The New Class Season 4, Episode 23: “Balancing Act”

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Does this ever happen to you? You’re walking down the hallway, randomly chuckling at a red file folder, when your idiot assistant comes up behind you and scares the shit out of you?  Well, then, beat the crap out of him and fire his ass! But this is The New Class so Mr. Belding will probably give him an award for his stupidity.

No, Screech is actually trying to give Mr. Belding hints about his birthday coming up but Mr. Belding doesn’t seem to get it because it’s time to rip off another plot from the original series that wasn’t good the first time around.

And I feel I have to talk just a moment about Screech’s characterization in this episode. This season, he’s slowly been slipping into the full-on annoying mode that I’ve known was coming for some time. See, I had the misfortune of watching the Hang Time crossover episode featuring Screech and I still feel the need to pour acid in my ears to cleanse them of that sound. It’s really becoming apparent this episode and I want to stab him in the eye every time he speaks. It’s kind of sad. Dustin Diamond’s never been a good actor, but remember back in Good Morning, Miss Bliss when his performance was at least sincere? By now, it’s like he’s playing a caricature of Steve Urkel and Spongebob Squarepants’s idiot child. And it only gets worse from here…

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Ryan reminds Mr. Belding that Screech is talking about his birthday since Screech has apparently been bugging the students as well, and Mr. Belding says that it’s okay because he hasn’t forgotten but wants to keep Screech from finding out the details of his party since we’re busy recycling plots and cliches.

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Meanwhile, Maria’s convinced her boss to keep the Teen Machine open on weeknights and Maria’s going to be the manager. I’m beginning to believe that Palisades Mall is only open on the weekends since most of the people who work there are only available through the week. And, besides, I thought we established these were supposed to be summer jobs, so why is Maria working through the school year? If last week’s episode of The College Years ate a great big bowl of continuity, The New Class has vomited all of theirs up in the toilet bowl that is the writers’ room.

Nicky’s read the script already so he automatically doubts whether Maria will be able to balance everything if she throws work in there and Maria tells him not to worry since they manage to balance thousands of school activities and clubs already due to the power of plot contrivance. Also, tomorrow is Nicky and Maria’s two month anniversary because we need another convenient point of conflict.

In literature class, the teacher assigns a twenty page double-spaced term paper. For fuck’s sake, Bayside constantly has either too high or too low of standards for its students. If they’re not assigning work suitable for kindergartners, they’re assigning twenty page term papers. I didn’t even write many twenty page papers as an undergrad!

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In any case, Maria’s not been paying attention because she’s designing a poster for the club’s funny hat night since, you know, Nicky’s randomly wearing a stupid hat (I refuse to say it’s funny).

Mr. Belding finds Ryan and Eric and recruits them to plan Screech’s party so Screech won’t find out the details. Since Ryan and Eric are used to Mr. Belding’s random boundary crossing at this point, they agree, saying it will be easy to keep shit from the faculty at this school.

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At the club, Mr. Gomez is back and he’s super happy about how much more money he makes when the club is open seven nights a week verses two. He says that Maria’s the best employee he’s ever had, increasing Maria’s ego by +5. But Maria puts off talking to Ryan and Eric about having the party at the club and doesn’t have time for Nicky.

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The next day, Ryan and Eric are terrified to find Screech hiding in Ryan’s locker with a look on his face that says, “I will molest you.” No, Screech is randomly hiding in his students’ lockers hoping to find information about a party for him, but Ryan insists that he and Eric are planning a party for Mr. Belding on Screech’s birthday because Screech is too naive to realize how much of a cliche this is. They ask Screech to come up with ideas for the party as Screech waddles away with the most unbelievable blocking in the history of acting. Seriously, I think we had better directing in my first grade play.

Maria brags about how awesome the club did but insists she’ll be able to make it to cheerleader practice and work on her term paper. She gets a call from Mr. Gomez on her new cell phone, though, and cancels cheerleader practice and working on her term paper so she can work again. It’s nice to know that Maria’s so important she can just randomly reschedule practice for a school activity to suit her own schedule, especially given we’ll see there are actually two extras who are part of the squad. But, yeah, Maria says she’ll work on her paper during breaks and she’ll practice cheers in the morning. Yeah, that won’t backfire.

