Tag Archives: 80’s television

Degrassi: The Boiling Point (Because Canadian Teens are People Too!)

The cast of Degrassi: The Next Generation . . . NONE of these people are actually on the show anymore.  Seriously.

Once upon a time (the early 2000s) in a land far, far, away (Canada), a bunch of folks got together and created a half-hour television program called Degrassi: The Next Generation.  It was a show about high school kids (well . . . actually, they started out in junior high), one which starred actors and actresses who were ACTUALLY teenagers  . . .

 . . . as opposed to the 35- and 40-year olds who typically starred in teen television dramas at that time.

Meet the first 16-year old to ever suffer from menopause . . .

And the first 17-year old to experience erectile dysfunction disorder.

But what most of us fans of the show DIDN’T know, was that Degrassi wasn’t exactly NEW.  It was actually a revamp of a REALLY, REALLY, REALLY old show (from the 1980s) that ALSO featured high school kids.  Except THEY looked like THIS . . .

Woah!  Scary!

 . . . and had HAIR like THIS . . .

How exactly did one sleep at night, with hair like THAT?  Wouldn’t it puncture holes in the bedroom wall, in the middle of the night?

Throughout the years, the NEW Degrassi grew more and more popular.  And as its cast aged (into their LATE teens, mind you, not their LATE fifties like those OTHER shows), its storylines became more and more provocative.  Degrassi began to tackle REAL issues that REAL teens faced everyday, like . . .

Rape;

Self-mutilation;

Mental illness;

Addiction to Prescription Pain Medication;

School Shootings; and

Zombies.

Due largely to the success of the show, and the innate talents of its stars, many Degrassi: The Next Generation cast members went on to become big stars in .  . . wait for it . . . THE UNITED STATES.  For example, you may remember Darcy Edwards (played by Shenae Grimes), the “good little Christian girl” . . .

“OMG!  You just CURSED!  You are SO going to hell!”

 . . . turned Skanky Ho / Internet Porn Star . . .

 . . . or, as you NOW know her, Annie from the NEW 90210.

Then, there was Little Jimmy (played by Aubrey Graham), the Rich Kid Jock . . .

 . . . who was tragically confined to a wheel chair, after being shot in the back by a psycho.  But you might know him better as kickass rapper dude, Drake . . .

And who could forget my personal favorite?  Baby Mama Mia.

 She doesn’t look familiar to you?  Perhaps you’d recognize her more, if she was attached to the lips of some VERY HOT VAMPIRES . . .

It’s Nina Dobrev!  Or as you know her better, Elena Gilbert of The Vampire Diaries!

Can I get a, “Hell yeah!”

Unfortunately, soon after the departure of these folks (along with most of the rest of the show’s original cast) came an inevitable drop in the show’s ratings . . .

Coming up on its tenth season, Degrassi: The Next Generation was staring down cancellation.  To stay afloat, it needed a MIRACLE!  It needed a HAIL MARY!

Hail, Mary!

So the producers of Degrassi came up with a plan . . .

Why not spice things up a bit, by changing the show’s format to one that’s already proven successful?  Why not make Degrassi into . . .  a SOAP OPERA!

So what if HALF of the longest running soap operas on television have been CANCELED within the past two years?

Clearly, this is an AMAZING and FAILSAFE idea!

And so, starting this week, Degrassi: The Next Generation has traded in its weekly airings for daily ones.  This summer, a half-hour episode of the series will air every weekday at 9 p.m. on TeenNick for six weeks.  This television viewing event is being referred to by advertisers as THE BOILING POINT . . . though I’m not quire sure why . . .

(Maybe watching it gives you hot flashes . . .)

The promo is pretty cool though!

THE BOILING POINT kicked off early this week, with a two-hour special entitled Degrassi Takes Manhattan.  The series got off to a good start, at least in terms of “shock value,” if not exactly for “good plotting” or “good acting.”  During the special, two characters who had precisely NOTHING to do with one another for the ENTIRE ten years they were on the program together (Spinner and Emma), inexplicably declared their “love” for one another, and got married . . .

“And you are . . .?”

(Man!  That drunken Vegas Toronto casino sex must have been REALLY GOOD . . .)

Then, an, admittedly very attractive, brother / sister duo (Declan and Fiona) engaged in a very public, disturbingly sexy, MAKEOUT session with eachother!

“So, Declan.  What do you think we should name our three-headed kids?”

But then, things kind of went downhill .  . .

Take this first week of episodes, for example.  It featured the following plotlines  . . .

THIS couple is NOT pregnant . . .

THIS girl is NOT getting a boob job  . . .

THIS girl did NOT try to commit suicide (ugly ass headband, notwithstanding).

If this keeps up, they may have to change Degrassi’s infamous tagline from “It Goes There” to “It Goes  . . . Where?”

