Thursday, February 25, 2010

Like the Degrassi Digest, only about MacGyver, and with pictures!

So: a little while back I was contacted by The Agony Booth, and asked if I'd be interested in doing some recaps for them. Which was pretty cool. I'm now recapping MacGyver -- first two episodes are here and here, if you're interested. :)

I'll still be doing the Degrassi recaps here, of course. Next up: the Caitlin Totally Has Epilepsy episode.

Friday, January 15, 2010

S02 E02– A Helping Hand…

Morning. Joey, Snake, and Wheels come into the classroom, wearing their ultra-stylish handmade Zit Remedy sweatshirts. Joey is babbling about someone who works for "a real record company" (not like those fake record companies you hear so much about) and wants to hear their "music". Snake asks, "What's he going to say when he finds out we've only got two songs?" Two songs? They should be so lucky! They've only got two lines of a song, and neither one is very good.

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.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

S02 E01– Eggbert

I'm back! Didja miss me?

Season 2 begins in fine style, with that obligatory staple of every teen drama: the one where some kids have to take care of a fake baby. Of course, usually this is a school project intended to scare the characters (and the audience) into using a condom, dammit, but this being Degrassi, someone's already pregnant, and it's just the audience getting educated. And boy, are they going to get educated.

We open with a shot of some eggs, and a voice explaning, "When I got pregnant…" Wow, we're only seconds into Season 2, and we're already approaching the giddy metaphorical heights last seen with the flowers of lesbian symbolism. They've really raised their game this time round.

As the camera pans out, we see that Spike's sitting in a room surrounded by girls with basketballs under their tops. One of them is monologuing resentfully about how when she got pregnant, her boyfriend wanted to help, but his father wouldn't let him get involved. Shockingly, it seems teenage pregnancy is still a complex and difficult issue, just like it was last season.

(Also, because it's 1987, everyone's jeans are two inches too short, and  there's a whole pile of boxes labelled "Computer Paper" in the corner of the room. Remember that stuff? Ugh, I'm old.)

Spike is listening very intently, and the Spike 'n Shane Angst Theme is playing softly in the background. Fortunately for all of us, the woman in charge of the support group interrupts the random girl's tale of patriarchal injustice, because she has something much more important to talk about: eggs. Or, as she puts it, "A lot of you have asked what it might be like if you decide to keep your babies. I can't tell you that, but I can suggest an experiment that will help you see one aspect. You take an egg, and for two full weeks, you treat it as if it were an infant." Breastfeeding an egg sounds… challenging. I'm sure I could think of other ways in which an egg isn't very much like a real baby, but the screaming of my neighbour's newborn is distracting me.

Anyway, they have to keep the egg warm, protect it from "abuse and accidents" (because there are hordes of paedo scumbags out there just waiting for you to turn your back on your eggs for a second), and make sure it's not left unattended. They also have to arrange "appropriate daycare" for when they're at school, or else take it with them. No explanation on what constitutes appropriate daycare for an egg; I assume they have to leave it with a friendly hen or something.

So, childrearing: difficult. But in case anyone hadn't got the message, the lady corners Spike after the session and tells her, "Taking care of an infant is going to make a big difference in your lifestyle." Spike looks like this fact had genuinely never occurred to her before. Can she manage to raise this eggbaby and spend three hours a day styling her hair? Stay tuned to find out.

After the opening credits, we're back at school. Even though it's meant to be right after the Christmas holidays (there was snow on the ground at the end of last season/term), it's clearly summer. Apparently Season 1 was made during the school year, but after that the show was filmed in the summer holidays, so henceforth the weather is always sunny and everyone always wears shorts. In addition, everyone has aged visibly since last season. It was obviously a very stressful Christmas.

Speaking of stressful, Shane is sitting on the steps, looking tortured. Kathleen, still a bitch, speculates on whether he got any more girls pregnant over the holidays. Then says a bright friendly hello to him. Awww.

Spike's with the twins. One of them (I'm guessing it's Heather because she's showing less skin) asks her if she still feels sick every morning. "No, that's over," Spike says, "but I'm starting to get fat." This is the second time we've been told that pregnancy will make you fat. Seriously? I think this would not really be news to most teenagers. Anyway, the girls obligatorily deny that she's fat, but she insists she is, and that everyone will stare, and a lot of people *coughShanecough* already stare at her.

Remember, girls: sex will make you into a fat circus freak. Never have sex.

