Degrassi Junior High “Nothing to Fear” (part 2 of 3)
Cut to L.D. riding her bicycle back to her dad’s garage. Inside, Jeff breaks the bad news that L.D.’s dad is in the hospital, because he was having chest pains. He’s okay, but the doctors want to keep him overnight for observation. L.D. just stands there in shock. Jeff says that Mr. D has a list of stuff he wants brought over, and when he talked to him on the phone earlier, he was “grumpy as ever”. L.D. continues to stand there in shock.
Meanwhile, in front of the school, Voula and Spike are waiting for L.D. to show up. Spike’s already bitching about how L.D. is a flake, because they had a science project last year, and Spike ended up having to do all the work herself.
Cut to L.D.’s house, where L.D. is packing up the stuff on Dad’s list. Some of the items appear to be family photos. L.D. starts to pack up a picture of her mom, instantly triggering the Flashback Voiceover Machine.
In the voiceover, we hear a younger version of L.D. ask her dad why Mommy went to the hospital. Voiceover Dad tells “Lorraine” that the doctors will make her all better, you just wait. Lies! Vicious, horrible lies, I tell you!
Back on the steps of the school, Voula and Spike give up waiting and decide they should give L.D. a call. They head inside just as Rockin’ Rompin’ Raditch is coming out, and he looks at them, and looks at his watch, like he can’t wrap his mind around the possibility of students being here this late. Even though, well, it is still daylight outside, so it can’t be that late. But then again, this is Canada, so it could be 11PM for all I know.
The phone rings at the garage, and Jeff answers with, “Delacorte Garage!” Hang on a sec. Lorraine… Delacorte… I think I’m starting to figure out where the “L.D.” nickname comes from. The call is from Spike and Voula, currently using the phone in the principal’s office. Jeff hands the phone over to L.D., and Voula asks her why she didn’t show up. All L.D. can say is she “forgot”. She gives no other explanation, leading Spike to grump that flakey L.D. has flaked yet again.
Okay, why didn’t L.D. just say her dad’s in the hospital? It’s the truth, and a pretty valid excuse, don’t you think? Unless… she already lied and used the “dad in the hospital” excuse last year, when she flaked out on the science project with Spike. I guarantee you that’s exactly what happened.
Jeff is about to head on over to the hospital, and he asks L.D. if she’s ready to go. Just then, L.D. weasels out of it, saying she needs to clean the kitchen before Dad gets back home. But if he’s not home by tomorrow, she promises to visit him for sure! So, I think it should be already be obvious to everyone that L.D. has an irrational fear of hospitals, hence the title of the episode.
And then it’s the next day at school. Susie, Yick, and Arthur are all standing at Doris Bell’s desk, and Arthur is using the Grease Microphone to make an announcement. He tells the whole school about the missing snake, and says that if anyone happens to find a “golden brown California king snake answering to ‘Amadeus’”, to let them know immediately. Well, damn. The golden brown California king snake that I just found answers to “Salieri”. I guess it’s not him.
Awww, cute little Salieri. Ow. Salieri just bit me. But earlier in the episode, Arthur said this particular species of snake isn’t poisonous, so it’s all good. That’s how much I trust everything Degrassi Junior High has ever taught me.
As the announcement ends, cut to Melanie walking down a hallway, where she draws odd looks for her choice of footwear: She’s wearing boots, and the tops of her boots are all sealed up with masking tape. Speaking of irrational fears, it turns out Melanie is so terrified of the possibility of the snake slithering up her legs that she’s sealed off the area between her boots and pants.
In a mildly amusing bit, Joey appears in the hallway and grabs Snake and yells, “I caught the snake!” Ah, good times. A moment later, Snake walks over to Melanie, who is of course completely smitten with him. But even Snake can’t help but scoff at her masking tape fashion statement, and he just walks away.
Over in gym class, L.D. is doing stretches with Voula and Spike. They ask L.D. if she can help with the mapping project today, and L.D. offers up yet another lame, vague excuse. So Spike explodes on L.D., yelling at her for not helping on the project. So L.D. finally reveals that her dad’s in the hospital, and it’s more important than the “stupid social science projeck [sic]!”
The other two girls are immediately apologetic, and sympathetic. And, man, this scene is like a symphony of bad acting. I honestly could not tell you which of the three girls is speaking in the clumsiest monotone. L.D. is awful, Voula is awful, and Spike is awful. At least we know Amanda Stepto’s acting abilities improve about 15 years down the road, but not by that much.
Regardless, the girls are suckered in, and they agree to cover for L.D. on this project.
