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Thursday, August 28, 2003

Teen Line: Not as dirty as it sounds (Rap Room: Exactly as stupid as it sounds)

Zack walks into Belding's office to discuss the senior class community project with the rest of the gang while Screech knocks over everything that's not mounted down. Tori steals an idea from her old high school of a teen line and rap room. Naturally, every one thinks it's a great idea.

Tori lays out a few ground rules at the start of the teen line: never ask for last names, never ask for phone numbers and never never ask to meet. So I guess this means all three will be broken. Lisa gets the first phone call and doles out helpful advice like, "Don't wear white, or you'll look like Shamu at a wedding." Some kid wanders in to complain about his little brother, but when counselor Screech whines about being an only child, the kid offers his brother to Screech. What kind of dysfunctional family is this? Anyway, Zack gets a call from a girl with overprotective parents and immediately starts hitting on her. I think he took Jeff's "How to take Advantage of Girls Who Seek Your Help" seminar. Plus it's good foreshadowing of his manning of the suicide hotline in Dead Man on Campus. Anyway, he gives her some crap advice, telling her to set clocks back in her house so she can stay out later. I guess her parents don't have watches. He goes on to ask her name (Melissa), where she lives and invites her to meet him at the Max. Melissa for some reason doesn't catch on to the fact that the guy from the advice line shouldn't be asking you on a date and agrees to go out with him.

Zack goes to the Max the next day to meet her. He walks up to the usual booth, which now has a "Reserved" sign on it. I'm having a problem with this for a number of reasons: 1) You can't reserve a certain booth, 2) You definitely can't reserve a booth at a place like The Max, and 3) No one ever sits at that booth besides Zack & Co. But I guess the Max is making a lot of changes, like the neon yellow tablecloths now adorning the the one Melissa is sitting at. Zack introduces himself and invites her to check out the music on the jukebox because it changes every week. Personally, I've never heard anything but cheesy synthesized music, but whatever. Melissa rolls over to the jukebox and Zack discovers her dark secret: she's in a wheelchair. I don't really know how he could have missed it before since he was staring right at her for 15 seconds. Riddle me this: how did she get down the stairs of the Max?

The rest of the gang comes in and invites her to come to Bayside and watch them in action at the teen line. Which consists of them sitting in a room answering phones. They sure know how to entertain. It turns out that they did more than answer phones the next day. A freakishly tall (I'd say...oh, 5'9") not totally unattractive girl comes in to talk to Zack and Slater about how shy she is around boys, being so freakishly tall and all. I don't know. If I was so shy around boys, I think I'd call for advice instead of heading straight for two not totally unattractive guys and moan about my dumb insecurities. Melissa tells her to think of tall as beautiful. I'm going to think of her as not smart because she gushes like she just got directions to the Holy Grail. She then proceeds to bend down in her not totally long skirt right in front of Zack and Slater and give Melissa a hug. That girl has an agenda.

Zack is so smitten with the fact that Melissa can think that he demands a date. He then proceeds to turn their nice quiet evening at the movies into a PC rally, even going as far as asking the guy in front of her to slump down because she's in a wheelchair.

The next day Belding walks in to Teen Line HQ and tells them that the school's budget has been cut and that all nonessential school programs must go, i.e., the Teen Line (What does i.e. mean, anyway? Who cares; you got it). Call me crazy, but I don't think it'll break the bank for five kids to sit around answering phones after school. The gang (sans Slater, plus Melissa) gathers at the Max, totally crushed and indignant that their two-day project has been cut. Shy-but-not-modest girl comes up to them and goofily announces that she has a date for the weekend. Inspired by the one person they helped, they try and think of a way to raise money to keep the Teen Line open. When Slater comes in from basketball practice, Zack has the brilliant idea to have a wheelchair basketball game, to be followed by a dance. So let me get this straight: they're gonna raise money for an annual project that was somehow overlooked in the budget by throwing a dance that definitely was not budgeted for. Makes sense.

The game goes off without a hitch, making enough money to keep the Teen Line open. Then Zack feels the need to make a speech about Melissa being the true star because she's only one who has to stay in a wheelchair. Smooth one, buddy. Melissa blasts him about always calling attention to her handicap and rolls off angrily.

At the dance, Slater goes up to "I'm not really shy; I just wanted everyone to feel sorry for me" girl who's wearing an even shorter skirt and she tells Slater that he's the hunk she's after. What did I tell you? Zack, along at the refreshment table, spots Melissa, apologizes and promises to treat her normally for the last 12 seconds of the show. He then proves this by "dancing" with her. I don't know. It looked a lot like her just spinning around in a circle. Oh, bad Kia. If I've learning nothing else from this episode, it's that people in wheelchairs have the right to look just as stupid as people without any physical disability.


Quote of the episode
Slater: Oh, you play basketball?
Melissa: Every day in my driveway. You should see my hook shot.
Screech: Oh, can you dunk?
Melissa: Only doughnuts, but I still love to play.

Kia: C. The fact that Zack was made a peer counselor is hilarious. Other than that, there was nothing exceptionally notable about this episode...except for Zack and Lisa sitting together in the booth on two occasions. But that's another story.

Clare: C-. I have never been fond of the whole Zack-helping-those-less-fortunate-than-him schtick (witness the horrible homeless Christmas debacle). Especially since the message always seems to be, "Help people, but only if they're pretty." Don't average-looking or even ugly people deserve some Zack Morris love, too?

4:10 PM

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