Category Archives: The New Class Recaps

Saved by the Bell: The New Class…Reviewed!

Saved by the Bell - The New Class

In philosophy, there is a theory that says all possible worlds exist in the same way ours does. So, there is a possible world out there somewhere in which The New Class was not cancelled after season seven. Instead, it continued with Screech as principal and a consistently rotating class, and is still airing to this day. In this possible world, critics look at The New Class as an icon of television in the same way they do The SimpsonsFamily GuySouth ParkLaw & OrderGunsmoke, and other long running shows. Also, Dustin Diamond is a sex icon and all the ladies yearn to be fucked by him.

Fortunately, that is not the possible world we exist in and, on January 8, 2000, the final new episode of The New Class aired, marking an end to the official Saved by the Bell franchise. It’s hard to believe that the franchise which always seemed a decade behind in its fashion and music managed to squeak into the twenty-first century, but it happened.

Meanwhile, in my world, I was blissfully unaware of how horrible a show I’d managed to miss. After all, I was nineteen at the time the show went off the air, so, not only am I as old as some of the cast, but I was the target demographic. Fortunately, I was busy getting into anime and B-movies so I had no time for what seemed like a stupid and brainless American teen comedy.

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Was I right to skip this series? Oh, fuck yeah! I had much better things to do with my time and much better shows to watch. But The New Class was still hanging around, waiting for a reviewer with a high tolerance for pain to review every stinkin’ episode. I’d like to say it was because I’d watched so much Mystery Science Theater 3000 growing up, but I would rather watch most of the movies on there any day without Joel, Mike, and the bots riffing them than ever watch another god damned second of this stupid shit.

And, so, I’ve done what no other reviewer I know of has ever done: I’ve reviewed the complete official franchise, including The New Class. Plenty have done the original series, and many, including my reviewing idol, Billy Superstar, have included Good Morning, Miss Bliss and The College Years, but none that I know of have ever tackled this shit stain of a show. Oh, how I envy them. I can’t unsee the last three years of my life, no matter how much I would like to.

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So how did a franchise that was once a guilty pleasure so-bad-it’s-good type show that is fondly remembered by many turn into this? Well, I’ll give you three guesses, and, if you say anything other than Peter Engel and NBC wanted to keep the cash cow that was Saved by the Bell going, you lose. It actually made sense for the original Saved by the Bell to go off the air after four seasons. But it had become a cult favorite by that point and NBC wasn’t so willing to let it go.

And so we got the horrible spin-offs that were The College Years and The New Class. Fortunately, they got rid of The College Years after a season. But why did The New Class stick around so long? I’ve had people argue to me that the reason was because it was good. No, the real reason was a Saturday morning show didn’t need the type of ratings a prime time one did, and The College Years just couldn’t compete while The New Class didn’t need to because kids can be stupid and will watch any old shit. So, no, I do not consider seven seasons of this show a real success when it was carrying the Saved by the Bell brand.

It wasn’t helped by its constantly revolving cast. I have no idea for sure why so many teenagers graced the halls of Bayside on The New Class. If I had to guess, though, I would say that, at least in some cases, the cast got too cocky and wanted more money. Dustin Diamond claims in his book that Peter Engel was unforgiving when it came to money, and this is why Kelly and Jessie didn’t return for the final episodes of Saved by the Bell. If this is true (and it is admittedly difficult to tell what that comes out of Diamond’s mouth is real), I would say some of them demanded raises and then walked when they didn’t get them. How else do you explain that Maria was with the series for four filmed seasons, but no one else made it past three? I could especially see this with, say, Bianca Lawson and Richard Lee Jackson, Bianca because she probably genuinely deserved a raise, Richard because he thought he deserved more as Jonathan Jackson’s brother.

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The real test is how well the show is remembered today and, as my commenters have pointed out, it’s really not. Many people remember Peter Engel’s other shows such as California DreamsHang TimeCity Guys, and even USA High. But how many really remember The New Class? Not a lot. In fact, it hasn’t been in syndication in at least a decade, and the DVDs are out of print now. For a show that lasted so long, The New Class has had virtually no staying power, and that really says a lot to me about how forgotten this series is.

I mean, people talk about Zack Morris, Slater, Kelly, and even Screech all the time as television icons from their childhood, but when was the last time you heard someone talking about the wacky Swiss boy, Brian, or the pretty gymnast, Lindsay, or the…whatever the hell he’s supposed to be, Tony. At their worst, characters from The New Class made me want to punch my screen. At best, they were bland and uninteresting with no definable characteristics.

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That’s because, at its core, The New Class wasn’t about the teenagers. It was about Mr. Belding and Screech, the only two consistent characters over the seven season run. Even when they try to focus on the teenagers, there has to be a subplot between these two, even if it’s ridiculous and contrived. I have a theory: The New Class is really about Mr. Belding’s slow mental breakdown. In the first season, he’s enjoying his job as he’s adjusting to life as a father. When Screech returns to Bayside, his sanity is slowly drained as time and time again Screech makes his life a living hell and makes him look like a complete fool to his colleagues. By the seventh season, Mr. Belding is ready to snap when he gets one final chance to get the hell away from Screech and takes it.

Really, it makes sense. I’ve seen a fan theory that suggested the time capsule clip show episode from the original series was really Mr. Belding imagining what his life would be like had Screech never came to work at Bayside. And it’s sad, indeed, to watch a once great character go downhill so much. Mr. Belding was not Mr. Belding any longer on this show. Instead, he was around to be Screech’s punching bag, and that’s not how I want to remember this character.

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The New Class suffered from never having a real identity of its own and always trying to imitate the original, not to mention a few plots ripped directly from other Peter Engel sitcoms. It was most blatant in the first season, but it never really disappeared. In fact, if anything, the more subtle the plagiarism became, the worse the show was.

To me, this is the real reason the series has had no staying power. In the absence of no real identity of its own, the series is instantly forgettable once you turn it off. I didn’t realize until I started putting the bottom ten list for this series together just how many episodes I’ve already forgotten from this series. Is there truly a reason to watch it over and over again?

This was compounded by the fact that the show tried to take all the things the original is remembered for and multiply them. An attempt to recapture the glory days of Malibu Sands led to a tradition of staging episodes in increasingly more ridiculous settings away from Bayside. People’s memory of Saved by the Bell‘s very special episodes led to some pretty horrible, preachy messages that got worse as the seasons rolled on.  Even Screech inventing a robot led to the invention of Kevin’s mentally challenged brother.

All, in all, I don’t have much more to say about this series or its characters I haven’t already said. It should have never seen the light of day, and then it stuck around for seven years with the most incompetent writers and cast I’ve ever seen.

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I think Billy Superstar got off easy reviewing Full HouseThe New Class was a horrible, painful experience from start to finish, and, once I’m finished with this blog, I never plan on watching it again. I spent nearly three years reviewing this damned show, and I feel like I’m dumber for the experience. I think it shows in my reviews as well. At times, I wondered how many more ways I could find to express my disgust with this show’s cast and its writers. One commenter even suggested a drinking game every time I call Screech a dumb ass.

And it’s the truth. I completely get why I’m the first person to review this series all the way through. It’s the ugly stepchild of the franchise and, I dare say, if they ever have a reunion movie, it would not surprise me in the least if they retcon everything from this show and declare it non-canonical. It’s time to leave this show behind, with my recommendation that no sane person ever put themselves through what I have. Unless you’re a sado-masochst, there’s really no reason you need to subject yourself to The New Class.


So what now for this blog? Well, I’m not quite done with the Saved by the Bell franchise yet. I probably won’t finish reviewing the comics as the Harvey ones are just fucking horrible and the Roar Comics ones are…well…actually pretty decent, making it very difficult for me to find stuff to make fun of in them. I reviewed the first volume of the Roar Comics version, so that should be enough to give interested people a taste.

