Just then, Lucy runs in and says she has an announcement. This is the third time she's done this. I think she just likes the attention. She tells them that Mr Raditch is in the hospital, having his appendix taken oot, and everyone looks unrealistically concerned and serious. I'm sorry, but mobs of 14-year-olds are just not that caring. "Is he gonna be ok?" asks Joey anxiously. "Doris thinks so!" says Lucy brightly, because the school secretary is also a medical expert. "But in the meantime, we get a substitute teacher."
Everyone erupts in cheers and high-fives. They really don't have much to keep them entertained in Canada. "Remember that old bag who couldn't figure out when we changed our names?" says Snake. "And the one before," says Erica, "he was so nervous he blushed every time a girl even got near him!" Yeah, they're gonna wish that guy was back. Lucy says that substitute teachers are "just fossils and losers who can't get a real job".
Just then, their substitute teacher walks in. He is about 35 and extremely plain, and he's wearing a bad knitted jumper that's bright blue with random white scribbles on it. He seems to have also recently shaved off a beard, because the lower half of his face is really pale while the upper half has a deep orange tan. Oh, and his hair is conical. "Hi," he says in a relaxation-tape voice. "I'm Mr Colby. I'll be your teacher for the next while." Opening credits.
Some unspecified number of days later, Mr Colby is handing back people's essays. Spike's work is improving. Steph's was good, but badly spelled. Joey's story about the Zit Remedy's world tour was "highly entertaining", but the assignment was to write a true story. "It's gonna be true!" Joey mutters. Mr. Colby just laughs at him. Well yeah, it's what we're all thinking, but still… harsh, man.
When he gets to Lucy, Mr Colby sits down on an adjacent desk and puts his hand on her shoulder. "Excellent paper," he tells her. Was her paper on native peoples by any chance?
Anyway, the bell goes and everyone gets up to leave. BLT comes over to LD and asks her if she wants to play baseball, but she looks sad and says, "No. Maybe next week." …Ok, then.
"I never got an A+ before!" says Lucy. "I thought you didn't care about marks," says… Erica? Sure, why not. "I don't – they're fascist," says Lucy. "But it's nice to get a good one sometimes." I don't know which part of that statement is more annoying: the generic desultory teenage rebellion and violation of Godwin's Law, or the fact that she gives up on her principles the minute a cone-headed substitute teacher gives her a good mark.
Speaking of which: the twins start teasing Lucy for supposedly being Mr Colby's pet. And, bafflingly, they're jealous: "He's only THE sexiest man at Degrassi!" sighs Heather. Yeah, but the only other man there at the moment is Mr Lawrence, who's an incorporeal spirit and thus doesn't represent much competition. "I wish I was his pet!" Erica says.
So, clearly we have entered some kind of Bizarro World of sexuality, wherein pyramid-hair, two-toned faces and bad knitwear are the stuff of teenage girls' dreams. WTF, Degrassi?
Lucy says she likes older men because all the boys at Degrassi are immature. Speaking of which, Alexa (today wearing a miniskirt and a velvet bustier, always a nice casual look for daytime) leaves the classroom, followed by Simon, who's staring at her rather… hungrily. They're followed at an indiscreet distance by Steph, who rolls her eyes and announces, "It's the clothes. I know it's the clothes. Simon never would have noticed Alexa if she wasn't wearing my clothes."
She bitches over this some more, until they're distracted by Mr Colby telling them goodnight, even though it's clearly about three o'clock. "Now that Mr Colby's here, there's a real man around!" Heather swoons. They speculate on whether he's married, and whether they care. I'm sure this will end well.
The Zit Remedy guys are rehearsing their only song. They've accessorised Joey's keyboard with a big poster that reads "ZIT REMEDY TOURS DJH: Be there!!" Can you really "tour" a single building? Simon and Alexa are, for some reason, completely enraptured. "I love them," says Simon. "I know, they're fantastic!" Alexa whispers back. And then they applaud, and they're not being sarcastic or anything.
And then it's arbitrarily time for them to go off somewhere, so Alexa grabs Simon's hand and drags him away, even though he would rather stand and stare wistfully at the guys. That's really not something you should ignore, Alexa. "I don't trust that Simon guy," says Joey. Apparently they don't take to outsiders in Toronto.