I mean, really!  Fake pregnancies to win ELECTIONS?  Rumors about someone getting a boob job, when she is actually getting LASIK EYE SURGERY?  Could THIS be the same program that brought us this shocking scene?

OR this one?

Then again, maybe I’m being too harsh.  It IS early in the season, yet.  And maybe things will start to pick up, as the weeks wear on . . .  Here’s hoping . . .

So, I have to ask.  Have YOU been watching THE BOILING POINT?  If so, what do you think so far?

[Degrassi’s THE BOILING POINT airs weeknights at 9 p.m. on TeenNick this summer]

 

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It’s Memorial Day, Charlie Brown?

As most of you probably know, Monday is Memorial Day, the federal holiday during which we commemorate the military men and women who died in service of our country.  Before I continue, let’s have a moment of silence for these fine folks, because this post actually has very little to do with them.  And writing a post that uses the word “Memorial Day” in its title, while not actually discussing the true meaning of the holiday AT ALL, might actually have the unintended side-effect of making me feel like a Totally Insensitive Poopy Head.  . .

So, I’m going to try to make a half-assed attempt to remedy that right now, OK?  Here it comes . . . Shhhhh!  No talking . . .

Thank you.  On to the post . . .

So, as I said, Monday is Memorial Day, a national holiday.  And do you know what I tend to think about when approaching a national holiday?  (Aside from “Thank GOD I finally have a day off!”  . . . because, of course, I ALWAYS think about that first . . .) 

I think about Charlie Brown!  Why, you ask?  Because EVERY national holiday comes with its own Charlie Brown television special!

Thanks for the vid, fishfreak!

Correction:  Evey holiday EXCEPT Memorial Day! (And, actually, I think July 4th . . . random, right?)

Personally, I think this is an issue that needs to be remedied ASAP, Peanuts people!  And just to prove what you’re missing, Memorial Day (and July 4th!), here’s a brief look at the holiday calendar, as seen through the eyes of Peanuts cartoons . . .

Happy New Year, Charlie Brown!

Honestly, as far as Peanuts holiday installments go, this one is quite lame.  I think this has a lot to do with the fact that Peanuts gang is so YOUNG!  So, they can’t truly enjoy this holiday the way it was intended to be enjoyed.  Would you believe, the premise of the episode ACTUALLY involves Charlie Brown reading Tolstoy’s War and Peace?  

Correct me if I’m wrong here, but isn’t Charlie Brown supposed to be like EIGHT?  Do you know what I was reading at age 8?

Clearly, Charlie Brown went to a better Elementary School than I did .  . . which I find strange, considering that none of his teachers seemed to have a particularly solid grasp of the English language.

Actually, my favorite “part” of “Happy New Year, Charlie Brown,” is the unofficial “promotional poster” for it, which always seems to find its way into holiday cards, and the like.  I enjoy it immensely!  Because, unlike the actual “Happy New Year, Charlie Brown,” this poster features our main characters, Charlie Brown and Linus, impliedly doing what most of us regular folk do on New Year’s Eve — namely, get completely wasted and make bad life choices.

In Charlie Brown’s case, his “bad choice” comes in the form of deciding to wear a highly unflattering Trucker Cap . . .

Be My Valentine, Charlie Brown!

This one may very well be my favorite Charlie Brown holiday special of them all!  Unlike the New Year’s episode, which featured the Peanuts doing things I would NEVER do on that particular holiday, Charlie Brown’s Valentine’s Day looks just like mine always does!  In it, Linus develops the hots for his teacher!

Those of you who watched Dawson’s Creek back in the day, probably understand (and hopefully enjoy) the above reference. Those who DIDN’T, are undoubtedly wondering why the guy from Fringe is sporting such a ridiculous haircut . . .

During the special, Charlie Brown gets NO VALENTINES AT ALL (until the end of the show, that is, when some random girl gives him one out of pity)!  Inappropriate crushes, rejection, and self pity.  It’s just like MY Valentine’s Day, Charlie Brown!

It’s the Easter Beagle, Charlie Brown!

Unlike the dream-killing Halloween Charlie Brown episode (to be discussed below), where the legendary Great Pumpkin NEVER actually makes an appearance, we actually DO get to see the titular Easter Beagle in this one!  (It’s only Snoopy, of course . . . but it’s better than nothing.)  So, you would think that being the Owner and Best Friend of the “Beagle in Charge,” would ensure that Charlie would be entitled to at least ONE Easter egg.  But NO!  He gets none . . .

 

On a lighter note, I LOVE the trippy, surprisingly “meta” scene from this episode, in which Snoopy engages in a dance with some very happy Easter Bunnies (Or DOES he?) .  Watch the clip and listen closely, because in it, Snoopy utters the ONLY WORD he will ever speak during the ENTIRE PEANUTS series!

Thanks for posting chickiechickie!