That said, there are still some odds and ends in the extended Saved by the Bell universe I want to take a look at, so I’m going to spend the next couple months or so looking at some of the odder corners of this franchise. When I’m done, I will be doing a final retrospective on the franchise as a whole as well as this blog. In the meantime, though, tune in next Monday as we delve into the first installment of the odd, odd world of the extended universe with Who Shrunk Saturday Morning?

The New Class Seasons 6 & 7 Recap

Recapping these two seasons may be one of the most boring things I do for this blog, as these were two of the most boring installments of this franchise I’ve watched. Really, there just wasn’t a lot going on to piss me off like in past seasons other than general incompetence. It just seemed to be the show coasting along for two more years so they could milk every bit of this cash cow they could.

At this point, this show had long outstayed its welcome, and any possibility of laughs and redemption had died a slow, painful death. The six “teenagers” had long since grown up, all of whom were in their late teens and early twenties by this point, and you can tell they’re just absolutely bored by the horribly cliched scripts they’re being forced to deal with. And, by this time, Mr. Belding and Screech just look like they’re trying to do whatever stupid shit they can to remain relevant in a franchise that passed them by ages ago.

I’ve mentioned before my reasoning for recapping these seasons together. They were filmed as one twenty-six episode season and artificially split into two to draw out the show for one more year. I do try to be fair since I don’t know what incompetent baboon’s fault the horrible ordering of episodes is, but it did make these twenty-six episodes very difficult to figure out when they’re supposed to be taking place, and that’s a problem.

I suspect the show would have had a much more dignified ending had they stopped after season five.

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It didn’t help the cast was so weak this season. With the departure of Richard Lee Jackson, the producers had basically two choices: don’t replace him and just strengthen the five remaining cast, or bring in a new guy and hope they can make the audience give a damn about him in just twenty-six episodes. Unfortunately, they chose the latter, and Tony was certainly never going to be strong enough of a character to develop in such a short period of time.

On top of that, it’s obvious that some of the cast had already began to check out. Ashley Lyn Cafagna is barely around this season and Samantha Becker seems bored out of her mind. It’s kind of pathetic to watch. Needless to say, there’s no running thread of senior year as there was on the original series. In fact, there’s no mention that it’s the gang’s senior year or that graduation was coming up until almost at the very end. At one point, it’s even implied they would be around next year! It’s like they were trying to delay the inevitable as long as possible, hoping for a last minute order for a season eight.

Of course, this also confuses the timeline quite a bit. We know season two was right after the cancellation of The College Years in 1994, due to Screech’s arrival. Maria joined the cast in 1995 as a transfer student, implying she’d been at Valley at least one year, and, if this season is to be believed, they were the class of 2000. This means Maria, and Tony (who was supposed to be the same age as her) were in high school for at least six years. This school just wouldn’t let go of their souls.

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One positive thing is that it does feel like more episodes took place at Bayside. Other than the requisite mall episodes we’ve come to expect out of The New Class as well as the three episode police academy arc, every episode takes place in school. I didn’t do an episode count to see if that was actually the case but, after spending half of the last four seasons away from Bayside, it was refreshing to see the gang at high school so often in a show about high school. Mind you, the police academy arc was horrible and one of the mall episodes made me laugh very ironically, but, still, it’s nice we weren’t going to the Antarctic or some shit this year.

But a recap of these seasons wouldn’t be complete without mentioning NBC’s incompetence at airing them. How on Earth can you have a series finale that takes place before the actual final chronological episode? What were they thinking? I suspect, by this point, NBC didn’t give a damn about The New Class. Remember, they were only a year from cancelling the whole of TNBC in favor of that show kids love: Saturday morning news! They didn’t care anymore. Saved by the Bell had long passed its relevance to the world and, judging by what I’ve read, an increasing number of people didn’t even know The New Class was still on the air, if they ever knew it was to begin with.


Okay, let’s talk characters.

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Like Ryan before her, Maria’s turned into a shadow of what she once was. Almost completely gone is the angry character who won’t take shit from anyone, replaced with someone whose entire life seems to center around her relationship with Tony. I mean, really, other than an episode exploring her friendship with Katie and another with her father, Maria’s entire existence this season depended on Tony. Considering how underdeveloped her relationship with Nicky was in season four, this is surprising, and I’m realizing that, like Rachel, Maria’s a character who is at her best when single.

It’s a shame because I like Maria and would have liked to see her have such a stronger season. They could have turned her into the lead character this season, but it feels like Samantha Becker was just counting down the days until cancellation. Even the little thing they gave her at the end, being valedictorian, came the fuck out of nowhere considering she had an episode in season three where she was struggling with a class. I wonder what Maria would have been like in the hands of competent writers.

Samantha Becker is now Samantha Esteban, She continues to act to this day and hasn’t done bad for herself, though her resume certainly isn’t as impressive as others. Among her more recognizable roles, she had recurring roles on the short-lived television shows The System and From Dusk Till Dawn: The Series and in the films Training Day and Harsh Times.

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It boggled my mind for a bit why they wouldn’t develop Nicky’s character more this season and turn him into an actual draw for the series. And then I remembered: it’s because Nicky is boring as sin. He’s never had a definable personality other than NEW YORK, and it seems like the writers realized that this season as they awkwardly put him in things he’d never expressed interest in before, like as a football player and aspiring filmmaker.

Still, he wasn’t a bad character; he was just the catch-all for every trait Eric and Tony didn’t exhibit, which is kind of scary considering those characters. Nicky was never going to be as exciting as Zack Morris or Slater, but they at least could have given him some definable characteristics other than standing around with one look on his face all the time.

Ben Gould had a few more miscellaneous small roles after The New Class, but pretty much left acting after 2005, playing bass for a rock band for a while. According to IMDB, he later moved to NEW YORK for real to work in the restaurant business, but I’ve been unable to confirm this for sure. He’s keeping pretty low key nowadays.

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Katie’s all over the place this year, alternatively being the smart girl, the socially conscious girl, and the stupid girl depending on what the script calls for. She’s almost completely defined this season by her relationship with Nicky and whatever whim the writers had for her that week, and it’s hard to tell if any of it was out of character.

Even when the writers wrote something just for her, like her conflict about not getting a scholarship to go to New York with Nicky, it seemed contrived, especially given how obsessed Katie was with doing everything she could over the last four seasons to get scholarships and shit. She had definitely take over the smart girl role by this time.

Lindsey McKeon continues acting to this day and has seen some degree of success. Probably her most recognizable roles post-The New Class are in regular roles on Supernatural and One Tree Hill. She was also twice nominated for Daytime Emmy awards for a role on Guiding Light. She’s also tried her hand at blogging and writing.

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Eric is horribly underdeveloped this season, not even getting one of his usual wacky shenanigans with Screech episodes. He has an episode where he acts like an asshole to the rest of the gang to try and make a music video, and he gives a shit for some reason about the police academy, but that’s about it. There’s not a lot to say about him other than he likes to sing, in case you weren’t clear about that the previous two seasons.

Anthony Harrell tried his hand a bit longer at acting, but eventually gave it up to focus on his music, which continues to be a primary focus to this day. He comes from a family of musicians and even appeared in a reality show with his brothers in 2008, Brothers to Brutha. He and his brothers had a hip hop group together from 2002 to 2011, and Anthony did a bit of solo work. Nowadays, judging by his Instagram, he’s keeping busy raising his beautiful family.

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Liz is barely in these seasons. Sure, she appears in all twenty-six episodes, but she’s frequently reduced to an extra with a few lines. I’m sure some of the blame for this was that she was simultaneously acting in The Bold and the Beautiful during this season. Nevertheless, I’m willing to place some of the blame on the fact the writers never evolved her past a sex doll for Ryan and being obsessed with swimming. With Ryan’s departure, the writers didn’t bother to figure out anything else for her to do and, so, it’s frequently easy to forget she’s even still around.

