Music Video of the Day: I’m Upset by Drake (2018, dir by Karena Evans)


We’re not even halfway through 2018 yet and I’m already prepared to declare that today’s music video of the day is the best of the year!  Now, you’ll notice that I didn’t say that it’s the best song of the year but really, the song’s not that important.  What’s important is that, with this video, Drake and director Karena Evans gives us the Degrassi reunion that we’ve all been waiting for!

(Okay, maybe not everyone.  Apparently, some people aren’t as obsessed with Degrassi as the rest of us are.  But you know what?  I love Degrassi.  I’ve got almost the entire series on DVD and I’ve watched and rewatched every episode so many times that I can quote most of them from memory.)

Before he found superstardom as Drake, Aubrey Graham was best known (by people like me) for playing Jimmy Brooks.  When Degrassi first started, Jimmy was something of a random jock.  He got into fights.  He played basketball.  He dated Ashley Kerwin and dumped her after she took ecstasy and ended up making out with Sean.  He dated Hazel until she graduated.  He dated Ashley again until she betrayed him to get a recording contract.  And, of course, he ended up in a wheelchair after a mean-spirited prank led to Rick Murray shooting him in the back.  Jimmy eventually left Toronto for Amsterdam and possibly law school but, as we see in this video, he’s back and so are all of our old favorites.

Admittedly, before this video, there was a previous Degrassi reunion.  Back in 2016, the 500th episode of Degrassi featured a class reunion and several old characters did return.  Unfortunately, everyone’s favorites — like Paige, Spinner, Marco, and Emma — didn’t get much screen time.  Instead, Mo — who really shouldn’t have even been at the reunion since it had only been a year since he graduated — got most of the screen time and seriously, who ever cared about Mo?  Meanwhile, beloved graduates like Ellie, Craig, and Manny didn’t even show up.  In short, the official Degrassi reunion was a huge disappointment!

Fortunately, this video does a better job of bringing back almost all of our favorites.  I guess that’s the power of Drake.  True, it’s hard not to be disappointed that Sean Cameron, Joy Hogart, Alex, J.T. Yorke, Johnny DiMarco, and Bruce the Moose didn’t show up.  (If you ever had any doubt that Degrassi was a Canadian show, just consider the fact that a major supporting character was named Bruce The Moose.)  But check out who did return!

First off, here’s Spinner (Shane Kippel)!

Seriously, it’s not a Degrassi reunion if Spinner isn’t there.  Despite the fact that Degrassi was a four-year school, Spinner was enrolled for seven seasons.  Okay, so Spinner wasn’t that good of a student but so what?  He was the heart and soul of Degrassi!  Not only was he the drummer for Toronto’s greatest band, Downtown Sasquatch, but he was also Jimmy’s best friend, except for that time when Jimmy was angry over Spinner’s part in the prank that led to Jimmy getting shot in the back.  (Fortunately, they made up.)  I’ve seen some people online wondering why Spinner spends so much of this video throwing up.  My theory is that it’s an homage to the seventh season episode, Pass the Dutchie.  That’s the episode where Spinner, while undergoing chemotherapy, throws up on his English teacher.

(That episode also features one of the greatest lines in Degrassi history, when a stoned Spinner realizes that he’s about to fail English for the third time and exclaims, “What kind of idiot fails his own language three times!?”)

Four of my favorites all showed up together.  Getting out of the stylish white car: Paige (Lauren Collins), Ellie (Stacey Farber), Marco (Adamo Ruggiero), and Craig (Jake Epstein).  I always related to Ellie, largely because we both had red hair and always wore black to school.  I also always felt bad that Craig and Ellie could never quite seem to make things works romantically, though Ellie and Sean were actually a better couple.  But I’m just kind of rambling now…

Hey, it’s Terri (Christina Schmidt) and Hazel (Andrea Lewis)!  Terri was on the first three seasons of Degrassi, until she was put into a coma by her abusive boyfriend, Rick Murray.  (This was the same Rick who would later shoot Jimmy in the back.)  Hazel was Jimmy’s girlfriend, until she eventually realized that Jimmy was actually in love with Ellie.  It’s probably not a coincidence that Drake is rapping about his ex at the same time that Hazel shows up.

Then the teachers show up!  Ms. Kwan (Linlyn Lue) was the tyrannical English teacher who was driven to tears when Jimmy and Spinner egged her car.  As for Archie “Snake” Simpson (Stefan Brogren), he’s been the one constant over the course of all the different versions of Degrassi.  He started out as a student on Degrassi Junior High and Degrassi High.  In School’s Out, he was the first character to say “fuck” on Canadian television.  Finally, Mr. Simpson taught the school’s media immersion class and eventually became principal of the school.

