25 Best, Worst, and Gems I Saw In 2020


There’s no good way to open this post, so there’s one of my dogs. That’s Cub. We got him in November of 2019 when he was just under 3 months. He was my first puppy and the first male dog I have ever had. That picture is of him about a year later. I didn’t put him that way. I just looked over at the chair and he was sitting like a person, complete with using the armrest. He didn’t even get up to move when I started taking pictures. He sat there as if he were posing for me.

Anyways, I apologize for the lists being even later this year than last. I don’t even have the high number of movies as an excuse this time around as I fell short of 2019’s number of films, which is 1,266. I only saw 919 of them last year. Things just kept coming up that cut into the time it takes to comb through the movies and compile the lists.

The rules are the same as in previous years with one exception. I am going to start linking to reviews of these movies if I can find any that have been written by one of our contributors here on Through the Shattered Lens.

Here are the normal rules:

  1. There is no particular order to the films in these lists. They either made it, or they didn’t.
  2. These lists do not necessarily have films that came out in 2020. These are films that I saw for the first time in 2020. In fact, none of these films are from 2020.
  3. The gems list are films that don’t make the best list, but I want to put a spotlight on them.
  4. If you disagree with any of my choices. Good! I want people to form their own opinions and think for themselves. But if you care to share those opinions, then be nice about it.
The China Syndrome (1979, dir. James Bridges)

Best:

  1. Dunkirk (2017)
  2. Silence (2016)
  3. The Cassandra Crossing (1976)
  4. Ford v Ferrari (2019)
  5. Shin Godzilla (2016)
  6. Yours, Mine and Ours (1968)
  7. Kuroneko (1968)
  8. After The Storm (2016)
  9. Green Book (2018)
  10. Knives Out (2019)
  11. Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol (2011)
  12. The Big Sick (2017)
  13. Too Late For Tears (1949)
  14. First Reformed (2017)
  15. Fences (2016)
  16. The Red House (1947)
  17. Gaslight (1940)
  18. The Poseidon Adventure (1972) – Lisa’s Review and Gary’s Review
  19. Detroit (2017)
  20. A Ghost Story (2017)
  21. American Made (2017)
  22. The China Syndrome (1979)
  23. Underfire: The Untold Story Of Pfc. Tony Vaccaro (2016)
  24. Kedi (2016)
  25. Shazam! (2019)

Worst:

  1. Shelter (2014)
  2. Another Nine & A Half Weeks (1997)
  3. Ghosts Of Girlfriends Past (2009)
  4. The Assignment (2016)
  5. Dracula 3000 (2004)
  6. Scales: A Mermaid Tale (2017)
  7. The Net 2.0 (2006)
  8. Butterfly (1981)
  9. God, Sex & Apple Pie (1998)
  10. Costa Rican Summer (2010)
  11. The Poughkeepsie Tapes (2007)
  12. Beaks: The Movie (1987)
  13. Diary Of A Whimpy Kid: The Long Haul (2017)
  14. Gremlin (2017)
  15. Below Her Mouth (2016)
  16. Grindin’ (2007)
  17. Kickboxing Academy (1997)
  18. Chairman Of The Board (1998)
  19. Ghosts Can’t Do It (1989)
  20. A Firehouse Christmas (2016)
  21. Private Lessons (1981)
  22. Beyond The Poseidon Adventure (1979)
  23. Curse Of Bigfoot (1975)
  24. Hail Caesar (1994)
  25. House Shark (2017)
Hard Ticket To Hawaii (1987, dir. Andy Sidaris)

Gems:

  1. Rage (1995)
  2. Mirrors (1985)
  3. Hercules (1983)
  4. The Adventures Of Hercules (1985)
  5. What Do You Say To A Naked Lady? (1970)
  6. Jane And The Lost City (1987)
  7. Gone In 60 Seconds (1974)
  8. Nemesis (1992)
  9. American Kickboxer 2 (1993)
  10. Blood & Concrete (1991)
  11. Back To Back (1996)
  12. American Ninja 5 (1993)
  13. Model By Day (1994)
  14. Flowers In The Attic (1987)
  15. Killer Workout (1987)
  16. Safe House (1998)
  17. To All A Good Night (1980)
  18. Lisa (1989)
  19. The Chase (1946)
  20. Tarzan In Manhattan (1989)
  21. Hard Ticket To Hawaii (1987)
  22. David And Lisa (1962)
  23. The Student Nurses (1970)
  24. Voyage Of The Rock Aliens (1984)
  25. Backstage (1988)
Hard Ticket To Hawaii (1987, dir. Andy Sidaris)

Val’s Mini-Post: Why Undefeatable (1993, dir. Godfrey Ho) Is On My Gems List Of 2019


In 2019 I fell in love with Cynthia Rothrock. I started watching any of her movies that I could get my hands on. I also wound up exploring other martial artists that were in her orbit such as Don “The Dragon” Wilson and Richard Norton.

Rothrock did a couple of movies with notorious “cut-and-paste” director Godfrey Ho. I think the exact number is five movies, but she only did footage for three of them. In classic Godfrey Ho fashion, he reused the footage to make two more movies. I haven’t seen the one that repurposed the footage from Undefeatable.

The bad guy of the movie is named Stingray. There’s a final battle at the end of the film in which Stingray lands his face on a nail (???), causing him to lose one of his eyes. This doesn’t stop him though, and Stingray continues to fight. In the end, he ends up getting his other eye stuck on a hook. The hook lifts him up into the air. After he’s lifted up to the top, Cynthia Rothrock says, “Keep an eye out for ya, Stingray,” to which her partner adds, “Yeah, see ya!”

Those lines are what made this movie stand out from the 27 other Cynthia Rothrock movies I watched that year. You can watch the scene here.

It’s films like Undefeatable that are the reason the “Gems” exists.

4 Shots From 4 Films: The Crow: City Of Angels (1996), The Crow: Salvation (2000), The Crow: Wicked Prayer (2005), Barb Wire (1996)


A few weeks back I was disappointed to find out that I had not seen The Crow: City Of Angels like I thought I had way back in the 90s. Even worse, I discovered they made two more sequels. And for the final cherry on top, they were available to watch. So let me share a little bit from each film, and Barb Wire because I watched it at the same time.

