Degrassi Daily Digest

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I am JUST about at the end of the road when it comes to rewatching all of the original Degrassi episodes with my two best friends. We started this journey in the fall and it’s taken us about six months to get through about 60 episodes of the show – we’re just two away plus the crazy ‘Schools Out’ movie from being finis!

I have to say, I’m super keen on rewatching the new series now as well, as even that’s a decade (!) old. I watched the first six seasons as they aired, although CTV has been so thankless with scheduling it I lost track of it for seasons 7 and 8…until I watched the Degrassi goes to Hollywood movie last summer which inspired me to pick up said ‘lost seasons’ and watch them in time for S9, which is on hiatus right now till…sometime soon.

Anyway there are a handful of episodes left for this year. It’s been a decent season, although some of the storylines were pretty nonsensical (I’m looking at you KC) and the four new characters are probably some of the worst new ones ever introduced on the show. Declan is sort of the classy version of Peter that was supposed to exist but never did (as evidenced by the premiere). Fiona was accurately cast as a beard for Riley – as her character is nothing more than a beard for an actual character…they have yet to make me care about her. Jenna is hyper-annoying, although she provided a good, realistic foil to KC & Clare’s blah relationship. And new guy / random cousin of Chantay, Dave, is supposed to be the new comic relief a la Toby & JT, but he’s just random right now.

Anyway now they’ve announced the Degrassi NYC movie and the crazy giant S10 of the series will be airing on MuchMusic this summer as a daily ‘soap opera’ of sorts. I’m not sure how I feel about that. In my opinion, based on watching the last 3 seasons in rapid succession, CTV should have moved to doing an hour-long program on a weekly basis, since most episodes were two-parters anyway. I imagine the format of the show (A storyline, B storyline, and C storyline for comic relief / continuity if it’s a two-parter) will change dramatically if they’re moving to a daily show.

I also worry that they’ll expand the cast that much more and bring on more thankless characters and pollute the story. One of the strengths of the show is the natural evolution of shifting lead characters as the core original cast grew up and moved on, and I’d hate for them to lose that by opening up the cast.

I recently read several interviews from the original, ORIGINAL Degrassi saying they did indeed opt to stop the series after 5 seasons because they felt like they’d done every serious issue they wanted to cover. If Degrassi moves to a daily soap opera digest, that focus on a specific issue per episode will likely devolve. On the flip side, it will also lead to less ambiguity at the end of each episode – a hallmark of the show is to put their characters through insaneeeee trials only to end things without much follow-up (although they’ve made an effort to improve things in that regard during recent seasons).

Overall I think it was perhaps a wise move to do a soap opera style for the summer, perhaps to catch some bored teenage minds and entice them to watch during the rest of the year. Plus I myself can’t get enough of the show – I grew up with the original series (in reruns granted) and was a few years older than the kids when they started the new series, but loved it all the same. I just hope this move to MuchMusic / shift to daily drama (for six weeks anyway) doesn’t bust up the series in a bad, bad way.

- Britt’s On

TV Guide

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I feel like I haven’t added new shows to my repertoire in awhile, not since Mad Men really. That is, until recently, when three new shows have earned PVR status in my life.

I don’t suppose I’ve ever explicitly stated what all I watch. The answer is a lot, across a relatively broad range of genres. I don’t think any show that I watch puts me on an island – at least one friend or family member watches what I watch. Actually there is one show I can think of I’m currently (sadly) alone in watching. But for my own “I used to watch THAT?” pleasure in a decade or so, is my current weekly TV roster. Keeping in mind MANY of these shows aren’t on at the same time, so I’m not logging 50 hours of TV per week.

MONDAY (CW Night!)
Life Unexpected – this is one of the few new shows I’ve added and have consistently enjoyed to date. The show has its kinks that I needs to work out…Bug and Tasha are annoying, Lux needs to stop acting like a spoiled brat and make some more friends (or nemeses) at school, and they need to give Ryan an emotional outlet to vent to as currently we just seem him angry with no follow-up, which his unfair when every other character has that go to person to talk with.

It’s very funny, gives light to the challenges of being in the public eye (which my bf in the radio industry appreciates), and features some pretty interesting, flawed characters that I’m still undecided about. My sister watches this show and is also enjoying it…I hope CW gives it a second season where they can regroup (having shot the majority of the show before it aired as far as I know) and fix some of the problems.

