The New Class Season 6, Episode 7: “Hands Off”

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We’re back at the mall this week with Liz vomiting up some exposition about Katie getting a new boss at the gym, because I guess Liz thinks she’s important to this show now that she has some job as a glorified administrative assistant. Liz asks Katie why she’s not there working to suck up to him and she’s all, “‘Cause I’m hella hungry! Go fucking bug someone else!”

Also, Maria says that Liz is only sixteen in this episode. So that means she won’t be graduating at the end of next season, right? I know: it’s my fault for expecting this show to maintain some sort of continuity.

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But then Katie’s new boss, Jack, comes around and randomly introduces himself because Katie’s in uniform. She suddenly wants to kiss his ass because she wants some extra hours at work so she can pay for college and shit, because a job at a gym can totally pay for college.

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At Petzilla, Eric invites Nicky and Tony in to see the new baby hamsters. But Tony is all, “TONY NO LIKE HAMSTERS! TONY STAY OUTSIDE LEST TONY SMASH HAMSTERS! TONY DESERVE A DAYTIME EMMY!” After Tony leaves, we get our first subplot of the episode: Eric’s going to help Tony get over his fear of hamsters. Nicky asks Eric if he really thinks he can do that, and Eric gives perhaps the most honest reply ever heard in this series: probably not, but he doesn’t have anything better to do. It’s refreshing to see the writers admit they couldn’t think of shit for Eric and Tony to do this episode so they invented a stupid subplot.

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And, in our other subplot, Gadgets and Gizmos is having financial difficulties. Surprise, surprise. A business managed by Mr. Belding having financial problems is almost as cliche as the fundraising plots of this show. This is like the third store Mr. Belding’s managed for his brother-in-law. Maybe the guy should stop leaving his businesses in the hands of the guy who’s kept Screech on the state of California’s payroll for five years.

Screech suggest they air a commercial during the Superbowl, and I’m surprised the writers actually know how expensive it is to air a Superbowl commercial. But that does give Mr. Belding an idea and he decides to air a local commercial in hopes of attracting business.

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At the gym, Jack seems to be really amenable to Katie’s asking for more time. Eric comes running up talking about how he can bench hella lots of weight now and she gives him a hug of friendship. This makes Jack jealous and he says he hopes he can get hella good hugs like that if he can bench, too. This leaves Katie and Eric confused by what he means since sexual innuendo is beyond the grasp of the characters on this show.

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At Gadgets and Gimmicks, Mr. Belding’s commercial sucks and basically consists of him knocking shit over and breaking things. Screech, in a rare moment as the voice of reason, tells Mr. Belding they can’t air that commercial, but Mr. Belding tells him it’s already being aired. They wait for a mass of people to come shop at the store, but even several Photoshop transitions can’t make people want to shop at this store.

But, amusingly enough, if you pay attention to the background, you’ll see that the Sega Saturn is for sale at Gadgets and Gimmicks. Two things come to mind for me about this: that severely dates this show, and I hope Sega asked for their money back for the product placement since no one’s going to buy shit featured on this show.

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Back in the hamster subplot, Eric decides to randomly put on a lab jacket so he can test how severe Tony’s hamster phobia is, because he’s doing something medical related that could severely scar Tony since he’s not an actual medical professional, get it? Eric asks Tony to get his cell phone out of his gym bag, and a stuffed hamster flies out. Tony jumps back and screams, “TONY NO LIKE STUFFED ANIMAL! TONY SMASH!” He runs off, punching random extras who happen to be in his path.

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Back at the gym, Jack decides to cop some feels of Katie. Yeah, after twelve years, the Saved by the Bell franchise has decided to tackle sexual harassment in the most unintentionally hilarious way possible. Yeah, sexual harassment is a real issue, but you can tell this is written by someone who knows nothing about the issue. As a result, Jack is like the most brazen harasser in the history of harassing.