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After a commercial break, we’ve skipped a day as evidenced by Screech dressed as the tenth doctor. Geez, I really hope the BBC didn’t pickup fashion tips for David Tennant from this show. Screech has ideas for the party but they all involve inflicting pain on Mr. Belding. The sad thing is, in this context, I really have a hard time telling if Screech really thinks these are good ideas or if he’s mad at Mr. Belding over a surprise party he thinks others are throwing for him. 

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Predictably, Maria finds out that job breaks aren’t really enough time to work on an unreasonable assignment like a twenty page term paper so she had to work on it before school and missed cheerleader practice. She promises that, if Rachel and Katie write down the cheers, she’ll learn them during study hall in time for the prep rally later.

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The pep rally is at The Max this time since we need a scene there for this episode. Apparently there’s a basketball game coming up which only matters peripherally since none of our characters are on the team, but we need a cheer for it. After Screech whines some more about his fucking birthday to the assembled student body, the girls do their cheer, and Maria fucks it up badly. Since that’s part of the plot, Rachel and Katie are pissed off that Maria’s suck a fuck up and she promises the girls they can practice that night. Since we need wacky hijinks, she’s also going to have a date with Nicky at work (promising she won’t be working) and also promises to meet Ryan and Eric to discuss the party appetizers. Why do I get the feeling that it won’t be wacky at all?

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In Mr. Belding’s office, Screech continues to be pissed off about a party Mr. Belding supposedly doesn’t know about. He puts too much hot sauce on Mr. Belding’s burrito because he’s a trifling asshole and then goes out in the hallway to order a pie in Mr. Belding’s face, because I guess there’s companies for that now.

Meanwhile, Maria runs into the lit teacher and asks her for an extension on her unreasonable term paper, saying that she had to sit with her sick grandmother and didn’t have time for Bayside’s unreasonable demands. The teacher says Maria can have over the weekend and she’s sure this won’t come back and bite Maria in the ass in a minute even though no one should trust Maria to tell the truth given her shit last season with Driver’s Ed.

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Well, at the Teen Machine, shit goes about as you would expect from a tired plot that’s been done a thousand times and often much better. Hell, Robin Williams did this better in Mrs. Doubtfire, a couple years before this episode aired. It wouldn’t surprise me if that’s where the writers got the idea for this scene. In any case, Maria finds herself unable to keep the gang from finding out they’re all there for their shit of the episode, and they all walk out, pissed off that Maria’s put them in the middle of this plot. On top of it all, the lit teacher happens to be in the mall and discovers to no one’s shock but her own that Maria lied about the sick grandmother, leaving Maria silent at being caught lying about shit…again.

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Considering how Screech was randomly hiding in Ryan’s locker earlier, I hate to think why he’s actually video taping him and Eric. I would be a bit concerned that they’re going to be a part of Screech’s porn.

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Mr. Belding gives Maria the usual trite lecture on the lesson of the episode, managing your time and priorities. He shows Maria how she’s not prioritizing school and blah blah blah, Maria will never make anything of herself unless she quits her job. Interestingly enough, lying to a teacher is a crime worthy of two weeks of detention here, which may explain why Zack Morris claimed to perpetually have been in detention. I’m pretty sure that merely lying to a teacher wouldn’t get detention but, instead, just the same due date as everyone else.

Also, Rachel and Katie are pissed at Maria and kick her off the cheerleading squad until she gets her act together and Nicky feels like Maria doesn’t have enough time for him anymore because conflict.

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At the club, everyone hides as Screech arrives for his party. I love the way Eric’s just looking at a random structural pole like he’s an ostrich sticking its had in the ground.

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Screech acts like an ass, not believing the party is for him until he sees the big banner that says, “Happy Birthday Screech.” Why does anyone do anything nice for Screech?

Maria tells Mr. Belding she’s quitting her job and only working weekends again so she can get her priorities in line and resolve this plot.

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The girls make-up, saying they believe Maria now since the episode’s almost over.

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And Maria and Nicky makeup to give the audience a chance to wet themselves with excitement.

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And our episode ends with Screech getting a pie in the face since he apparently ordered it for the person of honor at the party. Finally, something in this episode I can get behind.

One response to “The New Class Season 4, Episode 23: “Balancing Act”

  1. Do the writers actually have friends? A man in his mid forties might buy his twenty something assistant/friend a card and maybe a small gift. Hiring a club to throw him party though that seems excessive, especially for a guy who has to sell yoghurt to make ends meet.

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