On cue, Shane shuffles over and tries to say hi, but Spike tells him there's "nothing to say", and the twins give him identical death glares. "What a creep!" Spike mutters to Heather.

Remember, boys: if you try to maintain any kind of relationship with the mother of your unborn child, that makes you a creep. Stay far away!

All this time, Spike's been carrying a little cardboard box, and Erika (who's now spelling it Erica, according to the credits) asks her what's up with that. Spike replies that she's "sort of babysitting an egg". Yeah, that's a helpful response that instantly clarifies the situation. Anyway, she explains vaguely to them that this will "help me to find out what taking care of a baby is like", which is still COMPLETELY UNTRUE, WTF.

Meanwhile, some of the Grade 7 girls are watching them, and Kathleen offers some words of wisdom: "Pregnant girls shouldn't be allowed at Degrassi. Spike should go to a home or something. She sets a bad example." Yeah, when the other girls see how much fun Spike is having, they'll all want to get pregnant! Caitlin is predictably righteous and indignant, while Melanie and Susie sarcastically ask if Shane should have to go to a home too. "He's not pregnant!" Kathleen replies. Ah, Kathleen: still bravely flying the flag for small-town closed-mindedness.

In a classic Degrassi scene… Wheels and Joey are urinating. Again. At least we're spared the sound effects this time, and just have to listen to Joey's nonsensical rambling. "You're French kissing a chick, right? And then she bites. Your tongue gets infected so you can't talk. It happens all the time." It… does? Wheels, who's really been working on his mullet over the holidays, suggests that if French kissing was so dangerous, people wouldn't do it. Just on cue, in comes Shane, that guy who did a risky thing and suffered dire consequences.

"Shane, my man! You know about chicks," Joey begins. Shane continues to look tortured, but concedes that he knows "a bit" about them. "'A bit?' You got Spike pregnant, right?" answers Joey. Shane takes offence at this, and threatens Joey with… a comb. After some tense glowering, he relents and puts the comb away. Phew. That could have turned real ugly.

"What's going on with you and Spike anyway?" asks Wheels. Shane says that she won't talk to him. Wheels asks what his parents say about it, and Shane admits that he hasn't told them. "They always want to send me to private school, like my brothers. I like it here. If they knew about Spike…" At this, Joey and Wheels just shrug and leave the room. As you do. Seriously, they're the worst friends ever. An extra-waily version of the Spike 'n Shane Angst Theme wails in the background.

Out in the hall, Steph is going through her locker, taking out all her Hideous Skankwear and throwing it in the bin. She's wearing a pink high-necked blouse with ruffles and bows, and looks like the love-child of a Victorian librarian and Princess Diana.

Alexa breezes over to her and asks what's going on. "I don't need these any more," Steph explains, throwing what looks like a large collection of Mardi Gras beads into the bin. Well, yeah, those probably aren't the most useful things to keep around. "This term, I'm going to be mature and responsible. I'm going to be the real me." Wait, which is it? Is she going to be mature and responsible, or is she going to be herself?

Alexa's eyes bulge out eagerly and she asks if she can have Steph's old clothes. Steph says that's fine, and tosses her a geometric-print boob tube. "I can't believe you're throwing this out!" Alexa gushes. Steph smirks at her. "It's OK for you, Alexa, but I'm school president. I have to look more adult." Actually, her outfits last term were disturbingly adult.

Meanwhile, Yick is digging through some locker crap, as always, when Arthur sneaks up on him and starts squirting him with a water pistol. I think they've officially crossed the line into blatant flirtation.

They're interrupted by an adorably geeky little boy, who asks them how to find Ms Avery's class. Yick and Arthur stare at him, then give him directions. "Why are you looking for 7C?" asks Yick. "It's my class!" says the new kid, before skipping off, full of the joys of fake spring. Yick and Arthur look utterly disgusted. "Since when do they allow little kids in junior high?" Arthur asks. "I don't like little kids," growls Yick, who apparently got a bumfluff moustache and a gravelly voice for Christmas. "They're so immature."

In Mr Raditch's classroom, Spike (who's rocking a pink satin nightshirt and pinstripe waistcoat worthy of Claudia Kishi) is proudly showing off the egg to her classmates, who inexplicably are interested. Even Steph. Someone actually calls it cute. They have little enough to amuse them up in Canada.

Alexa grabs the egg and decides it needs a face drawn on it. "Just be careful, ok?" asks Spike. See, she's learning already: you have to make sure your friends are careful when drawing on your baby. Otherwise it's just bad parenting.

