Ahhhh well since you asked, here’s a bunch of random thoughts about Season 10 as a whole…

I’ve been asked before what Season 10’s rank is compared to the other seasons of Degrassi, and here’s how it goes (from best to worst):

1) Season 3
2) Season 2
3) Season 1
4) Season 4
5) Season 10
6) Season 5
7) Season 6
8) Season 9
9) Season 7
10) Season 8

There’s two ways to interpret this list: you can see it as “WTF you think it’s only the 5th best season of all time?” or “It’s the best season of Degrassi from the last 5-6 years.”  Season 10 was a behemoth.  Seasons 5, 6 and 7 have what I consider some of the best storylines in TNG’s history (Palex in Lexicon of Love, Darcy’s entire rape storyline in Season 7, just to name a couple), but as a whole Season 10 provided better quality storylines…for the most part.

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Episode Format

The Boiling Point was a BRILLIANT idea.  It’s not the fact that we were simply getting 4 NEW episodes per week, it’s that these episodes flowed together nicely.  TBP as a whole was an exhilarating event, and it convinced me the telenovela format works.  Unfortunately, jumping back to the one-episode-per week format left something to be desired.  They continue to hang onto the idea that each 30-minute episode is an individual episode, but I’m not buying it. It’s just not true anymore.  These part 1’s and 2’s are meant to be broadcast as hour-long episodes, because they’re written as such.

And don’t even get me started on how Drop The World should’ve been a one-hour finale…I don’t even wanna know why the networks decided otherwise.

Degrassi could easily be transformed into an hour-long program, and would need to if they ever had to move from TeenNick.  The episodes were written and felt like hour-long eps.  The reason it wasn’t bothersome during The Boiling Point is because there’s no need for there to be some sort of “OMG” cliffhanger at the end of every episode in telenovela style; like a soap opera, we only had to wait until tomorrow to find out what happened next.

But when Degrassi switched back to one 30-minute episode per week for 1025-1044 while maintaining that writing style, it didn’t work AT ALL.  Almost all of the Part 1 episodes ended in disappointing fashion. There would end up being no cliffhanger at all (because there’s no need to create one halfway through an hour-long episode, right?).  Nothing insane needed to happen, but there needs to be something that makes me excited to tune into see Part 2 the following week…and that never really happened.

The bottom line is the final 17 or 18 episodes of the upcoming Season 11 need to be written like the Part 1 and Part 2 episodes from the earlier seasons of TNG, back when two parters were considered special.

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Writing

From my perspective, it’s impossible to not see that Degrassi’s writing was MUCH improved in Season 10.  Yes, there were storylines you’ve seen before, but frankly I’m bored of hearing the old “I’m tired of Degrassi recycling plots” argument…it’s irrelevant. Throughout this show’s history there have been times where they recycle a plot and it sucks, but there’s also plenty of times where they’ve done it and it was actually good.  It goes either way.  And do you really need me to point out how many of the older TNG episodes were recycled plots/spinoffs of plots from the original 80’s Degrassi series?

Honestly what impressed me about Season 10’s writing were the little things…things that showed the writers were putting forth an effort to craft continuity into the scripts. Referencing things that happened in previous episodes, and even in previous seasons???? I was shocked to realize that the writers acknowledge anything that isn’t happening in the now.

Another impressive thing about the writing was the technique of setting up storylines.  Degrassi switched from a 2-plot to a 3-plot format for episodes.  This allowed for them use the B or C plot to setup a storyline that would become a main plot in a future episode.   The Three Tenners song (that Connor wrote about his dearest LoveQueen16) is, without a doubt, the most clever use of foreshadowing by Degrassi EVER:


I thought the 3-plot system worked very well in The Boiling Point, but once again, this concept hurt 1225-1044 because they were aired in the weekly format.  Some of the C plots were completely pointless because of their brevity, and took away time that could’ve been dedicated to the two main plots.  Degrassi was very successful at doing 3 plots per episode in the 80’s with Degrassi Junior High/Degrassi High, because all three plots normally had a central theme that tied them together.  However, in Season 10 there was no common thread, so having 3 different plots running together made episodes feel crowded at times.

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Technical Stuff

From a technical standpoint, Season 10 blows all other seasons away.  The biggest change was was Degrassi’s switching to filming with RED cameras:

In short, the RED camera is a very professional digital camera.  Combined with fantastic lighting it made the characters stand out even more from the background.  Even if a plot or an episode sucked, Season 10 was slick looking and visually pleasing.