All the kids exit the school, and Snake and Wheels are talking about the actual snake on the loose. Wheels has heard that the snake is in the girl’s bathroom. Does he mean, the Girls Restroom of Ill Repute? Wheels jokes with Snake, telling him to “stay out of there, okay?” But… it’s where the most interesting events at Degrassi happen! Who doesn’t want to be in there?
L.D. exits the school, heading for her bike. And it seems news travels fast, because everyone comes up to wish her dad well in the hospital: the Adorable Twins, Tim the Terrific, Joey Jeremiah, and so on. Joey even says, “Tell him Joey said, ‘Stay cool!’” That’s sure to get him feeling better in no time. But I won’t be too snarky, because at least Joey’s man enough not to hold a grudge against L.D. for throwing him in a pool and making him the laughing stock of the entire school. Welcome to Degrassi Junior High, where the living is easy. We always stay cool.
Over at the Delacorte Garage, L.D. finds Jeff working under a car. L.D. is holding a bouquet of roses, and Jeff’s glad to see she’s finally going to visit her dad. L.D. suddenly asks Jeff what it’s like to live alone. He says it’s great, because there’s no one to tell you what to do, but it does get lonely sometimes. He adds that his folks live close by, so he’s “got the best of both worlds” in this setup. Just a little insight into the thrilling world of Jeff, for all you Jeff the Mechanic fans out there.
He eventually picks up on what L.D. is getting at, and assures her that the “old man” will be okay. Then L.D. finds out that she’ll have to go to the hospital alone, and she freaks out, and begs Jeff to come with her. Jeff says no way. “Mr. Jeremiah’s screamin’ for his car back!” Now, that I can believe.
L.D. heads on out, and one thing you might notice about the guy playing Jeff is that, to be honest, he’s a far better actor than any of the regular cast members on this show. So it’s no surprise that Tom Melissis has about fifty other movie and TV roles on his résumé. Including… a recurring role on Degrassi: The Next Generation?
Indeed. Twenty years after this episode, the guy playing Jeff would appear on TNG as “Mr. Perino”, a teacher with a slight anger management problem. Unfortunately, Mr. Perino’s first name is “Frank” and not “Jeff”, even though the latter would have provided a little geek-out fangasm moment for hardcore Degrassi devotees such as myself. Yes, I realize a mechanic becoming a high school history teacher is sort of a stretch, but so is every other plot development on this show.
And so, L.D. goes to the hospital alone, looking nervous. She walks through the hallways with the wide angle lens in full effect, skillfully representing her inner feelings of confusion and disorientation. There are more Young L.D. flashback voiceovers, while she sees people being wheeled around on stretchers. Her dad’s voiceover assures Young L.D. that Mommy will be okay, and Young L.D. asks a million questions. And the voiceovers have a weird effect on them, like the two of them are having this conversation in front of a rotating fan. Also, I’m pretty sure one of the nurses we see is Wendy Watson, best known as the woman who sings the Degrassi Junior High theme song. Don’t ask me how I know this.
Dad’s VO says, “Hospital is where people go to get well!” (There’s more of that interesting Canadian tendency to drop the “the”, by the way.) In the present, L.D. sees an old woman get wheeled around on a stretcher, and hilariously, it’s the same actress who played the department store salesperson who sold Melanie a bra.
L.D. is totally flipping out. She goes to the reception desk and asks a nurse to bring the roses up. And I’m pretty sure this actress is the same one who was staring at Wheels in Safe City in the previous episode. The nurse tells L.D. that it’s still visiting hours, and she can bring the flowers up herself, but L.D. just hands them over and bails out of there as quickly as she can.
Next, L.D. is stepping inside a phone booth down the street to call her dad. Dad answers the phone in his hospital room, and he’s all hooked up to heart monitors. And for some reason, they don’t show his face during this phone call. I have no idea why. We already got several very clear views of the guy. Did that heart attack turn him into Dr. Claw?
Dad comes in strong with the car references. He says that all he needs is a “tune-up” and his “carbs adjusted”. I’m guessing he means “carbs” as in “carburetor”, not “carbohydrates”, but perhaps both are true. Dad wonders why she didn’t come up, and L.D. makes up a dumb excuse involving her school project. The call ends and we finally get a shot of Dad’s face as he looks miserable.
The next day, there’s an establishing shot of the front of the school, where we see a big sheep dog playing with some of the kids. A sheep dog? Naturally, this is never explained. I’m assuming a stray dog wandered onto the set and they decided they might as well film it. Clearly, it’s more interesting than the actual story we’re dealing with here.