The New Class Season 4, Episode 17: “Vote Screech”

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It’s a good start to an episode when it begins with Screech not understanding how an elevator works. This is promising when the first few seconds make me wish I were in a coma since obviously I’m supposed to find it hilarious that Screech fails at basic modern life skills.

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Speaking of things I’m supposed to find amusing, Mr. Belding’s dancing for Yukon Yogurt’s new flavor, “Cha Cha Chocolate.” No, really, he’s dancing to a horrible pun. Jesus Christ, I want this episode over already…

So we get our subplot right away: it’s time for the 1996 Presidential Election, the first Screech gets to vote in, and he’s doing his patriotic duty by researching pedantic details about the candidates, such as the catnip the Clintons’ cat prefers. God, this is only two minutes into the episode…

I guess at least they got the detail right about it being Screech’s first presidential election. It’s just too bad he’s going to obsess too much over Bill Clinton and Bob Dole for the next twenty minutes.

It turns out, though, that Mr. Belding is the polling captain, which means he has the completely made-up duty to plan a get-out the vote campaign. Naturally, he places Screech in charge of said campaign since he supports conservative policies and having Screech beg you to vote will make you more likely to support the death penalty.

In our main plot, the Frozen Stiffs are playing a Monday night concert at the club. Yes, the Frozen Stiffs, because the Flaming Twigs were unavailable that night.

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Disaster strikes, though, when the Frozen Stiffs cancel conveniently while the gang are gathered in front of the promotional poster. What has the world come to when we can’t have our Frozen Stiffs?!?! Good thing Ryan, Nicky, Eric, and Katie suddenly have musical abilities and a band so they can save the concert. Rachel and Maria ask to be backup singers and they’re naturally allowed because it moves the plot along.  Also, Maria’s one of only two members of the current gang who have been shown to have musical talent, if you want to call what she has talent.

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So we go directly to practice, where the gang practices the only fake song they know, “I keep falling/head over hills for you.” Something’s off, though, so Ryan has Maria sing alone and she’s good because they dub someone over her who sounds nothing like her normal voice. Rachel’s not so fortunate to have the benefit of the Milli Vanilli treatment so she sucks ass at singing and sounds like she’s not even trying which, knowing Sarah Lancaster, I wouldn’t be surprised if this were the case. The guys go over for a pow wow but no one wants to tell Rachel she sucks ass. I guess we have a main plot!

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Thankfully the main plot is interrupted by Screech coming in to tell them that Mr. Belding has decided to force them into his get out the vote campaign because he wants complete control over their lives even outside school hours. The gang agree to be a part because they figure they have nothing better to do today so why the hell not.

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The result is the gang harassing people in the mall to vote and, rather than telling them to fuck off, they become walking, talking cliches regarding voting, expressing every cynical catch phrase ever such as “My vote doesn’t count” and “It doesn’t matter who’s president” and “big business controls the government.” Oh, god, it’s going to be one of THOSE episodes where we attack an exaggerated stereotype of cynical people.

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The bright side is that Screech tries to do better and gets a woman to place a bumper sticker over his mouth. Maybe it’ll be a permanent addition to his wardrobe and he’ll never be able to speak again.

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Meanwhile, Rachel says she realizes she was off key during practice and says she’ll just sing in a different key. Her different key is worse than the first, though, enough to make windows break and small babies cry. Oh, wait, that was just Screech making small babies cry.

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Speaking of Screech’s relations with people, he angers an old lady who assaults him and pulls his hat through his head. Mr. Belding randomly gives us some statistics about how in the 1992 election, only half the people who could vote did vote. Screech decides it’s time for him to single-handedly make America vote by holding a rally in the mall, because a rally at a Los Angeles mall is sure to completely turn around the entire structure of the political system.

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His plan, of course, is to to go to Jean-Paul’s and dress up as George Washington, because…

Oh, god, why the hell am I even questioning this bull shit?

Ryan tries to tell Rachel she sucks but she mistakes his comments for criticism of Maria in a hilarious misunderstanding. She says it’s a good thing it’s not her because, despite just a few minutes ago realizing she was off, she says it would devastate her to find out she sucks ass.

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Screech has Nicky and Eric pull him through the mall in a boat yelling for people to vote and come to his rally, because seeing an insane man whom the government once mistook for a space alien dressed as George Washington totally makes me want to vote. Why, that’s the first thing I think of when it comes to voting! On the good side, Nicky and Eric “accidentally” toss Screech out of the boat, making him run off.

