Last year, I concluded my reviews of the original class by counting down the best and worst episodes from the three series featuring them. I knew, from the beginning, I wanted to give that sort of treatment for The New Class as well. The problem is there’s only two episodes from this series I actually like. “What’s the Problem?” from season three is actually a very well written episode and the highlight of the series for me, proving the writers could pull off very special episodes, while season seven’s “A Mall Shook Up” is just so ridiculous and over the top that I put it in the “so bad it’s good” category.
So, suffice it to say, there won’t be a top ten best episodes list for this series. If you want to know about the episodes I liked, go read the individual reviews. What may be an even more difficult challenge, though, is narrowing down the ten worst episodes of this god forsaken series, considering almost every episode is horrible and unwatchable. With that in mind, here are my picks for the ten worst episodes of The New Class!
Number 10: Season 1, Episode 3: “A Kicking Weasel”
Overall, season one wasn’t terrible, especially compared to what came after, but this one grates on my nerves for some reason. It really feels like the writers don’t understand how football work and that field goals are a relatively minor part of the game, something even I, as a non-football fan, knows. Being able to kick the ball really high, in itself, would not have gotten Weasel on the football team, and it certainly wouldn’t have made him a star player.
That alone wouldn’t have been enough to get this episode on the list, but combine that with the fact the producers didn’t even bother to try to make Weasel look like he could kick the ball. Seriously, watch the attached video clip: he basically kicks the ball across the set, not at the angle shown. A pretty lazy episode from pretty lazy season of the show.
Number 9: Season 2, Episode 20: “Drinking 101”
The New Class was at its worst when it was being preach and shit, and this episode is no exception. Alcohol is the devil’s brew, and don’t you forget it! It might make you brain dead like Tommy D and make you want to drive a snowmobile drunkenly and shit! Combine that with the horrible subplot about Mr. Belding spraining his ankle by tripping over some skis and you’ve got a recipe for a pretty horrible episode.
It certainly doesn’t help that Brian is the voice of reason in this episode. I swear, he makes me want to punch his face with every succeeding scene. The reason this isn’t higher on the list is because, unlike some of the other episodes on the list, this one actually does seem like it’s trying, even if it’s written by people who have probably never taken a drink in their lives.
Number 8: Season 7, Episode 9: “Party Animals”
Speaking of drinking, let’s put another horrible anti-alcohol episode on this list. I swear, this episode is like a caricature of what the producers think teenagers are like drunk. Everyone peer pressures Katie into drinking when she doesn’t want to, and she ends up being an asshole to everyone. But it’s okay because she and Nicky promise they won’t ever drink again, not even when they go off to college, a promise I bet they broke within like five minutes of arrival.
The episode doesn’t even feel like it’s trying, and all consequences are shown off-screen. In the end, the only reasons given for not drinking are that underage drinking is illegal and you might act like a jerk. So I guess if you’re twenty-one and you know you’re not an angry or sarcastic drunk, it’s okay, which I’m sure is not the message Peter Engel was going for, but it is the message that came across. It’s like he has no idea why actual teenagers drink.
Every Screech-centric episode of the series was bad, but this one is just terrible. Screech thinks he’s won a $2 million lottery and, not knowing the value of money, decides he can afford to retire now in his early twenties. Of course, the predictable result is that Screech only got four out of five of the numbers but, in the meantime, the gang take advantage of him while Mr. Belding finally fires him, only to rehire him before the end because Screech is very sorry!
This episode just makes me question why Screech is trusted with anything, and was one of the early examples of him really abusing his authority and crossing boundaries with students. But the really unfortunate thing is that Mr. Belding set a precedent that, as long as you’re sorry for your incompetence, he’ll hire you back every time. Yeah, administrator of the year right there.
Number 6: Season 3, Episode 23: “No Smoking”
Nobody wanted to see The New Class take on teen smoking, and this episode didn’t disappoint in its incompetence. Lindsay and Tommy D take up smoking and, in the end, the only consequences are their friends act like little assholes, Tommy D can’t play football, and Lindsay sets a dress on fire through her napalm-filled cigarette, getting fired. Apparently cigarettes ruin your life almost instantly.
