Zack walks into the Max and announces that it's time for the all-city cheerleading championships, and the front runners are, naturally, Bayside and Valley. You know what that means--holy ankle-length cheerleading skirts, Batman! Now that I think about it, didn't they try to mine the whole ankle-length cheerleading skirts gag for laughs on Family Matters, too? Anyway. More about this later.
The only reason Zack cares about the cheerleading contest is because it coincides with the annual Bayside-Valley prank war. Apparently, Valley got Bayside's goat last year, so they have to come up with something really good--and they have to strike first. Screech suggests that they flush all of Valley's toilets at one time. I can't see what purpose that would serve, unless the whole school happened to be in the gym showers at the same time or something. Anyway, just as Zack and Slater are admonishing Screech for this stupid idea, a couple of nerds who have been TP'ed together waddle through the front door wearing a sign that says "Valley Rules."
As the boys are stewing over being had by Valley, the girls walk in in an equal tizzy because one of the cheerleaders has come down with chicken pox (in high school?) and they need to find a replacement, stat. Slater suggests Jessie do it, to which she responds that she's "not some silly schoolgirl." Take out "silly" and "school," and you've just about got it. Kelly and Lisa somehow manage not to slap her into next week and even agree to let her on the squad when she grovels.
Later, at cheerleading practice, Zack, Slater and Screech show up with tales of all the pranks they've played on Valley, including stealing their totally unimpressive school banner. The guys are feeling pretty good about themselves until they walk into the hallway and see that it's been TP'ed by Valley. So far all Valley's pranking prowess amounts to is a roll of Charmin. Oh, unless you count the silly string that they've rigged to spray out of Zack, Slater and Screech's lockers. That was pretty good. We won't mention the fact that Screech and Slater seem to be going into Kelly and Jessie's lockers.
When Belding sees the sorry state of the hallway, he declares that the prank war must come to an end, even though apparently it's been going on for centuries or something. All this over a little toilet paper? Geez, lighten up, Beldo! Anyway, Belding goes to see Valley's principal and tries to call a truce. Valley's principal (whom we'll call Principal Clown, due to the totally cliche arsenal of practical jokes at his disposal) points out that Belding started the prank war oh so many years ago when he put jumping beans in the chili. But "Mad Dog" Belding is not the whimsical lad he once was and demands that the prank war come to an end. Principal Clown agrees...or so it seems.
Meanwhile at Kelly's house, Jessie is showing Kelly and Lisa her great idea for improving the cheerleading squad--what else but ankle-length cheerleading skirts?! I have to admit, the ankle-length cheerleading skirts still make me laugh. Anyway, Jessie thinks that the ankle-length skirts will help the judges focus on their words rather than their bodies. First of all, their uniforms--which have a polo-shirt top--are already more chaste than most midriff-baring cheerleading ensembles I've seen. Second of all, since when does Jessie get to make decisions for the cheerleading squad? Didn't she just join the squad yesterday? Anyway, she's also written a prim and proper cheer to go along with the ankle-length skirts. Kelly and Lisa rightly nip that one in the bud, but apparently Jessie's also written a cheer that, while "dangerous for the mascot," appears to be normal. Again, who died and made her head cheerleader?
Back to the prank war. Zack and Slater have decided that the best way to get Valley back is to steal their bulldog mascot, which they bring to cheerleading practice the next day. I would wonder why they brought stolen goods to cheerleading practice again when they knew all it would do is incur the wrath of Jessie, but this time they actually have a point, which is to take a picture of the cheerleaders with Valley's mascot. Unfortunately, Belding shows up at precisely the wrong moment, so the gang shuffles around so that Belding is in the back of the picture and the bulldog is in the front, presumably so Belding won't see the bulldog. Um, couldn't he just look down? I would have done it the other way around.
After practice, Screech heads for the locker room, where he runs into two guys in Bayside jackets. Screech doesn't seem suspicious that these guys are just hanging out in the locker room in their letter jackets, so he immediately spills all the details of the cheer to them, only to have them take of the jackets and reveal they're really from Valley! Ruh-roh!
With Screech missing, the girls convince Zack and Slater they have to go to Belding and tell him the truth. "Mad Dog" puts in another call to Principal Clown, who actually agrees to stop the prank war this time...right before going to buy his wife some exploding flowers. God, I feel sorry for whoever married him. Anyway, Valley's pranksters, Stand and Dan, note that Principal Clown only said "Take the tiger back to Bayside," so Zack and Slater end up trading the bulldog back for Dan in the mascot costume. However, they're tipped off 30 seconds later by Screech (nice job of keeping him detained, Stan 'n Dan) and formulate a plan to get their ultimate revenge...
...Which would be pouring ants into the mascot's costume. It's amazing how many problems on this show can be solved with ants. These particular ants cause Dan to start performing incredible gymnastic feats. You know, I've never had a jar of ants dumped down my pants, but I'm guessing that's not the way I'd react. Fortunately for Bayside, the combination of Jessie's cheer and Dan's gymnastic reaction to the ants wins them the cheerleading championship. T-I-G-E-R-S! Go Bayside!
Quote of the episode "We are the ladies of Bayside, the finest school around
We don't need to win because our minds are sound. Rah!"
Grade Clare: B. The cheerleading-competition episode is a classic sitcom device, and this particular episode is made all the funnier by the presence of ankle-length cheerleading skirts. However, I subtract major points for Principal Clown. I can't decide which is worse--his totally unfunny jokes or the way he laughs maniacally at them.