The Crow: City Of Angels (1996, dir. Tim Pope)

Unsurprisingly, the film isn’t very good. It’s a pale rehash of the first film. I hear there’s a print that included a bunch of material that wound up the cutting room floor. I didn’t see it, so I can’t speak to it.

Getting to the screenshot, while I know the villain is impaled before getting Tony Goldwyn’s death from Ghost (1990), I want to know why Michael Powell’s Peeping Tom (1960) is playing in The Crow universe. It made sense for Michael Myers to reference it in Resurrection. I don’t know what it’s doing here. The Weinsteins produced both films, so maybe they just really liked it.

The Crow: Salvation (2000, dir. Bharat Nalluri)

Of the the three sequels to The Crow, this is the one I’ll remember the most. This one has a guy who is falsely accused of murdering his girlfriend. He is executed in the electric chair, and the crow brings him back. This movie would probably be memorable simply on the grounds that it has Kirsten Dunst, William Atherton, and Fred Ward. Not to me. They’re icing on the cake. The accused killer is played by Eric Mabius. Yes, the actor who plays Hallmark’s wound-tighter-than-a-drum postal worker from the Signed, Sealed, Delivered movies plays the person brought back to seek vengeance. I find that to be amazing.

The Crow: Wicked Prayer (2005, dir. Lance Mungia)

Edward Furlong as The Crow. Why not? This movie also brings us Tara Reid as a person who steals someone’s ability to see the future. We have a satanic cult run by David Boreanaz. We have Danny Trejo and Dennis Hopper for good measure. The film sets up like it’s going to be like a spaghetti western, which I guess these movie were to begin with seeing as the plots aren’t too dissimilar to something like Django Kill… If You Live, Shoot! (1967). It’s also the only sequel that includes a bunch of scenes during the day. However, all of it comes together as a mess that never really goes anywhere.

Here’s a bonus shot to show you how much they were trying to go with the spaghetti western look.

And yes, the other members of his gang are called War, Pestilence, and Famine.

Barb Wire (1996, dir. David Hogan)

I remember when Barb Wire came out. Baywatch was everywhere expect on my TV. Pamela was unavoidable, at least if you were a kid at the time. It only stuck with me because of the “Don’t call me babe” line that they played in the trailers. I didn’t actually see it till over 20 years later…sort of.

Have you seen Casablanca (1942)? It’s the same movie with a fictional world rather than the real one. It doesn’t even pretend that it isn’t. I know that at heart Star Wars did same kind of thing. The letters of transit are the Millennium Falcon, Han Solo is Rick, and so on and so forth. But Star Wars threw in some Kurosawa and made it all feel exciting and new. It made it its own. The only thing Barb Wire adds is post-apocalypse…and boobs. It’s Pamela Anderson. They come with the package.

You can go through almost every key element or character from Casablanca and find it here. The one upside is that WWII is replaced by a civil war that starts in 2017 and Pamela gives us an eerily accurate description of the real world in the couple of years that followed 2017.

Val’s Mini-Post: A Jump In The Kiddie Pool With 365 Days (2020, dir. Barbara Bialowas & Tomasz Mandes)


Considering I am not on TikTok I of course heard about that challenge to watch the first scene of Gaspar Noé’s self-important, wish-fulfillment film called Love (2015). Fortunately, I had already subjected myself to that movie back in 2015. Unfortunately, that challenge apparently started with some Polish movie I had never heard of before called 365 Days. At the time of writing this post, this is the plot summary on IMDb for it:

Massimo is a member of the Sicilian Mafia family and Laura is a sales director. She does not expect that on a trip to Sicily trying to save her relationship, Massimo will kidnap her and give her 365 days to fall in love with him.

As no one will remember, when Fifty Shades Of Grey (2015) came out I tweeted that it sounded like it was a film for kids to watch during a sleepover so they can think they saw something. It turned out to be accurate. The plot summary above for 365 Days made me think the same thing, so of course I watched it. Don’t judge me. The previous three movies I watched were DDR With Joey King (The Kissing Booth 2), Basically Lego Power Rangers (The Lego Ninjago Movie), and Late Night Cable With 90’s 3D Graphics (Virtual Girl). I already know I have bad taste. So what did I think of it?

It’s not worth your time unless you are a kid who is looking for a movie that will make you think you saw something salacious. Go figure that it’s the same thing I said about Fifty Shades Of Grey. It’s almost like I mentioned that for a reason.

To add a little depth, it’s a pale imitation of something I could see Italian director Lina Wertmüller doing back in the 70s or 80s but with some modern, stylish set design and cinematography added on to it. Specifically, I’m thinking of Wertmüller’s Swept Away (1974)

Swept Away (1974)

and Summer Night With Greek Profile, Almond Eyes And Scent Of Basil (1986).

Summer Night With Greek Profile, Almond Eyes And Scent Of Basil (1986)

And that’s me being very, very kind.

Here’s a couple screenshots that people have included on IMDb for obvious reasons. They get across what it’s like to watch this movie.

We meet again Joey King.

Summer ’03 (2018, dir. Becca Gleason)

It’s an image that is so taboo that it is quickly undercut by the poster for a coming-of-age movie with Joey King. It’s one of the many teases without any substance behind it that you’ll find in this film.

Yes, I’m aware it’s also similar to the poster for Lolita 2000 (1998). You don’t need to remind me.

You might think that he is going to tame her like that lion back there. But like almost all of the sex stuff in this movie, it’s over very quickly and/or goes nowhere like the scene pictured above. Another woman shows up on the other side of the room, she appears to be kissing his knee over and over instead of centering herself, he approaches the kidnapped lady, and then decides against doing anything.