Gossip Girl – I’m actually enjoying S3 as they can officially drop most trappings that held the show back for S1 & S2 (namely: school). With only half of the core cast in school, and a flexible college schedule at that, their traipsing about town feels slightly more realistic. Plus Blair & Chuck! What I don’t love? The fact that the show is still a constant merry-go-round of relationships, and I’m NOT a fan of the current shipper pairings of Dan & Vanessa and Nate & Serena. Plus get a new format for your episodes, not every single one needs to hinge on X random society event. Seriously. My sister and boyfriend also ‘live’ watch this with me, while a couple of friends are catching up on DVD and love the show (it’s no OC).

One Tree Hill – it seems the CW is shuffling their two Monday anchors around the arrival of Life Unexpected. I’ve generally hated this season of OTH – it feels like they’ve stuffed new characters down our throats while cutting the existing ones off at the knees with some of the most boring, hemming and hawing but everything always turns out storylines of all time. Quinn needs to disappear, and Taylor isn’t winning me over either. Plus I don’t want them to dredge the lovely actress that plays Clay’s dead wife / dead wife doppelganger through the mud for the next while, only for him to stay with Quinn. I never thought I’d say it, but bring back Peyton & Lucas, stat! At present I think I have two friends that still watch it, but both were hesitant last I spoke to them about it whether or not they’d continue onwards.

TUESDAY
Lost – Bless this show. It came into my life in late 2008 and provided a month and a half of DVD delirium as I moved into my new house and had no money. Season 5 was disappointing but I’m enjoying unlocking the riddles at last this season, and I’m holding my breath for an explosive (?) finale. I’ll be sad to see it go, but excited to own it on DVD for friends and family members to enjoy and theorize about. Countless friends of mine watch and love it – although some are (understandably) at the end of their ropes with it.

Parenthood – I just added this one as well. My sister and I watched the first two episodes last weekend and I think it has potential. It’s not as funny as some of the other family dramedies out there (yet) but it elicited a few giggles and bits of thoughtfulness. Trippy to see Lauren Graham as someone other than Lorelai, and the girl that played Patty on American Dreams seemingly slightly older and fast forwarded to the new millennium only to still be a lot like Patty of yesteryear. I’ll give it a few more episodes before I fully commit one way or the other.

WEDNESDAY
America’s Next Top Model - …is…ridiculous. Still I like they’re doing another NYC season and I can’t not watch this trainwreck of a show. I used to like and respect it a lot more (as did my bevy of friends that have since abandoned it) but I’ve still got the odd friend (plus my mom and sister) who watch it.

THURSDAY
Survivor – I am loving Heroes vs. Villains right now. It’s missing a certain something still, perhaps it’s just been such a long time since we had a full all star cast, and I want some more h-core strategy, but revisiting these crazy characters and having some surprising new faves to cheer for has already made this season a worthy watch. My parents are avid watchers, and finally one of my friends has jumped back on the Survivor wagon for me to gossip with.

The Office – This show has jumped the shark, and I acknowledge that. I like the Andy/Erin romance but feel it’s an awkward rehash of Pam/Jim that’s being played for laughs more than sentiment so far. Speaking of Pam, they’ve made her into a shrill, irritating wife-y…which is disappointing. I DO appreciate that the show has followed a natural progression for the paper company (re: bankruptcy and buyout) and am enjoying the return to some more office-y antics as of late, like last week’s “leads” episode, but I think the time has just about come for Dunder Mifflin to shut its doors for good.

Flashforward – Well this just came back and I’m happy about it. I agree with the criticism that the show lacks the emotional resonance of ‘Lost’ (which it’s trying to both emulate and replace) but I think anyone that is a fan of Lost would appreciate that they are giving us answers on rapid-fire, but still leaving opportunities for many, many questions (take note Lost). This is the only show on my list that no one else seems to watch sadly.

FRIDAY
What Not To Wear – I’m enjoying the latest round of tweaks to the show’s format, although I do wish they’d do some more of their spectacular specials like going to Paris (or hey, Canada?) instead of being in NYC all the time. I enjoy new hairstylist Ted and the show is great to just throw on during a lazy Sunday when I’m folding laundry or doing my nails. As such I have a backlog of 4+ episodes on my PVR at any given time. My sis is obsessed with this show.