Anyway, Snake wants to play the song again, but Wheels says he has to go see Ms Avery for some extra tutoring. The others take this incredibly personally: "Don't you get enough school already?" asks Joey, looking thisclose to decking Wheels. Ugh, I hate it when my friends try to better themselves! Wheels says his parents are mad at him aboot his marks, and he has no choice. When he's gone, the others bitch about how they'll never "cut an album" if he keeps doing this. Yep, Wheels's education is the only obstacle between them and fame.
There's a ridiculously overlong shot of Wheels walking to Ms Avery's classroom, where she's telling Rick what a good job he's been doing. Yay Rick! She is also wearing a khaki ankle-length shirtdress that looks like some kind of military eveningwear.
Rick leaves, Wheels sits down, and Ms Avery asks him if he's made "that eye appointment" yet. She asks this in an extremely coquettish tone of voice, with a bashful grin. Wheels says he made the appointment but doesn't think he needs glasses. "Sometimes headaches and eye problems go hand in hand," says Ms Avery, batting her eyelids. I'll give her this, she can make the most unlikely dialogue sound like a chat-up line.
She then says that he should come to her after school every afternoon for tutoring. "I can't!" he exclaims. "That's when my band practises." She puts her hand on his and says that his parents think he should give up the band until his marks improve (and, furthermore, that they were too cowardly to tell him this themselves). He insists that he can do both. "You're in very real danger of losing your year," she tells him, and then takes his hand again. "You don't want that, do you?" Wheels looks awkward (I don't blame him) and shakes his head.
Ok, so… I know we already had a whole thing about how if Ms Avery touches you it doesn't mean anything because she's like that with everyone, but given the theme of this episode, that scene is just… uncomfortable.
In the bathroom, LD is resentfully brushing her hair. Lucy comes in, and LD asks her advice on two different hairstyles: a normal ponytail, or a shapeless pile-up of hair on top of her head. Lucy, who must have some nefarious motive for sabotaging her, says the second option is better. LD then starts angsting about how messy she looks and how boys only notice her when they want to play baseball. Ugh, don't you just hate when boys ask you to participate in shared hobbies?
"If you want to look glitzier you should try some makeup!" Lucy chirps. Uh-oh. LD says she doesn't know anything about makeup, but Lucy says she knows lots because "my parents sent me to special lessons!" She offers to do a makeover, and LD is thrilled. Presumably she doesn't know that the last girl Lucy made over ended up scantily clad in clashing animal prints and then got arrested. Lucy brags about how much makeup she has and how much fun they'll have, all while backing into a cubicle and shutting the door. I guess she really needed to pee.
Spike's at her locker (for some reason, she has a glossy black-and-white photo of herself taped up inside) when Shane walks up to her. His hair is very big today, and he's wearing a plaid shirt with bright-red medieval jester leggings. It's a sexy, sexy look. "I told them," he announces. "You told your parents about the baby?" Spike answers, in case anyone missed the last few episodes and has never heard anything about this show.
Shane says his parents want everyone to get together and talk. "Oh no, that's horrible!" Spike groans. Spike and Shane both freak out at the mortifying idea of their parents meeting, because that's going to be the worst aspect of this whole pregnancy hoo-ha. "What did they say?" Spike asks. "Parental garbage, you know, responsibility and stuff. You know how ministers can be,'" Shane mumbles. Well no, I don't know how ministers can be. The last time we saw Shane's dad he was talking about crack. Is that standard for ministers?
As Lucy and LD leave the building after school (Lucy going on about how her parents are "cool" about her bringing friends over, mainly because they're not there to notice), Mr Colby runs up to them. He puts his hand on Lucy's shoulder and says, in a deep, soothing voice, "I didn't get a chance to tell you in class, but I found your paper very moving. You really captured the sadness of when a best friend moves away. This Voula sounds very nice." Wait, are we talking about the same Voula? Because she wasn't all that nice.
Also, what a smooth, un-awkward way to explain the sudden disappearance of a major character, Degrassi.