The only scene I remember being complete was a blow job he gets on an airplane from someone else to establish that he takes what he wants. That’s why aside from kidnapping her, he doesn’t really take what he wants in this movie. He nudges her in various ways to try and convince her to give it to him. Character development? I think it was their way of pretending as if she had at least as much choice as Beauty/Belle in Beauty And The Beast, which greatly varies depending on the film version you watch.

This is one of those erotica movies that if you haven’t seen something like it, or something more interesting, then it will still wash on by you without leaving much of an impression. It looks stylish. It’s well-shot. It tries to have some sort of forbidden plot-line to entice you into watching it and others into getting worked up about it. That’s about it!

I wish I had more to say, but I don’t think I should be recommending anything more along these lines–you can find those yourself. It’s also so forgettable that I’m losing memories of it as I type. I don’t think I can even say that it’s worth taking the time to riff. Skip it.

4 Shots From 4 Films: The Concorde… Airport ’79 (1979), Shin Godzilla (2016), The First 9 1/2 Weeks (1998), Etoile (1989)


There’s no particular connection between these films Just a smattering of shots I found interesting in some films I’ve watched recently.

The Concorde… Airport ’79 (1979, dir. David Lowell Rich)

The same year that Ruggero Deodato brought us Concorde Affaire ’79 (1979), the final Airport film came out. It involved pilot George Kennedy having to deal with a reprogrammed drone missile, missiles launched by duped French Air Force officers, and a device designed to decompress the plane by opening the cargo bay door.

This particular shot is from a scene where they fly the plane upside down while George Kennedy fires a flare out of the cockpit as a countermeasure to throw off an incoming missile. Just take that all in.

Shin Godzilla (2016, dir. Hideaki Anno & Shinji Higuchi)

One of the last shots from the film where Godzilla has now become part of the city skyline. If you haven’t seen this Godzilla movie, then I highly recommend you check it out.

The First 9 1/2 Weeks (1998, dir. Alex Wright)

Malcolm McDowell remembering the time he played Caligula (1979) in a knockoff of The Game (1997) which bills itself as prequel to 9 1/2 Weeks (1986). The only connection it has to the first two films is that it tries something like the fridge scene from the original and the shampoo scene from Another 9 1/2 Weeks (1997). However, that’s like Witchcraft 8: Salem’s Ghost (1996) claiming it has a connection to 9 1/2 Weeks because it too features a fridge scene (a disgusting one).

Etoile (1989, dir. Peter Del Monte)

Okay, I’m cheating on this one. I actually watched this film last year when I was finally able to get my hands on two of Jennifer Connelly’s early films–the other being Seven Minutes In Heaven (1985). This was during what I call her mystical period. Another example is Some Girls (1988).

In Etoile (aka Ballet), Jennifer Connelly and some other guy get drawn into a bad movie where Connelly performs in a weird version of Swan Lake. So of course the movie needs to include somebody getting attacked by a giant black swan during a scene a little reminiscent of the time Jessica Harper referenced Dario Argento’s first film while fighting a witch. Yes, I’m well aware that Connelly was also in an Argento film.

As a bonus, here’s what the director thought of the giant black swan.

Val’s Mini-Post: Why The Adventures Of Huckleberry Finn (1955, dir. Herbert B. Swope Jr.) Is On My Worst List Of 2019


I mentioned in my annual post about the “25 Best, Worst, and Gems I Saw In 2019” that I wound up seeing 1,266 films. I’m not up to writing lengthly posts at the moment, so instead, I thought I would take advantage of the excessive number of movies I watched to write some mini-posts from time to time about certain aspects of the films that I saw.

This was a 1955 TV Movie adaptation of The Adventures Of Huckleberry Finn. They left out the character of Jim. I couldn’t believe it and even pulled my copy of the book to make sure I wasn’t imagining this character existed in the novel. I’m positive this was because of censorship, but it left me wondering why they even bothered adapting the novel if they were going to omit that character. It basically turns the story into one of a kid who runs away with two con artists that proceed to do shtick for the course of the film. I can only guess that they were desperate to have a movie made for the week and The Adventures Of Huckleberry Finn was not only pre-existing, but in the public domain. It’s kind of like when they used Jane Eyre to make I Walked With A Zombie (1941) expect it’s not creative or interesting. Despite seeing this during March of 2019, it stuck with me enough that I thought of it 9 months later.

25 Best, Worst, and Gems I Saw In 2019


Rest in peace, Gary. Thank you for all the support you provided me with over the years.

—-

This was one heck of a year. I apologize for these lists being a little late. I’ve tried on numerous occasions, but this was the first year I was able to do it. I have unofficially broken the Guinness Book of World Records for the most films seen in a single year. The current record at the time of this posting is 1,132; I got through 1,266 films. I know that others have broken this record year after year with higher numbers. As a result, it meant there were a lot of films to try and go back through to compile these lists.

If you’re curious about this, then feel free to look at my Letterboxd account. I was there from 2012 to the Fall of 2018 when I left for my own reasons. I returned a few months later with a new account and only use it to keep stats rather than to use any of the site’s social aspects. I’m done with those.

Okay, let’s get to the lists. Right, Van Damme?

No Retreat, No Surrender (1986, dir. Corey Yuen)

Here are this year’s rules:

  1. There is no particular order to the films in these lists. They either made it, or not.
  2. These lists do not necessarily have films that came out in 2019. These are films that I saw for the first time in 2019. In fact, none of these films are from 2019. That means no Joker because it came out in 2019 and Michael Dudikoff’s Joker in Fury Of The Fist And The Golden Fleece (2018) doesn’t make the film qualify for any of these lists.
  3. The gems list are films that don’t make the best list, but I want to put a spotlight on them.
  4. If you disagree with any of my choices. Good! I want people to form their own opinions and think for themselves. But if you care to share those opinions, then be nice about it, or you won’t receive a response from me.