What this episode taught me is that Peter Engel doesn’t understand why kids get started smoking, and, so, we get a mess of an episode giving reasons for smoking no kid I’ve ever met would give. The only redeeming value of this episode is that, while everyone’s a little asshole to Lindsay for smoking, no one gives a shit about Tommy D, leading me to believe they’d just as soon see him dead as well.
Lindsay sure was in some pretty bad very special episodes. In this one, she becomes anorexic in a matter of days to the point that she has to be checked into a treatment facility. What pissed me off about this one when I reviewed it was that they took a very serious issue that many teenagers in the show’s demographic actually face and turned it into a caricature.
Really, you don’t become anorexic in a week. It’s a long-term problem that calls for long-term solutions, and doesn’t happen just from skipping some meals for a few days. This one could have been good in the hands of a good writer, but, alas, the writers on this show aren’t good so they weren’t ever going to produce the sort of treatment of eating disorders teenagers need to see.
Number 4: Season 3, Episode 9: “Boundaries”
When I reviewed “A Perfect Lindsay,” I was convinced that no other very special episode would piss me off more than it did. I was wrong. “Boundaries” is an episode that wants to talk about the very real problem of sexual assault on college campuses, but doesn’t have the guts to get beyond forced kissing. While forced kissing is technically sexual assault, there are much worse issues that could have been tackled in this episode and weren’t.
But that’s not why this episode pisses me off so. Forced kissing is often used as a comedic device within Peter Engel’s shows. But to use it as a comedic device within an episode about how forced kissing is sexual assault is hypocritical beyond believe. I just can’t believe that no one in the writers, cast, director, or producers spoke up and said, “Hey, aren’t we being just a little hypocritical here?” It just angers me beyond belief.
Most of the time, clip show episodes don’t qualify for these lists, but this one is a very special exception. See, they burned down The Max, an iconic symbol of the Saved by the Bell franchise, in the first episode, set up a conflict with Ryan feeling responsible and with the owner deciding not to rebuild, and then concluded it with a god damned clip show episode centered on memories of The Max. Ryan’s conflict only gets a couple minutes of screen time and The Max is saved because everyone loves it so.
Even worse, they wasted a cameo from Slater, the last time an original series cast member other than Mr. Belding or Screech would appear, by having him show up just to introduce more clips. The writers of this episode just don’t seem to get that, while burning down The Max is not necessarily a bad idea for an episode, you have to conclude the story with the respect it deserves and not just end on a god damned clip show episode.
Perhaps the most pointless episode of the series, there’s really no reason for its existence other than to give a reason for Zack Morris, Slater, and Lisa to make cameos. The entire first half is almost a scene-by-scene rerun of the first part except that, because Mr. Belding is present this time, they figure out who the big bad capitalist was horny for. The second part is basically a lame excuse for the cameos except to establish that the woman the capitalist was horny for is Zack Morris’s aunt.
This episode could have easily been concluded in one part and, at the time, I thought it was the worst episode of the series. While it may have been up to that point, unfortunately, there was one episode that ended up being worse. Much, much worse.
Number 1: Season 5, Episode 24: “Into the Woods”
I knew from the first time watching this episode it was going to make this list. I also knew that it was going to go down as the worst episode unless there was a particularly bad episode in the final two seasons. Fortunately, there was not, but I still have the memory of this shitty episode stuck in my brain.
The entire wilderness survival arc was a bad idea from the beginning, but this episode just drug on and on and on. On top of it, Maria is completely insufferable this episode as she whines and complains about the outdoors and, for once, Screech is not the most annoying character of the episode, although his subplot about looking for a bird with Mr. Belding was pretty damned bad in itself.
In the end, I have no sympathy for anyone in this episode, and the events would have lead to a major lawsuit for Bayside as both Ryan and Maria’s parents sued the fuck out of them for letting two teenagers journey through the outdoors without adult supervision. Between that and the amount of money Screech has to be costing the school, it’s a wonder they can even afford to keep the lights on.
Well, there it is: my ranking of the ten worst episodes of The New Class! Feel free to disagree with me in the comments below, especially if you feel I left off an especially bad episode of this really terrible series. And tune in Monday for one final look back at The New Class before I try to forget I ever watched this series through years of intensive therapy!