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Series / Radio Active

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Radio Active was a Canadian TV show that aired from 1998 - 2001 on YTV (and briefly on Fox Family in the US), based on the Quebec French series Radio Enfer. The premise was simple: a group of students at Upper Redwood High School manage and run their own school radio station, entitled Radio Active. Chaos frequently ensued as the group worked to avoid and undermine the sneaky teacher-supervisor Ms. Noelle Atoll, who always believes (usually rightly so) that they're up to something.

The original cast of characters consisted of students George S. Goodwin III, Tanya Panda, Morgan Leigh, Kevin Calvin and Ethan St. John. In 1999, Kevin and Ethan were replaced by Blair Resnicky and Roger Richards, who remained for the remainder of the show. The students were joined by supervisor Ms. Atoll and incompetent vice principal Mr. Noseworthy, and occasionally joined by Morgan's annoying younger sister, Sarah.

Not to be confused with the British radio show of the same name, nor with actual radioactivity. Also not to be confused with the superficially similar System Crash, another Canadian Series about students in a media club which aired around the same time.

This show contains examples of:

  • Agony of the Feet: One later episode had Morgan beat out Tanya to win the audition for a commercial featuring a pair of high-heeled shoes. She later refused to do the commercial because she objected to its sexualized content, so the shoe company offered the job to Tanya. Tanya accepts the commercial, and finds that the shoes are really painful to walk in. She's later shown giving herself a Foot Bath Treatment.
  • Annoying Younger Sibling: Sarah, to Morgan.
  • Belligerent Sexual Tension: Morgan and Kevin. To a lesser extent, later, Morgan and Blair.
  • Big "NO!": Morgan fakes a love note from her to nerd Lenny Porter-McKinsky as part of a scheme to get Kevin in trouble. Later, during The Stinger, Mr. Noseworthy tells Morgan that Lenny is looking for her and talking about "going steady". Morgan has an Oh, Crap! reaction and turns to Kevin, who confirms that he gave her note to Lenny. Morgan then screams this trope.
  • Bottle Episode: Every single one. This series was made on the cheap. In the entire first season, only the eight regulars appeared, very literally; there were no other people in the entire school. Even then, one or more of them was often missing. The producers decided to splurge on a few token extras in later seasons, but it did little to hide the "budget" feeling.
  • Catchphrase: "I remember when I was your age..." by Mr. Noseworthy.
  • Cloud Cuckoo Lander: George Goodwin.
  • Didn't Think This Through: Morgan faked a love note from her to school nerd Lenny Porter-McKinsky as a way to get Kevin in trouble. She succeeds, but apparently didn't consider that Kevin might give Lenny her note. When Mr. Noseworthy tells her that Lenny is talking about going steady with her and Kevin confirms that he gave Lenny the note, Morgan screams a Big "NO!".
  • Disco Dan: Mr. Noseworthy is shown as being completely out of touch with contemporary youth culture. When he briefly takes over the radio station, he plays ridiculously outdated music like "Goodbye My Coney Island Baby" by Barney's Barbershop Quartet. Ms. Atoll is also shown to be out of touch, albeit less so.
  • Double Standard: Abuse, Female on Male: Zig Zagged in the episode where Blair had a female bully. While a lot of her bullying was played for laughs, the other members of Radio Active were genuinely horrified and supportive of Blair.
  • Earpiece Conversation: There's an episode wherein Kevin is being coached through an oral exam by a hidden microphone with Morgan on the other end.
  • The End... Or Is It?: One episode has the cast believes that aliens have infiltrated the school. By the end, they agree on a codeword to share between them, so they'd know each other apart from body-snatchers or spies. The ending shot shows Mr. Noseworthy scratching at something on his neck, with the implication that he is possessed by an alien, or is an alien.
  • The Ghost: The characters occasionally mentioned other students like nerdy Lenny Porter-McKinsky or wrestling team captain Dutch Kowalski, but they never appeared on-screen.
  • High School: Obviously.
  • High-School Dance: At least twice. Neither dance is actually shown, but the preparation of each of the main characters is.
    • In one case, the center of the episode is the group finding dates, with Morgan teaching her younger sister that the best way to convince a guy to go with you is to tell him you don't want to go, and her master plan to go with the captain of the football team is to... tell him she's going with Kevin.