Adele’s Dinner (1978, dir. Oldrich Lipský)

Best:

  1. The Big City (1963)
  2. The Nice Guys (2016)
  3. Boat People (1982)
  4. The Bigamist (1953)
  5. The 36th Chamber Of Shaolin (1978)
  6. Return To The 36th Chamber (1980)
  7. Romper Stomper (1992)
  8. A Man Called Ove (2015)
  9. The Handmaiden (2016)
  10. Choose Me (1984)
  11. Witchhammer (1970)
  12. Adele’s Dinner (1978)
  13. Foxfire (1996)
  14. Ginger Snaps (2000)
  15. Moonlight (2016)
  16. Run, Man, Run (1968)
  17. Land Of Mine (2015)
  18. Witchboard (1986)
  19. Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse (2018)
  20. Léon: The Professional (1994)
  21. In Bruges (2008)
  22. John Wick (2014)
  23. Proof (1991)
  24. Paterson (2016)
  25. The Coca-Cola Kid (1985)

Girl (2018, dir. Lukas Dhont)

Worst:

  1. Adventures In Public School (2017)
  2. China Salesman (2017)
  3. Tarzan, The Ape Man (1981)
  4. Vaxxed: From Cover-Up To Catastrophe (2016)
  5. The Adventures Of Huckleberry Finn (1955)
  6. Mr. Virgin (1984)
  7. Me Before You (2016)
  8. Girl (2018)
  9. The Babysitter (1995)
  10. Zero Days (2016)
  11. Return Of The Living Dead: Rave To The Grave (2005)
  12. She-Man: A Story Of Fixation (1967)
  13. Slender Man (2018)
  14. Top Dog (1995)
  15. The Boxcar Children: Surprise Island (2018)
  16. The Poet (2007)
  17. Last Resort (1986)
  18. The Mod Squad (1999)
  19. Marie And Bruce (2004)
  20. Freaky Friday (2018)
  21. Carrie (2002)
  22. Ringmaster (1998)
  23. Invasion U.S.A. (1985)
  24. Warhead (1977)
  25. Deadly Invasion: The Killer Bee Nightmare (1995)

Another Son Of Sam (1977, dir. Dave Adams)

Gems:

  1. Unbelievable Adventures Of Italians In Russia (1974)
  2. The Flying Guillotine (1975) & Palace Carnage (1978) & The Vengeful Beauty (1978)
  3. A Friend To Die For (1994)
  4. Made In Britain (1982)
  5. Grizzly (1976)
  6. The Apple (1980)
  7. The Ryan White Story (1989)
  8. Shadey (1985)
  9. Amanda & The Alien (1995)
  10. Longshot (1981)
  11. The Coolangatta Gold (1984)
  12. Came A Hot Friday (1985)
  13. Bells Of Rosarita (1945)
  14. Toni Erdmann (2016)
  15. Another Son Of Sam (1977)
  16. Destination Wedding (2018)
  17. Nine Deaths Of The Ninja (1985)
  18. Christine (2016) & Kate Plays Christine (2016)
  19. U.S. Seals II (2001)
  20. Honor And Glory (1993)
  21. Undefeatable (1993)
  22. No Retreat, No Surrender (1986)
  23. Silent Night, Deadly Night Part 2 (1987)
  24. Crackerjack 2 (1997)
  25. Hawkeye (1988)

Degrassi: The Kids Of Degrassi Street — Sophie Minds The Store


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In the last episode, we followed Lisa step by step through the process of nearly releasing a story that her brother Noel is a thief. This time we are essentially getting a reworked version of that same story about trust and responsibility, which is fine by me. It gives me a good excuse to skip over the many ways they try to tie these lessons together.

This is Sophie, played by Stacey Halberstadt. Her mom is played by Lydia Chaban.

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As per the usual for the parents of the kids Of Degrassi Street, Sophie is going to be left unsupervised in a situation where she definitely should be. Her mom is going out of town for a wedding. Her dad is in the apartment above the store in a body cast. We only hear him once in a while when he yells down at her. This means Sophie will be left alone to run the De Grassi Grocery. There is mention of an aunt that is cooking her meals, but we never see her. All that said, if this wasn’t the case, Sophie wouldn’t have the chance to open the episode with the catchphrase of the episode which she says to her mom: “Trust me!”

I think this might be Lewis Manne again playing the cab driver picking up Sophie’s mom. If it is him, then it looks as if he has shaved his beard. It’s hard to tell for sure.

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It looks like him from the back…

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when you compare it to the way he looked in the last episode.

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Throw in the way he appears while getting out of the cab, and it sure looks like him to me.

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I’m gonna go ahead and say it is him. Especially since two people from behind the scenes make cameos later on in the episode. At this rate, Manne is becoming the Alfred Hitchcock of The Kids Of Degrassi Street.

While I’m aware that we did get a glance at a school in Irene Moves In, for me this counts as the first real appearance of a school in the Degrassi franchise. As you might have guessed from the Christmas tree in the distance, they are about to be let out for the holidays.

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It’s a little difficult to make out that board, but a math contest was recently held. Whoever won got an “earphone radio”.

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The camera pans down this hallway to show us the kids exiting from a room to go to their lockers. While it does so, I swear the voice coming over the PA system to tell us about the math contest is none other than Sue A’Court. You might remember her as Nurse Trish from Cookie Goes To Hospital. It would make sense since this is one of the episodes she wrote.

Sophie is the winner of the math contest. She didn’t get a single answer wrong. “Homework Causes Brain Damage”??? That’s a new one on me. Having numerous things that keep interrupting you so that it winds up taking you an inordinate amount of time to write a simple post about an episode of Degrassi, now that causes brain damage.

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Chuck asks if he can see her radio, but with her ego at maximum size, she ignores Chuck at first by inviting Noel to try it on. He refuses. Then she tells Chuck that he might “wreck” it.

Apparently Noel is a fan of the Rolling Stones.

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There’s a little exchange between the three of them. What’s important is that we find out Chuck’s dad is in jail and that Chuck was suspended from his hockey team for fighting. The second of which he blames on the other person.

Sophie does as the title says; she tries to mind the store. She is a very “I don’t need any help person” that her recent win at the math contest only makes worse.

Chuck is out collecting bottles to try and raise money to get one of those radios that Sophie won in order to give it to his dad.

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What follows is a series of situations where Sophie could get robbed without her knowing it.

