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Television Reviews : 'Degrassi Jr. High'

September 18, 1987|LYNNE HEFFLEY

You've made the leap to junior high. You're excited, confused, self-conscious and scared. Soon you'll be confronting new issues, making choices. What will you do? At fictional "Degrassi Junior High," a 26-part series aimed at 10- to 15-year-olds, and debuting at 6 p.m. Saturday on KCET Channel 28, the students take on everything from puberty to peer pressure.

As watchable and potentially addictive as a prime-time soap, the series opens with a story about popular eighth grader Stephanie (Nicole Stoffman), who cultivates a sex-pot image and runs for school president on the dubious platform "One Kiss--One Vote." In the process she abuses her friendship with Voula (Niki Kemeny).

Subsequent episodes deal responsibly with gossip, drinking, drugs, homosexuality, ethics, sexism and the everyday anxieties that make adolescence a time to which few adults yearn to return.

There's Melanie buying her first bra and Stephanie's brother, Arthur, and his best friend, Yick Yu, still awaiting the growth spurt that will turn them into basketball stars. L.D. is a tomboy, anxious to prove her worth to her brothers, and Caitlin worries about her own sexuality. Tough guy Rick has a tough time at home and would-be playboy Joey can't seem to score.

The main plot lines are wrapped up each week, but not neatly--a few dangling ends carry over. There's none of the TV amnesia, peculiar to many half-hour shows, where what happened the week before is irrelevant.

Teachers and parents in the show have input, but make limited appearances. This funny, but carefully frank series is from the kids' point of view and the young cast has the appeal to carry it off.

A discussion guide is offered to parents at the end of each episode.

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