Ashley Lyn Cafagna is now Ashley Tesoro. She didn’t keep up acting much beyond her 2001 departure from The Bold and the Beautiful. In fact, she went a completely different direction: Christian music, producing gospel and Christian country music with her husband, producer Anthony Tesoro. She’s also busy nowadays raising her two children.

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Where do I even begin with this season’s weakest link? Tony basically has all the worst qualities of Tommy D and none of the charisma of previous blonde leads like Ryan and Scott. To top it off, Tom Wade Huntington can’t act to save his life, and, as a result, Tony’s a character who’s all over the place, annoying the shit out of us and making me beg the question what I ever did to deserve such torture. Still, he’s almost exclusively defined by his relationship with Maria and being on the football team. I can’t help but question how the writers thought they’d make us give a shit about him in just the little time he had on this show.

Still, as you found out in my bonus post yesterday, I don’t quite rank him at the bottom of The New Class characters as at least he’s not Brian. Still, Tony was an entirely unneeded character in what was, no doubt, the weakest seasons of the show since the second. He was a desperation character and he didn’t work.

Tom Wade Huntington may be the biggest mystery post-The New Class since Spankee Rodgers. He had a few minor roles through 2005, and then he kind of dropped off the face of the planet, keeping no social media accounts I can find. To top it off, when I commented on Cookies and Sangria‘s Where Are They Now post for The New Class and pointed out they left off Rodgers and Huntington, an anonymous poster commented that Huntington has been dead since 2008. This sent me in a frenzy to see if I could confirm this rumor, and I have not. Through some persistent searching, though, I think I was able to track down his mother and sister on Facebook, and, judging by their posts, it seems like he moved back to his hometown in Missouri post-acting and is probably leading a relatively normal life.

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Mr. Belding and Screech have little to do during these seasons other than their C-plot of the week, which is usually a pretty terrible excuse for them to act gay and/or completely incompetent for cheap laughs from an audience who doesn’t have any idea how horrifying it is that two administrators would act this way. Both characters have very little interaction with the gang this season, and Mr. Belding especially is a shell of his former character. Dustin Diamond claims, in his memoir, that he and Dennis Haskins were almost relieved when this stupid show was finally cancelled, and that’s one of the few things I can believe coming from his mouth.

I wish Mr. Belding had a more dignified end, but I suppose getting a new job and getting the fuck away from Screech is about as good as we were going to get. Mr. Belding was one of my favorite characters throughout the original. It was so painful to see him reduced to this idiocy for The New Class. I’m glad he’s finally out of his pain.

But fuck Screech. Fuck Screech and his complete incompetence that was constantly being rewarded. Thank god he didn’t end up principal, at least on screen. It’s horrifying to think of him fucking up the young lives of his students. I’m so tired of him I just can’t muster the hate for him any longer.


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These two seasons will definitely go down as two of the least memorable, even if they’re not technically the worst. I find myself, as I prepare to give my worst list for the season, having already forgotten most of them as they really left that little impact on my memory. Some of you have said in the comments that these episodes never aired in syndication. If that’s true, it wouldn’t surprise me. There’s just nothing here of any interest, and, perhaps it’s fitting that The New Class ended so horribly unspectacular.


My Picks

As usual, here’s my picks for the best and worst of the year. Feel free to disagree with me in the comments below!

One Episode I Loved Ironically:

Season 7, Episode 8: “A Mall Shook Up” Don’t get me wrong: this episode is terrible. But it’s terrible in such a way that I was laughing hysterically the entire time at the sheer ridiculousness of Nicky’s mistreated PTSD after saving Tum Tum, not to mention the fact everyone stuck around the mall after falling debris nearly killed the two of them.

Five Episodes I Hated:

Season 6, Episode 5: “Cigar Wars” We did not need a second anti-smoking episode, especially one centered around Tony. It’s not quite as terrible as Lindsay’s anti-smoking episode from season three, but it’s certainly as preachy, and the reverse peer pressure and Tony smoking on the world’s most open campus are two of the stupidest things of this season.

Season 6, Episode 9: “Mind Games” This is a painful one to watch as the writers are obviously doing their best to try and depict an emotionally abusive relationship, and obviously failing hard at it. I don’t buy for a second Liz would put up with the bullshit in this episode, especially after how quickly she was shown to have the confidence to date again after Ryan’s departure. This episode was complete bullshit.

Season 7, Episode 5: “Liz Burns Eric” All three of the police academy episodes are ridiculously stupid, but this one has a special place in the pits of hell. Liz suddenly acts like an asshole to attract a boy she likes. Is it out of character for her? Does Liz have any character? Who knows. The sudden contrived friendship with Eric and Liz is pretty horrible too, since it comes the fuck out of nowhere.

Season 7, Episode 6: “The X-Friends Files” Another ridiculously over-the-top entry where the writers made a character an asshole for no particular reason other than it was convenient to the plot. How was Nicky the voice of reason for this episode while Katie was the impulsive asshat? I guess we’ll never know, but it made for a horrible episode.

Season 7, Episode 9: “Party Animals” What a terrible, preachy episode. Basically, don’t drink because it’s illegal and you might act like an impulsive asshole. I bet Nicky and Katie’s vow to never drink again lasted about two seconds until they got to their first college party. The fact that most of the consequences of the episode happened off-screen didn’t help either, and Mr. Belding and Screech’s subplot was more moronic than usual.


So that’s it for the recap. I’ll have another bonus post tomorrow. And this Monday I’ll have one final recap of The New Class as a whole, along with some news as to what’s next for this blog.

The New Class Season 5 Recap

So we’re nearing the home stretch, and this season was weird, to say the least. To remind us of where we’re coming from, let’s take a quick look at where we’ve been in this series. Season one was bad, but in a “they’re just copying the original class nearly word for word” sort of bad. Season two was complete and utter shit and best relegated to the dust bin. Season three saw a significant improvement but still had some pretty bad episodes and made Lindsay and Tommy D feel superfluous. Season four did better on integrating the cast as a whole but it felt like they had no clue what attributes to give the new cast members.

Then there’s season five. You would think that, with only one cast change this season, they would try to learn from the mistakes of last season and actually make a good season of this show. Instead, we get what may be the weirdest season thus far. With the exception of the very short rivalry between Ryan and Nicky over Liz, there were no clear threads this season.

Instead, it feels like the writers were throwing darts at a giant bulletin board full of story ideas and just going with the stupidest possible shit they could come up with. Nicky randomly breaking up with Maria over pot? Check. The boys getting stuck in an elevator? Check. Ryan suddenly being a swim team captain? Why the hell not, even though he was established as a wrestler last season. And this isn’t even counting the “away from Bayside” episodes, which, oh, I promise I’ll get to…

All in all, this season feels fucking boring. With the exception of Nicky and Katie getting back together in the penultimate episode, nothing of any lasting significance happened this season. Nothing. In a show that already feels horribly copied from its predecessor, this season felt like a filler season, like they had to pump out twenty-six episodes and so they put out twenty-six episodes that just leave one scratching their head and asking if that’s really the best they could come up with.

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I mean, the writing quality was bad, even for this show. There were times it seemed like they were trying their damndest to keep up continuity, but then, other times, they just completely made shit up, the best instance being Screech not quitting his job as security guard at the mall after he told Mr. Belding he would. It’s just all so mediocre that I almost miss the bad writing of season two. At least that gave me something to get really pissed off about.

And I’m trying to be generous. I know this was Miguel Higuera’s first season as director and that he was filling big shoes after Don Barnhardt’s departure from the franchise. But, if Higuera couldn’t at least be as good as the previous season, maybe they should have gotten someone else to do the job. I just picture Higuera showing up drunk to the set every day and just telling the cast to act as stupid as they can while not exhibiting real emotion.

