Degrassi: The Next Generation (season 1)
|Degrassi: The Next Generation (Season 1)|
Degrassi: The Next Generation Season 1 DVD
|Country of origin||Canada|
|No. of episodes||15|
|Original release||14 October 2001– 3 March 2002|
The first season of Degrassi: The Next Generation commenced airing in Canada on October 14, 2001 and concluded on March 3, 2002, comprising 15 episodes. Degrassi: The Next Generation is a Canadian serial teen drama television series. The series introduces a group of seventh and eighth grade school children, and follows their lives as they deal with some of the challenges and issues teenagers face such as online predators, body image, dysfunctional families, sex, puberty, rumors, peer pressure, stress, and drug use.
The first season was broadcast on the Canadian terrestrial television network CTV, on Sundays at 7:00 p.m. It debuted with a one-hour movie of the week special, "Mother and Child Reunion", which form the first two episodes of season one. In the United States, it was broadcast on The N, a digital cable network aimed at teenagers and young adults. The season was released domestically on DVD as a three disc boxed set on 19 October 2004 by Alliance Atlantis Home Entertainment, although it was released to the US market almost a month earlier, on 28 September 2004. Registered users of the Canadian and US iTunes Stores are also able purchase and download the season for playback on home computers and certain iPods.
The reception for Degrassi: The Next Generation's first season was mixed. It had earned itself 365,000 Canadian viewers aged 18 to 49, while its accompanying website was attracting 28 million hits per month, but press reviews were not as complimentary. The season picked up nominations at the Directors Guild of Canada Awards, the Gemini Awards and the Young Artist Awards.
The opening season features thirteen actors in starring roles. Providing ties to the previous series in the Degrassi universe, Stefan Brogren was hired to play his old character Archie "Snake" Simpson (12 episodes), who is now working at the school as the Media Immersion teacher. Dan Woods was also hired to reprise his role as Mr. Raditch (11 episodes), who has been promoted to the school principal.
For the new generation of students, the producers kept the same model that had been used during the casting of the previous series, Degrassi Junior High and Degrassi High and chose 11 children out of 600 auditionees, hoping to provide a group of characters the target audience of kids and teenagers could relate to, rather than the typical gorgeous actors in their twenties pretending to be teenagers, something that some of the other shows of the same period, such as Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Dawson's Creek which were targeting the same audience, were and still are continually doing to this day. The young actors that had been selected were:
- Sarah Barrable-Tishauer as Liberty Van Zandt (12 episodes)
- Daniel Clark as Sean Cameron (11 episodes)
- Lauren Collins as Paige Michalchuk (13 episodes)
- Ryan Cooley as James Tiberius "J.T." Yorke (15 episodes)
- Jake Goldsbie as Toby Isaacs (15 episodes)
- Aubrey Graham as Jimmy Brooks (10 episodes)
- Shane Kippel as Gavin "Spinner" Mason (12 episodes)
- Miriam McDonald as Emma Nelson (15 episodes)
- Melissa McIntyre as Ashley Kerwin (13 episodes)
- Christina Schmidt as Terri McGreggor (13 episodes)
- Cassie Steele as Manuela "Manny" Santos (15 episodes)
Amanda Stepto also reprised her Degrassi character Christine "Spike" Nelson in a recurring role while former Degrassi Junior High and Degrassi High actors Danah Jean Brown (Trish Skye), Darrin Brown (Dwayne Myers), Michael Carry (Simon Dexter), Irene Courakos (Alexa Pappadopoulos), Chrissa Erodotou (Diana Economopoulos), Anais Granofsky (Lucy Fernandez), Rebecca Haines (Kathleen Mead), Sara Holmes (Alison Hunter), Neil Hope (Derek "Wheels" Wheeler), Kyra Levy (Maya Goldberg), Cathy Keenan (Liz O'Rourke), Pat Mastroianni (Joey Jeremiah), Stacie Mistysyn (Caitlin Ryan), and Siluck Saysanasy (Yick Yu) reprised their roles to guest in the first episode.
