With the Season 11 Part 1 DVD set I feel like, for the first time ever, we get a genuine effort from the Epitome team to provide engaging bonus content to accompany the actual episodes. It almost feels like a continuation of their social media movement over the past year or so, where they’ve done things like publish a mobile game chock full of behind-the scenes pics/videos and provide extra content via the official Degrassi and Degrassi Writers tumblrs.
The Season 2 boxset set a really high standard with its sheer volume of content, primarily composed of deleted scenes/bloopers. From then on the extras became more disappointing with each passing boxset, seeming to only provide generic features: minimal deleted scenes and blooper reels, pointless character bios, lame yearbooks, trailers/music videos no one cares about and the good, yet very occasional episode commentary.
Things changed with the Season 7 boxset, with Echo Bridge Entertainment taking over the responsibility of producing the show’s dvds. Seasons 7 and 8 provided webisodes and On The Set videos respectively, a first after years of those features appearing online only to quickly fade into oblivion (I’m still hoping that the first two seasons of Degrassi minis will magically appear on a boxset some day). The Season 9, 10 Part 1 and 10 Part 2 boxsets have slid back to the disappointing days of Seasons 3-6, so the features on 11 Part 1 are an instant upgrade.
As I rip off the plastic and open the case there are some issues that are quite apparent:
I’m not sure if anyone else’s set looks like this, but right off the bat both discs look the exact same. The only way to tell the difference is by a tiny number sequence on the inner white ring. If I’m wanting to watch “Dirt Off Your Shoulder” on disc 1 and somehow end up putting in disc 2 by accident, innocent babies and puppies will get eaten and my life will be ruined. Once I put in the correct DVD, I can now choose which episode I want to watch:
Wait, how do I know that if I choose Episode 22 my dvd player won’t explode? What if episode 19 is really a link to freaky animal porn? It’s bad enough that I’ve gotta remember a ton of episode titles, now on top of that I’ve gotta remember which episode number they are. By this point I’m wishing that the second bullet Vince shot during prom, you know the one that mysteriously disappeared, would magically reappear and make its way through my tv screen.
After grabbing a couple of tampons to stop a nosebleed caused by thinking way too hard on the episode selection screen, I finally get to the bonus features:
As usual, the episode commentary is good. Dead & Gone is the only episode on this boxset with commentary, provided by Luke Bilyk, writer Matt Huether and director Stefan Brogren. I love that they have people from different departments providing commentary. Not only do we get tidbits about the production process, we also get multiple perspectives and interpretations of the storyline’s direction.
Deleted Scenes / Bloopers
I’m not sure if I was just in a good, but I laughed quite a bit during the bloopers. Most of the deleted scenes I could give or take, but the ones that were really interesting to me were the two with Anya. [SPOILER ALERT] Anya seriously contemplates putting off her plans to join the Army, so that she can continue dating Owen. In other words, she’s pulling a Dr. Chris again. Holly J thinks it’s a stupid idea and Anya admits that she’s procrastinating because she’s scared of the future. And here we thought that she was focused and on track, yet she at the end she was so willing to once again succumb to emotional trap of being “head over heels” for some guy. [END SPOILER]
The gallery shoot video blows any photo-related thing Degrassi’s ever had on a boxset out of the water. With these gallery shoots they take hundreds upon hundreds of photos, yet so few of them actually see the light of day in any given season.
This awesome feature combined with them posting various gallery pics on the Degrassi tumblr, I think they’re finally realizing that fans absolutely love the gallery pics, especially the quirky outtakes.
Meet The New Kids / Parking Lot Tour / Set Tour
Some if not all of these have appeared online in some way, shape or form over the past year, but they’re still enjoyable. I like the fact they had cast members conducting the tours and introducing the new cast. They provide a lot of charisma and make this behind-the-scenes content fun to watch.
Goodbyes / From Rehearsal to Shooting
I wasn’t as sad as I thought I’d be watching the “Goodbyes” of the seniors, but it was still touching seeing how close the cast and crew are. But my favorite extra from this dvd has to be the rehearsal. We see Stefan coaching Luke, Chloe, Jordy, Alicia and Brendan Jeffers through a rehearsal of the prom shooting scene in Dead & Gone. The closest we ever get to seeing rehearsal stuff is when Stephen Stohn tweets pictures of the readthroughs. It’s really neat to see the meticulous planning that goes into the episodes before they even begin shooting.