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And the away from Bayside episodes…oh my lord…

Besides the mall episodes, which I’m come to expect this show to do a ton of, we had the Paris episodes, the Habitat for Humanity episodes, and the wilderness episodes. These three arcs may be the three worst in the history of this franchise and would have been more entertaining had it just been our eight cast members sitting in an empty room reading from Atlas Shrugged. By far, the wilderness arc was the worst of the three and doesn’t deserve to exist, but all three have their moments of facepalming awfulness, from Americans doing horrible French accents to not understanding basic immigration procedures to building a house in two weeks to Maria becoming Bear Grylls instantly to the worst looking outdoor set in the history of television.

I mean, seriously, these eight episodes can go fuck themselves. And, by request, I counted how many episodes were away from Bayside this season. There were thirteen, meaning that half the season of a show that takes place in high school doesn’t take place in high school. Mind you, I’m getting used to this as thirteen episodes each of seasons two, three and four also took place away from Bayside, but it’s still ridiculous.


Let’s talk characters.

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Ryan continues the trajectory his character started last season of being a horrible asshole when it so suits the plot. At other times, we’re supposed to love and respect him as the default leader of the gang. Really, neither works because he’s long lost the playfulness and Zack Morris-like scheming that made me like him back in season three. Most of this season, he was solely defined by his relationship with Liz as the writers seemed desperate to ram that little subplot down our throats before Richard Lee Jackson left the cast.

And, yet, it didn’t have to be this way. There were interesting threads around, like the rivalry between Nicky and him, the pain over his break-up with Rachel (which could have easily been tied in with his cheating on her last season), and his…well, let’s face it, they didn’t give him a whole lot to do this season. Every time it looked like Ryan was going to get something interesting to do, they let it drop after a couple of episodes and pressed the rest button to ensure we wouldn’t have to think of it again. The character I once thought was the best addition this series ever made is a shell of his former self, and it shows.

As for Richard Lee Jackson, he’s continued acting on and off over the years, mostly in small roles, with his most recent gig being a 2014 episode of Grimm. He’s never quite been able to get out of the shadow of his more famous and successful brother, Jonathan Jackson, but that hasn’t stopped him from trying. He’s also tried his hand at music with his older brother to mixed reviews. These days, he mostly stays at home in Nashville and works on his graphic design business. If you’re curious what he’s up to nowadays, you can always check him out on Twitter where you can see two things: that he hasn’t aged a bit since the ’90s and that he is really, really in love with Ted Cruz.

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Maria had a lot of episodes devoted to her, some of them the worst episodes of the season. The writers broke Nicky and her up very early, freeing her up to do not a whole lot of shit important to the show before eventually dating an older man and nearly killing Ryan. She would be the Screech of this season if it weren’t for Screech actually being on the show.

Yeah, other than her breakup with Nicky, nothing this season really feels like it matters. Her short-lived relationship with Mike is soon forgotten. She sees no character development or regression, her characterization is horribly inconsistent, ranging from tough Latina to little princess stereotype, and she’s just kind of there most of the time. Hard to believe she’s going to go into season six as the senior cast member considering the writers don’t seem to know what to do with her.

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Nicky…what can I say about Nicky? At least he’s not talking about New York every episode anymore. Hell, I’m not even sure the writers remember all the shit about New York from last season. There is one thing consistent about Nicky’s major plot points this season: they all come the fuck out of nowhere. His breaking up with Maria, his desire to date Liz, and his getting back together with Katie all feel like the writers were just looking for random ways to shake things up so they started playing eine meaney miney mo with the female members of the cast.

And here’s the thing about Nicky: out of the male members of the cast, I care about Nicky less than any of them. There is no difference in characterization between Nicky and Ryan. None. Well, except maybe he doesn’t fill out a Speedo as well as Ryan. But if he was meant to replace Tommy D, they did a pretty shitty job of characterization. Nicky is useless on this show and I think the writers knew it. I just hope they do something to differentiate him from the new cast member next season.

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Katie continues to be poor as her sole characterization, and even that is inconsistent. After all, how the fuck can she afford to go to Paris and on the wilderness trip? Sometimes she’s a voice of reason, more often she’s an idiot who runs around whining about not being able to find a job or obsessively stalking her boyfriend. The writers can’t seem to make up their minds what they want to do with her.

And yet she would have made a good candidate for a replacement for Lindsay, but the writers, for some reason, insist on trying to make her more of a Jessie when that’s obviously not who her character is. What are we supposed to make of her? I doubt even the writers knew, and why should they? By this season they were just inserting Katie into whatever random plot or subplot they needed.

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Let me make this clear: Eric is at his best when he’s doing something music related, even if it’s the ridiculous gangster rap he tried to do this season. He’s at his worst when the writers are insisting on trying to make him a football star or making him whine about Paris and shit. Like R.J. and Bobby before him, Eric seems like the most underused member of the cast, although that began to pick up this season when he got a two episode relationship arc as the writers showed their ignorance of basic immigration procedures.

And there’s a strange trend: Eric being teamed up with Screech when they don’t know what else to do with him. Seriously, as lukewarm as I am on Eric, I don’t consider him such a huge idiot he would risk his liberty to do shit with Screech. If Eric were just abandoned a the wilderness lodge and no one ever came to pick him up, do you suppose any of the gang would notice?

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It’s only when I write this recap that I realize how many of the characters could have been exchanged with a cardboard box and there would be no discernible difference in the plot, but nowhere is that more evident than with Liz. The writers seemed to have been searching for a new character with all the blandness of Rachel and none of the interesting bits, and they rolled that into her. Seriously, like Rachel before her, Liz is almost solely defined by the man she’s with.

I’m serious: without Ryan, I can’t imagine what Liz will do next season. She has the swim thing but you know they won’t give a shit about that beyond maybe an episode or two. She occasionally acts as the voice of reason when everyone else are acting like idiots, except when she’s acting like an idiot herself.  They were in such a rush to pair her with Ryan this season they didn’t bother giving Liz an actual personality, so you’re left to assume that Maria and Katie bragging about how much more awesome Rachel was than her is an accurate assessment of Liz’s character.

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And then there’s Screech and Mr. Belding. How Screech keeps a job is beyond me. One of the clip episodes even focused on how much of a fuck up he’s been this season, and that’s not even counting his stupidity from the previous three seasons. That nice lovable but goofy character from Good Morning Miss Bliss is now a law suit waiting to happen as he infests Bayside with the presence of a two year old caught in a grown up’s body. How women keep falling for him season after season is beyond me. I’d be afraid of being killed by his utter stupidity.

Poor Mr. Belding has now made the full transition to Screech’s lackey. Several of you have commented that Dennis Haskins was unhappy with the direction the writers took Mr. Belding, basically turning him into a nincompoop who was the butt of every stupid Screech idea, and I can believe it. I’ve said many times that Mr. Belding is at his best when he’s the loving but strict mentor figure to the gang, but I don’t think we’ve truly seen that side of him in a very long time. Instead, we get to see him run through Paris with plaster on his head or through the wilderness dressed in the world’s worst bird costume. Either must have been humiliating to Haskins.

Of course, with both of them gone so often from Bayside, the real question becomes how Bayside runs with its only two administrators traveling the world with six of their students. I wish I knew. If I was gone that often from my job, I’d be fired, and with good reason. I guess they should be glad the school board doesn’t give a shit what anyone does.


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I don’t even know how to adequately sum this season up except to say it feels like it shouldn’t exist. The writers feel like they were at least trying to explore unexplored territory, but it’s either really boring or downright ridiculous. Nothing about the existence of this season makes any sense.

And yet, as I prepare to review the final twenty-six episodes of this show, I have to comment that it feels like this isn’t the same show I started reviewing two years ago. And that’s the sad thing: in the end, nothing matters on this show because Mr. Belding and Screech are the only elements that can’t be replaced. And I think that’s going to end up being the crux of the problem with this show: you could keep replacing cast members forever and it won’t matter because no one, from the writers to the director to the producers or even the set designer, gave a shit about this show. They were just watching it continue to rake in the dough from poor kids who wanted this to be the Saved by the Bell of their generation.