Something phenomenal that they did in Season 10 that I absolutely demand they do more of in Season 11 are fluid transitions between scenes.  Instead of using an edit and cutting to the next scene, the camera would move around and stop on the characters for the next scene (the trick being they’re in the same general area as the characters from the previous scene), and a musical cue lets the viewer know that it’s a new scene.  I nearly fell out of my chair when I first saw this transition below:

And below is another that’s equally as great. Pay attention to the background as Clare, Adam and Eli are walking and you can see Wesley just standing there, waiting for Anya to reach her locker:

I hope that people understand how fantastic and important seamless transitions like these are.  One of the biggest complaints about Degrassi is how little characters from interact with people outside of their cliques.  Yes, technically Anya didn’t interact with Adam, Eli or Clare as they walked by. There’s many times I’ll watch a scene between two people (ex: Sav and Holly J), and wonder “I wonder what Riley’s up to…”

We may never again have the awesomeness that existed in Degrassi Junior High where ALL Degrassi characters served as background characters in episodes…even if they didn’t have a speaking role in that episode, we were guaranteed to see them walking around or hanging out in the hallways.  The closest we can get to that these days is having the visual knowledge (like in the video clips above) that characters co-exist in the same realm, even if they’re complete strangers to each other.

Posted by Kary

24 Comments

  1. Is there really such thing as a “Red” camera?

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  2. Excellent summaries. You gave everyone alot to think about too.

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  3. I’ve always loved the shots where two different scenes happen in the same area and the framing allows the camera to smoothly follow the characters from one scene to another (I REALLY forget the term for this kind of shot — somebody feel free to mention it if they know, because it’ll bug me until I remember it). It just makes everything so much more fluid and reminds everyone that these two different storylines do, indeed, take place in the same universe.

    The reason they tend to be avoided (not from personal experience, but from what I’ve read and heard) is that they usually require many more takes, considering that you have to have two separate scenes run smoothly together. There are ways to get around that, of course. Especially if you use splice in any cut-aways, close-up shots, or the like.

    It was probably more convenient for Degrassi’s tight filming schedule so that they can work through more scenes at a time. But that’s just me spitballing there.

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  4. “The closest we can get to that these days is having the visual knowledge (like in the video clips above) that characters co-exist in the same realm, even if they’re complete strangers to each other.”

    Oh you mean like a REAL high school XD

    On a different note
    Degrassi did amp it up in many ways. However, I hope Stephen sees this because Season 11 part 2 could be a mess like In too Deep if done the same way (it was meant to be a hour but is cut into 2 parts) It would be great if they just made the 2 parters exactly how “My Body Is A Cage” was. MBIC showed that they can make really great 2 parters still like the old days like “When Time Stands Still”(best example of it ever!!) :)

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    1. “Oh you mean like a REAL high school”

      Yes! I was about to say that DJH was a much smaller school, that building probably only had (has, it still exists irl) a dozen or so classrooms.

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  5. Thanks for answering Kary, very interesting thoughts. My opinion on Season 10, is just about the same as yours, lol. Great anylsis, that scene transition explanation is an amazing observation. I never noticed that before. Let’s hope Season 11, follows in the great steps of the Season 10. Maybe even surpass Seasons 1-4?

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  6. Hey Kary, what are your favorite storylines from Season 10 and where would they rank alongside your favorites from other seasons?

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  7. Wow, Kary. Thanks for mentioning the scene transitions :) I knew they did it, but I didn’t know it was done so often!

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  8. I agree with rockerboy, I’d noticed the scene transition with Wesley waiting for Anya but oddly enough didn’t catch the more obvious one that shot from Eli & Clare to Drew/KC/Bianca. Oh & Kary, couldn’t agree more with your seasons order, thanks for this post. :)

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  9. I know this is random from the post but what do you think “Idioteque” will be about?

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  10. Well, since it has the word idiot in the title it most likely be about Jenna

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    1. LMFAO ^^ your a clever hoe.

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  11. Oh I also wanted to ask Kary
    Are you going to do a full season re-review (like previous seasons where you changed the grades of certain episodes)??

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  12. I never noticed the scene transitions until watching the clips, and its rpretty cool. I honestly hope the cast or prouders and writters check out the fan sites and take note on what the fans like. If they did that, then there would be alot less complaints every episode, and nobody would worry about future degrassi episodes.

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  13. I think the biggest disappointment for me from the season was how they introduced the new cast. Out of six new characters four were poorly introduced. Bianca, Owen, Drew, and Ms. Oh were just… added, into the first few eps. Not in a way that really let us know about them in a meaningful story set-up, they just wee there.

    Eli and Adam were handled as part of storylines. Eli’s introduction was a left field shot to end an episode and perfectly set-up the next bit of Clare’s story afterward. Adam’s was underplayed so he could be an ordinary guy until we find out his secret in My Body is a Cage.

