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Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Not so hot for teacher

Jessie welcomes us to a student assembly by announcing the cancellation of the talent show, due to the untimely death by termites of Muffin Sangria's ventriloquist dummy. Man, Muffin Sangria just cannot catch a break on this show! After everyone has laughed about this for way longer than is warranted, Zack (who, once again, despite having no discernible leadership role at Bayside, is helping to preside over the assembly) introduces Slater, who pimps the upcoming football championship with Valley.

Finally, it's Belding's turn to announce the winners of student-teacher week slots. Apparently the only classes at Bayside are foreign languages (clearly they're not picky about which ones), English, math, history, and gym. What about economics? Or drama? Or completely implausible science? Anyway, Kelly is named as the history teacher, which is handy because she's just decided that it's her life's calling to be a teacher. Screech and Lisa are put in charge of gym—based on what qualifications, I don't know. Seriously, why are the writers occasionally trying to make Sporty Lisa happen? Is it because Lark Voorhies loves wearing spandex so much? Zack, meanwhile, is being made to eat the words of his essay (verbatim: "Why be a teacher when you can be principal? It's the easiest job in the world; you don't do anything. Ask Belding."), and he and Richie are switching roles, Freaky Friday-style.

Later at the Max, after Kelly waxes poetic about the joys of teaching, Zack lays out his plan for effective principal-ing, namely enlarging the peepholes in the girls' locker room. Eh, I suppose it's no worse than blackmailing your students, although I am surprised that Kelly, Jessie and Lisa raise no objections whatsoever to the presence of locker-room peepholes.

The next day in class, Slater is at the blackboard, reviewing football plays with his teammates. I'll spare you the inane dialogue that ensues. Teacher Kelly enters and immediately gets her bitch on, telling Slater to call her Ms. Kapowski and take his seat. After an awkward introduction, she starts grilling the class on facts about World Wars I and II, during which she nearly gets slapped in the face by Jessie and her heil-Hitler-style hand-raising. Kelly finally tells Jessie to quit sucking up and asks Slater for the answers, which earns her nothing more than a couple of wisecracks. The other football players, Bull and Ox, don't know the answers either. What I don't know is why all the football extras are named after barnyard animals. Kelly's, teaching is interrupted by an announcement from Principal Zack, who calls two bimbos from history class to his office.

In Belding's office, we see that Zack has wasted no time in plastering it with Paula Abdul and LL Cool J posters. Heh. Nor does he waste any time hitting on Heather and Gina, the two bimbos he's called into his office. Man, I think Heather's even dumber than Ox, if that's possible. Can someone fix them up and send them far, far away from here? Once the bimbos take their leave, Belding enters, wearing a Texas tuxedo (I figured he would've gone for a hideous JC Penney sweater for his Zack transformation), to get his date book. When he starts rifling through his desk, Zack sends him straight to detention.

Up next on the principal docket is Slater, who's come in to complain that Kelly has the audacity to give her class a test when the football championship is right around the corner. Call me crazy, but if this test was scheduled before Kelly took over the class, wouldn't Slater have already known about it and therefore already been studying for it? Anyway, at the very mention of the word "test," Zack calls Kelly into his office and feeds her some bull about how he wants students to be free to learn without the pressure of tests. Apparently Kelly learned nothing about Zack in all those years of dating him, and totally buys this load of crap. In fairness to Kelly, Zack was pretty convincing here, although I think that's due in large part to the suit he's wearing.

Case in point: Jessie, without the benefit of witnessing Zack in the suit, sees right through this whole no-test scam. However, Kelly (whose earnestness is really just off-the-charts annoying in this episode) continues to defend Zack—until Slater and the other football players, upon hearing about the cancellation of the test, let it slip about the scam. Pissed (but not too pissed to deliver her message in the form of a cheer), Kelly declares the test to be back on.