Personally, I think this “Easter Egg” is the KEY to deciphering the Flash Sideways World on Lost . . .

It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown!

Of all the Charlie Brown holiday shows, this one is probably the best known. Whenever people talk about, “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown,” they always seem to want to discuss, Linus’s fruitless all-night vigil in the pumpkin patch for the Great Pumpkin, who never arrives.  However, when I think of “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown,” this scene is always the first to come to my mind . . .

Thanks digitmarketing!

I’m guessing the “rock” is not considered “wrapped candy,” so Charlie Brown’s mom is probably going to have to throw all those away.  It’s too bad, because, with all those rocks, Charlie could have made a pretty awesome “Great Pumpkin” shrine . . .

Happy Thanksgiving, Charlie Brown!

This was probably the only Peanuts Special that made me really jealous of Charlie Brown.  After all, I was a really picky eater as a kid.   So, Iwasn’t a big fan of most of the food at MY Thanksgiving table.  But a dinner comprised of toast, pretzels, popcorn and jellybeans?  I would have been TOTALLY down with that!

A Charlie Brown Christmas

This Peanuts episode was kind of a downer for most of its duration.  (I know it probably seems, based on my descriptions of the Specials, that they were ALL downers.  But that is simply not true!)  In this Special,  Charlie Brown’s purchase of the saddest little Christmas tree alive, threatens to ruin the ENTIRE school’s Christmas pageant!

Admittedly, the entire show is a bit preachy, what with its hammering home the lesson that Christmas has become overly commecialized, and its constant discussions (damn you and your lessons, Linus!) of the “true meaning of Christmas.”  However, the last few minutes of “A Charlie Brown Christmas”  are guaranteed to be the BEST THING YOU WILL EVER WATCH ON TELEVISION during Christmas time!

I’m only a little embarrassed to say that I watched this video about eight times in a row this evening, in a feeble attempt to try and mimic each character’s dance moves . . .  DO NOT TRY THAT AT HOME!

So, there you have it folks, a calendar year, as seen through the lens of Peanuts Holiday Specials . . .

Dear Memorial Day,

       Consider yourself SCHOOLED!

                      Love,

                    The Peanuts Gang!

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Whatever Happened to TV Theme Songs? (THE SEQUEL)

A little while back,  I wrote a blog entry entitled  Whatever Happened to TV Theme Songs?  In it, I complained about the fact that most television programs today seem to have done away with theme songs, opting instead to use a few bland instrumental chords to introduce their show.  Some shows, like Lost or The Vampire Diaries,  have scrapped their opening sequences entirely.

When I was done bitching, I chose ten theme songs and opening sequences that I really enjoyed from my TV watching past, and shared them with anyone who might be interested.  And you guys seemed to like it.  (By “like it,” I mean you “clicked on it.”  For all I know, you may have took one look at the theme songs I chose, said “That TV Recapper Girl  is a total Poopyhead,” and slammed your browser in my face.)

But here’s the thing. . . .   There are SO MANY really great theme songs and opening sequences out there, that I DIDN’T get to show you.  And, for that reason, I thought it might be fun to try this again.  So, without further adieu, I present to you, ten MORE old school TV theme songs (in no particular order) that I find pretty cool.

1) All in the Family

All right.  So I can’t really say that this show was part of my childhood.  After all, it was already off the air, by the time I was born.  But I catch it in reruns ALL THE TIME, mostly just to watch the opening sequence.  I’m not entirely sure why I like it so much.  Perhaps it’s because there is something about Archie and Edith Bunker that reminds me a lot of my paternal grandparents.  Also, any opening sequence that involves that much ridiculously bad, off-key singing, is pretty cool in my book . . .

2) The Jeffersons

Like All in the Family, its spinoff, The Jeffersons, aired a smidgeon before my TV watching time.  But I watch it in reruns whenever I can find it, basically because I think its Sherman Hemsley is “the bees knees.”  He could just be standing around doing nothing, and I would find it absolutely hilarious.  Sherman is just so cute!  To me, he’s kind of like a black Danny Devito . . .

Did I mention that the song in the opening sequence is super catchy?  I still find myself singing it out loud every time I move into a new apartment, much to the extreme displeasure of anyone unlucky enough to be helping me move.  Just listen, and I dare you not to sing along!

3) Roseanne

This “smarter than it looked” show, about a working class family, was on the air, pretty much throughout my childhood.  During its nine-year run, the show’s opening sequence underwent nearly annual tweaks and changes.  Ironically, my favorite opening sequences for Roseanne came near the end of its run, when the show itself was losing some of the good humor and sharp writing of earlier seasons.  The opening sequences for the last two seasons of Roseanne, featured these really cool character morphs, illustrating how (for better or worse) the characters had aged during the show’s long run.