Mercifully, they wouldn’t have to wait much longer for this curse to end.


My Picks

As usual, here are the five episodes from this season I hate more than the others since, yet again, we have a season where I don’t particularly like any of them, though I did think of including Thug Dog Little’s episode as an honorable mention since it was so stupid. Please feel free to agree or disagree in the comments!

Episode 4: “Football & Physics”The New Class should not have tried to take on racism. What I’m sure they meant as a serious examination of a societal ill just makes it look like the writers have no clue what racism is and they perpetuate the stereotype that African Americans are always pulling the race card for everything. Seriously, after seeing how California Dreams handled racism, it’s even more painful to realize how much of an utter failure this episode is.

Episode 11: “Friends Behaving Badly”: Everybody acts out of the little character they normally exhibit this episode as everyone acts like a stupid idiot to Nicky but still want to go on yet another trip. These six fuck-ups must be the most privileged idiots in the world to get to go on so many worldwide trips every year.

Episode 16: “Screech and the Substitute”: Okay, I get it. I’ve been saying it all along: no woman should ever want to have sex with Screech. Yet, after you’ve spent three seasons charcterizing him as a lady’s man, you can’t just randomly have the gang decide to agree with me! Seriously, what the fuck were they thinking with this stupid episode!

Episode 23: “Private Peterson”: I will always remember this episode as the MRA episode. Seriously, the guys in this episode are so stereotypically misogynist it’s painful to watch. The conflict shouldn’t even be a conflict, as why the hell would Eric take those assholes’ sides over Katie. To top it off, the writers obviously don’t understand how ROTC works and it shows.

Episode 24: “Into the Woods”: Yeah, no surprise this episode is on here, right? There is so much wrong with this episode that I couldn’t get it all into the review, so you all kindly commented with the many things I missed. This one is a contender for worst episode of the season. I’d rather watch Lindsay’s anorexia episode, Rachel’s date rape episode, or the smoking episode over this one any day.


With that pain over, tune in Monday as we dive into season six of this horrible, horrible series. And don’t forget to check out my other review blog, California Dreams Reviewed, where I’m tackling another of Peter Engel’s ugly bastard children!

The New Class Season 4 Recap

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Ah, another season, another year of The New Class that I’d rather forget ever happened. But yet, try as I might to forget, I really did sit through another twenty-six episodes of pure, unadulterated shit because, yes, that’s what it was. Not a single episode I truly like and at least one hit a new low for me.

And yet, this was even after a bunch of changes, both behind the scenes and in front. Gone are half of our characters from season three, again, replaced with fresh faces that will be with us until the end of the series. I don’t know how to sum up my feelings on these three. They’re not particularly irritating the way R.J. or Tommy D were, and Katie’s just as bland a character, if not more so, than Lindsay. But I have no emotional investment in these people, and I’m sure the people who were watching in 1996 didn’t either. After all, with this series’ track record, we could be replacing the entire cast for season five.

There was also more of an attempt to drop little Easter eggs of continuity. Besides appearances from Slater and Mr. Dewey and Screech recounting scenes from the original series involving the rest of the cast, we had references to teachers not seen in nearly eight years, acknowledgments that Tommy D and Lindsay had moved (no one gave a shit about R.J. anyway), and even a suggestion that Kelly’s little brother is now a football star at Bayside. Season four almost seems like it was trying to apologize for its three predecessors using the Saved by the Bell name by trying to convince you that, yes, it really is Saved by the Bell. Of course, it fails in all but the most superficial sense.

Behind the scenes, gone was Franco E. Bario as show runner, replaced by associate producer Chris Conte. I don’t know a lot about Conte, but, if his IMDB page is any indication, I’m not impressed. The only other scripted series he’s really been head of over the years was Malibu USA, another Saved by the Bell clone. Other than that, he’s been in charge of shows like Access Hollywood and Last Call with Carson Daly. And, while Conte had been affiliated with the franchise since Good Morning, Miss Bliss, there’s a distinct feeling that he’s trying to bring something different to the table while still pleasing fans of the original series.

Unfortunately, those new things aren’t all good. Screech is more irritating than ever, the love triangle between Nicky, Katie, and Maria was extremely unbelievable and resolved way too soon, and the crossover with Hang Time felt forced. Really forced. On the positive side, more of the main plots were going to the gang rather than Screech, but that didn’t say much as he still had annoying subplots, maybe more annoying than ever.

There was as little attention paid to the chronology as usual, although, this year, at least the Space Camp episodes weren’t used in the clip show episodes so they could at least take place after Christmas. (They  take place in the summer, as we’ll see in a few episodes, but Rachel’s departure complicates this, as we’ll also see.) What this season, overall, signaled is that nothing will ever change, as they neatly assured us Bayside and The Max will always be there, no matter what else happens.

Interestingly enough, this season would also be the last for longtime director Don Barnhart. Barnhart directed virtually every episode of the original series and The New Class to this point so his departure is a serious blow to continuity. I have no idea why he left but, like Bario, it apparently was on good terms. His only directing credits since have been a few episodes of California Dreams and ten episodes of the Canadian teen drama Student Bodies. Other than a few documentaries about Saved by the Bell, he’s virtually dropped off the map.


Let’s talk characters, starting with the returning members of the gang.

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Rachel really took a step backwards this season. Think about it: she was at her best when she was single and available for whatever plots were available, hence why I think her best season was three. After all, that was when she was in what is, to date, the only episode of The New Class I have truly liked. Any other time she is defined by the man she is with. In season one, she was an object to be used for Scott’s plot. In season two, she was totally defined by her relationship with Brian. And, in season four, Rachel had no characterization apart from her relationship with Ryan, which came the fuck out of nowhere.

She’s dull as ever this season and, as much as I should be sad that our last connection to the first season other than Mr. Belding is leaving, I can’t help but think the writers never figured out what to do with Rachel. She’s no Kelly because, while Kelly was also underdeveloped, we at least gave a damn what happened to her. Rachel will be replaced by another blonde next season and, sadly, there will probably be very little discernible difference.

I also have no idea how old Rachel was supposed to be. If she was a freshman in season one, that means she should be a senior this year, yet there’s no indication she was any older than our other characters who will graduate in season seven. Had Sarah Lancaster continued, would they have just pretended like all was as it should be? I think we’ll have our answer to that when Maria stays with the series until the end.

As with most of the women on this show, Sarah Lancaster has been considerably more successful post-The New Class than most of her male counterparts. She’s been in a ton of stuff since she left, but, most notably, she had a recurring role on Scrubs and starring roles on Chuck and Everwood. I watched her on Everwood and, I must say, her acting has not improved a bit since she was on The New Class. It was hard to watch her on here and not see the college co-ed who was fucking young Ephraim Brown.

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Ryan’s just a dick this season. While it’s clear the writers are trying their damndest to turn him into a Zack Morris-like character, they have no clue how, and Ryan just comes off at times as being controlling, egotistical, and as an asshole. Take, for instance, his treatment of Nicky in “Oh, Brother.” Nicky did nothing to Ryan, yet Ryan was determined to make the former’s life completely miserable. Couple this with his controlling attitude towards Rachel and the fact that he was the one to cheat on her with a girl from Hang Time, and I really got pissed off at Ryan at times.

I’m really becoming convinced that Ryan has multiple personalities that rarely coexist in the same episode. There is, after all, asshole, controlling manipulative Ryan; conniving Ryan; loyal Ryan; and, of course, random responsible Ryan who gets a job at The Max after insisting he’d never do anything silly like get a job. All are equally underdeveloped and which one is used in a particular episode depends on what is most convenient to the script.

And, yet, he’s still an improvement over Brian. He’s at least a leader and does more than spout about being Swiss and loving Rachel. Ryan’s a constant reminder that it could have been worse, and let’s pray that it won’t be after season five. I’m still unsure what to make of the retcon that turned him into a wrestling star considering he showed no interest in wrestling last season, but it definitely wasn’t the most annoying thing that happened this season.