About halfway through the video, we learn that Mr. Simpson buys his drugs from Jay (Jason Mewes) and Silent Bob (Kevin Smith).

A longtime fan of the Degrassi franchise, Kevin Smith appeared as himself during season 4 and 5 and also in the second Degrassi movie, Degrassi Goes Hollywood.  Smith came to Degrassi to shoot his latest movie, Jay and Silent Bob Go Canadian, Eh?  Of course, he brought Mewes with him.  While Kevin Smith did end up contributing to the break-up of Caitlin and Joey, he also helped to track down Craig, who was having a manic episode and living on the streets at the time.  Later, Smith would return to Degrassi to encourage Paige to take a chance with Alex and to also help launch the acting career of Manny Santos (Cassie Steele).

Speaking of Manny, she returns for Drake’s reunion and, appropriately enough, she’s seen hanging out with Emma (Miriam McDonald).  Interestingly, in Degrassi Takes Manhattan, Emma ended up marrying Spinner in a plot twist that caused thousands of Degrassi fans (like me) to roll their eyes in unison.  (Seriously, Emma and Spinner barely spoke to each other for 9 seasons and then they suddenly got married.)  In this video, Spinner and Emma don’t even seem to acknowledge each other.  Maybe they got divorced.

Among the other former Degrassi cast members to make an appearance: Melissa McIntyre (a.k.a. the one and only Ashley Kerwin), Nina Dobrev (who played teen mom-turned-super model Mia), A.J. Saudin (a.k.a. Simpson’s autistic godson, Connor), Sarah Barrable-Tishauer (a.k.a., class President Liberty Van Zandt), Jake Goldsbie (a.k.a. adorable nerd Toby Isaacs), Marc Donato and Dalmar Abuzeid (a.k.a. dorky friends Derek and Danny), and Paula Brancati (who played Jane, the girl who Spinner probably should have married.)

And then there’s Rick Murray (Ephraim Ellis).  Despite the fact that Rick was reported to have died shortly after shooting Jimmy, he still showed up for the reunion.  Of course, not everyone was happy to see him:

So, for those of you keeping track: Jimmy regained his ability walk, Emma and Spinner are divorced, Rick Murray apparently didn’t die after all, and J.T. Yorke is still dead.  Poor J.T.

(Then again, if Rick’s still alive then you have to wonder how his ghost was able to possess Holy J in The Curse of Degrassi.  Maybe I’m overthinking this.  Anyway…)

Enjoy!

Greatest video of 2018, have no doubt

Music Video of the Day: MakeDamnSure by Taking Back Sunday (2006, dir by Marc Klasfeld)


I can never hear MakeDamnSure without thinking about the What’s It Feel Like To Be A Ghost episode of Degrassi.

That’s the episode where aspiring rock star Craig Manning (played by Jake Epstein) returns to Toronto after being on tour and we discover that he’s picked up a nasty cocaine habit.  Despite being coked out of his mind, Craig still gets a chance to perform during a Taking Back Sunday show.  However, no sooner does Craig get on stage and start to sing then he suddenly gets the worst nosebleed in the history of nosebleeds.

AGCK!

Needless to say, the members of Taking Back Sunday are not impressed.

Of course, before everything went so terribly wrong, Craig had bragged to Taking Back Sunday’s Adam Lazzara about how he performed a “stripped down, acoustic” version of MakeDamnSure in his set.  “I’d like to hear that,” Adam replied.

YOU BLEW IT, CRAIG!

Oh well.  Fear not.  By the time Craig returned for Degrassi Goes Hollywood, he was clean of the drugs and hopefully, he got back together with Ellie.

(Actually, as much as I love Ellie, Craig’s soulmate really was Ashley.  Ellie should never have let Sean break up with her…)

(Okay, sorry, I’m getting lost in a Degrassi tangent here…FOCUS, LISA, FOCUS!)

As for the video for MakeDamnSure, it features the band performing in a wind tunnel.  There’s a lot of scary and sad imagery but fear not, things work out for the best.  It turns out that some people do give a damn.

Enjoy!

2017 In Review: 10 Good Things Lisa Marie Saw on Television in 2017


So, here I am.

I’m sitting here and I’m trying to make out my annual list of the good things that I saw on television last year and I just realized something.