Some examples include this highly suspicious little girl.

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When Chuck turns in some of his bottles for cash.

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This guy who causes her to have to come out from behind the counter to fix a display he knocks over. By the way, that’s Bruce Mackey who was gay in real life. He passed away in 1997, they named a park on De Grassi St. after him, his house is where they shot the first episode of the show, and according to the The Queer Alliance Of Degrassi Next Class, he is the reason the franchise had a mandate to include LGBTQ characters and issues. This was due to a friendship with one of the show’s creators.

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That would be the person below, Linda Schuyler, who comes in after Sophie has left Chuck in charge of the store–“Trust me!”–while she goes out to deliver a package to a customer.

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Noel even shows up for an after-hours milk purchase.

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During most of this, Chuck hangs around the store and tries to help out Sophie. He keeps asking her about coming to skate with him, but she dismisses his offers. She says she doesn’t have any skates, and despite the fact that Chuck says she can wear his sister’s skates, she still says no.

Things weren’t great between Chuck and Sophie before, but they reach a boiling point after Sophie counts the money in the register at the end of the day in order to compare the total with the day’s receipts, and comes up $20 short.

Assuming that it must be Chuck’s fault, because she couldn’t have possibly added it up wrong, she crosses the line when she tries to use Chuck’s father being in jail as proof that it must have been him that caused her to come up $20 short. Chuck’s response is to push over Sophie after saying “that nobody accuses him and gets away with it.” Chuck has anger issues.

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Getting pushed into a bunch of Wonder Bread is pretty good, but it’s no Irene getting paint splattered on her while looking like she is posing for a crime scene photograph.

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Chuck has a conversation with Noel about what happened. Noel’s remarkably mature about it. He doesn’t defend what she did and doesn’t give Chuck a pass for what he did. Noel agrees that it was wrong for Sophie to assume Chuck stole money from the store and for Sophie to say that Chuck must have learned how to steal from his father. But he reminds Chuck that it wasn’t his father who pushed her over. That’s something he did, and since he could have just walked away, pushing her over is something he has to take responsibility for regardless of the fact that Sophie provoked him.

He also points out the obvious that Chuck knows he didn’t do it, and since it makes no sense that Sophie would’ve taken money from her own store, one of them must have made a mistake.

Chuck tries to apologize, but Sophie won’t have any of it. It’s not till Sophie takes the money to the bank and the clerk informs her she added things together wrong that she’s open to admitting that she was wrong.

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Sophie finds Chuck at an ice rink and gives Chuck her radio to give to his dad. Chuck happens to have brought his sister’s skates with him, so she agrees to skate with him.

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I really appreciate that much like previous episodes, despite learning a lesson during the episode, they don’t immediately lose the part of them that caused the issue in the first place. The instant Sophie gets on the ice, she says she doesn’t need Chuck’s hand, and proceeds to fall down.

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Speaking of not changing instantly, it takes till the moment in the credits below for Sophie to remind Chuck that he hasn’t actually apologized to her for pushing her over.

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He does, and despite the fact that she falls down again saying that’s it’s helpless, he tells her once more over the final set of credits to trust him.

A fairly unremarkable episode, but it did have Linda Schuyler and Bruce Mackey in it. It does have a happy ending, teaches a good lesson, and I’d say the writing was solid as just about everything links together with the themes of trust and responsibility. It’s just not particularly memorable aside from the cameos.

Stacey Halberstadt passed away in 2006. To the best of my knowledge, this is her only appearance in the series. We’ll see Chuck again, though.

Next time we finally get to the episode I’ve wanted to talk about since I started writing about Degrassi–Casey Draws The Line. This time there are permanent consequences to Casey and Lisa’s actions.

As a footnote, while looking into this episode, I found out that they used to sell books to go with the show, such as the one below for Lisa Makes The Headlines.

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  1. The Kids Of Degrassi Street
    1. Ida Makes A Movie
    2. Cookie Goes To Hospital
    3. Irene Moves In
    4. Noel Buys A Suit
    5. Lisa Makes The Headlines

Degrassi: The Kids Of Degrassi Street — Lisa Makes The Headlines


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This is a landmark episode in the series for two reasons.

It’s the first episode that is from the series proper, whereas the first four “episodes” were short films that become the first four episodes of the show. You can think of them as four pilot episodes that were aired over several years.

The second reason is that while the show isn’t in the same universe as the rest of Degrassi, they did take elements from it that would be incorporated into the rest of the franchise. Such is the case with this episode where Stacie Mistysyn’s character Lisa wants to become a reporter. She ultimately would in the other entries in the franchise as the character Caitlin Ryan.

In the last episode called Noel Buys A Suit, we saw Noel go through the tough process of having someone new marry his father at some point after the death of his mother. While the episode primarily focused on him, we could also see his father’s fiancee Gayle begin to develop a healthy relationship with Noel so that she wouldn’t be marrying into a hostile situation. We also saw Noel’s father convey to Noel that he’s marrying Gayle because he loves her, not because she’s a replacement for Noel’s birth mother or that he is somehow disappointed with Noel for all the help he’s been giving him at work and at home. That’s why it’s odd and disappointing that despite this episode focusing on Noel’s sister Lisa, Gayle seems to have disappeared into thin air. She will return later on. Still, it’s a little disorienting when you watch the episodes back-to-back.

With all of that out of the way, let’s talk about Lisa Makes The Headlines.

The episode starts off with us seeing Chuck go to deliver some newspapers followed by a newspaper truck stopping to make a delivery to the De Grassi Grocery.

He’s back!

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Okay, so let’s try to piece together the life of Lewis Manne’s “character” so far.

We know that in 1979, he either owned or worked at a camera store based on his appearance in the episode called Ida Makes A Movie.

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A few years later he attended the wedding of Noel’s parents.

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Now we know that he either lost the camera store, was fired, or has a second job delivering newspapers.

I love trying to create a narrative for this guy who in reality is just making cameo appearances because he was their music guy for the show. According to IMDb, he even wrote a famous song for Degrassi Junior High/Degrassi High called Everybody Wants Something.