The season was produced by Epitome Pictures and CTV. The executive producers are Epitome Pictures' CEO and Degrassi: The Next Generation co-creator Linda Schuyler, and her husband, Epitome president Stephen Stohn. Degrassi: The Next Generation co-creator Yan Moore served as the creative consultant and David Lowe was the line producer. Aaron Martin was hired as the story editor and was promoted to senior story editor mid-season. James Hurst then became the story editor. The season's writers are Tassie Cameron, Myra Fried, James Hurst, Aaron Martin, Yan Moore, and Susin Nielsen. The directors throughout the season are James Allodi, Anthony Browne, Paul Fox, Laurie Lynd, Bruce McDonald, Eleanor Lindo, and Stefan Scaini.
Degrassi: The Next Generation received mixed reviews about its first season. Based on the pilot episode, Stephanie McGrath of Canoe.ca's AllPop acknowledged Miriam McDonald's portrayal of Emma Nelson as "stellar acting abilities in a super creepy storyline ... high on tension, low on cheese [and] top-notch". She criticized the reunion sub-plot, though, saying it was marred by "wooden, stilted and over-rehearsed acting; the young actors actually showed up their classic Degrassi counter-parts in the pilot episode. Their acting was solid, believable and age-appropriate [in a story-line which] demonstrates that the creative forces behind The Next Generation haven't lost touch with teens yet ... One installment of Degrassi: The Next Generation is worth 20 episodes of Dawson's Creek". Towards the end of the season, the Canadian issue of TV Guide summed up the run as "Not just Canadian TV - It's great Canadian TV! Degrassi offers a gritty look into the lives of real teens complete with acne and bad dye jobs. It has something for everyone because we've all been there."
Other critics were less enthusiastic about the season, though. The Seattle Times' Melanie McFarland was unsure whether the series' success in Canada would follow when it began airing in the US. "As popular as 'Degrassi' was, it was still a mere cult hit in the United States; the crowd that had access to it initially on PBS might not be able to tune into [The N]. Soft-pedaling through the issues might work for today's family of viewers, but what's gentle enough for Mom and Dad's peace of mind might not be enough to hook Junior or the original Degrassi's older fans". She was, however, "happy [The N] chose Degrassi students to navigate teen perils instead of digging up Screech and the gang for another nauseating go-round". Tony Atherton of the Ottawa Citizen had mixed feelings of the new incarnation, saying it "has a cleaner, more polished look, has lost its edge [and offers] nothing new to viewers familiar with the groundbreaking preceding series, nor to anyone else who has watched the deluge of teen dramas since", adding that because there is "little ground left to break in teen drama there is a sense of déjà vu with regards to the plots and characters". He did, however, praise the show for having "the same simple narrative told from a kid's viewpoint, and the same regard for unvarnished reality [as Degrassi Junior High and Degrassi High, making it] light years from far-fetched high-school melodramas like Boston Public and Dawson's Creek [and for that] is every bit as good as its beloved predecessor. In fact, in some respects it is even better". After watching nearly seventy hours of twenty-one Canadian-produced programs, the Simon Fraser University cited Degrassi: The Next Generation in their report as one of the Canadian television programmes that is "too Caucasian".
Despite the mixed reviews and controversy over the storylines, the first season was still watched by 365,000 18- to 49-year-old Canadians, making it Canada's top-rated domestic drama at the time, while its accompanying website was attracting 28 million hits per month. 
The pilot was nominated for two Directors Guild of Canada Awards, winning in the "Outstanding Achievement in a Television Series - Children's" category, and picked up Gemini Award nominations in the categories for "Best Photography in a Dramatic Program or Series" and "Best Short Dramatic Program". Actors Jake Goldsbie and Ryan Cooley were nominated for their portrayals of Toby Isaacs and J.T. Yorke respectively at the Young Artist Awards. Five episodes were given a total of six awards by The National Council on Family Relations at its 34th Annual Awards ceremony.
In the US the series' broadcaster, The N, aired episode three, "Family Politics", as the series premiere; "Mother and Child Reunion" was held back and aired as the season finale. This caused continuity problems for viewers as the episode depicted Toby being introduced to Manny and Emma for the first time, and was set before the school year began. The final episode of the season, "Jagged Little Pill", was also held back while The N decided whether its subject about ecstasy abuse was too controversial. When an edited version was made available, The N aired it as part of season two. In reruns however, the episodes have aired in the original order intended by the show's producers.
