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Monday, February 07, 2005

Break me up before you go-go

We open at the Max, where Kelly and Zack and Jessie and Slater are sitting in the usual booth, being all schmoopy. Zack is totaling up the minutes that he and Kelly have been together, while Slater puts milkshake on Jessie's nose and calls her "honey lips." Ugh. Is this really what people need to see first thing in the morning? After some disgusting and vaguely inappropriate banter about seeing Jessie "shake," Kelly points out that the two of them have been together since prom, so why don't they just make it official and "go steady"? Um, I'd say because it's not 1952, but Jessie has another answer. She says, somewhat predictably, that they find monogamous relationships to be "restrictive and possessive." Well, yeah...when you're using someone as a beard, you need the freedom to date other people, you know? Anyway, Kelly starts to wax poetic about the joys of monogamy, but Zack can't stick around because he's late for geometry. Surprisingly, the mention of geometry does not cause Jessie to break out into hives. I guess the therapy must be working.

Later in the hallway, Jessie spills the news that she and Slater have succumbed to Kelly's peer pressure and 1950s-era lingo and have decided to go steady. Kelly suggests that they go out on Saturday night to celebrate. God, Kelly, how about letting them make a decision or two about their relationship for a change? Slater and Jessie are too busy being schmoopy (ugh) to resent Kelly's excessive input, however, and agree to go decide on a plan. Kelly runs into Zack by her locker (which appears to be festooned with heart stickers and a picture of a panda bear, like how old is she, seven?) and casually mentions that she's having dinner with Todd Winfield, not to be confused with Todd Wakefield, Elizabeth's boyfriend in the Sweet Valley High books. Zack exposits that Todd Winfield is Kelly's ex, who drives a Ferrari and looks like Mel Gibson. OK, how old is this guy, because based on the information Zack has just given us, he can't be all that young. Needless to say, Zack is pretty wigged to find out that Kelly has a sugar daddy.

At the Max, Lisa is trying to pump Screech for information about the Kelly/Zack/Todd situation. When that well of gossip turns out to be dry, she shifts her attention to Slater, who is there to tell Jessie what he's planned for their date. Um, didn't they just say they were planning it together? Whatever. Jessie arrives and announces that she has their date all planned. Slater says he does, too. Any sane person would have noticed a problem right there, but Jessie, all excited about her date plans and possibly hopped up on caffeine pills, steamrolls ahead with her proposed evening: dinner at Cafe Diane, which seems to sit fine with Slater, and the ballet, which definitely does not. He asks Jessie if she knows how hard it was for him to get Raiders tickets. Well, considering they just decided to go steady earlier that day, and he already has the tickets in hand, I'd say not too hard. Jessie, predictably, climbs up on her chauvanist-pig soapbox, tells Slater off, then storms out of the Max.

While Kelly and Lisa are still reeling from having eavesdropped on that conversation, Zack walks in and asks to talk to Kelly. As Lisa again blatantly eavesdrops, Zack tells Kelly that she is forbidden to go out with Todd. Oh, Zack. Don't you know that Kelly needs Todd's money to support her gigantic family? Kelly doesn't really tell him this in so many words, but she does tell him he can't tell her who to be "friends" with. So Zack drags out the old ultimatum: Either she calls off the date with Todd, or they're through. Unfortunately, this plan backfires, and Kelly also storms out of the Max.

The next day, everyone is at a student council meeting, separated by gender on opposite sides of the room like they're at a middle-school dance. Jessie rescinds a motion to buy uniforms (for what sport is never specified) and proposes using the money to establish a dance department instead. The guys are very upset over the loss of these non-specific "uniforms," and a battle of the sexes erupts that is so intense it causes Mr. Belding to break his gavel.

Although they weren't the only ones yelling, but because they are the only ones central to this plot, Belding rounds up Kelly, Jessie, Zack and Slater in his office and demands an explanation for the fight. They all start yelling again, until Mr. Belding yells over them and gets them to be quiet. (Hey, why didn't he just do that in the meeting? He could've saved himself a gavel.) Finally, the explanation comes out, although not without some choice insults ("meathead" and "skinny lips") from Jessie and Slater. Along with me, Mr. Belding expresses some disbelief at these insults and tells them all to grow the hell up. Of course, he then gets a not-at-all-contrived call from his wife, who ends up kicking him out of the house when he refuses to let her mother stay with them, giving the gang license to smirk at him openly. After the phone call, he predictably takes the guys' side, giving Jessie and Kelly license to employ some overly dramatic hair flipping.

Over at the Max, Screech and Mr. B. are closing the place down as he cries into his coffee over with went wrong with the missus. If I were him, I'd be more upset that my only confidante was a geeky student. But whatever. Screech tries several times to get away, but Belding isn't having any of it.