I didn’t watch much TV last year.  Oh, don’t get me wrong.  The television was often on, in order to provide background noise.  I’m not a huge fan of silence.  But it was usually just tuned to something random.  It was rare that I ever said, “Oh my God, I have to watch this.”

Oh well.  Let’s see what I can come up with:

  1. Twin Peaks: The Return.  I already devoted an entire post to how much I loved Twin Peaks: The Return.  But literally, this was probably the only show that I really looked forward to watching on a weekly basis.  This was the only show that I thought about between episodes.  And this is the only show that continues to haunt me now that it’s over.
  2. The original Twin Peaks.  The first two seasons of Twin Peaks are available on Netflix.  Jeff, Leonard, and I spent a month watching and reviewing them.  Twin Peaks was definitely responsible for some of the best things that appeared on this site last year.
  3. The Finale of Bates Motel.  This one of the best finales that I’ve ever seen.  This show, which I think everyone expected to fail, instead became one of the best shows on television and it ended perfectly.
  4. Degrassi.  I’ve had some issue with the last few seasons of Degrassi but it’s still my favorite Canadian television show.
  5. The Deuce.  David Simon’s look at Times Square in the 70s may not have reached the level of The Wire but it was definitely better than Treme.
  6. Episodes.  Showtime’s Episodes was never a good show but it certainly was fun to hatewatch.
  7. Veep.  Even though this was definitely the show’s weakest season, Veep still provided some of the best political satire around.
  8. That episode of South Park where Donald Trump dared the North Koreans to nuke Tweek’s home.
  9. All of the shows on ID and Crime and Investigation Network.  All of the true crime programming may be disturbing but it’s also undeniably addictive.
  10. Chiller.  Chiller shut down on December 31st.  I’ll miss it.

And finally, the worst thing that I saw on television in 2017:

The Murder of Laci Peterson.  This multi-party A&E documentary was an obvious attempt to 1) duplicate the success of O.J.: Made in America and 2) exonerate Scott Perterson for the murder of his pregnant wife, Laci.  Laci’s name may have appeared in the title but she was mostly an afterthought as the majority of the show’s running time was devoted to Scott’s creepy sister and her attempts to spring him from prison.  Heavy-handed, manipulative, and way too smug for its own good, the show did inspire a lot of people twitter to declare their belief in Scott’s innocence.  (The show’s argument, by the way, was that Laci was murdered by a Satanic cult because, as one Modesto detective put it, Meth addicts are very superstitious.)

Tomorrow, our look back at 2017 continues with my picks for the best novels of 2017!

Previous entries in the TSL’s Look Back at 2017:

  1. 2017 in Review: Top Ten Single Issues by Ryan C
  2. 2017 in Review: Top Ten Series by Ryan C
  3. 2017 In Review: Top Ten Collected Edition (Contemporary) by Ryan C
  4. 2017 In Review: Top Ten Collected Editions (Vintage) by Ryan C
  5. 2017 in Review: Top Ten Graphic Novels By Ryan C
  6. 25 Best, Worst, and Gems I saw in 2017 by Valerie Troutman
  7. My Top 15 Albums of 2017 by Necromoonyeti
  8. 2017 In Review: Lisa Marie’s Picks For the 16 Worst Films of 2017
  9. 2017 In Review: Lisa Marie’s Final Post About Twin Peaks: The Return (for now)
  10. 2017 in Review: Lisa Marie’s 14 Favorite Songs of 2017
  11. 2017 in Review: The Best of SyFy by Lisa Marie Bowman

Music Video of the Day: My Window by Jake Epstein (2008, dir by ????)


Hi there!  Lisa here, recovering from my birthday and bringing you today’s music video of the day!

Today’s music video of the day comes from a Canadian show that is very close to my heart … no, not Saved By The Bell: The New Class.  That show wasn’t Canadian.  I’m talking about Degrassi!

Starting with the second season, Jake Epstein was a regular on Degrassi.  Epstein played Craig Manning, the bipolar photographer-turned-musician who, over the course of his time on the show, did everything from impregnating Manny to beating up Joey Jeremiah to eventually breaking the hearts of both Ellie Nash and Ashley Kerwin.  He even befriended Kevin Smith!

In the middle of the fifth season, Epstein left the show and Craig left Toronto.  However, even though he was no longer a regular character, Craig would occasionally return to Degrassi.  For instance, during season 6, he came back to play a show and, as a result of snorting too much cocaine before taking the stage, ended up having a massive nose bleed in the middle of his performance.  Agck!