Lucy says she and Voula are still friends and are going to a movie that Saturday. Mr Colby pats her on the shoulder some more and tells her to keep up the good work, then leaves. LD, watching from a few inches away, scowls. "He sure likes to touch you," she remarks when Mr Colby is gone. "I like him," says Lucy. "He treats me like I'm special, you know?" LD says it's creepy when teachers are too friendly (with the obvious exception of Ms Avery because that's just the way she rolls). "There's no such thing as too friendly," says the blissfully oblivious Lucy.
A little later, LD and Lucy arrive at Lucy's house. Lucy is wearing beige plus-fours and white knee socks à la Tintin. "I really like your house," says LD. Lucy wisely refrains this time from saying that it doesn't compare to her alleged loft in Manhattan, and just says, "Yeah, I like it too." She's learning.
She plays the messages on the answering machine. First is the obligatory call from her neglectful working mother, saying that she and Mr Lucy won't be home any time soon because they love money more than their daughter. Also, they have to meet the lawyer on Saturday to go over her shoplifting case. Don't shoplift, kids, because the ensuing legal battle is a total drag.
Next is a message from Voula, saying that she can't go out with Lucy because her stereotypical immigrant parents said she's not allowed see Lucy any more. They said that months ago! Is that the best excuse she can come up with? Anyway, it doesn't matter, because that's the last we'll ever hear of Voula. Lucy looks crushed, but quickly hides it (because hiding your feelings is a vital survival skill if you're the tragic child of a neglectful working mother) and drags LD downstairs to be skanked up.
A bit later, LD is wrapped in one of Lucy's sparkly (presumably stolen) scarves, and wearing an unflattering shade of bright red lipstick and waaay too much mascara. Lucy's putting large amounts of blue eyeshadow on her, but only on the outer halves of her eyelids for some reason. I think Lucy's "special lessons" may have taken place at clown college.
"Were your parents angry when you got caught shoplifting?" asks LD. What, is she considering getting some sparkly scarves of her own? "Not as mad as Voula's," says Lucy. "They were kind of disappointed. They worked hard at being good parents after that. We had dinner together and stuff, and we went on family picnics. It was kind of neat. But now they're real busy again. I don't mind." So: if you shoplift as a cry for attention, your parents will drag you on boring picnics for a couple of weeks, then go back to ignoring you, while you manfully pretend not to care. Good to know.
"Do you ever get lonely?" asks LD, who's apparently decided to interview Lucy to pass the time. "I like to be alone," says Lucy. "I'm independent." Oh hey, I'm beginning to get this vague sense that Lucy… isn't always entirely honest about her feelings. Am I crazy for thinking that?
LD babbles about how she was "so scared" when her dad went to hospital. Lucy valiantly manages to keep trowelling on the makeup throughout. At some arbitrary point, she declares herself to be finished, and turns LD around to look in the mirror. "I look too different!" she exclaims. "No you don't," says Lucy. "You're just not used to it. All the guys will notice you now." Yeah, no doubt about that. Not content with what she's already wreaked, Lucy then starts tying up LD's hair in another scarf.
A bit later, LD is finally making her escape. She's still wearing the scarf in her hair, and promises to bring it back next week. "Take your time, I've got lots!" says Lucy. How many of those things did she steal, seriously? LD starts to go, then turns back and admits, "I kinda miss Voula too." Lucy shrugs and says, "She's changing anyway." Mean! Just because your friend is going through puberty is no reason to stop liking her. "She says she likes it out there. I mean, the suburbs? Talk about tacky." …oh, that kind of change. Wait, Lucy doesn't live in the suburbs? But there's literally a white picket fence around her house! I do not understand this show.
Anyway, LD goes, and Lucy stands in the doorway looking morose for a minute, before she represses her feelings and goes back inside. No misery here, nu-uh! As soon as the door is closed, LD goes over to a nearby van and checks herself out in the wing mirror. She's horrified to find that she looks like a kabuki mask, and immediately starts trying to get the makeup off.