Meanwhile, at Zack's, Slater and Zack are lying in bed together, ostensibly waiting for a call from Kelly and/or Jessie. Yeah, right! We all know this is the moment Slater's been waiting for. However, before he can make his move, Screech arrives at the door with Belding in tow. Mr. B. compliments Zack on his digs, then makes himself at home. OK, hanging out with one of your students after school on campus (or near campus, or wherever the hell the Max is supposed to be) is one thing, but this? Is probing new levels of desperation. Have some self-respect, Richie!

At what I guess we're supposed to believe is the same time, Kelly, Jessie and Lisa are at the now-full Max (huh?), where the former two are moping about their men. Lisa gets all sassy (I love sassy Lisa!) and convinces them they've been too hard on the guys. She offers to go over to Zack's and wave the white flag on their behalf. But unfortunately, when she gets there, the boys and Belding are in the middle of their bonding session, and he's able to convince them that they're better off without women. Which is true when you're gay, like Slater is, and like I'm beginning to think Belding might be, because he's been touching Screech an awful lot in this episode. Hmm.

The next morning, Zack wakes up with what looks like a nasty pizza hangover and starts hallucinating Kellys everywhere, including in his closet, which appears to be filled entirely with various turquoise shirts. Zack, the next time Jessie offers you drugs, just say no! Also, buy some new clothes. Clad in one of these many turquoise shirts, and with his gigantic cell phone in tow, Zack tracks Slater down in the locker room, where he's doing his 437th bicep curl (I am soooo sure). Slater reveals that he's also been hallucinating (just say no!), and the boys conclude that Belding is wack. And I concur, as he walks into the locker room in his bathrobe with shaving cream all over his face. Apparently he's been staying at the school. Dude, haven't you ever heard of checking into a hotel? Like, maybe the one you were going to put your mother-in-law in? Anyway, Belding lays out the plan for the night: tacos and bowling, on him. Not that I'd want to hang out with my high-school principal on a regular basis or anything, but if he's paying, I'd have a hard time saying no. But apparently, Zack's had about all the Belding he can take, so he stops time and uses his gigantic cell phone to set in motion the wheels of reconcilliation.

Cut to Belding's office, where he's admiring a dozen of the tiniest roses I have ever seen. Seriously, you can barely see the petals on these things. Zack's cell phone bill must have been outrageously high this month or something. Anyway, Zack and Slater are totally unconvincing as they pretend to be surprised by the roses, and are then even more unconvincing as they pretend to be upset that Mr. B. is going back to his wife. As Belding beats a hasty retreat, Slater puts his hand on Zack's shoulder and pleads, "Oh, Preppy, don't you ever leave me." Then they share an air kiss. Awww. I always knew those two crazy kids would make it.

Sadly, even though it should, the episode does not end there. Kelly and Jessie walk into a darkened Max, each clutching miniscule roses that I assume were nicked from Belding's bouquet. They make their way to their "reserved" seats (whatever), and a spotlight (whatever) illuminates Zack, who welcomes us to the "What I Should've Said Theater." In Act One, Lisa, wearing an excessive amount of denim and a horrible wig, confronts Slater about the plans for their big going-steady celebration. It's worth mentioning that in this sequence, both Lisa and Slater manage to get their digs in at Jessie, but she totally doesn't notice. Anyway, although "Jessie" is an uber-bitch to Slater (man, did Lisa nail her character, or what?), Slater rips up the football tickets and says he'd rather go to the ballet. When "Jessie" expresses surprise that he likes the ballet, he rips off his velcro-ed on clothes to reveal a low-cut black unitard and asks, "What does this tell you?" Well, for starters, it tells me that you are, without a doubt, 100-percent gay. And it also tells me that you've been stuffing your unitard with a sock.

Anyway, after Slater shows off waaaay too much ballet proficiency for a guy who claims not to like the ballet, he and Lisa exit stage left, and we fade up (whatever) on Zack and "Kelly" (aka Screech, once again in drag). Screech also appears to have mastered his character, as he perfectly emulates Kelly's hair flip. Zack delivers a very sincere and heartfelt speech about how he shouldn't be so controlling because Kelly should be allowed to have a sugar daddy. When the house lights come up (whatever), Kelly and Jessie rush to hug their respective men. As Screech cries about how he doesn't know which bathroom to go in (might want to get some pointers from Jessie, there, buddy), Slater tries not to look too disappointed that his love affair with Zack has been dashed once again. Oh well, I'm sure he'll meet some nice men in the ballet.


Quote of the episode
Lisa: Todd Winfield's going out with Kelly? But what about Zack?
Screech: I think Todd likes Kelly better.

Clare: A-. Although Slater and Jessie's fight follows the trite and tiring "chauvanist pig" argument, I have to give props to any episode that lets Slater be this gay-riffic. And what can I say? You know I'm a sucker for Screech in drag.

9:14 AM

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