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Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Breaker High

Do you want to know how long it has been since I actually did a "Whatever Wednesday" entry?  Too long!

Truth be told, this month has been kind of a wacky and weird one as far as keeping up with the regular schedule of the blog.  I've done a lot of personal reflecting and I've had some really rough days lately which have induced a lot of stress-induced headaches.  Of course, now that I've pinpointed where my stress levels are coming from, I can begin to try and find a way to fix them and move on from it.  But, like anything else in the world, things aren't always so simple.

Of course, the fact that I'm allowing myself to be more flexible in this blog makes me realize that nothing is set in stone...and maybe after nearly three years, it's time to shake things up.  All I can say about that statement is stay tuned next month.

For now, while it lasts, let's enjoy this edition of the Whatever Wednesday entry.  And, for today's entry, we're going to be taking a look at a television series, as I drew the MRS. PEACOCK card.

But here's the thing.  I have never really been the type of person who has the best timing. 

By now, I'm sure that you've heard about the devastating ferry boat crash near South Korea in which hundreds of people are still missing and feared dead.  It's such an unimaginable thing to think about, and from all reports coming out of the media, it appears as though the crew didn't exactly act in their passengers best interests.  My heart definitely goes out to the victims and their families who must be going through so, so much.

So, when I came up with the idea to do a television feature on a show that largely took place on a gigantic boat, I thought to myself...should I even be doing a blog on a show like that given the circumstances?

Well, I thought about it, and in the end, I decided to go through with my original plan.  For one, I think it should be stressed that while the boat tragedy in South Korea was a horrible incident, this is not the norm.  Boat travel is still very safe, and in fact, I've always wanted to know what it would be like to take a cruise.  An extended cruise.

I mean, just think about it for a second.  Part of the reason why I've thought about going on some sort of cruise is because of the fact that I could spend a week or two just enjoying myself not having to worry about anything or anyone...well, aside from having the boat crash into something and tipping over that is.  But I think that risk factors aside, I think it would be something that I would probably enjoy.  It doesn't even have to be one of those singles cruises or anything like that - although I would admittedly feel "singled out" if I were the only one on the boat without a significant other.  Alas, that's another issue altogether that I won't discuss.

Of course, that's just for a couple of weeks.  Could you imagine spending a total of nine months on a cruise ship?  For instance, if you were a high school student who was chosen to attend a year of school on a cruise ship going around the world, docking at ports all over the world every other week where you would get a once-in-a-lifetime learning experience, would you jump at the chance?  I know I certainly would.  Heck, given my own experiences in secondary school, I'd board that cruise ship in a heartbeat and not come back until graduation!

Anyway, the reason why I bring up this scenario is because there was once a show that aired on television that featured this very plot.  Imagine watching eight teenagers cruising along the oceans of the world learning about cultures, life lessons, and a smattering of algebra, geometry, history, and biology in between.

Well, for a brief period between 1997 and 1998, we could.  In fact, I seem to recall that during that time, it aired literally twenty-two times a day!

I'm not exaggerating on that either.  With the show airing on UPN (now the CW), YTV, and countless other channels, it was all over the place.  I think it may have even aired in the same time block on five different channels at the peak of its popularity, making channel surfing a challenge.

The show is "Breaker High", and although it only technically ran for six months between September 1997 and March 1998, it seemed like much longer.

As I said before, it aired twenty-two times a day at its peak.  Not to mention that reruns of the show aired for almost ten years after its last original episode aired.  It was as if the teens in the show spent a whole decade on that damned boat!

(Of course...only three of the eight actors on the show were actually teenagers at the time this show was filmed, so I suppose that it only SEEMED like it.)

So, the basic premise of the show is what exactly would happen if you combined "Saved By The Bell" and "The Love Boat".  We follow the lives of eight teens who are studying in a school program aboard a cruise ship.  It's basically the entire plot of "The Suite Life On Deck" only set in the 1990s.

Who are these teens?  Well, here's a picture of the lot of them below.  Don't worry.  I'll introduce you to them below.

