Degrassi Junior High
|Degrassi Junior High|
The Degrassi Junior High title card.
|Country of origin||Canada|
|No. of seasons||3|
|No. of episodes||42|
|Running time||26 minutes (including commercials)|
|Production company(s)||Playing With Time Inc.|
|Original release||18 January 1987 –|
6 March 1989
|Preceded by||The Kids of Degrassi Street|
|Followed by||Degrassi High|
The teen drama followed the lives of a group of students attending the titular fictional school. Many episodes tackled difficult topics such as bullying, drug use, child abuse, teenage pregnancy, homosexuality, homophobia, racism, and divorce, and the series was acclaimed for its sensitive and realistic portrayal of the challenges of teenage life. The cast comprised mainly non-professional actors, which added to the show's sense of realism.
The series featured many of the same actors who had starred on The Kids of Degrassi Street a few years earlier, including Stacie Mistysyn, Neil Hope, Anais Granofsky, Sarah Charlesworth and others. However, their character names and family situations had been changed, so Degrassi Junior High cannot, therefore, be considered a direct spinoff.
The legal counsel for all the episodes was Stephen Stohn who later became the executive producer of Degrassi: The Next Generation. The series was filmed at the unused Vincent Massey Public School in Etobicoke, Ontario.
In 1987, Degrassi Junior High won an International Emmy in the Children and Young People category for the episode "It's Late", where Christine "Spike" Nelson gets pregnant at Lucy's party after having sex with Shane. Spike's baby was named Emma, to commemorate the award, and Emma would end up being the inspiration for the spin-off series, Degrassi: The Next Generation.
In the United States, the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) began airing the series in September 1987. The program was distributed through PBS member station WGBH-TV in Boston. All three seasons were broadcast with episodes containing filler scenes added to replace the commercial breaks from the original Canadian airings. These episodes were later screened by cable channels Showtime in the mid-1990s and Noggin's teen block, The N, in the mid-2000s.
In the United Kingdom, the BBC only screened the first season of the show, and only nine out of the thirteen episodes were shown during CBBC; contents of the other episodes were considered unsuitable for younger audiences. The episodes "Rumour Has It" (which dealt with homosexuality), "The Best Laid Plans" (in which a pornographic video was mentioned) and "It's Late" (which dealt with teenage pregnancy) were initially withheld, but later shown as part of the teenage strand DEF II. The episode "Parents' Night", which dealt with adoption, may not have been shown by the BBC at all.
From its first day of broadcasting in 1992, UK Gold screened Degrassi Junior High daily. The channel then screened Degrassi High in its entirety. Later in the mid 1990s, Degrassi Junior High later reran on The Children's Channel.
References to popular culture in the show
The producers of the show deliberately tried to exclude any references to actual movies and music of the time so that the show would not become quickly dated (though in the episode "Fight!", school bully Dwayne is wearing a T-shirt which clearly displays the logo of the British progressive rock band Asia and Spike was seen wearing a Smiths T-shirt in the "Big Dance" episode). This resulted in the creation of movies, television shows and musicians for the show itself. Some examples of made up movies are Tender Beats the Heart and Teen Academy IV. Days of Passion is a fictional soap opera which stars teen-heartthrob Damon King. Quest for the Best is the only other television show in the Degrassi universe, which is based on an actual Canadian high school quiz show called Reach for the Top. Fictional bands in the show are The Gourmet Scum, and later The Savages. Though the most popular of the fictional bands created in the show was "Zit Remedy", or later rechristened, "The Zits".
In the episode It's Late, Wheels can be clearly seen wearing a Footscray Bulldogs sweater. What is unusual is that the sport, Australian rules football and its organization, the VFL, at the time would have been largely unknown in Canada. Although the VFL staged several exhibition matches that year, the Bulldogs were not involved and were perhaps the least successful and supported teams in the league. The Australian Football League (Aussie Rules Football) actually had a cult following in Canada in the 1980s, as the games were televised on The Sports Network from the early 1980s to the early 1990s. (Earlier on, in "The Big Dance", Wheels is wearing a New Orleans Saints jersey; while the National Football League was and continues to be quite popular in Canada, the "Aints" at the time were perennially bottom of the league.)
The Doctor Sally radio show is based on a call-in radio show entitled the Sunday Night Sex Show. Registered nurse and sex educator Sue Johanson was the host of the program which aired on local Toronto, Ontario radio station Q-107 between 1984 and 1998 and nationally until 2005. Johanson portrayed Dr. Sally in two Degrassi Junior High episodes, and reprised the role on Degrassi: The Next Generation.
Home video releases
WGBH Boston Home Video released the entire series on DVD in Region 1 in 2005. Each season was released separately followed by a complete series collection. Degrassi Junior High: Complete Series, a 9-disc box set featuring all 42 episodes of the series was released on 25 October 2005.
In Region 4, Beyond Home Entertainment released the entire series on DVD in Australia in 2005–2006. They initially released each season as a separate release in 2005 followed by a complete series box set in 2006.
In October 2016 Via Vision Entertainment Re-Released The Complete Series on DVD.
|DVD name||Ep #||Region 1||Region 2||Region 4||DVD Special Features|
|Season One||13||1 February 2005||30 April 2007||15 February 2005||None|
|Season Two||13||7 June 2005||N/A||22 July 2005||None|
|Season Three||16||6 September 2005||N/A||31 October 2005||None|
|The Complete Junior High Series||42||25 October 2005||N/A||28 April 2006||
Degrassi Talks Series,
Degrassi Behind The Scenes,
|The Complete Junior High & High Series||73||11 October 2016||N/A||2 November 2016||Degrassi High School's Out
Degrassi Talks Series
Degrassi Between Takes
As of 2017 the show has begun stream on online for free on Canada Media Fund’s Encore+ YouTube channel.
- Hechinger, Fred M. (11 August 1987). "About Education; PUBLIC TV TRIES TO REACH TEEN-AGERS". The New York Times. Retrieved 11 March 2012.
- Burns, John (5 February 1989). "TELEVISION; 'Degrassi': A Series For Children That Goes for the Gut". The New York Times. Retrieved 12 March 2012.
- Polger, Mark, Degrassi HIstory, archived from the original on 13 September 2007, retrieved 5 September 2007
- Granville, Kari (8 August 1988). "'Degrassi High' Prize Winner at Banff TV Fest : Realistic Teen Series Tops Network Shows". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 12 March 2012.