"I thought you were going to give your baby up for adoption," says Lucy. Spike explains that that was just an idea she considered in order to provide a B plot for the Wheels Is Totally Adopted episode she keeps changing her mind. Lucy, none too politely, tells her she's too young to be a mother. Could that be because motherhood is difficult and will necessitate changes to one's lifestyle? You heard it here first. And second. And third.

"I'd keep it!" Alexa chirps. "I love babies!" She holds up the egg, on which she's drawn a cartoon face. Somehow, it's a very '80s cartoon face. They don't draw cartoon faces like that any more. "Now it needs a name," she decides. Spike looks depressed , which is her standard response to most things. Lucy snaps that it's just an egg, but Alexa, who's getting way too into this, insists it's a baaaaaby. "Call it Eggbert!" says Heather. "It looks like an Eggbert!" I don't even know what that's supposed to mean. "It doesn't look like a Spike." Everyone giggles forcedly. Luckily, nobody's tasteless enough to speculate on whether it looks like a Shane.

The bell goes, and the Zit Remedy guys come in. "Check out Steph's clothes!" Joey whispers. "She must be going to a costume party or something," Snake says. "As what?" Joey answers. "A nun?" Uh, I'm pretty sure nuns don't actually wear that much pink. Not for everyday wear, at least. Maybe for Easter or something.

In comes Shane, and I'm beginning to think this actor was cast solely for his ability to look suicidal. He stares at Spike, she glares at him, the Spike 'n Shane music plays, you get the idea.

Finally, Mr Raditch walks in, and welcomes the kids to another term of "fun and excitement", by which he presumably means "batshit-crazy issue-driven drama punctuated by stultifying Yick-and-Arthur subplots". He's followed by another new kid, who he introduces as Simon Dexter. You can tell Simon is supposed to be sexy and glam because he has floppy blonde hair, a leather jacket, and sunglasses. Also because Alexa and Steph are shooting him looks of insatiable lust.

Simon sits down, and Steph and Lucy whisper about how he looks like "the guy from the Super Crunch Delight commercial". Yes, Simon is a small-time teen star. Because piffling quasi-fame is an issue so many kids have to deal with in their day-to-day lives.

Spike is still staring at the egg. That thing will get confiscated if she's not careful, and I'm pretty sure the support-group lady won't look on that too kindly.

Meanwhile, Ms Avery, wearing a blindingly yellow shirtdress and the communal diamante belt, is introducing her class to the little boy from earlier. He's been accelerated to junior high, and his name is Scott, but he says everyone calls him Scooter, which Ms Avery goes along with because she's a liberal. Yick stares fixedly at Scooter, but Arthur gets his attention back by squirting him in the face with his water pistol. It's all rather Freudian.

After class, Shane is following Spike around again. He claims that she can't stay mad at him forever. "Wanna bet?" she snarks. "I'm sorry you got pregnant," he mumbles, "but it was an accident. Why can't we be friends like before?" "I wasn't pregnant before!" she shouts. Rick and Alex are walking by, and stare at her in fascination, because apparently the revelation that she wasn't always pregnant is big news.

Shane admits that he feels bad and wants to help. There's a close-up of Spike's face looking angst-ridden, and… wow, she kind of has a spectacular moustache all of a sudden. Oh dear.

Anyway, she considers it for a minute (the Shane thing, not her moustache) and then hands over the egg. "What's this?" he asks, proving yet again that he's not the sharpest knife in the box.

"That's Eggbert," says Spike. "You've got to take care of him for a week." Shane looks completely horrified, and says that the whole thing is dumb. "It's not!" Spike insists. "It's what taking care of a baby's like." For the last time: no. it. isn't. Anyway, Shane looks tortured, and there's some close-ups of the egg in his hand, his tormented face, the egg, etc.. "How do I explain this to my parents?" he asks. Spike just shrugs and, eggbaby safely palmed off, makes herself scarce.

A bit later, Shane gets home, hiding the egg in his shirt pocket, just like you do with a real baby. In an attempt to underscore how conformist and middle-class his family is, his mother is at home, baking. Although for some reason, she's wearing a leather apron. Also, remember when Tony Curtis was in drag in Some Like It Hot? I swear, she looks like a middle-aged version of that.

Tony Curtis asks Shane why he's late home, and he says he had to talk to someone. "A girl, no doot!" she teases. "You'd better watch out for those girls, Shane." Yeah, the girls of Degrassi are terrible. So sinful and fertile.