The next day in history class, we see that all of the football players have skipped the test. Big Pete asks why the rest of the class should have to take the test if the football players don't have to. Kelly says it's because they care more about their education. Wrong! The correct answer would be, "Because anyone who doesn't take the test gets an automatic F." Does Kelly know nothing about teaching?! Anyway, without the impending threat of failure looming over their heads, the rest of the class books, too—including Jessie, who cites the lack of a curve as her reason for leaving. Very few tests I took in school were actually graded on a curve, so this excuse seems flimsy at best. Belding, on the lam from detention, wanders into Kelly's class and sees that it is devoid of students. Instead of offering her a little advice on coercion, he simply tells her to take the matter up with Zack.

Already in the midst of an argument, Kelly and Slater storm into Zack's office, interrupting a rousing game of paddle ball (so it seems Zack's essay about principals doing nothing was at least partially correct). Anyway, once Zack hears that Kelly has violated his no-test policy, he immediately lays into her about how disappointed he is. She flips the script on him and says that she used to believe in him as a boyfriend, friend and principal, but it turns out she was wrong. Again, I'm not sure which Zack Morris Kelly has been acquainted with all these years, but it definitely isn't the master scam artist the rest of us know and love.

Zack calls Belding into his office and attempts to resign as principal, but Belding is having way too much fun rearranging pencils, mooning crossing guards and blowing straw wrappers at people to give up his week of being Zack Morris. Again, Richie is minimally helpful in the advice department, and merely tells Zack that being principal isn't about making friends. What happened to "the last three letters of principal are P-A-L?" I know I've heard him trot that one out before.

Later at the pep rally, Kelly, Jessie and Lisa are performing an unusually violent cheer that includes the phrase "Bite 'em in the head." I suspect Jessie is behind this one. When—and more importantly, why—did they let her back on the squad? Anyway, after Screech (who is also apparently the football coach now?) and Slater deliver some rousing words, Zack takes the mike and rains on everyone's parade by saying that the football players who cut the history test are suspended, effective immediately. Wait, aren't the nerds, bimbos and Jessie suspended as well? That seems unfair.

Post-suspension, Zack and Kelly are throwing a pity party in Zack's office when they're interrupted by an angry mob (led by Lisa and Screech) breaking the door down. Despite threats of violence from the football team, Zack stands firm on his position, telling Slater that his first duty at Bayside is to get an education. Unlike Zack, whose first duty is to run as many scams as possible in the span of four years. Anyway, Slater finally backs down and apologizes to Kelly, and the angry mob disperses. Kelly laments the fact that she was never able to give the test, since she bought little smiley-face stickers and everything. What grade does she think she's teaching here, exactly? Then again, given what we know of the oh-so-challenging nature of Bayside's history curriculum, perhaps smiley-face stickers are appropriate. Anyway, Zack hatches a plan for the players to make up the test during the game, which is starting in half an hour. Again, are the rest of the test-skippers not going to be held accountable for their actions? Whatever.

During the test, Screech keeps running in with hints to test answers thinly veiled as game updates. Finally, after Kelly threatens his life (there sure is a lot of violence in this episode), he takes off for good. We see the football players huddled around Kelly's desk, waiting for her to grade the tests. Wait, I thought their playing in the game was only contingent upon them taking the test, not passing it. It seems unfair to make them hang around while Kelly doles out her smiley-face stickers, especially since Bayside is getting creamed by Valley in the meantime. It doesn't really matter anyway, since, as Zack tells us over some stock footage of, like, the San Francisco 49ers, once Slater and the other players rejoined the game, Bayside made a miraculous comeback and won, 28-21. Go Tigers?


Quote of the episode

Belding: "I just came to get my date book."
Zack: "You shouldn't be dating; you're married."

Clare: C. Zack and Belding's Freaky Friday antics were somewhat amusing (well, until Zack started getting all serious about being a principal), but take that away and you're left with bitchy/earnest Kelly and a football-driven plot. I'll pass.

1:08 PM

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