Next day, the Grade 8s are debating the death penalty. Everyone's getting very worked up. An example of their considered political statements: "If I knew I could get executed, I sure wouldn't murder anyone!" Lucy chips in with some statstics, and Mr Colby uses the opportunity to sit down near her… on Wai Lee's desk, completely blocking the kid's view of anything except the back of Mr Colby's lemon-yellow sweater. Poor Wai Lee.
The discussion starts to degenerate into a free-for-all. Mr Colby seems to lose interest in it completely, possibly because he's extremely distracted by the very small area of chest that Lucy's displaying. She's oblivious, as she's locked in a no doubt very rewarding philosophical discussion with Steph, but LD notices and looks deeply concerned. Or something; she sort of only has one facial expression, a vaguely sleepy frown. But the background music's real ominous.
Once the bell goes, Steph goes after Alexa, futilely demanding her clothes back again. I know Steph had resolved to dress less slutty, but did she really have to go so far in the other direction? She's wearing a pink-and-yellow floral blouse, buttoned all the way up to the neck, and a salmon-pink suit jacket. I'm pretty sure no 14-year-old in human history ever voluntarily dressed like that. Anyway, Alexa still insists the clothes were a gift, blah blah.
Wheels is still getting a hard time from his bandmates for trying to get an education. "I tried everything," Wheels insists. "[My parents] won't let me play until my marks get better. You guys can play without me." "No way, man!" Joey answers. "It's not the Zit Remedy if we're missing a Zit!" Wheels starts to smile at this, but then frowns when he looks back into the classroom and sees Lucy still talking to Mr Colby. "Lucy and Colby, together again," Joey says. "He sure seems to like her," Wheels remarks. "It's kind of weird." As more ominous music plays, there's a very very long shot of Mr Colby leaning over Lucy and talking. Yep, I'm sure this will end well.
That afternoon, everyone's going home. LD's sitting outside the door, waiting for Lucy. When Lucy comes out, she's accompanied by Mr Colby, who has his hand on her shoulder and is droning on about how she's so special and bright and sensitive and sparkly. LD watches with a look of homicidal rage.
Once he's out of earshot, LD comes up to Lucy and tells her, "Today in class, he sort of looked down your top." Lucy looks disgusted and asks, "Why are you making this up? Finally a teacher likes me, and you're trying to spoil it. Thanks a lot." LD insists she's telling the truth: "I just think you should be careful, that's all!" "Yeah, of being friends with you," Lucy snaps. Oooh, great comeback. Really.
"What'd I do?" LD asks. Lucy snaps. "You're too chicken to wear makeup, and you're too chicken to talk to boys. You're just jealous." "Well, at least I don't shoplift!" LD shouts. It's a pretty valid point, but Lucy for some reason takes offence and walks off.
We then see a close-up of the Lucy family's answering machine playing a message from Mrs Lucy: "I've got to rush to the airport to pick up a client. There's ten dollars on the fridge for pizza. See you soon." So, in case you hadn't picked up on it from one of the earlier subtle hints, it seems that Lucy's parents are too busy to pay her much attention. And the makers of the show are too busy to turn this into an actual scene with visible people in it. Life imitating art. Or "art", at any rate.
Next morning, Wheels arrives at school wearing some kicky glasses that are eerily like a pair my mother had about the same time. Combined with his mullet, the overall effect is very 1970s terrorist. Ms Avery immediately comes over to him, puts her hand on his shoulder and tells him how "smart" he looks in glasses. At least she doesn't tell him he's bright and sensitive, because I think even Wheels could see through that lie.
For once, we're narrowly spared another scene of guys peeing; Joey and Snake are just leaving the bathroom as they discuss their troubles. "Can't we get another bass player just until Wheels comes back?" Snake asks. "Who?" says Joey indignantly. "We can't replace Wheels – the man's got talent."
That selfsame talented man comes up behind them, and asks what they think of his new look. "Since when do you wear glasses?" asks Snake in thinly veiled disgust. Wheels looks panicked and rambles about how none of this was his idea and Ms Avery made him go to the eye doctor and there were tests involved and please don't beat him up. Eventually, Joey takes pity and tells him to relax: "They're cool, man. Very cool. But you're not going to wear them on stage, right? Who's ever heard of a rock star in glasses, right?" Joey and Snake crack up laughing. Wheels tries to compare himself to John Lennon, but it doesn't help much because Joey's never heard of him.