Meanwhile, Shane's dad, who's been on the phone until now, hangs up and starts fretting over the delinquent son of some acquaintance. "Tell me, Shane," he asks, "do any of the kids in your school do drugs? Have you ever heard of something called crack?" Shane's dad has an interesting line in small talk.

As Tony Curtis cracks egg after egg into a mixing bowl, lest we forget the egg-related theme of this episode, Shane's dad (who's a minister, just to ramp up the idyllic middle-classness of this family) drones on about how kids these days are continually "messing themselves up one way or another", and how he appreciates what a "fine young man" Shane is. If Shane has been responding to every such comment for the last few weeks with the same look of panicked insincerity, I cannot believe they haven't rumbled him yet.

Later that week, Shane's carrying the egg to school in… a plastic baseball cap for some reason? Huh. Random people are making chicken noises at him and saying things like "You and the egg have a big weekend planned?", because being seen in the company of an egg is apparently hilarious. I don't understand people sometimes.

Steph tells the twins that she saw the Super Crunch Delight commercial again, and it's definitely Simon in it. Erica isn't sure. "You guys have been acting like narbos all week," Heather complains. "If you want to find out if he's in the commercial, just ask him." That's right, folks: "narbo" is the new "broomhead". Just then, Simon goes by, and Erica hitches up her skirt by about a foot. When he's gone, she and Steph make hysterical squealing noises. Ugh, fangirls.

Upstairs, Shane is still getting mocked. Joey and Wheels and Snake come over and swap "hilarious" egg-related puns, which I won't repeat here, because I'm nice like that. Shane continues to look tormented.

Arthur is reading a comic book, when Yick sneaks up and squirts him in the face with a water pistol of his own. They proceed to squirt at each other. Then they catch Scooter staring at them, and get mad, and threaten him with their water pistols. He runs off. This is, hands-down, the feeblest Arthur and Yick non-story ever.

In Mr Raditch's classroom, Shane's studying when some guy leans over and steals the egg. "Please tell me a joke, Daddy," he says in what's presumably supposed to be an egg voice. "I promise not to… crack up!" Then he throws the egg to Tim, and everyone starts clucking again. Wow, way to be supportive, people. Shane gets the egg back, but not before Spike sees all the egg-throwing and fun. She's not impressed.

Just then, Lucy runs in, and announces to the class that she's having a party that night and they're all invited. Everyone cheers, even Spike, who you'd think would want to stay far, far away from Lucy's parties after the last one. "Another party? Your parents don't mind?" asks Steph. "They don't know," Lucy explains. "They're going out of town tonight." Because they have jobs and don't love her. Although I'm glad to see she's moved on from angst-ridden shoplifting, and is now making her abandonment work for her.

The Zit Remedy guys high-five and exclaim about how much they love Lucy's parties. And speculate on whether Shane likes them too. Alexa (already wearing the geometric boob tube from earlier) announces she's going to wear Steph's cast-off Hideous Skankwear. Spike looks excited for the first time ever. Shane, in a dramatic departure from his previous behaviour, looks tormented.

As everyone leaves after class, the guys are still going on about how great Lucy's parties always are (wait, didn't Joey and Wheels end up roaming aimlessly around upstairs at the last one, then disguise their boredom by bingeing on chips?). Alexa starts hitting on Simon. Two feet away, Steph and the twins are hatching a plan for Steph to hit on him at the party.

Shane comes up to Spike and, classy as always, asks her to mind the egg that night so he can go to the party. She refuses, and points out that if it was a real baby he'd have to stay home with it. Yeah, and if it was a real baby I suspect they also wouldn't be allowed to take it to class all week. He begs and begs (what, is he hoping to impregnate someone else tonight?), and eventually she sarcastically tells him to ask his parents to babysit. Shane looks deeply wounded at such a blatant allusion to his wussiness and dishonesty.

Downstairs, Alexa is asking Simon to go to the party with her. He's delighted. Steph lurks in the background with the twins, trying to get up the nerve to go talk to him, but he goes away before she can manage it. "He said he'd dance with me!" Alexa squees. "Wonderful," Steph snarks.

Scooter is on his way home, saying goodbye to the other Grade Sevens. When he says bye to Arthur and Yick, they ignore him, because apparently they're assholes now. He then shoots Arthur in the neck with a water pistol. Arthur thinks it was Yick, even though they have a truce, and they start arguing. High-larious.

Speaking of assholes, the Zit Remedy guys are giving Shane a hard time over having to stay home and babysit the egg. Seriously, they're a bunch of dicks. Shane just says nothing and looks, you guessed it, tormented.