    • The later episode was focused on how everything was going wrong in the planning (Morgan has a huge zit, Tanya can't decide how to do her hair, and so on), until Roger saves the day at the last minute that the new theme is "everyone has flaws".
  • I Am Spartacus: In one episode, a mysterious "DJ X" has been broadcasting messages that Ms. Atoll doesn't approve of, using voice distortion to conceal their identity. When Ms. Atoll finally simply gathers all the crew together and insists they tell her who DJ X is, or face punishment, they all, one by one, claim to be DJ X... except Roger, who is punished for it.
  • Is This Thing Still On?: One episode involves Morgan accidentally playing herself singing along on the radio, and becoming a hit. As a result, each of the others makes an attempt to get some skill of theirs known by trying to fake up having done the same thing, and the student body quickly becomes sick of it.
  • Jerk Jock: Kevin, and later, Blair.
  • Literal Genie: Mr. Noseworthy was once hypnotized into falling in love with the first thing he saw. And then he was shown a chair.
  • Meaningful Name: Ms. Atoll, the strict disciplinarian that no one likes.
  • Mistaken for Gay: Ethan (and George), by Kevin, after the latter found a love letter in his locker and Ethan unthinkingly confirms it's from him, as he thinks Kevin is talking about his application to join the hockey team. Leads to such lines as, "I thought you knew, I've wanted this for a long time." and "You won't be disappointed, I've been practicing with George". When George tells Kevin that he wrote the letter, Kevin panics, convinced that his new cologne is responsible for his sudden attractiveness to men. It turns out the letter really was written by George, but he hadn't intended to give it to Kevin.
  • Moustache de Plume: In one episode, the class is eager to meet an attractive female author who was known for invoking this trope only for it to turn out to be Ms. Atoll. She explains that it's not enough to be a woman pretending to be a man to get anywhere in writing, you also have to pretend to be an attractive woman pretending to be a man.
  • Mundane Made Awesome: George's favorite comic book is "Normal Man", a superhero who does regular things all day.
  • Quote Mine: Roger is extolling the virtues of Mr. Noseworthy on the radio show. However, due to "technical difficulties", the sentence, "In his field, competence knows no equal!" is rendered as, "In...competence knows no equal."
  • Race Lift: An in-universe example in the Christmas special, where the gang pretend to take Ms. Atoll back in time to when she was a teacher. In this scene, Ms. Atoll's past self is played by Tanya. Lampshaded by Ms.Atoll.
    The Ghost of Christmas Past: This was you, over 20 years ago.
    Ms. Atoll: I used to be black?
  • The Rashomon: In one episode, Ms. Atoll flies off the handle because someone has defaced and damaged a CD. Morgan tries to find out what happened to cause a CD to get damaged, and so sets up an office and interviews the others. Everyone had a different report on what happened in the room, how everyone acted and what happened to the CD. The only constant in any of them is that George was reading a comic book, wearing a hat (which changes depending on who's telling it). George's retelling consists entirely of a shot of the comic book while the voices of the other cast members can be heard babbling incoherently in the background.
  • School Play: In one episode Ms. Atoll "suggests" that the main cast put on a radio play.
  • Sound Defect: The radio play is full of this. After a while they simply try their best to work with it.
    Morgan (as narrator): "Church bells began to ring..."
    Ethan's cell phone starts ringing
    Morgan (as narrator): "...they were cellular church bells..."
  • Spiritual Successor: The show Fries With That - same production company, same network (YTV still airs re-runs in pretty good timeslots), also based on a Québec sitcom (in its case, Une grenade avec ça?) and one of the same leads. The acting and writing styles are virtually identical. To his credit though, the returning actor, who plays George in Radio Active, plays a very different character (more an Ethan/Roger type).
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute: Kevin and Ethan were replaced by Blair and Roger, who had similar roles on the show.
  • Two-Teacher School: Lampshaded—Ms. Atoll and Mr. Noseworthy are the only teachers the students can name. (A few other teachers appeared, but never in more than one episode.)
  • When I Was Your Age...: Mr. Noseworthy; see Catchphrase.
  • Yet Another Christmas Carol: One episode in which the students plan to use this to convince Ms. Atoll not to give them homework over the holidays. It turns out to be All Just a Dream. (Or Was It a Dream?)