Fortunately, Craig went to rehab and was able to return during the season 7 episode, Bust a Move.  Playing a surprise show at a Canadian college and reconnecting with two of his exes, Craig also found time to perform My Window, a song that, in real life, was written by Jake Epstein.

The video above was released around the same time that Bust a Move premiered in the States.  It’s an official video, even if it is mostly made up of clips taken from previous episodes of Degrassi.  Unfortunately, most of those scenes were lifted from his season 6 return.  I would have liked to have seen more scenes between Craig and Ellie.  (I used to think that Ellie was totally me but, while recently rewatching the show, I realized that I actually had more in common with Ashley.)

Anyway, I can hear the eyes rolling already but cut me some slack.  I love Degrassi!  Add to that, this is actually a pretty good song.  I love Jake Epstein’s voice.  Along with appearing on Degrassi and countless Lifetime films, Epstein is also a respected musical theater actor.  Among his credits: American Idiot, Beautiful: The Carole King Musical, and Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark.

Enjoy!

 

Cleaning Out the DVR: The Wrong Crush (dir by David DeCoteau)


(Lisa is currently in the process of cleaning out her DVR!  It’s going to take a while because Lisa has over 200 things recorded.  However, one thing is for sure: it’s all getting erased on January 15th.  Will Lisa be able to watch everything before doomsday?  Keep checking here to find out!  She recorded The Wrong Crush off of Lifetime on July 2nd!)

The mistakes of the past.  Can we overcome them?  Can we forgive ourselves?  Can we convince others to forgive us?  Can we ever recover or are we destined to be forever punished?

These are some of the questions asked in The Wrong Crush.  Veteran Lifetime viewers will, of course, immediately recognize that this is one of the many “wrong” films that David DeCoteau has directed for Lifetime.  There’s also The Wrong Roommate, The Wrong Student, and The Wrong Child.  Myself, I always look forward to the latest “Wrong” film because they’re usually enjoyably (and intentionally) melodramatic and, as a director, DeCoteau always seems to have a sense of humor about going through all the of the required Lifetime “beats.”  At times, the characters in these films almost seem to be aware that they’re appearing in a Lifetime film.  Also, DeCoteau always seems to film in the nicest houses in Canada.  One of the fun things about watching a Lifetime film is getting to see where everyone lives and the Wrong films always seem to take place in the right homes.

Anyway, in this one, Victoria Konefal plays Amelia.  A few years ago, Amelia did nothing but party and drink.  But then, after a car crash claimed the life of her best friend, Amelia straightened out her life.  Though she’s still on probation and her own mother (Lesli Kay) doesn’t seem to want to have much to do with her, Amelia is doing her best not to fall back into her old ways.  She doesn’t drink.  She goes to therapy, even though she rarely agrees with what her therapist has to say.  She’s channeled her anger into running and now, she’s the star of her high school’s track team.  It even appears that she might set a few records before the year is over.

She’s even got a boyfriend.  Well, kinda.  Scott (Pedro Correa) is nice and super supportive but he only moved to town a year ago so he doesn’t know all of the details about Amelia’s former life.  He’s heard rumors but he doesn’t know that she’s on probation or that some people still blame her for the death of her friend.  Whenever he starts to get too close, Amelia pushes him away.

Plus, there’s a new guy at school!  Jake (Ricardo Hoyos) is handsome, charming, and polite.  And, like Amelia, he’s got some secrets in his past.  He was kicked out of military school, for one thing.  Soon, Jake and Amelia are growing close.  Scott may not like it but Scott should be more concerned with the drugs that Jake’s hidden in his locker.  See, Jake has an agenda of his own.  He also has a really big knife that he’s not afraid to use…

For the most part, The Wrong Crush is an enjoyable Lifetime melodrama but Amelia’s strained relationship with her mother and her struggle to forgive herself serve to give this film a little more emotional resonance than the other Wrong films.  Victoria Konefal and Lesli Kay both gave good performances and Ricardo Hoyos really threw himself into the role of Jake.  Those who know Hoyos best for playing sweet-but-stupid Zig on Degrassi will be in for a surprise when they watch The Wrong Crush.

A Blast From The Past: Degrassi of the Dead


Well, Halloween and this year’s horrorthon are both nearly over.

Since I started things off with The Curse of Degrassi, it only seems appropriate for me to end my part of it with Degrassi of the Dead!  This 10 minute film takes a non-canonical look at what would happen to everyone’s favorite Canadian high school if there was a zombie apocalypse!

(By the way, I know what you’re thinking but this was actually made in 2007, long before the premiere of The Walking Dead.)

Enjoy watching Drake turn into a zombie!