We’ve already met Chuck. This is Casey, played by future Degrassi High cast member Sarah Charlesworth.

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Casey and Lisa have started a newspaper together.

Much like a film noir, this episode opens with narration from Lisa, which we’ll get throughout the episode. She explains that she wants to be a reporter because people want to read the news whether it’s good or bad. You can start to foresee the problem she’ll deal with in this episode, especially since the title is Lisa Makes The Headlines.

While Lisa still has to eat her breakfast, Casey is off to start the plot by visiting Ida’s house to sell subscriptions. We find out that Fred still exists.

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Casey has caught him while he is vacuuming and listening to music. She’s able to sell Fred a subscription to the paper and before leaving, Casey asks if she can borrow some joke books. Fred tells her sure, he will tell Ida that she stopped by the house. He doesn’t say anything about the joke books. This little miscommunication is what will turn into something else as Lisa takes her first swing at investigative reporting for The Degrassi Journal.

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They print the paper using a press that Casey’s mom lets them use. Casey’s mother being played by Sarah Charlesworth’s own mother, Barbara Charlesworth.

They go to sell the papers on a street corner, and we meet Lisa’s first potential customers played by twins Dale and David Callender.

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I only mention them because come Degrassi Junior High, a set of twins will be important characters on the show. Like this entire series, it’s a look into the what would become the Degrassi universe.

All the stars are returning for this episode. Noel’s here as you would expect him to be.

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Even the Do Not Litter Sign from the first episode (as shown below) makes a return.

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It turns out the secret club still exists too, but is meeting on an unusual day. This starts to peak Lisa’s interest since Noel doesn’t seem to want to tell her why they are having a meeting on a different day than they usually do.

Irene is here as well.

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They are meeting on a different day so that Ida won’t be there while they pick out a present for her. Irene knows this sweatshirt is perfect for her after that whole Bigfoot incident a few episodes ago.

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To make sure that Ida doesn’t sneak up on them, they’ve made Chuck their lookout. You can see how happy he is at having to do that job.

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I hate to break it to you guys, but your secret club meeting security has already been compromised by grip Greg Palermo as shown by the boom mic in the lower-left-hand corner.

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The boom mic is showing up in so many episodes, it’s practically becoming a character. Judging by the fact that it looks silver, it might be the same boom mic from the last episode.

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Casey and Lisa aren’t selling any papers. Casey thinks that they need a “scoop” of some sort.

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 Lisa: But this is Degrassi St. Nothing big ever happens around here.

Expanding that statement to Degrassi as a whole makes that line hilarious in retrospect. Yeah, nothing ever happens here. A twin getting pregnant while the other doesn’t. A teenage father jumping off a bridge. Pedophilia. Eating disorders. A penis measuring contest. Everything the writers thought they could get away with happens on Degrassi.

While passing by Ida’s house, they run into her and ask why she isn’t at the club meeting. Ida is her usual self, and tells Lisa to get her facts straight about when the club meets. I mean she’s the president, so she would be the first to know if the meeting time changed.

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Half of the fun of writing about this show at this point is catching some of the faces Zoë Harrison makes.

Finding out that Ida doesn’t know about this meeting makes Lisa jump to the obvious conclusion that the other members of the group are going to do something bad to Ida. This includes her brother.

At the Canard residence, we find Noel playing Scrabble with his father. Lisa has graduated from knock-knock jokes to trying to solve a symbolic Rubik’s Cube.

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Lisa is upset that she won’t be able to get a “scoop” for the paper. She doesn’t take kindly to her brother making fun of the paper either.

Noel says he’s willing to be interviewed, and Lisa starts champing at the bit.

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However, immediately asking a relevant question about the secret club meeting gets her the response that it’s none of her business.

While Lisa doesn’t know it yet, Scrabble tells us where this is going: Robbery.

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If you take a look at the other words, then you’ll find that some of them have an attachment to the first four episodes. The one ending with “al” is “pal”.

Going back to Chuck for a second, we can see the front page article of the Toronto Sun is about a boom in crimes committed by children.

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You might think this paper would lead Lisa to think a kid may have committed a crime on Degrassi St., but it doesn’t. We just cut to her feeding her cat Meow Mix. It’s just more foreshadowing.

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Lisa decides that if her brother won’t talk to her, then she is going to go and talk to Ida to see what she knows.

Ida tells her that she is missing a couple of joke books. The joke books we saw Casey borrow earlier in the episode. Ida acts appropriately in that it’s nothing big, and since anyone could have taken them, there’s no way anyone is going to track them down.

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Lisa assures Ida that she can find the missing books.

Instead of looking into this possible robbery, the first thing she does is run to Casey to publish a newspaper article about this supposed robbery. She says to Casey that “all” of Ida’s books were stolen and possibly other things as well. Casey is so amazed that she fails to mention she borrowed some books from Ida. To make matters worse, we hear Lisa, via a voiceover, tell us that the article is going to say that “all” of Ida’s stuff was stolen. We went from a few joke books that Ida is missing to all of her books are missing to all of her stuff missing in the span of about two minutes.

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Almost 20 years later, Lisa would find that she lived long enough to see herself become an actual robber on Degrassi.

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As you can see from the screenshot above the one from Degrassi: TNG, this article has made Lisa and Casey’s paper a hit. It probably helps that in promoting it, they even throw in that people should lock their windows and doors. Lisa has deluded herself so much that she believes that this story and the subsequent sales of their newspaper means that her and Casey have a “good” newspaper.

Irene picks up a copy of the paper which is how it makes its way back to the secret club, leading to one of my favorite lines in the episode. Chuck says that if this happened to him then he would have called in the RCMP. That stands for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. The RCMP are the rough equivalent of the FBI in that they have jurisdiction at the federal level. So it would be like the FBI being called in to investigate a local robbery of a couple of joke books.

After discussing Lisa and her paper further, they conclude that they shouldn’t say anything, but instead let her embarrass herself.

Ida and Noel give some excellent looks.

