We open at The Max where Screech and Lisa randomly study for the Academic Bowl. Screech, being a complete moron, quizzes Lisa on the zip code of Northern Zimbabwe. Lisa’s justified in her puzzlement over the question since not only does Northern Zimbabwe not use the zip code system, an American invention and convention, but such an obscure question would never make it into an Academic Bowl. I guess that’s supposed to pass as a joke, but I can imagine being puzzled as a kid over how this is supposed to be funny.
Zack Morris and Slater, meanwhile, are sick of waiting for the conclusion to the Ryan and Lindsay breaking up story over at The New Class so they plan on going skiing Friday. Lisa’s all, “How are you going to get out of class Friday?” and Zack Morris tells her that he’s sure he’ll come up with some contrived way to ensure he finds out whether Ryan will stay pissed at Lindsay forever or not. Also, they say it’s winter break, but isn’t winter break over Christmas at most schools? If this is the case, why do they have to go to school? Did Mr. Belding decide that school shouldn’t let out at all anymore?
Kelly didn’t get out of Zack Morris’s basement in time for this week’s episode so Jessie’s randomly working at The Max because the writers believe that you can just let anyone fill in at your job anytime you wish. Yeah, there’s no explanation given for why Kelly’s away. She’s just randomly not there. Also, Jessie believes t-shirts are sexist outfits. Yeah, they were that desperate to shoehorn in some quasi-feminism. She also thinks the zip code of Northern Zimbabwe is KR1 37X. It’s totally not and she’s totally an idiot.
Screech randomly mentions that the teachers are randomly renegotiating their contracts in the middle of the year because plot, which gives Zack Morris an idea for getting out of school.
So welcome back Mr. Tuttle for his final appearance in the Saved by the Bell universe. Yeah, he was one of he few smart enough to stay away from the abomination that is The New Class. Here, he’s the head of the teacher’s union and uncharacteristically civil towards Mr. Belding as the latter gives the teacher’s union everything they asked for.
Zack Morris and Slater come in, suddenly pretending to work for the newspaper because our gang are the only ones who do anything at Bayside. They tell Mr. Belding they’re doing an interview about the academic bowl and record Mr. Belding saying a bunch of shit that’s obviously going to be spliced and used out of context to piss off Mr. Tuttle by the next scene. At this point, no competent adult at Bayside should trust anything Zack Morris does and should assume the worst about his intentions. Fortunately for the plot, there are no competent adults in Peter Engel land.
Since Mr. Tuttle is the jack-of-all-trades at Bayside, he’s also the academic adviser for the Academic Bowl, and his team consists of Dumb, Dumber, and Dumbest. Yeah, you’re not going to convince me these are the three smartest students at Bayside. For one, Screech is a moron. Two: Lisa? REALLY!?!? Were they that desperate for a third person on the team they overlooked her obvious deficiencies of intelligence and put her on to round out the group?
Yeah, Screech is portrayed here as a savior to the team and answers questions even before Mr. Tuttle is done. I don’t know why this show likes to randomly portray Screech as a genius some times and an idiot at others, but it makes me hate him even more.
Zack Morris and Slater come in to interview Mr. Tuttle about the Academic Bowl and randomly play back the spliced quotes from Mr. Belding, including one suggesting Mr. Tuttle should have been fired years ago. This pisses Mr. Tuttle off enough that he goes and tells some other teachers and they decide to strike. Uh, what are you going to strike about? That your boss is a jerk? He’s meeting all your demands. Strikes require a goal that will end the strike. You can’t just randomly strike because your boss is an ass.
But this is Saved by the Bell logic, where nothing makes sense and anything goes, so it works, and the duo pat themselves on the back that such a patently ridiculous scheme worked.
We cut to the next Monday and the trip being over. Not much to say here other than they didn’t discover the second part of the Ryan-Lindsay break-up and Screech went skiing in his underwear….for some reason. Yeah, they attempt to provide an explanation, and even that sounds ridiculous. The important thing is that Zack Morris and Slater randomly decide they want some more time off so they plan on sabotaging negotiations between Mr. Belding and Mr. Tuttle, because, at this point, they’re just acting like jack asses anyway.
At Bayside, the duo convince Mr. Tuttle that the teacher’s need to demand respect and, since he’s easily manipulated, Mr. Tuttle agrees and tells Mr. Belding he’s going to continue the strike. How are you going to negotiate for respect? Demand that Mr. Belding wear a tube top and sing Aretha Franklin? Seriously, do the writers of this show have absolutely no fucking clue how unions work?