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Maria started out the season continuing her role as the voice of reason, often intervening in conflicts, but her relationship with Nicky quickly hijacked all of that, and Maria suffered greatly for it. For once, though, she wasn’t completely defined by her relationship with Nicky. In fact, as I’ll mention when I get to Nicky, she was so not defined by her relationship with him that it was easy to forget she was even in a one to begin with.

And, what else can you say: Maria’s still as undeveloped as she was last season. She shows the hints of a real character but can’t seem to get past cliches and contrivances. If putting her with Nicky was supposed to help flesh out her character, it completely and utterly failed as I can’t think of a single bit of character development that’s truly come out of that relationship.

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Nicky is an improvement over Tommy D. They don’t force him to be an idiot and he often serves as the voice of reason among the boys. Unfortunately, his character development is slow–in the first few episodes, all we really knew about him was he had the power of NEW YORK! He slowly gained other characteristics, and most made sense (though I still don’t buy he was obsessed with astronomy). It was clear that, with Nicky, they were seeking a foil to Ryan.

The worst episodes with Nicky involve his relationships. His love for Katie comes the fuck out of nowhere, and he just randomly falls for Maria. Neither relationship is believable–it’s pretty bad when episodes have to remind us that Nicky is in a relationship for us to remember. Both relationships just seems completely forced and have no chemistry. Sad as it is to say, Tommy D and Lindsay are still the gold standard for a believable relationship on this show, and Nicky doesn’t come anywhere close to living up to that.

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We have to remember the line of characters we’ve gone through to get to Eric: Weasel, Bobby, and R.J. None of these has been particularly meaningful and I doubt there has been much weeping about the departures of any of these characters as they were basically there…to be there. The gang needed six characters, and so they added in a half-baked one hoping no one would give a damn.

So, is Eric an improvement? Yes, but a talking toaster would be better. Eric is best when they integrate the fact Anthony Harrell a singer in real life into his character. He’s worst when they try to make him a football star–I believe Eric’s a football star even less than the episode where Weasel was star for a day. The rest of the time, it seems like they’re trying to make him a lovable goofball and failing greatly. Eric’s the least developed character of the season. Also, continuing in the steps of his predecessor, he will never have a relationship longer than an episode or two, so you’ll never even get back door development for him.

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The writers really can’t seem to figure out what to do with Katie. Is she smart? Is she poor? Would she do hair with a French guy named Jean-Paul? Is she Nicky’s girlfriend? Does she swim? Is she a bitch to random guys whose love brims? These are all things they have done with her this season, and the answer is still unclear to any of them as they usually last an episode and are then forgotten. What is Katie’s purpose on the show? Damned if I know and I think the writers are still trying to figure it out, too.

In any case, she’s defined half the season by her relationship with Nicky and the other half by nothing in particular. The second half of the season reminds me of Lindsay after she and Ryan broke up: nothing to do in particular because the only thing of consequence she had going is gone. Since we have three more seasons to develop Katie, I’ll wait and see if she improves. Judging by this season, though, I’m not too optimistic of that happening.

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The biggest positive this season is that they’ve toned down the Screech and Mr. Belding plots. They’re still there but they’re usually more minor Mr. Belding is back to dispensing his usual judgmental lectures and Screech is a fucking moron. But they’re in positions on the show now that are at least tolerable.

Mr. Belding receives no character development this season. However, I have to mention his purchasing of Yukon Yogurt. Mr. Belding keeps insinuating his principal’s salary won’t support a wife and kid, yet he keeps purchasing businesses in the mall which are, presumably, failing, How can he afford this if he is so destitute?

Screech is more annoying than ever this season and has become a caricature of a cartoon character. Seriously, if Bugs Bunny and Elmer Fudd strolled into Bayside one episode, they would still be more believable than Dustin Diamond’s performance this season. Screech’s incompetence is truly astounding and how he keeps a job, I’ll never know. Even when the writers do a clip show trying to tell us how awesome Screech is, they succeed in little other than showing us how much he sucks at life. At least he doesn’t have to be involved in every little thing the gang does unlike the first three seasons, but his presence is still fucking annoying and not appreciated.


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Given how many genuinely good shows are cancelled before they really have the chance to succeed, it’s truly astounding that this show just kept getting renewed season after shitty season. The burning down of The Max is kind of symbolic of what this season did to the reputation of the Saved by the Bell brand. I mean, by now, most loyal original series fans will say they abandoned ship, and very few have gone into the depths of the last few seasons as I’m about to. I’m convinced at this point that Peter Engel had blackmail on someone at NBC. After all, how else can you account for the fact that this show has now had more episodes than the original, which, though a silly but harmless teen show, is still considered a classic?

God I’m not looking forward to these last few seasons.


My Picks

We’re back this season to five episodes I hated more than the others since there were no episodes I even remotely liked. Please feel free to agree or disagree with me in the comments.

Episode 6: “Little Hero”: I don’t buy Eric as a football player for a second, much less as the star of the team. Add in a stupid cameo by Jim Harbaugh and the fact the writers completely fucked up Mr. Dewey’s character, and I just really hate this episode with a passion.

Episode 8: “Fall Formal”:  Last season, I was really hard on episodes involving R.J. This season, it seems I’m hard on Katie-centric episodes. I really don’t get what the big deal was, especially considering the beautiful dress Katie came up with. Add the clueless consumerism of Rachel and Maria and I really hate this episode. Oh, and one can’t help but mention that this is the episode the now-infamous air conditioner repair subplot came from.

Episode 11: “Renaissance Faire”: It was a really bad idea to have the gang put on a renaissance faire anyway, but to do so while making a regular character look like a complete jackass because, out of nowhere, he believes his girlfriend is cheating on him…god, what were they thinking?

Episode 21: “The Fifth Wheel”: Another Katie-centric episode in which she randomly rejects a good looking guy because he knows about science. How horrible of him to actually learn something more than the idiotic ramblings of The New Class! The subplot involving ugly jackets just made me hate this even more. It is, possibly, the worst of the Space Camp episodes.

Episode 26: “Fire at the Max, Part 2”: I normally wouldn’t put a clip show episode on this list, but, considering how badly this one resolved the cliffhanger of the first part, it had to be added. What made the writers think they could burn down a beloved staple of the franchise and then resolve the plot via clips? A mangled cameo by Slater didn’t help it at all and the whole “Ryan’s feeling guilty” thing was barely given mention.

The New Class Season 3 Recap

This season…this season had so much potential. After the cluster fuck that was season two, they had the perfect opportunity to start over and rebuild The New Class. So were they successful? Well, yes and no.

Taken as a whole, season three is much better than season two. Ryan and Maria were welcome additions to the cast (which I’ll discuss more when I analyze characters). There even seemed to be new life breathed into old, tired characters like Lindsay and Tommy D, at first anyway. And, for the first time in nearly a year and a half of watching this show, there was an episode I genuinely liked on its own merits. Season three seemed to do something completely unanticipated at first: turn around this horrible spin-off.

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For all the promise the new season brought in the beginning, though, there was so much disappointment in the ultimate payoff. For one, this season suffered from one of the same problems of season two: too many episodes away from Bayside. As I discussed in the season two recap, part of what made the Malibu Sands episodes of the original series work was that we’d had two years to get to know the same six teenagers. Setting an arc of episodes away from Bayside gave us the opportunity to see them grow more in a different setting with new supporting characters.

This is something the producers of The New Class never seemed to have gotten. The episodes set away from Bayside on this show fall flat because you’re replacing up to half of the characters every season. We don’t get to know these new members of the gang at all before we’re thrust into outside situations that we just don’t know how to react to. Add on to this that none of the characters ever develop in these episodes outside single episodes crises and you have a recipe for disaster. Not to mention I believe that a show about high school should set the majority of its episodes in, say, HIGH SCHOOL! Season three featured thirteen episodes set entirely outside Bayside. That’s half the episodes this season! If I were a new viewer, I could easily forget what this show is supposed to be about.