After he leaves, Maria, who was on a treadmill in the background and witnessed the entire thing, asks Katie what the hell was up with that. Katie’s all, “He’s probably just a poorly written caricature of a serious issue. Besides, I can’t tell him to fuck off yet. We’re not even halfway through the episode.”

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After a commercial break, Maria continues hounding Katie about Jack’s advancements into the food court. There, she tells the rest of the gang about it, and Nicky’s ready to go give him a reasonably sliced chunk of his mind. Yeah, Jack would smash Nicky. Katie’s all, “No! I can’t learn a lesson yet! It’s too soon in the episode! But maybe I’ll just politely ask him to be better written and it will solve everything!”

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Back at Gadgets and Gimmicks, the store’s overrun with customers, but Mr. Belding soon discovers it’s because Screech filmed a commercial of his own. This could have been one of the few smart things Screech has done on this show, except he promised way too cheap merchandise he can’t deliver on, like ninety-seven cent camcorders. Mr. Belding begins to lecture Screech on false advertising, but Screech is all, “We already had a false advertising subplot when we worked at Yukon Yogurt. If I didn’t learn my lesson then, do you think I’ll learn my lesson now?” He goes off to sell more shit over Mr. Belding’s objections.

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Back at the gym, Jack tries to…anally probe Katie I guess? Katie tries to tell Jack to stop that shit, and he’s all, “I’m just having fun as a poorly written character! Now I’m going to continue being a blatant caricature by punishing you for speaking up in front of all these extras by giving you horrible and shitty work!”

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At Petzilla, Tony’s ready to get over his fear so Eric tries to give him a hamster. He’s unsure at first, but then a woman obviously too old for Tony comes in who loves hamsters, so they handle a hamster together, leading me to wonder if Tony and Maria are still dating. So Tony’s now okay with holding hamsters…

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…but, when a middle-aged man in a rat costume randomly comes in, Tony screams and faints, because that’s the most realistic looking mouse in this episode I guess.

So, if you’ve thought this episode was ridiculous so far, you’re about to see it crank up its ridiculous powers to the max.

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Liz confronts Mr. Belding and Screech, saying she’s had complaints about their store. Treating her security guards like police officers, she drags them away as if mall cops have some sort of authority to do shit.

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Back at the gym, Katie can’t make it to the movies with the others because she’s busy working and shit. She lies to Nicky and tells him the talk with her boss went okay. As soon as Nicky’s gone, her boss comes out and tells her she needs to get used to blatant sexual harassment and let him touch her and shit. Katie decides she’s going to get with the program and let him feel her up at will.

At Petzilla, Eric tells Tony they have too many hamsters so the store is selling some of them to a laboratory for research before PETA comes in to protest. Tony suddenly wants to adopt all the hamsters.

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And when a man comes in who Tony assumes to be a scientist because he has glasses and shit, Tony flips out and yells, “TONY SMASH EVIL ANIMAL TORTURER PERSON!” After the man runs away in fear of Tony’s bad acting, Eric lets him know that wasn’t a person from the lab, but at least this bad subplot is over.

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In the food court, Maria brings in a crucial character from the past to convince Katie to stand up to her boss: Maria’s mother. Yes, the character who had one minor appearance previously because I guess she’s a lawyer and shit. It’s Mrs. Lopez’s job to give the audience some nice exposition about how sexual harassment is illegal and the boss can’t retaliate. It’s your standard lecture The New Class has to give during its many very special episodes because the writers aren’t talented enough to write these points into the episode without ham-fisted exposition.

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And now, yeah, the mall apparently keeps an interrogation room in its basement where Liz interrogates Mr. Belding and Screech over the false advertising. Yeah, it’s about as ridiculous as it sounds. It’s supposed to be funny, but I just wish we’d get back to the sexual harassment subplot so we can get this episode over with. Mr. Belding says they’re going to give the money back they earned from false advertising, which I’m not sure how they’re going to do that, but, whatever. He also laments that Gadgets and Gizmos is broke again. But then, one of the guards  says his feet are tired, and this gives Screech an idea.