    Compare this to S9 who rather easily defined all four new characters in the space of one hourlong ep. Also we were introduced to all the S9 characters from the point of view of someone else (We met Decs and Fi from the eyes of Peter, Dave from Holly J, and Jenna from Clare). They got more plot later on, but in the intro we got enough to get a good feel for them right away. (Except Dave, and that was the point with him.)

    It seemed like a better handled set of intros. Bi, Owen, and Drew intro’d like they were in S8. Where they had to intro six new characters (badly) and bump up another six.

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    1. Personally, I like the subtle introduction of all the new characters this season. I think the reason I felt uncomfortable when we were thrown a shit ton of new characters in season 7/8 was because they were obnoxiously shoved in our faces from the start instead of being slowly worked into story lines (i.e. when Darcy went from being background character to story line frontrunner. It didn’t feel forced and I didn’t have to pretend to care about her unlike Clare and her group when they were in grade nine). I feel it’s more natural for the newbies to work there way up to having real story lines.

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      1. S7 did an okay job with its introductions. As they made the whole thing a plot point, and of the cast only three got an auto-push to opening credits (Holly J, Jane, and Damian). And of those three two of them became pretty good characters running second seat in plots (Holly J was the anti-Mia, Jane bumped to Spin’s love interest and was the anti-Darcy). Jonny, Bruce, Anya, and Sav were being set-up to become important in S8, but it was more obvious than when they brought in Darcy back in the day (which I’m fine with).

        I didn’t get into Season 8 in detail because they dropped SO MUCH CAST into the series it was impossible to care about all of them. Clare and Alli got a pretty good introduction, as we could get a feel for the characters easily from their interactions with Darcy and Sav in that first scene. The real problem characters were Blue and Connor who were just “This is Connor” and “Look at Blue, he’s hot.”

        I do agree that the drop-in of so many new characters in S8 meant everyones story suffered. Having the Minor Niners be an isolated clique for S8 also caused problems too. 90210 had the worst timing for stealing away Darcy from the series. As at least Clare would have had interactions with Darcy to bring her into scenes with characters people already invested in. …and that whole Pia mess wouldn’t have happened an that would have been a great mess to miss. Which isn’t really the subject.

        Subtle additions to the roster only work if you have a lot of time to do it. Darcy, Ellie, and Marco all did it but they had full seasons of interactions before they were in the credits. Trying to do it with characters as they join the cast looks bad because I kept expecting them to do something of value each episode and… nothing. I suppose that makes it less true of Owen because he was only credits cast in the second half.

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      2. For new characters, I do have to wonder why they seem to avoid a big dump of Grade 9s at the beginning of a new season (or a new even-numbered season).

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  14. Kary, I feel like you read my mind 9 times out of 10 because we always seem to have the same opinion when it comes to all things Degrassi, haha. On that note, I rank the seasons similarly. Seasons 2-4 are among my favorite seasons, and I think Season 10 has joined that list. I’m also glad that I’m not the only one that thinks Season 8 was the weakest season of Degrassi by far, haha.

    I never even thought about how important these seamless transitions are until now. Now that I think about it, I really loved how so many of the scenes flowed effortlessly into one another; I don’t get the feeling that any storyline is isolated from the others. I just enjoy how everyone’s connected, in some, way, shape, or form.

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  15. I agree with all your selections as well man. Speaking of Darcy, remember that post you made about some of the storylines? One talked about a fan-favorite dealing with her parent’s divorce.

    Couldn’t that be Darcy? I mean its a longshot, but why wouldn’t they just say Clare if they ment it? Darcy needs to be back. I remember when she was just a backround charactor starting in the first few seasons. I first noticed her in Season 4 when she kissed Rick, but I like the subtlety of her transition into frontrunner as well.

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  16. I think Season 1 is heavily overrated and should be lower tier, and Season 8 > Season 7 as a Whole (while the beginning of Season 7 was amazing, the rest was…ehh…).

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    1. Season 7 had its low points, but overall it was better handled than Season 8 was. And Season 8 had no strong hook plots to it and a weak primary ship (Pia). Darcy and Spinner’s S7 plots were stronger, Mia wasn’t as obnoxious in S7 as S8.

      All the S8 Mia stuff went wrong plot-wise, Riley and Jane’s big plots didn’t blast off the screen quite right compared to the big S7 plots. And the added cast didn’t boggle the mind as to what the writers were doing… as much. (Barring the one season wonder Damian)

      S1 on the other hand… its weaker in comparison to other seasons only because the cast ages and television rules are so much stricter back a decade ago. Tweens can’t be put through the same plots as actual teenagers, and they didn’t have 9 seasons of not being cancelled to rest on when they take risks.

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  17. The writing “improved” this season? Are you joking???

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    1. It was better than Season 7, 8 and 9, therefore it’s considered an improvement.

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