Wow, the 60s weren't even that long ago when this show was made. That's mental.
Steph's at her locker, making sure her ugly pleated blouse is pleated just right, when Alexa walks up (wearing a navy sweatshirt and some very ill-advised turquoise tapered trousers) and hands her a big plastic bag. Steph reaches in and pulls out the infamous geometric boob tube. "My clothes!" she exclaims, sounding happier than at any other point in the show. "My mum found them," Alexa explains. "She said they made me look like a lady of the evening. I'm grounded for two weeks!" What, you can't say "lady of the night" on kids' TV? Or is a "lady of the evening" a less hardcore version who only does hand-holding and the occasional peck on the cheek?
"And they looked so good on you, too," Steph sympathises insincerely. Alexa glowers at her and marches off. Steph paws through the bag of Skankwear, fantasising about how many elections she'll steal and how many soap stars she'll seduce. Oh, the sordid possibilities!
Some time later, Mr Colby's class is just finishing. (Today's sweater is a vaguely '80s-futuristic grid pattern with lavender cuffs and neckband.) When the bell goes, he calls Lucy back. She looks chuffed and goes up to his desk, while LD stands in the background looking like the apocalypse is nigh. "Listen," says Mr Colby, "I'm not familiar with all of Mr Raditch's systems. I wonder could you stay for a bit and help me out?" Mr Raditch's systems? That is the flimsiest excuse ever. What does that even mean? And, assuming it's something to do with classroom admin or whatever, why would a 14-year-old kid know how to… do whatever it is one does with these systems?
So, creepy-ass rendezvous successfully scheduled, Mr Colby then decides to leave the room. There is… no discernible reason for this, but it gives us another glimpse of LD standing doomily in the doorway.
Downstairs, Joey and Snake are bitching about how their lives have been totally ruined by Wheels temporarily qutting the band. Suddenly, they hear some distant bass music, and go into the auditorium to find Simon furtively strumming Wheels's bass. He's a good player; he knows even more notes than Wheels! Maybe as many as five or six!
Simon's terrified when he sees the others watching him, but they've both immediately decided to exploit him, and start gushing fakely about how awesome he is. It's actually mildly amusing. Intentionally, I mean. What's the world coming to?
Meanwhile, Wheels arrives in Ms Avery's classroom for his tutoring. Today she's eschewed the shirtdresses in favour of a matching shiny blue ankle-length skirt and oversized blazer, and a brown version of the communal belt. Very "Star Trek meets office casual".
She coyly tells Wheels that they're going to have his marks up in no time. Her tone and stance are, again, vaguely inappropriate.
Random filler shot of a lady janitor mopping the floor as everyone goes home. Although she's not the semi-regular lady janitor of future episodes. So, egalitarian paradise that it is, Canada apparently has lots of lady janitors.
Back in Mr Raditch's room, Lucy's cleaning the blackboard. I can't believe the Grade Eights had "grimy" as a spelling. Mr Colby returns, shooting a stealthy look up and down the corridor as he walks in. Lucy sits down, and Mr Colby shuts the door. He paces around the room and starts talking about how Lucy is "mature beyond [your] years", and how her paper about Voula showed him just how mature and sensitive she was. "I know what loneliness is like," he says, sitting down on a desk behind her. His face is so high up that most of it is cut out of the shot for the rest of this scene. "When I got divorced, it was like you wrote about Voula…" Oh, come on! It's not enough that he's a pervert; he also has to bore the poor girl to death with stories about his divorce?
Lucy seems vaguely aware that this isn't quite normal conversational material, and asks, "What about Mr Raditch's systems?" "They can wait for a while," says Mr Colby. "I'm more interested in us. People like us. We need to… help each other." He then starts massaging her shoulder like George Bush hitting on Angela Merkel at the G8. Unfortunately, Lucy is too polite and/or disturbed to deliver a no-nonsense Teutonic smackdown, and just sits there looking uncomfortable while a headless Mr Colby breathes, "Relax… don't be so tense… you need a friend, Lucy…"
Meanwhile, in Ms Avery's classroom, Wheels is working away. He suddenly starts rooting through his schoolbag and announces he needs a book from his locker. "Well, you'd better go get it then," says Ms Avery, and you'll never guess what her tone of voice is like. SO MANY MIXED MESSAGES, DEGRASSI.