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Lisa brings home a copy of the newspaper for Noel to look at and give his opinion on. An opinion she refuses to listen to because he tells her that her story is false. She takes great offense. She’s even more determined to catch this thief.

In the next scene, Lisa is jumping to the conclusion that Noel must be a “rat” that is trying to keep this story out of the paper. Casey also jumps to conclusions by telling Lisa that Noel isn’t acting the way he is because he wants to see her fail. He’s acting that way because something “fishy” is going on. Again, she still doesn’t mention that she borrowed a couple of books from Ida.

Lisa comes home, and hears Noel talking on the phone. By hearing him on the phone, I mean she hears him at exactly the right moment to make her even more suspicious.

She goes up to Noel’s room, and with a little poking around, she finds the sweatshirt the other members of the group got for Ida.

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Noel catches her in his room. Lisa says she knows about his “plan”. Does she think he is going to start robbing other places on Degrassi Street? That’s the way it sounds.

Now we have an important conversation between Lisa and her father as he washes her hair.

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I think the shot above sums it up quite nicely since without context I could just as easily have led into it by saying, “clearly somebody needs to straighten out Lisa even if her father’s methods are a bit extreme.”

He gives her some good advice about being a responsible journalist. However, without context for her questions, his advice leads her in the wrong direction. Cut to the next shot, and she is printing a paper that not only says that the “Theif Confesses”, but also that Noel himself stated that “he did it just for fun.”

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Not exactly what her father thought she was asking him concerning whether it is a journalist’s responsibility to report news even if its bad. She also ignored his statement about having facts.

I feel stupid, but it did take me till that shot in this episode to notice that the secret club only accepting people whose names start with an I, N, or C means that the club is Degrassi Inc.

The episode has to bring things to a close soon, so Casey’s mom has some papers that need to be given to Ida’s mother. Casey figures she’ll drop off the joke books that she borrowed while she is delivering them.

After we get a shot of some of the club members complaining about Lisa and wondering whether she’ll publish a story about finding their present for Ida, we finally get something that is sorta like the summary on the back of the DVD.

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Lisa wonders whether she should publish this “story” about her brother being a thief considering he is her brother.

Casey returns the joke books to Ida, which Ida recognizes as the missing books. She thinks it’s funny considering that this whole robbery story sprung from a couple of joke books and one of her friends being so eager to be a journalist. She takes it with a grain of salt. She doesn’t blow up like she might have a few episodes back when she was younger.

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Casey does the right thing by running off to tell Lisa before she starts selling their newspaper which contains an unsubstantiated story based on misconstrued information.

Just before Casey arrives, Lisa tosses the newspaper. The show could have left it there, but it doesn’t. Casey takes the newspapers out of the trash because they not only owe Noel an apology, but it is their responsibility to print a corrected story explaining what really happened.

Lisa apologizes in person at the secret club. When Noel realizes that no one read the paper where Lisa actually named names, he rushes her into the secret club because Ida is coming. They are ready to give her the surprise birthday party they had been setting up for Ida while we followed Lisa.

This party doesn’t just seem like an ending to this episode. I think they tried to gather as many of the children we had been introduced to at this point together in order to celebrate what had been four separate short films being turned into an ongoing series. You can even see a reminder of the first episode, Ida Makes A Movie, as Fred’s war helmet is on the wall of the club.

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Another thing that leads me to believe that is the fact that Ida was the character the series started with and that first episode had themes similar to this one in it.

A final nod to the first episode that I spotted is that the sweatshirt doesn’t say Ida Lucas. It includes the meaningless middle initial that she thought would be impressive to the judges of the film contest.

To cap off the episode we get a mature conversation between Noel and Lisa which amounts to him telling her that she should have listened to him, but that she shouldn’t take this a sign to not pursue becoming a journalist. He even goes so far as to ask her whether she knows why she’s here. The answer he gives her is that she is the only reporter on Degrassi Street. That’s what makes her unique.

I liked this episode. I appreciated the visual nods to film noir.

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I thought it was neat to not give us visuals to show us that she is snowballing the few things she wanted to hear into something they don’t add up to, but instead, gave it to us by mostly keeping us in her head with voiceovers where the only voice is her own.

It reminds me of a story I recently heard on a computer security podcast. The main host told a story about somebody who used to work for them that would jump to a possible explanation for a bug in a piece of software they were working on. Having this possible bug in their head gave this person a vested interest in proving that they were right. The host would have to remind them that they were going to look over everything rather than jump to a conclusion. The lessons in this episode don’t only apply to journalism.

Next time, we meet Sophie who will also jump to conclusions about somebody being a thief.

  1. The Kids Of Degrassi Street
    1. Ida Makes A Movie
    2. Cookie Goes To Hospital
    3. Irene Moves In
    4. Noel Buys A Suit

Degrassi: The Kids Of Degrassi Street — Noel Buys A Suit


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Oh, boy! We have finally reached an episode with an actor who will go on to be in the rest of the franchise. Yay!

But before we get to them, we join Noel at a paint shop where we find out that he has memorized the names of the paints that his father needs to buy for a job.

His father is played by Bob Reid (R.D. Reid) who you might recognize from Dawn Of The Dead (2004), A History Of Violence (2005), Cinderella Man (2005), Capote (2005), Lars And The Real Girl (2007), and Diary Of The Dead (2007), among other things.

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We’ll also find out that Noel is the cook in the family. A family that is about to be changed by the lady behind the counter named Gayle, played by Charlotte Freelander. She’s going to get married to Noel’s father soon.

As Dad is leaving the store, we see some unfortunate advertising for Kwik Stripper.

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The plot of this episode is about Noel learning to accept Gayle as his stepmother shortly before the wedding, along with the inevitable changes that will bring. That’s why they made sure to show us that Noel remembers the names of the paint colors and that he cooks for the family. He’ll feel like he is being replaced.

While taking screenshots, I wound up with this one that makes Gayle look sinister.

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The time has come.

Enter Stacie Mistysyn, whose first scene in Degrassi has her walking into a dining room to tell a knock-knock joke before spilling some food on the floor.