This list is by order of production, as they appear on the DVD.
- Ashley and Terri was both absent for one episodes each.
- Liberty and Paige was both absent for two episodes each.
- Spinner and Mr. Simpson was both absent for three episodes each.
- Sean and Mr. Raditch was both absent for four episodes each.
- Jimmy was absent for five episodes.
|Title||Original airdate||Production code|
|1–2||1–2||"Mother and Child Reunion"||14 October 2001||101 & 102|
Degrassi High's classes of 1992 and 1993 return for their high school reunion. Spike's teenage daughter Emma makes plans to finally meet her Internet boyfriend "Jordan" in person, even though her friends continue to warn her about the potential dangers of communicating with people over only the Internet. Recently widowed, Joey is unsure if he even wants to go, especially after finding out that his ex-girlfriend Caitlin is bringing her fiancée Keith to the event.Note: First appearances of Cassie Steele as Manuela "Manny" Santos, Jake Goldsbie as Tobias "Toby" Isaacs, Ryan Cooley as James Tiberius "JT" Yorke, Melissa McIntyre as Ashley Kerwin, Christina Schmidt as Terri MacGregor, and Niger Hamer as Jeff Isaacs.
|3||3||"Family Politics"||4 November 2001||103|
Ashley sets her sights on becoming Degrassi's newest student council president, but her sure win is soon threatened when her stepbrother Toby becomes frustrated by her unchallenged status and convinces his friend J.T. to run against her. Meanwhile, Emma and Manny deal with eighth-grader Spinner's bullying.Note: First appearances of Lauren Collins as Paige Michalchuk, Shane Kippel as Gavin "Spinner" Mason, Drake (credited as Aubrey Graham) as Jimmy Brooks, Sarah Barrable-Tishauer as Liberty Van Zandt, Linlyn Lue as Laura Kwan, and Maria Ricossa as Kate Kerwin.
|4||4||"Eye of the Beholder"||11 November 2001||104|
Terri doesn't want to attend Degrassi's first nighttime dance because she thinks she's too fat for any guy to like her. Spinner likes her, but Paige wants him for herself and, by playing on her insecurities, gets Terri drunk. Meanwhile, Emma is puzzled by the new kid's behavior and J.T. and Toby skip the dance to look at Internet pornography.
Note: This is the 100th episode in the Degrassi franchise. Also, first appearances of Daniel Clark as Sean Cameron, Kris Holden-Reid as Tracker Cameron, and Geoffrey Bowes as Todd MacGregor.
|5||5||"Parents' Day"||18 November 2001||105|
|With Parents' Day fast approaching, Toby tries to convince his divorced parents that the event is canceled in order to avoid an ugly, public spat between them. Meanwhile, Ashley and Paige vie for the attention of Toby's mom, who happens to be a casting agent. Emma is annoyed by the morning-announcements program, because she thinks it's biased, and writes an opinionated paper about it.|
|6||6||"The Mating Game"||25 November 2001||106|
Jimmy and Ashley's eight-month anniversary comes up but with Paige playing Juliet to Jimmy's Romeo for their English class assignment, Ashley contemplates having sex with him to keep him interested. Meanwhile, Toby attempts to get closer to Emma when the seventh-graders are given an assignment on endangered animals.Note: First appearance of Michael Kinney as Darryl Armstrong.
|7||7||"Basketball Diaries"||2 December 2001||107|
|Jimmy wants to make the basketball team, but due to practice, his schoolwork suffers. To get an energy boost, he convinces Spinner to skip a Ritalin pill and give it to him instead. Meanwhile, Liberty is tired of writing Ashley's video announcement speeches and not getting any credit for it.|
|8||8||"Secrets & Lies"||9 December 2001||108|
Ashley's dad is coming home from Europe, and she's happy, until she finds out he's gay and cuts him out of her life. Meanwhile, Liberty has the biggest crush on J.T., but he's not interested. When he hears about Ashley's father, he tells Liberty he, too, is a homosexual.Note: First appearance of Andrew Gillies as Robert Kerwin.