SATURDAY
Project Runway – I generally like this season, at least quite a bit more than least season’s snoozefest. Canada is several weeks behind the US so any commentary on the show will seem dated. The continually come up with interesting challenges though – I personally enjoyed this season’s children’s wear competition. I am sad that dreamy Jesse Lenoir is gone though. My mom watches this, although I haven’t chatted to her about this season yet.

Models of the Runway – I watch approximately five minutes of this show. It’s totally pointless other than to see the interesting way the designers are flipping up their models this season. For the last few years the model selection has been bo-ring, but something seems to have inspired them to swap things up a bit more this season. There’s been no “mothereffing walk-off” drama yet, but it’s nice to identify the girls by name for once.

SNL – Ugh what a terrible, terrible season. Reading the recaps on About.com has served to enforce this. There is no originality, no life to the sketches or the actors. Lorne Michaels needs to do a serious rethink in terms of who has hired as writers and as performers because the show is just drab. How many times have we seen the vintage sportscasting bit? What up with that? Call it the season of repeats…I’m bored.

SUNDAY
Degrassi TNG – Apparently I have a lot of shows on Sunday, however no more than 2 have been on at the same time so far. I heart Degrassi. I miss the stronger integration of the old school cast that came in the earlier seasons, and I miss a lot of the original cast, but the new cast has its strengths and interests for me as well. I also like to wave a little Canadian flag of pride as this show continues to flourish beyond our borders.

Desperate Housewives – I’ve ranted about this show too many times to count now. It’s become a parody of itself really, increasingly soapy instead of satirical with throwaway storylines and recurring characters. And yet it has one of the strongest consistent followings on television. Go figure. I haven’t been able to tear myself away, although the fact this show builds up a backlog of episodes a la WNTW is disturbing.

Amazing Race – This season so far has kind of…sucked? There isn’t really anyone to cheer for other than the magical cowboys, but I don’t feel a strong attachment, nor am I realllllly rooting for them. Magic hippies? Yes. Magic cowboys? Not so much. Annoying reality-show types making a return to reality television? Meh. Plus the boyfriend’s TAR pool pick (Dan and gay Jordan) are pretty disappointing.

Life – I just taped the first instalment of this last night. We’ll see if it’s worthy of my continued viewing. I anticipate…yes?

That’s all. A boring post! Still to come? The fourth seasons of FNL and Mad Men.

- Britt’s On

And the Oscar goes to...

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I haven’t written in this blog for a little while because what else is there to write about after you’ve attended the Academy Awards? Kidding! But in general, that was a totally amazing and awesome experience, and one I’d surely like to relive by luck of the Academy lottery in the future. Since no one reads this blog, I won’t get into the nitty gritty of the event, but I will comment a bit on general observations about it.

- The Academy takes incredibly good care of their bleacher creatures, I guess to make up for the fact you sit and roast in the sun at times, get splashed on by rain during freak five-minute storms, and have butt cramps that would rival any sort of PMS by the end of your 12-hour day. They gave us goodie bags, endless food, and invited us to an after party at the El Capitan theatre for more food and goodies and fun – and to watch the big show on the big screen.

- The two main questions I get asked are: A) What did you wear? and B) Where were you sitting in the Kodak theatre? The answers are A) it was the bleachers, so nothing fancy. As I told our national broadcaster that did a phone call radio interview with me the morning after, I wore a Le Chateau sweater dress to represent Canada, stay warm (almost too warm), and be colourful enough that my family would see me. B) The fans don’t go to the Kodak Theatre. Let me put it this way – we would scream too much, and this ain’t the MTV awards, and beyond that, for every single celebrity, there are about 100 ‘nobodies’ (at least faceless stars in their own right) that walk the carpet. There isn’t ROOM for us fans, period.

- The young stars were the hardest to photograph and get attention from. In fact the younger they were, the more spry they were at hurdling past our section of the red carpet (the arrivals area as opposed to the media tent). Anna Kendrick earned low grades from our section for not lifting her head or waving or anything when the carpet was empty and she arrived quite early.

