New Beginnings > In Too Deep
One of the big complaints I had about Season 10 as a whole was the second half of the season, aka In Too Deep…it was a big ole’ ball of mediocrity. Its disappointing nature was magnified given the success of The Boiling Point’s summer format. The telenovela format itself provides a level of excitement because of the sheer volume of episodes within a short period alone, something the one-episode-per-week format can’t really compete with.
New Beginnings was a step in the right direction. For 6 straight weeks during New Beginnings we were treated to a crop of episodes that I thought had a strong A plot, complimented with a strong B or C plot (Not Ready To Make Nice, Need You Now and Smash Into You).
Before “New Beginnings” started I read a quite long character study of Jake by a Degrassi fan named Chelsea (I think every Degrassi fan should write a thesis about something from the show, but that’s a whole other thing lol). Now any of the stuff in that post relating to Jake’s relationship with his father or mother, etc., I consider a stretch and did when I first read it months ago…that’s primarily because I have no reason to believe the show will ever delve into that (as demonstrated in New Beginnings).
My thoughts on Jake before “New Beginnings” was that Jake was quote “a one-dimensional character with no development or personality of his own.” I still stand by that analysis of Jake at that time because I still feel it’s true…Jake was a waste of a character during the Cake era. It has nothing to do with him, it was all of Clare’s b.s. completely overshadowing any chance for him to show us anything. Like everyone else I was hoping that Jake would break free of Cake, and then he’d actually become interesting.
Personally, I enjoyed Jake during “New Beginnings.” He was finally able to *gasp* actually show a fun, funny personality since Clare wasn’t dominating everything. He’s still sort of a mysterious figure, but we got to see way more of him in the second half of the season than we did in Now Or Never. Oh and he did a pretty awesome thing: he appeared in 12 consecutive episodes (Dead & Gone Pt 1 through Need You Now Pt 2).
There’s a lot of depth when it comes to Degrassi’s actresses. Annie, Melinda, Jordy and Aislinn (to name a few) can churn out a solid, moving performance when need be.
But the dynamic is different with the guys.
I’m not at all trying to imply that they aren’t good, but at times it feels like Munro is in a league of his own. Jahmil showed he’s got the “moves like munro” by churning out an incredibly powerful performance in Smash Into You, making it hands down one of the best of Season 11.
The Degrassi fandom is inconsistent with its overall opinion about new characters. We were up in arms over the introduction of the niners midway during the season, because they’d just introduced 3 new characters at the very beginning of Season 11. But wasn’t it right before Season 10 when people couldn’t wait to see new characters Eli, Adam, Drew and Bianca? But as inconsistent we are with this, the show is just as inconsistent with how they utilize new characters. With the niners we were slowly introduced to them, giving us time to get used to them as opposed to giving them a major plot or thrusting them into the plot of a someone else like they did with Katie, Imogen and Jake.
Issues Over Relationships
Degrassi’s achilles heel will forever be its tendency to focus on shallow relationship drama as opposed to any potential underlying issues. I do need to point out that Degrassi DOES do relationship drama well sometimes, but it doesn’t feel like a lot given the number of couples that pop up and disappear throughout any given season. Despite what any promos would’ve led you to believe, issues took precdent over relationships quite a bit in New Beginnings, in particluar during Not Ready To Make Nice, Need You Now, Smash Into You and Hollaback Girl.
This is a really random comparison, but I feel like it’s appropriate…Katie Matlin is the Taylor Kitsch of Degrassi. Hollywood has put a lot of stock in Kitsch in 2012, yet his big flicks “John Carter” and “Battleship” have fallen well short of expectations. The comparison here is that like Hollywood did with Kitsch, Degrassi has been trying hard to make Katie a leading lady, but it’s just not working. They’ve been all over the place with her character in Season 11. The content they gave her with the drug addiction was good, but she has yet to become appealing or compelling enough to be someone I want to see carrying storylines regularly.
This trio has a unique dynamic where as friends, any combination of Fiona, Imogen and Eli is fantastic. But the show completely lost me when they drifted off into romantic territory. Fiona apparently had nothing to do with her life, so the show decided to pair her up with Imogen. And in a convulted attempt to create a roadblock in Fimogen’s path, Imogeli was randomly paired together and served as nothing more than a plot device. In both cases things fall short when it comes to Imogen. With Fimogen, even though it would be completely believable that Imogen could be bisexual or pansexual, we never got any sort of outlook from her perspective. The hasty reconciliation between Eli and Imogen (more like the lack of witnessing a reconciliation period) put a damper on Imogeli…that plus the way Eli behaved before they started dating, it was hard to ever believe he was truly interested in Imogen as more than a friend.
I heart Adam Torres as a secondary character. I know there’s people who still think that every character who’s featured in the opening credits is a main character, but that’s just not true. Adam has only had a few storylines in Season 10 and 11, but an overwhelming majority of his time is spent being a support character who appears quite frequently. He wasn’t around much in New Beginnings and I missed seeing him there…though both Jake and Drew stepped into a support character role quite nicely.
Frostival (Season Finale)
Degrassi sucks at season finales, and I’m not exactly sure why anymore. It’s reached the point where I kind of go into every one expecting to be disappointed by a ho-hum ending. I guess I can kind of take solace in the fact that what was originally Season 10’s finale (Spring Fever, before it was bumped up to Season 11’s premiere) was pretty good.
It might be just me, but former characters returning for a cameo doesn’t do much for me these days. Paige and Sav returned in The Power Play mini, and I didn’t really care. Unfortunately I felt the exact same way about Holly J’s return in the finale. I feel like one of the main issues is that it’s announced well in advance that they’ll be appearing. It takes away from the “emotional oopmh” of them physically appearing, which is probably the most important part of it since they offer little (if anything) to the actual plot at hand. It’s like someone telling you that you’re getting a surprise party, then you having to fake being surprised as you walk in.
*sigh* It’s sad when you watch your favorite character go downhill. I guess it’s my fault for having high expectations for Fiona in New Beginnings. Fiona is incredibly dependent on people, but she has trouble establishing relationships with others outside of that comfort zone.
With Holly J gone I thought we’d get to see Fiona genuinely struggle to fit in…that lasted for all of two seconds. Instead it felt like the show had nothing for Fiona to do and decided to throw another love interest her way, and Imogen is the only girl on the show that we could possibly imagine being anything other than straight. If they can’t come up with something interesting for one of the show’s current stars, I’d rather them just go ahead and write her off the show.
The promos during New Beginnings were either frustrating (TeenNick) or forgettable (MuchMusic). I don’t understand why TeenNick insists on trying to overhype and oversell the show in their promos sometimes…Hollaback Pt 2 is an example that made me want to bang my head against a brick wall until I passed out:
Stop it TeenNick!! It’s frustrating because I know it’s possible for you to make good promos that aren’t of the overdramatic/love triangle variety. Why? Because you just made one…the Season 12 Teaser Promo:
And you’re also about to release your annual Degrassi summer promo…those things are always good. MuchMusic’s issue is that their New Beginnings promos were flat out boring. That makes no sense to me given that I really enjoyed their Now Or Never ones:
Both networks probably want to “Fitz” me in an alley for constantly scrutinizing their promos. But demand is always immediate for the promos after an episode, and they’re an important part of the Degrassi fan experience.