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Yes, the solution to this subplot was in selling foot massagers to mall cops, because that, by itself, will earn the store enough money to stay in business I’m sure.

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Back at the gym, Jack tries to kiss Katie and she goes off on him with witnesses around, and I’m surprised the audience didn’t think they should lose their shit considering how easily impressed they are by kisses. It’s about as expected: she says she’s going to report him and he threatens to fire her. But then the clincher is that Maria walks up and says he better worry about keeping his job, and this zinger from a random customer he’s had no interactions with the entire episode is enough to put him in his place and send him away.

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Katie apologizes to Nicky for lying about her talk with Jack, and our episode ends with the gang sans Liz gathered around looking smug about teaching the kids another valuable life lesson in twenty minutes. I’m sure Liz is absent because she’s busy interrogating Jack about sexual harassment in her special dungeon down below.

6 responses to “The New Class Season 6, Episode 7: “Hands Off”

  1. This importance of this week’s lesson is kind of undermined by such a wishy-washy ending. Rig a game show – you’re definitely being fired immediately. Sexually harass a teenager – you’re getting a talking to, your job might be at risk but for the moment just walk over there.

    There was a speaking part here for a company representative to show how seriously this sort of issue would be dealt with. As it was Katie reported the crime and management presumably told her to continue working with Jack until they eventually get round to contacting him. That’s surely not the most reassuring message for people who find themselves in similar circumstances?

    Belding offers to pay everyone back for false advertising – how does that work? Does the shop charge admission? Is he refunding the price of all the goods purchased that day? Is he paying the travel costs for everyone who turned up that day?

    • I agree, kind of a “damned with faint praise” situation. In this universe, openly groping your employees ranks a good bit below taking up cigars on the naughty list.

      I’m not sure about false advertising law, but I’d guess it’d take the form of either a lawsuit or a class action suit or something. Maybe the mall would charge a fine for besmirching their name? I can’t imagine they’d ask all the customers the next day “Hey were you lured in by such and such an ad? If you say yes, you get 20 bucks”

  2. There already was a sexual harassment episode way back when Jeff put the moves on Kelly. They just very disgustingly tried to normalize an adult manager hitting on an underage employee who has told him that her family is in financial trouble and she desperately needs the job. That’s actually incredibly creepy and the show didn’t acknowledge it at all.

  3. Liz can “interrogate” me in her special dungeon anytime.

  4. ILovedKellyKapowski

    Jack is Katie’s solution to paying for college: sue the gym! Cha-Ching!!!

  5. As this episodes shows, SBTB is simply unable to deal with serious topics in any of its iterations. I know the E/I demands forced the direction of the show in the morality play direction, but I find it hard to believe that anyone would learn anything from TNC, except how not to write, direct, or act in a teen sitcom. Degrassi may be melodramatic at times, but it’s not afraid to kill off or permanently disable main characters to show the logical ends of what can happen with teen misadventures. In comparison, there are never any lasting effects for anything that happens in TNC; problems are solved in 22 minutes in a way that never happens in real life and no one seems to take what they were supposed to have learned into another episode. The same is true for the original SBTB, but the “very special episodes” were at least kept to a minimum.

    This episode also makes me ask what purpose Tony is supposed to serve on this show. Did they need another cute blond guy after giving Ryan the boot and just randomly chose this guy? Ryan, at least in the third and fourth seasons, had some energy to him. Tony just seems to be barely there. I know it was said in the third season overview that you could replace RJ with a coat rack and no one would notice, but I think that this assessment is more true of Tony, though almost everyone on TNC is pointless and expendable. Something I’ve never understood is what the point was for all these cast changes, which the other TNBC shows also suffered from. The reason why the original SBTB worked, despite its many flaws, is because it focused on the same group of kids for four years and you could believe they really were best friends. In comparison, there’s no need to get attached to anyone on TNC because they probably won’t stick around very long anyway.

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