|9||9||"Coming of Age"||16 December 2001||109|
With his parents working constantly, Jimmy starts to spend all his time at Ashley's, which leaves her feeling smothered. Meanwhile, Emma learns her mood swings are not just because of stress when she gets her first period.Note: First appearance of Fielding Horan as Oskar.
|10||10||"Rumours and Reputations"||6 January 2002||110|
Emma accidentally starts a hurtful rumor about Liberty dating Mr. Armstrong, when in fact she is getting extra tutoring with him for her dyscalculia. Meanwhile, Spinner finds a bug in his school lunch, but no one will believe his story.Note: First appearances of Andrea Lewis as Hazel Aden and Maria Vacratsis as Sheila.
|11||11||"Friday Night"||27 January 2002||111|
|Sean asks Emma out on a date, but the night turns into one disaster after another. Meanwhile, when Jimmy and Spinner are given detention by a stressed Ms. Kwan, they vow revenge by pulling pranks on her and soon realize they may have gone too far.|
|12||12||"Wannabe"||3 February 2002||112|
|Paige starts a Spirit Squad at school. Manny desperately wants to join, starts to hang out with the "it crowd," and questions her friendship with an unsupportive Emma. Meanwhile, Spinner, Liberty, J.T., and Toby team up to win a contest.|
|13||13||"Cabaret"||17 February 2002||113|
|Ashley writes a song she plans to perform with Terri at the Degrassi Lunchtime Cabaret, but when Terri adds Paige, she grows annoyed when Paige takes control. Meanwhile, Emma performs a interpretive dance to advocate anti-poaching, and when Sean refuses to join, Toby steps up.|
|14||14||"Under Pressure"||24 February 2002||114|
The last thing Sean wants is to repeat seventh grade for a second time but is convinced it will happen. Stressed to a boiling point, Sean releases his frustrations in a violent way. Meanwhile, Spinner attempts to get sick to avoid taking his English exam.Note: Final appearance of Fielding Horan as Oskar.
|15||15||"Jagged Little Pill"||3 March 2002||115|
|Ashley is tired of being a perfectionist and turns her end-of-the-year slumber party into an out-of-control rager. Meanwhile, J.T. brings an ecstasy pill for Toby, Sean, and himself, but when Ashley consumes it, things go from bad to worse. Also, Sean wants to make up with Emma.|
The DVD release of season one was released by FUNimation Entertainment in the U.S. on 28 September 2004, and by Alliance Atlantis Home Entertainment in Canada on 19 October 2004 after it had completed broadcast on television. As well as every episode from the season, the DVD release features bonus material including deleted scenes, bloopers and behind-the-scenes featurettes.
The DVD was first released in Australia on May 3, 2007 by Roadshow Entertainment, without any bonus features. On September 8, 2010, the DVD was re-released along with season two by Shock Entertainment with all of the bonus features intact. Season one is currently being released by Umbrella Entertainment.
|The Complete First Season|
|Set details||Special features|
|Canada||United States||Region 4|
|19 October 2004||28 September 2004||3 May 2007
8 September 2010 (re-release)
- Epitome Pictures. 38894%2526s%253D143441 "Degrassi: The Next Generation" Check
|url=value (help) (Note: Requires iTunes software to access). The N. iTunes Store. Retrieved 2007-12-10.
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Some of the original teen cast, now in their late 20s, were on hand yesterday to offer advice to the 11 youngsters chosen from among 600 who auditioned for the series of half-hour shows.
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Yan Moore: "When teens tune in, they're more likely to see actors who resemble their lab partner than the Holmes, Jacksons, and Van Der Beeks that people Dawson's Creek. They're going to see much more real kids. Remember the first season of Dawson's Creek? Where they were all saying, 'I may be 15', but in fact they were 18, 19, 20? But our kids are within a couple years of the characters they're playing." Degrassi is more of a reflection of what it's like to be a teen than Dawson's Creek, which have their place and everything, but you know, the kids on Dawson's Creek speak like they're PhD students compared to what normal kids speak."
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In a single month www.degrassi.tv has secured more than 26,000 full registrations and attracted over 28,000,000 hits. Driven by over 2,000,000 unique page impressions a month, users have logged a total of over 145,000 unique sessions per month each lasting an average of more than 18 minutes.
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