Degrassi Junior High “Nothing to Fear” (part 1 of 3)
Meanwhile, Arthur and Yick made plans to watch a porno called Swamp Sex Robots. Fortunately, Arthur’s mom has a VCR. Unfortunately, Arthur’s mom is also Stephanie’s mom, and the living room ended up being occupied by a single mother wondering how she could have gone so horribly wrong as a parent.
Greetings, and welcome to the most boring episode of Degrassi Junior High. And yes, I realize that’s a pretty big statement to make. You’re probably wondering how I came to this conclusion.
For one thing, this exact same plot was already done on Kids of Degrassi Street, a show geared towards 8 year olds, and probably done better there, to boot. That episode, for those fanatical enough to care, was called “Cookie Goes to Hospital” (which is not a typo. That’s how those crazy Canucks actually talk. Instead of saying that someone is “going to the hospital”, they say that person is “going to hospital”. Don’t ask me why) and believe me, it was about as salacious as an episode of Dora the Explorer.
But second of all, the whole point of this episode is to teach the lesson that, contrary to what some kids might think, hospitals aren’t the places where people go to die. Not all the time, anyway. So compared to the episodes about sex and drugs we’ve been getting lately, this is a pretty big comedown. I think I’d rather watch Melanie shop for a bra again.
Sure, it’s a good lesson for kids, and I accept the truth of the lesson, but I personally choose to avoid hospitals at all costs. Seriously, I hate hospitals so much that I never watched a single episode of ER in its entire 20 year run. Well, except for that live episode that George Clooney got them to do, because how can you not get caught up in the crazy, unpredictable nature of live TV?
Right, this episode. “Nothing to Fear”. Let’s roll. I can safely say that I’ll be able to get through this one in record time, because once you take out all of L.D.’s post-traumatic flashbacks to her mom dying, there’s about five minutes of actual episode here. I intend to try my best, but there’s only so much silk one can make from a sow’s ear, and I’d rather save my recapping energies for episodes that actually matter in the long run. So let’s just blow through this one a fast as possible so I can get back to the sexual escapades of Stephanie Kaye.
Things kick off with twangy country music. It’s morning, and L.D., AKA Degrassi’s resident tomboy, comes out of her house eating… something. She hops over a railing by her front door, and walks on over to an auto repair garage. All the while, a Jerry Reed-wannabe sings life affirming lyrics. Huh. Canadian country music. Who knew that existed? Next thing you know, there’ll be rappers from Toronto.
It turns out the auto repair garage is owned by L.D.’s dad. There’s also another mechanic working here, a younger guy by the name of Jeff. Jeff tells “Mr. D” to check out L.D.’s “gourmet breakfast”. Mr. D? Does this mean L.D.’s last name is actually “D”?
Mr. D grumbles, “Marshmallows and toast!” Is that what that is? Yum! But his comment is somewhat ironic, given the cigarette dangling from his lips. Check out his gourmet breakfast.
Mr. D tells L.D. to clean the kitchen when she gets home from school. But L.D. gets angry, saying he promised she could help fix “Mr. Jeremiah’s transmission”. As in, Joey’s dad. As in, you do not want to fuck with that guy, because there are times when he feels like smacking his kids around, and he’ll even admit it to a social worker’s face.
But L.D.’s dad says it’s time for her to become a “lady”, and stop working on cars, and ditch the baseball cap, and all the other assorted tomboy trappings. He says L.D.’s mom would’ve never let her dress like that (plot point!). He then yells at her to get to school, and as she rides her bike out of the garage, L.D. mutters under her breath, “Drop dead.” These are soon to become prophetic words, as any regular viewer of crappy ‘80s sitcoms and kids’ shows will tell you.
Back in the garage, L.D.’s dad puts down his cigarette and does some random thing under the hood of a car. He suddenly recoils, and puts a hand to his chest. He tells his fellow mechanic Jeff that he “had better call a doctor!” Jeff runs off, and then the drum machine kicks in, creating what I’m sure is a close approximation of Mr. D’s current arrhythmic heartbeat. And with that, it’s off to the credits.
So, I think we all know what the Very Special Lesson behind this particular Very Special Episode will be: If you wish death upon your parents, they will immediately die. Hmm. Maybe this is not such a great lesson for kids, now that I think about it.
After the credits, we’re in Ms. Avery’s classroom, where I swear she’s dressed like a flight attendant. She has on a long dress, with a big, long scarf around her neck. Is this where Sarah Palin originally got the look? She walks through the classroom, and in keeping with her touchy-feely character trait established a couple of episodes ago, she randomly touches one student while announcing the next homework assignment.
It turns out everyone’s next assignment is to get into groups and draw up “a map of the area surrounding the school”. See, kids? This is the sort of pointless busywork we had to do before there was MapQuest.
Zoom in on L.D.’s group, which consists of: L.D., our dear old friend Voula, and the girl who will literally give birth to Degrassi: The Next Generation, Spike. In fact, these are Spike’s very first lines in the whole series. And the reason she’s called “Spike” is immediately obvious, due to her punked out look that consists of high-as-the-ceiling spiked hair. Spike is played by Amanda Stepto, who evidently wore her hair like this in real life at the time she auditioned for the show. You gotta love the ‘80s.
Spike says that the area they need to map is “Duncan Street”, which Voula notes is near the hospital. L.D., with her trademark lisping in full effect, says, “Yuck! I hate hospitalsthh! They give me the creepsthhh!” Foreshadowing! Or rather, foresttthhhadowing.
The bell immediately rings, of course, because that’s how all classroom scenes on this show end. As the girls head out, I see that Voula is wearing yet another frilly pirate shirt. Seriously, where does she find these outfits? Did Prince have a yard sale?
Voula and Spike say they want to work on their exciting map assignment after school today. L.D. says she can’t, because she has to clean the kitchen, because her dad has been nagging her about it, and lately he’s been trying to turn her into an actual woman now that she’s 13. She complains that he won’t even let her work on cars anymore.
Voula says, “My dad’s pretty strict, too.” That, I think, is the understatement of the year. Voula’s dad was trying to turn her into a woman at roughly the same time she learned to walk. L.D. continues to complain about her dad, and be annoyed by her dad, and wish he’d just get out of her life, and none of this will in any way come back to haunt her later in the episode. Eventually, they tell L.D. that they’ll wait for her to finish with her chores, and then they’ll all meet up at the school afterwards.
Over by a bulletin board, Melanie’s talking to Caitlin, and they’re discussing the crush that Melanie has on Snake, which was briefly touched upon in prior episodes. Snake then shows up, and Melanie shyly says hello to him, and that’s about the extent of their flirtation in this episode. Well, except for the moment coming up later where he looks at her like she’s completely insane, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves.
Melanie then walks into the school library, where VP Susie Rivera is currently berating Degrassi’s Bromance Duo, Arthur and Yick. Hopefully, she’s chewing them out for all the tedious B plots they’ve made us suffer through for the past month or so. But no, it seems she’s actually yelling at them for leaving the top open on a terrarium, thus allowing “Amadeus” to escape.
A terrified Melanie says, “Amadeus is a snake!” And then she begins totally flipping out over the possibility of a snake being loose in the school, and slithering up her legs, and she has a clear Indiana Jones-style hatred of snakes. In other words, she does not want this particular Amadeus to rock her.
The boys promise to find the snake, and then they begin calling out, “Amadeus! Amadeus!” Ah, yes, because the snake is sure to hear his name and come a-running. Do snakes even have ears?