On top of this, there’s signs the producers were getting desperate. On several occasions, plots used in seasons one and two were recycled for a new episode in season three with the hope that no one would notice. On top of that, two episodes were completely rip-offs of the Zack Morris and Kelly break-up with only the location changed. Add to this two of the worst very special episodes ever seen in the franchise, and you get why I’m disappointed with how this season turned out. There was no effort in most of the episodes this season. At this point, it’s like the writers were phoning it in. I long ago gave up on the idea that this show may be as goofy and lighthearted as the original but, when I’m forcing myself to watch out of duty with absolutely no desire to see what happens next, something’s wrong.

As if that’s not enough, the time line of this season is nearly as bad as season two’s. I was having a hard enough time figuring out when all of this was taking place until that revelation in “New Year’s Resolution” just came out of nowhere that this entire season, including multiple trips and three months aboard a boat, all took place in four months during the first semester of this school year. I don’t think anyone thought this through. If there’s one thing that’s become crystal clear about The New Class over the last two years is they don’t give a damn about things making sense or taking place in an orderly time period; they’re just banking on the fact that you, the viewer, are such a moron you won’t realize that all of the things that happened this season could not have happened in four months.

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Behind the scenes, changes were happening as well. Not only did we lose supporting characters Milton and Ron, both of whom had been with the show since the beginning, but this would be the last season produced by Franco E. Bario, who had been a producer on the franchise going all the way back to Good Morning, Miss Bliss. I can’t find the reason Bario departed, but it’s unlikely he was upset at Peter Engel or NBC since he remained with California Dreams another two years. Bario’s often been credited as the third most influential person on the franchise behind Peter Engel and Don Barnhart, and his departure will signal a shift in the show next season.

Maybe it was time for new blood in this franchise.


Let’s talk characters.

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Let’s face it: for worse and worse, The New Class has turned into The Screech Show for the last two seasons. Screech has to be involved in everything and, if anything, his boundaries with his students gets worse this year, as he lets Maria talk him into giving her a better grade in Driver’s Ed and actually takes Rachel to a school dance. Screech is a creepy, creepy little man in this show and his importance to Bayside only emphasizes how the writers don’t seem to have a grasp of what administrators actually do in a school. On top of that, there’s some just plan mean scenes where Screech, desperate to keep his plan to bring Mrs. Belding and Little Zack to the ski lodge for Christmas, cruelly keeps Mr. Belding from getting to a bus just to keep the secret going. The fact that nobody sees through his incompetence is utterly amazing. If I’d been Mr. Belding, I may not have been able to restrain myself from punching Screech over the whole ski lodge thing.

The writers squandered opportunities to explore Screech this season as well. From his random breakup with Alison, who hadn’t been mentioned since last season, to his return to Cal U, there could have been some explanation about just why the hell Screech is still at Bayside after his year internship. Unfortunately, the writers didn’t think characterization was necessary for Screech so we’ll never know the answers to why we’re still being subjected to Screech so much.


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My theory on why Mr. Belding continues to put up with Screech is that he’s becoming a sad, broken shell of a human being with Screech’s constant idiocy. Think about it: why else would he not have fired Screech when he had the chance?  Mr. Belding’s presence is often baffling: he continues to take jobs at the mall, apparently needing the money to support his family, as if principals in Los Angeles County don’t make any money. Is he using all his money to bail Screech out of his constant foibles? I don’t know. It’s a mystery that will only deepen in season four, though.

For what it’s worth, I still like Mr. Belding. Mr. Belding is at his best when he’s being the kind, supportive, and caring adult figure in the gang’s life, and he had several opportunities for that this season. Unfortunately, he’s also at his worst when he’s painted as Screech’s lackey, especially during the ski lodge episodes. I’m still convinced the reason the original series got rid of Max was because he simply wasn’t needed as Mr. Belding’s character developed more and more. Unfortunately, The New Class doesn’t seem to realize that it only needs one adult character, preferably the more competent one and not the brain dead moron.


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Out of all the returning characters this season, Rachel may be the most baffling. Last season, she had a major arc during the country club episodes and her relationship with Brian overshadowed even the Tommy D and Lindsay relationship. This season, she’s just there most of the time. They’ve all but forgotten that she was a Lisa rip-off in season two and seem to just randomly insert her into plots when they can’t figure out who else is suitable for a particular episode. In fact, I dare say that every episode this season where she was the focus could have just as easily been Lindsay in her place.

What’s more, Rachel seems to have randomly picked up some of Megan’s old traits this season, such as being smart. Maria wasn’t a direct replacement for Megan, but it still makes no sense that Rachel just suddenly took on the role of the smart one in Megan’s absence when it had never been established that this was one of her character traits.


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Ryan was one thing they got right this season. Last season, Brian was, perhaps, the weakest character on the show. Ryan feels like Scott 2.0. It’s like the producers actually realized that it was a horrible idea to make their lead male an emotionless guy with a funny accent who has nothing to do other than talk about being from Switzerland and loving Rachel. Ryan goes back to the Scott and Zack Morris mold of lead male characters and brings energy back to the role that was drastically missing last season. In fact, it felt like Ryan was Scott at times, between his rivalry with Tommy D and his desire to date the most popular girl at his new school.

That doesn’t mean they used Ryan perfectly this season. Too many episodes involving Ryan revolved around his relationship with Lindsay, which felt like one of the most force and least developed relationships (and eventual break-ups) in the history of the franchise. I hate to say it, but I think I bought even Screech and Alison more than Ryan and Lindsay, which is sad, quite sad.


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The writers hardly did anything with Maria this season. She has very few episodes centered around her and her sole characteristic seems to be being an unlikable bitch, even towards her friends. So why am I giving her a pass over R.J.? Well, it’s for two reasons. One, she’s not a direct replacement for Megan. Instead, she’s actually an original character. I found that utterly refreshing in itself that somebody at The New Class looked at these six characters and decided to take a risk on something outside the normal Saved by the Bell formula.

Second, there’s hints of a character coming through. She was the only character to have been smart enough to realize R.J.’s talent scout was a scam artist and she geuinely tries to keep the identity of a celebrity in the mall a secret even when all her friends are being little assholes about it. At times, Maria is almost a female Slater, which might not be so far from the truth considering her name is an obvious feminization of Mario Lopez’s. I’m genuinely interested to see what they do with her character next season.


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I can’t exactly say the same thing about R.J. There was never a reason to give a damn about R.J. He was a slight improvement over Bobby but that’s not saying much. About all he had to do this season was be shitty to a girl in a wheelchair and show his idiocy in being conned by a fake agent. Most of the time, he was just there, and the show was no better or worse for his presence. Replace him with a coat rack and you’d have most of the same plots.

His actor, Salim Grant, has never had much luck in the acting business. His longest stint on a show other than The New Class was a two episode gig on Salute Your Shorts. Connoisseurs of bad movies will recognize him as Bill Cosby’s son in the horrible Ghost Dad. Grant has continued acting on and off through the 2000s. Today, he’s primarily moved into the music business and is a music producer with Rising Platform Productions LLC. He also maintains a Twitter presence, if you’re at all interested.


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I wrote in the season two recap that Lindsay didn’t really have much to do after she and Tommy D broke up. Well, this season they tried to remedy that by…having Tommy D try to get back together with her! And having Ryan chase her too! The problem with the episode ordering is there was never really much question where this plot was going since episodes away from Bayisde clearly showed Ryan and Lindsay together even before they started dating on the show.

Even more of a problem than that, though, was I never bought the relationship. The closest we saw to development was when Lindsay got pissed at Ryan for betting the money for Mr. Belding’s present, and that seemed pretty forced in an attempt to start a conflict that went nowhere. Other than that, we really just see the two of them kissing a lot, and not much more. So, when they broke up in “The Fallout,” I really had no emotional investment or care in their relationship. Other than not understanding why Lindsay fell in love with the human plot point as fast as she did, I really just didn’t care.

