We open at The Max with Tony distracted looking at something. Eric throws a paper wad at him to snap him out of whatever trance he’s in, and we soon learn that Tony’s looking at the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue at a picture of Cindy Crawford in a bikini. Also, why do chefs at The Max suddenly dress like Chef Boyardee? Is that how the producers really think short order cooks dress?
And soon all three of our male cast are doing the same. Judging by the looks on their faces, I’d say this is the closest they’ve ever come to seeing a naked lady. Don’t worry: this has absolutely nothing to do with the rest of the episode except that Tony reveals he likes to smoke cigars and cigar-shaped objects.
Soon the girls come in and Tony lets them know he’s having a party at his house after the game. Since these are women, they’re expected to bring food, CDs, and clean up afterwards because we needed a sexist joke in there for some reason.
Back at Bayside, meet Mrs. Gore, who committed the incredible sin of being the then-Vice President’s mother. Also, she parked in Mr. Belding’s parking space, which means she gets a stern lecture on parking etiquette as Mr. Belding lets her know he had her car towed. This kind of dickishness is so out of character for Mr. Belding that it’s transparent this scene only exists to set up tension between the two of them. After all, on this show, if a character needs a trait to move the plot along, just graft it onto him even if ten previous years in the franchise completely contradict it.
In his office, Mr. Belding finds out he’s the center of this week’s subplot. See, Screech was randomly looking through Mr. Belding’s permanent record and discovered that he was missing a credit to graduate. The principal at the time waived the credit because Mr. Belding was such a good student and Screech starts pulling a guilt trip against Mr. Belding for supposed special treatment. Um, that’s not automatically special treatment. Most school districts have procedures for waving credits under special circumstances. But Screech is on board with the bad writing and won’t let up so Mr. Belding agrees to take a class to make up the credit. Gee, I wonder whose class he’ll be in.
At Tony’s party, the boys have a cigar to celebrate their victory over Unnamed Team. And so it begins. We didn’t ask for season three’s anti-smoking episode and we certainly didn’t ask for this one.
Yes, Katie and Liz come out to sternly judge the boys for smoking cigars because, in this universe, being a friend means being a judgmental prick. Maria, being the only one of the gang who was around for the last anti-smoking episode, decides she’s sick of seeing this again so she grabs a cigar and starts smoking.
And we proceed to get a PSA about the health and social effects of cigar smoking as Nicky, who didn’t know he wasn’t supposed to inhale a cigar, runs to throw up. Well, I’m looking forward to a waste of the next fifteen minutes of my life.
At Bayside, Screech tells Mr. Belding there was only one class that wasn’t full, which I find extremely unlikely, and that’s Mrs. Gore’s drama class because of course it is. They prepare for some wacky hijinks as the audience loses their shit because I guess they think Mrs. Gore abusing her power as revenge against Mr. Belding means they’re going to fuck.
Meanwhile, Tony received a note in his locker from Rick Mancuso, the quarterback of Westwood’s team and one of Tony’s rivals when he was a student at Valley. I guess, once again, those rules about who is and isn’t allowed in Bayside don’t matter when it’s convenient to the plot. In any cast, Rick Mancuso talks smack to Tony about the upcoming Bayside vs. Westwood game.
And from that, we go to Katie approaching the gang to continue lecturing them on the dangers of cigar smoking. She’s come complete with brochures and everything because that’s what friends who are trying to be nosy assholes about an activity that doesn’t affect them in any way act.
Since this isn’t the last anti-smoking episode, most of the gang doesn’t need an exploding dress or a dream sequence to stop smoking cigars as they read to the camera from Katie’s brochure about how evil we all are if we smoke cigars. Now I remember why I used to turn the TV over to cartoons: I didn’t like waking up on Saturday mornings to lectures, and that seems to be all The New Class is anymore.
Of course, we need someone who doesn’t buy Katie’s propaganda or else the plot can’t move forward, so Tony is all, “TONY LIKE CIGAR! TONY SMOKE CIGAR! TONY IS ACTING!” as he pulls a cigar out of his shirt pocket. The others are incredulous, reminding him that, as with most public schools, tobacco use is strictly prohibited, and Katie breaks open Tony’s cigar to lecture him on the chemicals in cigars and…Jesus fucking Christ, how long is this fucking thing going to go on! How many times can they tell us in one scene that cigars suck ass?
Well, Tony finally tells them all to do what they want but he’s going to continue smoking cigars, which should be a reasonable choice since he’s not affecting them in any way. Of course, they’re not going to accept that as an answer…
…and, as Tony walks away, we get the rest of the gang putting on their best judgmental faces as we cut to commercial break. Fucking hell, I don’t want to be friends with any of these assholes!
At The Max, the cigar shaming continues as the rest of the gang try to have an intervention because they think Tony’s addicted to nicotine. Tony finally gets sick of this fucking bullshit and agrees that, if they will stop this shaming, he won’t smoke anymore cigars until after the Westwood game, which seems to shut them the hell up for the time being.