Ryan tells the rest of the gang he couldn’t bring himself to tell Rachel she sucks ass, but he has a plan that won’t backfire in any way: record Maria singing Rachel’s part and turn off Rachel’s microphone. Because people totally won’t be able to tell that Maria’s singing two parts.

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No one comes to the rally, either because Screech scares people away from doing whatever he does, or because he’s crazy enough to have created “Bill Clinton potato salad ,”  “Bob Dole cole slaw ,” and “Perot pudding.” Yeah, those hideous blobs are supposed to be Clinton and Dole’s heads, because nothing screams divisive politics like sculptures of picnic food.

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Naturally, Rachel catches the gang just as Maria’s recording her tracks with her fake voice. Maria conveniently exposits what they did with Rachel standing behind her, and she runs out devastated that no one told her how much she sucks.

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Mr. Belding and Screech are devastated over the fact that not one person came to their sucky ass rally, saying no one cares. Screech says that there’s no point to any of this so he probably won’t even vote since it will conveniently move the plot along.

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The gang find Rachel in exactly the same place they were in the last scene. She says they should have told her the truth despite her whining earlier and they apologize, saying they still want her in the band despite the fact she has a voice to rival William Hung’s. And thus ends the main plot about Rachel sucking ass at singing five minutes early because we have more important things to do, like convince the youth of America that participating in the political arena is cool.

They find Screech called into work at Yukon Yogurt because he is too depressed over voter apathy. Mr. Belding is the only boss in the world that would work on because he only enforces rules when it matters to the plot. Instead, Mr. Belding gives the gang and the viewers a lesson in civics and why the election matters to them, instantly leading them to think elections kick more ass than the Frozen Stiffs and making them want to do something about the political situation.

The most puzzling thing about this scene is that Mr. Belding establishes for the first time that these mall episodes occur during the summer despite the fact that Nicky has just moved to LA when he got the job at the movie theater. Leave it to The New Class to take the only season whose chronology made sense and make all that continuity go away with two lines. Way to go, guys. Keep reaching for higher and higher levels of suck.

Also, why the fuck is a presidential election happening during the summer? I guess this is a wacky alternate universe where July 4th is election day.

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We cut to the concert where the gang play an instrumental song while Eric claps. Wow…this is just lazy. The writers couldn’t even be bothered to write lyrics. Mr. Belding forces Screech into the club for what turns out to be a two and a half minute video about how awesome voting is as the audience loses their shit over Eric singing. Yeah, no kidding. This is worse than a Tea Party rally when they bring out pandering country music stars. Their concert even has a projected American flag and red, white, and blue balloons dropping from the ceiling because patriotism rocks!

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At the polls, Mr. Belding initially has no one wanting to vote. No, really, no one wants to vote in a presidential campaign. At all. But suddenly the cynical customers come up and tell the gang that their concert convinced them that participating in the democratic process totally kicks ass.  Yeah, some grown ass people decided based on some teenagers’ propaganda that they would shed years of cynicism and vote.

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Screech comes around, too, saying the gang caring about voting made him care again, so he comes to vote.

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And our episode ends with the disturbing realization that Screech now plays a role in determining the future of our country.

Thanks, Peter Engel, for that little putrid pile of propaganda. Can we get back to jealousy and fundraising plots again now?

7 responses to “The New Class Season 4, Episode 17: “Vote Screech”

  1. Oh, Goddess. I remember this episode.

    I think the get-out-the-vote plot is the main plot (or supposed to be, anyway), because it’s in the title of the episode.

  2. ILovedKellyKapowski

    United States’ founding fathers never meant for EVERYONE to vote. I agree with them. Anyone who is not aware of the issues or familiar with the candidates (or is just a complete dumbass like Screech) should not be allowed to vote, based simply on the merits that they happened to be born in the country and are over 18 years old.

    It’s better not to vote, than to vote YES on something stupid and harmful to society (like electing George W Bush).

  3. I’m just relieved this wasn’t about Screech running for office and winning as the episode title implies. I can’t even imagine the horrors.

  4. Well…at least they got one detail right. 1996 was an election year.

    Look, I’m all for getting the word out to vote, but this episode was an epic fail.

  5. Wouldn’t their target audience be either four or eight years away from voting themselves? Were they hoping this episode was really going to stick with them?

  6. I was 13 when this aired. Everything I saw in this episode back then was also being shoved down our throats in school every November.

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