Mr. Belding, dismayed, tells the gang that the strike could go on for the semester, which won’t be long since it’s supposed to be time for winter break, but which, crucial for this episode, means the Academic Bowl will be cancelled. This causes Screech to put on a face like he just ate a lemon. Either that or he’s doing another racist impression. With Screech, it’s hard to tell.
Zack Morris and Slater go to the teacher’s union meeting that night in an attempt to settle the strike so people will stop hating them for doing stupid things. They offer the teachers stupid stuff like using Mr. Belding’s office as a teacher’s lounge and Mr. Belding parking with the teachers. This apparently equals respect in the eyes of the teachers and the strike is over, meaning this entire plot, the plot the episode is named after, has been a bunch of stupid time wasting that doesn’t effect the rest of the episode whatsoever.
There are three questions this scene does raise for me, though:
- If this is a teacher’s union meeting, where are Miss Simpson and Mr. Dewey? We know they continue teaching in The New Class so where were they? This seems like a huge oversight on the part of the writers, but what do you expect from the idiots who thought Screech sexually harassing Lisa would make a great running gag?
- Why do the teachers not have a teachers’ lounge already? Is Mr. Belding using school board money for hookers and blow? Seriously, every school I’ve ever been in has a teachers’ lounge. It’s kind of a standard feature.
- Why is Bayside’s parking lot so far away from the school it requires a shuttle bus? They don’t have that many students. Maybe they make the students park at the airport and commute back to Bayside.
In any case, let’s forget about this plot, because the writers sure did!
At Academic Bowl practice, Screech comes in dressed in the Fourth Doctor’s scarf, which apparently indicates that he’s sick from being in his underwear on the ski trip. He suddenly faints and the others take him to the hospital.
At Bayside, Jessie’s hella pissed that their star idiot is in the hospital with plot contrivance-itis and won’t be able to compete in the Academic Bowl. She blames it on Zack Morris and Slater since they personally made Screech be born the moron he constantly proves himself to be and Lisa suggests they might have to forfeit.
This leads Valley’s team (of course it’s Valley competing against them…of course…) to come in and talk smack about Bayside being unable to beat them without a complete imbecile who is certifiably loony competing against them. Zack Morris tells them that this episode has to end somehow so he’ll compete against them in Screech’s place.
The producers decided to get their money’s worth out of the hospital set from “The Surgery,” so the gang visit Screech in the hospital where Zack Morris tries to pump Screech for knowledge. The only intelligible thing he can get, though, is Screech’s stupid mnemonic for remembering the order of the planets from the sun, which makes no sense as it’s only uttering nonsense to the letter sounds. Um, I learned a better one in first grade: “My Very Educated Mother Just Served Us Nine Pizzas.” See, a mnemonic has to actually help you remember something, and this one has stuck in my head for twenty-seven years. It’s still very helpful. Well, except for the fact that Pluto’s no longer a planet. RIP, Pluto.
Well, since Bayside can’t win on their actual merits, they plan to do something they’re very good at: cheat! Slater pretends to be pissed at the rest of the gang and tells the Valley team that he found out the final category will be sports and that they should specifically study football. Why this helps Bayside isn’t clear in this scene as they don’t do a very good job of explaining any of this, but it seems to make enough sense to the Valley team that they go to study football.
Skip ahead to the day of the Academic Bowl. I won’t bore you with a recap of most of this, but, suffice it to say, most of the questions are quite reasonable for what you’d expect from a high school academic bowl. At the final round, Valley leads Bayside, and the final category, indeed, is sports. I guess Slater must have been struck by lightning and been able to see the future It seems that Mr. Belding is cheating as well because he says Bayside gets to choose what sort of sport the questions will be on since Mr. Belding just happens to have prepared questions for every imaginable sport. Except curling. Nobody understands curling.
Zack Morris picks basketball since no nerds understand sports they haven’t studied in depth, and Bayside naturally gets all the sports questions, with Valley answering ridiculous football related answers. With the two schools tied, the tie breaker is to name the planets in order of their distance from the sun, and Zack Morris somehow remembers Screech’s ridiculous mnemonic, winning the competition for Bayside, because plot.
And the moral of this episode, kids, is that cheaters win and liars don’t receive consequences for their actions. Also, R-E-S-P-E-C-T. Find out what it means to Mr. Tuttle.
God, what a stupid episode.