Commentary by Kevin Smith, Jason Mewes, Stacie Mistysyn, Jim Jackman and Aaron Martin (2005)/ Jay and Silent Bob Do Degrassi Director’s Cut (2005)
In the before time, the long long ago, Drake was not one of the biggest pop stars on the planet. He was Aubrey Graham, child actor and star of Degrassi: The Next Generation. The brand Degrassi has a long history, becoming a powerhouse of educational entertainment in the eighties with Degrassi Junior High and, shockingly, Degrassi High. Kevin Smith was a massive fan of the shows, referencing them directly in Clerks, Mallrats and Chasing Amy. After years of interest and admiration garnered from re-airings like Star Trek before it, Degrassi would return in 2001 with its own Next Generation. Degrassi would utilize characters from the previous iterations as parents and authority figures, taking the Next Generation moniker quite seriously. Degrassi: The Next Generation would become the leader of Viacom’s growing The N brand, and was a touchstone for a generation.
Though classified as Millennials, I honestly believe there is another, transitional generation between them and Generation X, one that experienced the latter days of the analog world while being introduced to the media of the internet age. As a member of this transitional generation, Degrassi held a lot of weight.
One of the hallmarks of the original Degrassi was its willingness to tackle some of the less comfortable issues of teen life. They even developed the Degrassi Talks follow up shows to more directly discuss them. Degrassi: The Next Generation retained and updated these issues. As they said in the promos, “It Goes There”. However, since these episodes weren’t aiming for a TV-MA rating, the show would have to tread a little more likely than the writers would have probably liked to. Because of this, The Next Generation would embrace the sometimes ridiculous premises with a due dose of self awareness. There was even an episode where a character freaks about how it is the school that is causing all of this calamity. Watch, you’ll hit it eventually. For years, and into adulthood, many of us continued to follow our favorite characters as they aged and progressed. I haven’t watched more recent seasons, but that is quite literally because my contemporaries no longer appear in those seasons. It is a telling aspect of my, and many others, emotional attachment to the characters.
In 2005, two other icons of my transitional generation would get to live a real life fantasy of their own: Jay and Silent Bob showed up on Degrassi: The Next Generation. Jay and Silent Bob Do Degrassi: Director’s Cut is a collection of a three episode arc of the show, including episode 420 (teehee) West End Girls and Goin’ Down The Road Parts One and Two. In the show, Kevin Smith and Jason Mewes appear as fictionalized versions of themselves who seek to shoot a new View Askewniverse feature in The Great White North. I don’t think it is much of a coincidence that Smith has found himself there for recent productions. Imagine a dork like me, who loves both Kevin Smith and Degrassi, freaking out when this happened.
Yeah, that’s exactly how it sounded.
What’s even more amazing is the existence of this DVD. Within, you will find a slightly less edited version of the episodes but that’s not the big attraction here. In the Special Features, you will find a commentary from both Smith and Mewes, plus cast and crew of the show. No, not the kids, and there is good reason. This commentary is a hilarious look at the show, not unlike Smith’s current podcast work, which I’d venture to call it a precursor too. They’re having such a grand time being lewd and vulgar about the episodes that they added a second commentary track which restarts with the first episode. It is hysterical, and a must have for any Kevin Smith fan. It also proves that the crew knew exactly what they were doing in the show and it succeeded from the passion to create something smart and unique for their audience. A Saved By The Bell for another generation, that took the insanity even further.
Jay and Silent Bob Do Degrassi: Director’s Cut is available on DVD, though it is out of print. If you are Kevin Smith completist, a Jay and Silent Bob fan, a devotee of Degrassi or one of them folks who listens to Drake, be sure to grab it while it is still at a reasonable price.