Mr Colby's still putting the moves on Lucy. Or, at least, on her latest scarf, which he's groping at clumsily with his fingertips. "This is a nice scarf," he whispers. "Is it silk?" "Uh… I think so. My dad brought it back from Thailand," Lucy answers. This is just surreal, and it's not helped by the fact that we're now seeing an extreme close-up which gives us a great view of Mr Colby's acne-scarred chin (although the rest of his face is still invisible). "Silk is such a sensuous material," he drones. "I love the feel of it. Don't you?" Lucy winces like this is the stupidest thing she's ever heard.
Just as the scene is vaguely approaching some actual dramatic tension, we cut to Wheels running up the stairs. The happy music makes it blatantly obvious he's about to save the day. Conveniently, his locker is right next to Mr Raditch's classroom, and the classroom door has a window in it, so (with the help of his new glasses) he immediately sees what's going on inside. He gawks in horror.
"Don't be scared," Mr Colby whispers to Lucy. Just then, the door opens, and he jumps up. "I came to get a book," Wheels explains. "Well, get it then!" Mr Colby shouts. Way to act casual, Mr Colby. Wheels gives him a filthy look and goes over to get his book, and Lucy makes good her escape. "I'm glad we had this talk, Lucy!" Mr Colby calls out the door. Uh, I think the jig is up. Wheels looks like he's a hair's breadth away from challenging Mr Colby to a duel. Which would be awesome.
Later, Lucy gets home, and calls out for her parents. But they're not home because they have jobs and don't love her. This is all their fault. Lucy sits down and cries as she listens to the latest answerphone message from her neglectful mother, who's congratulating her on her good marks. OH THE IRONY.
Just then, there's a knock at the door. Lucy wipes away her tears (MUST HIDE FEELINGS) and goes to answer it. It's a very sheepish LD, returning Lucy's lime-green scarf. Lucy says nothing, and LD realises something's up. There is much crying and hugging and bonding and sad, sad synth music.
Next day, Wheels is showing off his new Paedo-Detector glasses to Spike, who's politely faking interest. Joey and Snake come up and tell him he turned out to be easily replaceable. "But what about when I come back?" he bleats. "We can be the first band with two bass players!" says Snake brightly. "Two! That's right! Two basses! Two! Fresh! Two!" says Joey. Aaaugh, improvised dialogue.
The twins are waiting outside the girls' bathroom, when Steph emerges, wearing a mint-green miniskirt and the geometric boob tube. "Watch out Simon! You've got him now!" say the twins. Just then, Simon and Alexa walk by, holding hands. "Hi, Simon," says Steph in her sultriest voice. "Hey, twins," says Simon politely. Burrrn.
Lucy's walking up the stairs when she meets Mr Colby (who's wearing a grey version of the blue scribbly sweater from the start of the episode. I'm a little disappointed by his lack of originality). "I'm sorry about yesterday," he begins, then hastily adds, "not that anything happened, of course." Smooth. "We never did get to Mr Raditch's systems. How about trying again this afternoon, after school?" Lucy gives him a death stare and answers, "No, Mr Colby, not in a million years." Mr Colby looks deeply shocked, like he can't believe his creepy, illegal chat-up techniques have failed.
On her way into the classroom, Lucy's stopped by Wheels. "Look, I saw him touch you," he says. Pretty much the most awkward conversational opener ever. "You gonna do anything about it? If you need a witness or anything…"
"Would you?" asks Lucy. "Sure," says Wheels. Lucy smiles, and says "Thanks." And… that's the end of the episode. Just like last time, we're denied any kind of closure. Presumably because writers who can write that kind of dramatic scene cost more. Sigh.
Dubious lessons of the week: However supposedly dreamy your substitute teacher may be, it's kind of unpleasant if he actually molests you. Luckily, molestation only consists of touching someone's shoulder and talking about accessories. And if a female teacher flirts with a boy, it's all good fun.