- The older stars and the ones you’d expect to be more charismatic lived up to their name. They would walk right up to us (or in Clooney’s case, hop a velvet rope to do the boy band super fan hand grabbing thing), ask us how we were, say thanks, tell us to have an awesome time, and generally just be nice. The middle aged stars who’ve done the carpet walk several times were in between – they would give us a few obligatory waves but wouldn’t venture over for some true fan adoration (save for Clooney). Guess they don’t feel obsolete enough yet?

- Little known fact: the ‘live from the red carpet’ shows are likely almost never live. In particular the little half hour of stitched together red carpet segments that airs RIGHT before the show. Sherri Shepard was the host of it in our area, and did the majority of interviews that ran on that network’s feed (I saw it and myself on TV). Watching the red carpet special it’s not hard to tell that it’s edited together if you were there…our area noticeably fills up and thins out as the ‘afternoon’ goes on, but in reality it was empty – bursting at the seams – empty. Cameron Diaz was a late straggler so the carpet was empty, yet they slotted her interview in before Taylor Lautner when the carpet is noticeably fuller. Super weird but not surprising – the stars had basically stopped arriving by 5:15 PM (or was it 4:15…I can’t remember) but we were trapped in the bleachers till 5:40-ish. The red carpet special must have run somewhere in there, I presume 5:30 to 6:00 so when we settled into the El Capitan we just missed the beginning of Neil Patrick Harris’ musical number. OR…they put it on time delay for us. I haven’t figured that part out yet.

- Another weird fact. Those day after, the red carpet photos are totally rejigged. That shouldn’t be a surprise either, but it is when you’ve seen the dresses in person and taken the photos and open up the People magazine Oscar special only to see the saturation turned way up on Rachel McAdam’s dusty watercolour dress and the saturation completely edited on Sandra Bullock’s scary hot pink lipstick.

- For the record, the red carpet was a pretty consistent fashion ‘do’. Zoe Saldana and Charlize Theron earned the most consistent ‘don’ts of the night, and I agree with that with sadly, Sarah Jessica Parker also on that list. Zoe’s dress just overwhelmed her (TINY) frame and immediately drew “Errrs” from our section. Charlize was barely spottable but upon seeing photos I immediately recoiled. Her make-up was horrible, her dress was horrible, it was just no. Sarah’s dress was just unflattering and I’m not a fan of her severe, mega-bun hairstyle that she pulls out sometimes. SJP is very much someone that is made stunning or stupefied by her hair.

- In terms of best dressed? Maggie Gyllenhaal looked absolutely radiant, despite the negative commentary on her dress. Rachel McAdams also looked gorgeous and although I momentarily flip flopped on her dress I ended up giving it top marks. Cameron Diaz I think had the most immediate impact on the red carpet of being like ‘WOW’ – she looked awesome. It helped that the carpet was empty when we saw her. Sandra also made an immediate wow statement, although reviews have been mixed. She looked good but could have looked better, right?

I think that’s all to comment on. The Red Carpet is an insane and magical place and seeing the huge flux of people and the work that goes into the event was impressive. Like I said, if you can ever find your way onto the carpet, DO IT.

My thoughts on the ceremony? I won my family’s point-based Oscar pool without winning Best Picture (I have mixed feelings on Avatar and Hurt Locker, and believe Inglorious Basterds should have won), so it wasn’t a particularly surprise-laden ceremony. I liked the opening, thought Alec and Steve made for a good duo for the WASP-y middle aged person that is the Academy’s bread & butter these days, and enjoyed the quicker pace of the ceremony altogether. I liked that they still tried to inject some life into the lesser-cared-about categories through their little vignettes and the decision to continue with the stars talking to the stars worked well for best actor & actress, if not better than last year, because they picked people who had a personal relationship with them and not just past winners to induct them into the Academy fold (or at least one of them). That being said, the quality of the speeches kind of depended on who was speaking – Sandra’s speaker was pretty weak, considering she was the winner.

It wasn’t a standout Oscars by any means, minus the ten best picture thing (of which I am actually a fan for the record), but it represented a good continual progression of the show from being stuffy, overlong, and a simple show of award/winner/speech/award/winner/speech.

Till next time,

Britt’s On

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