My favorite morph was for the Becky character, who, during the show’s nine years, was played by two different actresses, Lecy Goranson and Saarah Chalke (Scrubs).  The sequence morphs the two together, as if they are the same person.  My second favorite morph was for Roseanne herself, who made some really bad hair and plastic surgery choices during that decade.  In one picture in particular, her entire face seems to droop downward in a perverse, overly-botoxed sneer that actually used to give me nightmares.  When you see it, you’ll know why.

(Unfortunately, there is no embedding on this video.  So, you have to click the internal link, to watch it on YouTube.  Sorry!)

4) The Wonder Years

I loved this show when I was a little kid, for so many reasons.  For one, I thought Fred Savage was a total hottie.  I wanted to be Winnie Cooper, so that I could date him.  If my first TV crush was Jonathan Taylor Thomas from Home Improvement, Fred Savage comes in a close second.  Also, the dad on the show, Dan Luria, looked a lot like my dad, which I thought was pretty cool.

And, of course, the opening sequence was amazing!  You see, I was an only child, and, from what I gather, not a particularly photogenic one.  Therefore, we never had home videos in my family.  (I don’t even think we owned a video camera.)  So, when I would watch The Wonder Years, as a kid, I liked to pretend that Kevin Arnold’s home videos were mine.  Sometimes I would even reenact Winnie’s parts, as I watched  . . . It was kind of embarrassing.

5) Blossom

You know what?  When I said that NO home videos exist of me as a child, that’s not entirely true.  I do distinctly remember one video that was taken just before one of my dance recitals.  In it, 7-year old me BORED MY POOR FAMILY TO TEARS, by suiting up in my dance costume, and reenacting the ENTIRE RECITAL, casting myself in all the crucial roles, of course. 

 Funny looking costume?  Bad goofy dancing?  I imagine it looked a lot like this . . .

6) Dinosaurs

The things you learn when researching a blog entry!  I distinctly remember watching this program as a kid, during ABC’s fabulous Friday night TGIF lineup.  The show was sort of a live action Flintstones, only all the characters in it were dinosaurs.  Now that I think about it, the whole thing was a little bizarre . . .

But regardless of the quality of the show itself, I remember really loving what I thought was the show’s theme song.  Today, I looked up the theme song to Dinosaurs on YouTube, and learned that what I THOUGHT was the theme song, wasn’t the theme song at all.  It was merely a song, and accompanying video, that was featured during one of the show’s episodes.  The actual theme song kind of sucked.  But THIS song was SO GOOD and SO FUNNY, that I’ve decided to share it with you instead . . .

7) Salute Your Shorts

By now, you already know how I feel about theme songs that  feature ridiculously bad and off-key singing.  So, of course, I simply had to include this theme song on the list, from a Nickelodeon show about a very poorly managed sleepaway camp . . .

8 ) Step by Step

Yet another installment from ABC’s TGIF lineup makes the list at Number 8.  Step by Step was kind of a revamped Brady Bunch for us ’90s kids to enjoy.  It starred Suzanne Somers — as the mom of a blended family — one who looked remarkably similar to Chrissy Snow from Three’s Company.

Around the time this was on the air, I was spending a lot of free time hanging out at amusement parks with my friends.  So, of course, I absolutely adored this amusement park-themed opening sequence.

9) Freaks and Geeks

I’m cheating a bit here, because I didn’t actually watch this show during its initial run.  Rather, I caught it recently on Netflix, and was amazed by how brilliant it was, and how many of its cast members (and writing staff) eventually went on to do bigger and better things.  If, by chance, you are interested in my take, on the show itself, you can find that here. 

However, right now, I am here to talk about its kick ass opening sequence, which features the rebel anthem Bad Reputation by Joan Jett, and accurately portrays the extreme awkwardness and pure horror that is Yearbook Picture Day!

10) What I Like About You

Even though it has been off the air for a few years now, I still enjoy watching repeats of this classic WB show about two very different sisters living under one roof, and navigating life and love in New York City.  On the surface, it looks like your typical cheesy teen romcom.  However, Jennie Garth and Amanda Bynes made the show way better than it should have been, with their amazing on-screen chemistry and fabulous comedic timing. 

But, of course, my favorite episodes of the show were the ones from later seasons.  After all, these focused on Amanda Byne’s character, Holly, and her relationship with on-again, off-again boyfriend, Vince, played by MY TV boyfriend, the painfully gorgeous, Nick Zano.  This guy doesn’t get nearly enough work these days in my opinion . . .

Oh, and did I mention that the show’s opening sequence features the cast riding and dancing around Times Square to the tune of Lilix’s awesome cover of the song What I Like About You?

So, there you have it folks — ten more TV theme songs to add to my collection of nostalgic television awesomeness.  Have I missed any of your favorites?

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Filed under 80s television, 90s television, music, television, TV theme songs