Emmy Awards: "Outstanding Children's Series" and "Outstanding Writing".
The series went on hiatus in the UK in early September 2006, but returned on November 6, 2006. The show has since been removed from the Jetix schedules.
Although it is not a spin-off, Strange Days at Blake Holsey High has significant connections with several other series for children.
- Like Strange Days at Blake Holsey High, the Disney Channel series So Weird dealt with paranormal phenomena, and had series-long story arcs. Henry Winkler was an executive producer/consultant on both shows. On Latin America, both shows were aired in a same block, on Fox Kids, and then Jetix.
- All of the continuing adult cast and some of the guest stars on Strange Days previously appeared in another Disney Channel series, The Famous Jett Jackson. Both shows were produced in Canada by Fireworks.
- The Zack Files, another series about a young protagonist encountering the paranormal, starred Robert Clark and Michael Seater, with Shadia Simmons in a recurring role.
- Michael Seater (Lucas), Shadia Simmons (Corrine), Robert Clark (Vaughn), and John Ralston (Avenir) have since gone on to appear in the Family Channel series Life with Derek. Seater plays the title character. Simmons has a recurring role as Emily Davis, a friend of Derek's stepsister, Casey MacDonald. Ralston plays George Venturi. Robert Clark has a guest role as Patrick. This show is also produced in Canada.
- The series' premise is similar to the internet TV show O'Grady (The N).
- Executive producer and creator Jim Rapsas cited Buffy the Vampire Slayer as a huge influence on the show, which shows in the structure and basic idea.
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