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Not everyone can be introduced by playing a saxophone next to a river in the middle of nowhere for no particular reason. That’s Pamela Anderson’s ridiculous introduction on Baywatch.

Fun facts: Stacie Mistysyn was born in Los Angeles, California, and moved to Canada as a baby where she would be on Degrassi, up to and including Degrassi: TNG. Four years before Mistysyn was born, only a couple of hours after Canada reached its centennial, Pamela Anderson was born in British Columbia, making her their Centennial Baby. She would move a few years later to Vancouver before winding up in Los Angeles on Baywatch. If their Wikipedia pages are accurate, both have dual citizenship.

On The Kids Of Degrassi Street, Mistysyn plays a prototype for her character in the rest of Degrassi. Here she is named Lisa, and is Noel’s sister. She will be Caitlin Ryan come Degrassi Junior High.

Gayle would like to repaint the house so that we can get some more foreshadowing for the conflict of the episode in the form of her speaking about how the colors should be practical and that “less is more”.

Now we cut to–no, no, no. I don’t want to talk about you regardless of the fact that Lisa is in both episodes.

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Noel has several rabbits. Keep that in mind for a later episode with his sister Lisa.

We have the return of Ida, and the introduction of a new friend named Chuck. He is played by Nick Goddard.

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Noel talks about his father taking him to buy a new suit for the upcoming wedding. All I take away from this conversation is something Ida says in response to Noel when he tells them that Gayle is changing the house:

That’s not too good.

I get the feeling Ida didn’t quite learn her lesson in the previous episode where she wasn’t happy about somebody new moving onto Degrassi St.

Chuck tells Noel that his sister is a little weird, so we cut to Lisa taking things off of a chandelier because she wants jewels on her shirt.

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Noel finds his dad and Gayle painting, and for reasons, he ends up being given money to go and buy a new suit by himself.

Noel runs into Chuck and Ida.

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I think writer Amy Jo Cooper might have a little amnesia concerning the second episode because Noel tells them that his dad gave him the money to go purchase a suit, and Ida says her mom would never let her do that on her own. You mean the mother that let you go to a hospital alone to give a doll to your friend who was going to have surgery when she could have gone on her own, Ida?

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You are currently coming out of some place with Chuck, and you have no parental supervision. I find your story a little suspect, Ida.

Noel tells them that he has 54 bucks to buy a suit. Ida wonders where Noel thinks he is going to buy a suit for that much money. The answer is Moore’s: The Suit People.

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Not only do they appear to be a pretty popular chain of stores in Canada, but this particular one has moved just down the street from where it is in this episode. Only now their subtitle is “clothing for men” and they have dropped the apostrophe.

Surely John Bertram, who wrote, directed, and edited episodes from The Kids Of Degrassi Street and Degrassi Junior High/Degrassi High will be able to help Noel find a suit.

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This is the suit that Noel picks out.

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Noel is assured by the salesman that the suit goes with anything and everything, which you can tell Ida buys based on the look on her face.

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Back at home, Lisa is still telling knock-knock jokes.

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Gayle is worried about the alterations being completed the day before the wedding. Noel isn’t worried about that. He’s worried about the fact that Gayle is doing the cooking, rearranging the cupboards, and even wants to measure him in order to buy him a shirt to go with the suit.

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What he should be worried about is the boom mic.

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I can understand how they could miss the boom mic in previous episodes. I don’t know how they missed this one.

Then we see Noel, Chuck, and Ida unloading fiberglass while Noel complains about Gayle.

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Chuck brings up that he’d like someone to do the cooking at his house. Ida reminds the audience again that even an encounter with “Bigfoot” during the last episode didn’t teach her a lesson. She says the following:

Sounds like she’s trying to take over to me.

They say a lot of stupid things from Gayle having tried to choke Noel when she was just trying to measure him for a suit to the possibility that she’ll send him away to a boarding school. Or to put it another way, the screenshot below is how Noel describes Gayle.

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What’s next? Of course it’s more knock-knock jokes with Lisa.

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Noel gets home to find that Gayle has bought him a shirt based on his agreeing with Gayle’s description of how he described the suit: neutral.

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Noel gets angry because Gayle bought it for him. Even Chuck saying that he’ll eat his own hat if the suit is neutral doesn’t calm Noel down. Noel goes back to the store, and buys his own shirt.

Back at the house, someone must have told Lisa to put the jewels back on the chandelier.

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An argument breaks out when Noel gets home and Gayle sees the suit, because of course it does. The pivot point here is in these lines:

Noel: But she’s not my mother. My real mom is dead. We don’t need her.

Noel’s father: I need Gayle. I love her.

Those lines seem to make all the difference because the next morning Noel comes down the stairs wearing his suit and the shirt she picked out. Metaphor!

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Lisa approves, Gayle is shocked…

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and it looks like Noel’s family is friends with the guy who fixed Ida’s camera in the first episode.

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The mystery is solved. The actor’s name is Lewis Manne. He composed music for this show, Degrassi Junior High, Degrassi High, and even Degrassi: TNG.

They get married,

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Stacie Mistysyn begins plotting her takeover of Degrassi,

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and credits!

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So, did they ask for a suit and Moore’s refused to provide one? Did the store not like the way the salesmen was portrayed? Did the store not have the kind of suit they wanted? I’d love to know what the story is that explains the line: “who provided the location but not the suit!”

This episode tried to tackle a child coming to terms with their dad remarrying after the death of their mom. They did it with the making of a wedding outfit for Noel composed of two main parts as a way of leading Noel and Gayle towards them being okay with each other. This culminating with Noel wearing a visual stand-in for the message of the episode. That message being in his acceptance of Gayle as a new member of his family and Gayle knowing that she is marrying into something preexisting rather than something to build from the ground up.

Stacie Mistysyn will return in the next episode as she tries to make the headlines.

  1. The Kids Of Degrassi Street
    1. Ida Makes A Movie
    2. Cookie Goes To Hospital
    3. Irene Moves In