And, as if this entire episode wasn’t idiotic enough for you, the king of idiocy picks that moment to walk in The Max and stress Tony out with an article comparing him to Rick Mancusso, because that was really necessary for a staff member to track down a student to tell them a newspaper is talking smack about them. Judging by the photos in the article, though, I’m guessing Rick Mancuso is the better quarterback given that Tony has his best “I need to poop!” face on, another tally mark for his great ACTING!
Speaking of acting, back at Bayside, Mr. Belding practices a scene with Liz and he seems to be bad at acting himself. Liz tries to express sympathy for Mr. Belding but reminds him that it’s fucking stupid her grade depends on Mr. Belding getting this right so he better shape up, because your grade in drama courses is always dependent on other people’s acting ability, right?
So in walks Screech, come to tutor them. Liz utters perhaps the most self-deprecating line of the franchise as she asks Screech if he knows anything about acting. No, Liz. The answer is no. He’s been with this franchise for eleven years and his idea of humor is doing contortions in his face. You should run out of this scene now while you still can.
But, of course, neither she nor Mr. Belding run out of the scene, we get lots of stupid shit from Screech trying to pass as comedy as he tries to convince Mr. Belding to act like a bumble bee. Mrs. Gore mercifully comes in to interrupt the idiocy and Mr. Belding decides he just wants to drop the course. Mrs. Gore tells him that Screech revealed the missing credit to her and, if Mr. Belding drops out, she’ll go to the school board and get them to count his credits and, since that’s the line this episode is going with, Mr. Belding stays in the course.
In the hallway, Tony gets mad that everyone’s wishing him good luck against Westwood tonight and Maria comes to check on him. He says he wants a cigar to take the pressure off and he decides he needs to get his head together for the game.
Screech won’t leave Mr. Belding the fuck alone with his bumble bee routine so he hides in a hallway near a janitor’s closet to practice his lines. He hears a bucket overturn in the janitor’s closet, opens it…
…and finds Tony inside about to smoke a cigar, because, on an open campus like Bayside obviously has since everyone’s constantly leaving school to go to The Max, the place I would go to smoke during the day would obviously be inside a fucking janitor’s closet.
In Mr. Belding’s office, Mr. Belding tells Tony he has to suspend him for the tobacco possession and shit, meaning he’ll miss the Westwood game. Tony tries to pull a Zack Morris and walk out with some manipulation that Mr. Belding has forgiven him, but it comes off as worse than if Brian had done it, which is pretty fucking awful. Tony begs Mr. Belding to let him play in the game, but Mr. Belding is like, “Hell no!”
In the hallway, Katie approaches Tony and starts bugging him about cigars again. He, and I think very rightfully so, bites her head off for being a fucking asshole. And that’s when the writers pull out what may be the biggest fucking contrivance in this show’s history. See, Katie has a reason she’s being a giant asshole about cigars. Her favorite uncle, who she loved so much he didn’t even have a name, died of throat cancer last summer because of cigar smoking, and now she’s just incredibly judgmental about cigar smoking and shit. Of course, this uncle has never been mentioned before and will likely never be mentioned again, but it’s the writers’ way of trying to manipulate you into not thinking Katie’s preaching is fucking annoying. Frankly, I’m a little bit pissed off they pulled this out of their asses three quarters of the way through the episode, but it’s here and now let’s just see if we can finish this bullshit.
And I just realized: this timeline means that Katie was off at Space Camp, never mentioning her dying uncle and having a good time dating a loser so she wouldn’t feel lonely while Nicky was doing the hanky panky with Maria.
In drama class, Nicky and Eric have a scene about, I assume, out gay soldiers on the enemy line. Mrs. Gore gives them both As and says that was outstanding acting, which I assume explains why she’s about to pass what follows. It really says something when actors can’t convince me they’re acting in a fake acting class.
Of course, Mr. Belding follows them, and Screech tells him Liz is home sick today so he’s filling in for the scene dressed as Little Bo Peep. What follows must be one of the more horrifying scenes in the history of this franchise. I kid you not: Screech chases Mr. Belding around the room, demanding a kiss and making canon the idea that Screech is only on this show because he wants Mr. Belding’s hot body, hence explaining why he’s constantly obsessing over Mr. Belding’s eating habits.
Mrs. Gore tells Mr. Belding that she now has a new sympathy for having to put up with that for ten of the eleven years he’s been a part of this franchise, and she’s passing him just so she never has to see that scene again. And that means Mr. Belding passes the class because, in the Saved by the Bell universe, taking a class for one week and completing a single assignment is enough to pass an entire class.
At Tony’s house, Tony is depressed to hear that Bayside is losing the game without him. Maria shows up and Tony tells her, “SHAMING AND MANIPULATIVE PLOT CONTRIVANCES CONVINCE TONY THAT CIGAR SMOKING BAD! TONY STOP SMOKING BECAUSE MARIA BELIEVE IN ME! TONY SMASH!” With that, Tony smashes his last cigar. And our episode ends with the reset button pressed as a second anti-smoking episode has now convinced anyone who had any doubts that smoking must be awesome if The New Class hates it.
In my review of season three’s “No Smoking” that maybe I should take up smoking so I wouldn’t have to review anymore of this series. You know, if I start chain smoking now, I might not have to finish this series. I swear, if I have mental issues at the end of this project, it’s because of this fucking series.