Okay, so from left to right, we have Ashley (Terri Conn), Alex (Kyle Alisharan), Max (Scott Vickaryous), Jimmy (Tyler Labine), Tamira (Rachel Wilson), Cassidy (Wendi Kenya), Denise (Persia White), and Sean (Ryan Gosling).  Some of these names, you may know...others you probably don't.  Don't worry...I'll do one of those "Where Are They Now" features at the end of this entry.

Now, if every single student at "Breaker High" looked the same, acted the same, and dressed the same, it would make for a very boring experience.  Each student admittedly represented a different stereotype that you might see in a standard high school setting.

Ashley, for instance was a spoiled, Southern belle who never left her room without her hair properly coiffed, her nails perfectly done, and wearing only the finest clothing that money could buy.  She could be completely annoying, but had a good heart.  Alex was the token jock and always could be found in storylines that featured his athletic ability.  Sean was the wannabe player who tried his best to charm the ladies, but in actuality was a nerd, while his sidekick Jimmy was the class clown who always seemed to stir up mischief.

Cassidy was similar to Alex in that she was also very athletic, and she certainly played the role of tomboy very convincingly.  Every teen show has to have a brainiac bookworm type character, and Denise was absolutely the school's grade grind.  Tamira was just happy spreading sunshine and rainbows all throughout the ship, and I suppose if Breaker High needed a "hippie", Tamira would epitomize that definition completely.

Now, Max...Max is a different sort of character altogether.  I think Max is the only character who temporarily dropped out of "Breaker High" only to come back again.  The reason?  Well, when your father happens to be the captain of the whole ship (played by Andrew Airlie), it tended to make for some interesting conflict.  I don't even know if the father-son relationship ever became close as I don't even remember a single episode plotline, but from what I do recall, it did seem to be a focal point of the series.

Other cast members were the staff of the actual ship who made cameo appearances.  Anne Openshaw played the school teacher of the boat, Ms. Mitchell.  In the role of the ship's activities director was Richard Ian Cox, who played the role of the manic Tony Gifford.  And of course, every ship has to have a this case, actor Bernard Cuffling stepped into the role.

Now, many of the adventures on "Breaker High" took place on the ship itself, but there were some instances in which the boat would dock at certain places, leaving the kids to explore various countries such as Italy and Scotland. 

(Of course, since the budget for "Breaker High" was very small, they didn't actually film in those countries.  They didn't even film on a boat!  All the episodes were taped on a soundstage in Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada.)

Still, it was an interesting idea for a show.  And, just to refresh your memory about this program, here's a couple of episodes that I found of the program.  Just click the links below (which are actually divided into two parts.  For part one, click the episode number, part two, click the title).


Okay, so now comes the fun part.  What have the teen cast members of "Breaker High" done since?  I'll start from low profile to high profile.

Kyle Alisharan:  His last credit is as an extra in the 2006 film "Snakes on a Plane".

Scott Vickaryous:  Aside from doing guest roles on television projects, he hasn't really had any breakout parts.

Wendi Kenya:  Had a starring role in the Peter Engel produced "Malibu, CA", and has appeared in some films in bit parts.

Rachel Wilson:  Has done voice work for cartoons such as "Total Drama", and is a star on Canadian television, working on "Bomb Girls" and "Republic of Doyle"

Terri Conn:  She's mostly been acting on soap operas since leaving "Breaker High".  She was on "As The World Turns" for ten years playing Katie Peretti, and spent another year on "One Life To Live" playing the role of Aubrey Wentworth.

Persia White:  She most recently appeared in "The Vampire Diaries" in the role of Abby Bennett Wilson, and also enjoyed an eight year run on the sitcom "Girlfriends" playing Lynn Ann Searcy.

Tyler Labine:  He's had his string of successes over the years, appearing in "Sons of Tucson", "Mad Love", and "Animal Practice".  He has also filmed several movies, and performed a voice on "Monsters University".

Ryan Gosling:  Do I even NEED to explain the success he's had since "Breaker High"?  Let's see..."The Notebook", "Half Nelson", "Crazy, Stupid, Love", "The Place Beyond The Pines", etc, etc, etc...

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