That evening, Lucy's getting ready for the party, wearing her grooviest purple satin jacket. The twins and Steph arrive, and she lets them in, then says, "Don't touch the booze, ok? Ever since I got caught shoplifting, my parents haven't trusted me." Except for the part where they've left her alone all weekend.

At Shane's house, things are dull and bourgeois. How dull and bourgeois? He's doing geography homework while his dad and Tony Curtis play gin rummy in the semi-dark. And because this is TV, and they think we won't notice Shane's having a boring night otherwise, there's a grandfather clock in the corner ticking very, very loudly.

Things aren't going too well at Lucy's house: seemingly the only cassette (hee!) in the house has got all tangled up, so there's no music. Wheels and Snake are desperately trying to listen to a Walkman together, and everyone else is sitting around and looking sad. Also, Lucy's trying to make everyone use coasters.

Simon asks Alexa to go out with him on Monday. Does this make her a groupie? When she goes off to get him a drink, he sleazes to Snake that he looooves the way she dresses. She's gone all out with the Hideous Skankwear: geometric boob tube, hot-pink leggings that don't fit her very well, and some sort of sparkly I Dream of Jeannie-inspired robe. She tells Steph that she's got a date with Simon, and Steph replies, "You know those clothes I lent you? I want them back." Alexa refuses, and Steph actually offers to buy them back, but Alexa's having none of it. Steph sulks in her pleated librarian blouse.

Just then, Shane arrives. Spike demands to know where Eggbert is, and he produces it from his shirt pocket. "Lots of people bring their babies to parties!" he tells her. Yeah, but it's kind of annoying when they do. As the Spike 'n Shane music strikes up yet afuckinggain, Joey runs over and steals the egg. Then everyone starts throwing it around the room, while Spike watches in horror. This is totally what would happen with a real baby.

Eventually the egg gets passed back to Shane, and everyone shouts for him to throw it to someone else. He looks briefly conflicted, then cheers up for the first time all episode and throws it to Joey. What else would you expect from such a classy dude? Spike gives him the frowning of a lifetime.

She flounces out, and Shane gets the egg back and follows her. Everyone gets pissed off at him for ruining the party. You know, if the success of a party depends on having an egg to throw around, it's probably never going to be a very good party.

Outside, Spike gets mad at Shane for not taking care of the egg, and he says he did, even though it was embarassing. "You think this isn't embarrassing?" she yells. "I'm gonna get fat! I'm gonna have a baby!" All right, we get it.

You'll never guess what music is playing (in a tender, synthy version) at this point. Spike says she's scared, and Shane says he is too, but she claims that he's only scared of his parents finding out. "They're gonna find out eventually," she tells him. "You think people won't talk when I get bigger and bigger?" He insists he can't tell them, and she points out that she can't ignore it like he can: "Everywhere I go, I'm pregnant!" If I ever end up pregnant, I want a T-shirt that says that.

"I'm trying to help – it's just a stupid egg!" Shane shouts. That's no way to talk about your substitute baby! Spike says the egg's not the point, and throws it on the ground. We see a close-up of Eggbert's smashed face smiling bravely as his yolk oozes everywhere. This doesn't have quite the emotional impact that the writers apparently hoped it would.

"You say you want to help, until it becomes inconvenient!" Spike shouts. "You don't want to help – you just want to stop feeling guilty!" She storms off down the road, with Shane half-heartedly calling after her. Then he stands around for a bit, and stares at the smashed egg for a while, and since the scene is extremely badly lit, it's sort of impossible to tell what he makes of it all. Eggbert still seems happy, though.

Later that night, Shane comes home. Because they're still dull and wholesome and bourgeois, Shane's dad is studying the Bible while Tony Curtis knits something grey. "You're home early," says Tony.

Shane looks vaguely bilious as he announces, "Mom? Dad? There's something I've got to tell you."

Oh, man! Shane's unloading the dark secret he's harboured for weeks! His parents' illusions are about to be shattered and he's finally going to face up to his responsibilities! Surely we're in for some real drama now!

…Actually, no. That's the end of the episode. Damn you, Degrassi!

Dubious lessons of the week: Pregnancy makes you super-fat, which is totes the worst thing evar. Babies are ovoid, silent, don't eat, and are easily concealable in a pocket or small cardboard box. Never give away your favourite hooker clothes; you never know when you'll need to seduce a saxy minor teen star.