Maybe it’s good this is Lindsay’s last season. I honestly don’t know what they would have done with her for another season now that she’s dated Ryan and Tommy D.

Natalia Cigliuti hasn’t done bad for herself post-The New Class. She had a starring role on the short-lived Aaron Spelling dram Pacific Palisaides as well as alongside Mark-Paul Gosselaar in the only marginally more successful Raising the Bar. She’s had recurring roles on Beverly Hills, 90210All My Children, and The Glades, and you may have heard her as the voice of Scarlett in G.I. Joe: Renegades.


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Oh, Tommy D…

By the end of this season, it really felt like Tommy D was being kept around because they needed six characters. I don’t think the writers for The New Class knew what to do with Tommy D so they made him a complete moron. The rivalry with Ryan worked fairly well but it ended really quickly and without any bitterness, unlike Zack Morris and Slater’s rivalry over Kelly, and Tommy D often felt like window dressing. He just didn’t need to be there. The gang even seems to treat him like an outsider sometimes, as when they gave Lindsay shit for smoking but didn’t give a damn about him.

It’s a shocking devolution for a character that started out as a tough guy greaser who hates sports in season one to become a bumbling idiot who’s the football star by the end of the third season. It just goes to show how there aren’t any clear characterization plans for this show at all and that the writers seem to be winging it on the seat of their pants. In the cases of Tommy D and Lindsay, they just ran out of things to do.

Jonathan Angel has kept pretty low-key post-The New Class. For a guy that was once marketed as a new teen idol to replace Mario Lopez, he’s done very little and has largely dropped out of acting with the exception of a few low budget projects (including two, amusingly, as Han Solo) through the 2000s. This is even more astonishing when you realize that, according to the blog Cookies and Sangria, his father, Joe Angel, is a radio announcer for the Baltimore Orioles. Jonathan, if you read this, whatever you’re doing nowadays, I hope it’s more dignified an bringing you much more happiness than your The New Class gig.


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Many people have warned me that The New Class takes a drastic shift after this season, some for the better but much of it for the worse. Only time will tell what’s in store for the final year and a half of this blog. One thing is for sure, though: for a brief moment, in the year 1995, The New Class actually got better, and that gives me a bit of hope. I know that my hope will probably get crushed on the same rock that gave Screech his brain injury, but I’m determined to see it through to the end, even if it means subjecting myself to more horrible choices by St. Peter and his gang. Lord have mercy on my soul.


My Picks

As usual, I’m going to pick five episodes from this season that I absolutely loathed above all the rest. But, first, I’m going to do something I’ve never been able to do with The New Class before…

One Episode I Loved:

Episode 4: “What’s the Problem”: How surprising was it for me to realize that the first episode of this series I loved was a very special episode. This episode is well executed, believable, tackles a problem many in the target demographic may actually face, and utilizes Mr. Belding very well. It’s so good that Screech’s stupid sub-plot barely distracts from the episode itself. I was quite impressed and surprised, which is more than I can say for the other five entries on this list.

Five Episodes I Hated:

Episode 5: “Air Screech”: Good lord, this was a shockingly bad episode that assumes your basic view of humans is that they’re gullible morons who will buy anything they think is possible. And, okay, that may be true to a degree, but, come on, people lining up to buy shoes that are horribly spray pained? Ugh! It doesn’t help that it’s a Screech-centric episode, either. What makes it even worse is that it followed the one episode I liked! It also may be the worst episode to this point.

Episode 9: “Boundaries”: This one just pisses me the fuck off. They basically trivialized a very serious issue, sexual assault, and didn’t even have the guts to follow through on the plot or show any consequences for the perp; he just gets a stern talking to from Mr. Belding! It doesn’t help that the subplot is Screech being sexually assaulted by a pushy woman who doesn’t take no for an answer. Way to include a subplot making light of sexual assault in an episode on sexual assault!

Episode 16: “Screech’s Millions”: Ugh, another Screech-centric episode. Screech walks around talking in a fake accent that makes Thurston Howell III sound pleasantly working class by comparison! Add to that the fact that Mr. Belding finally fires Screech…but then immediately hires him back, and you have an episode that I’m very bitter about. I almost wished Screech had won a million dollars so I’d never have to look at his stupid face again.

Episode 20: “R.J.’s Handicap”: Both episodes centering around R.J. are painful, but this is a special kind of stupid that does nothing but make R.J. look like a jackass and make me grateful he left at the end of the season. On top of that, Maria’s subplot where she dates a guy who sounds like Gilbert Gottfried after he inhaled helium might be some of the most painful moments of television I’ve ever heard. To round out the badness, this is the first of the “Semester at Sea” episodes, which was just a bad idea. Bad. And I sure hope that The Suite Life of Zack and Cody didn’t copy this arc…

Episode 23: “No Smoking”: Nobody wanted The New Class to tackle the topic of teen smoking, especially in such a way that it makes everyone look like judgmental pricks. This episode does nothing but show how the writers for The New Class don’t understand at all why kids start smoking nor, if I was watching it as a teen smoker, would it give me incentive to give it up. This makes “No Hope with Dope” look successful by comparison.

The New Class Season 2 Recap

Good lord this season was a train wreck from start to finish. Where do I even begin with what’s wrong with this season that makes the first season seem like fucking Shakespeare by comparison?

On a side note, someone asked on a post early this season if the writers did anything following The New Class. The short answer is, according to IMDB, most of them didn’t work again after this show. This is no surprise to me. These people can’t write to save their lives. They’re hacks to the nth degree and how they kept this show going as long as they did is beyond me.

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Let’s start with the chemistry between the cast. Yeah, what chemistry you may ask? At least the season one cast members all interacted with each other on a semi-regular basis. I can count on one hand the number of times I remember Brian and Lindsay interacting this season. Tommy D didn’t interact with Rachel often and only talked to Megan when she gave him a boner briefly in the ski lodge episodes. They acted like they barely knew each other, and that’s a problem when we’re supposed to believe that these six people are best friends.

Let’s add in the fact that Rachel and Bobby were retconned in as long time friends. Where were they all last season? It’d be easy to say that the first season has been retconned out of existence, but “The Class of 2020” used clips from the first season, including one that showed Weasel. What’s more, in her single appearance in season one, Rachel didn’t act like she really knew the gang at all.

And the timeline of this season is just baffling. In “The Return of Screech,” it’s clearly established that Rachel is dating David but Brian wants to date Rachel. Rachel dumps David and starts dating Brian during the country club episodes. Screech also starts dating Alison during this arc. It’d be easy to say that these episodes happened in between seasons two and three, but, suddenly, around halfway through the episodes, Brian and Rachel are suddenly dating in the school episodes and Screech references Alison. Also, Lindsay and Tommy D break-up during episodes where Brian and Rachel are dating, despite the fact they were still dating during the country club episodes. To throw one more wrench in, Screech has his first evaluation, which is said to take place after his first semester, during an episode where Brian and Rachel are dating, thus meaning that my head is hurting so bad trying to get my head around when all this fucking shit is supposed to take place.

The answer is: god if I know, and I doubt the writers could have told you when it was all taking place either. But this season has much bigger problems than simple continuity and believability, my friends. This season has some of the worst characterization I’ve ever been unfortunate enough to witness.


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What I learned this season is that, if your spin-off of a popular series is tanking, the best thing you can do is to bring back the most annoying of the original cast members and center the show around him. Yes, The New Class has officially become The Screech Show. The show is now about Screech finding his way as a Miss Bliss figure at Bayside, if Miss Bliss had been born brain dead and without any redeeming qualities. The show now resembles Good Morning, Miss Bliss more than it does Saved by the Bell as it’s now about the adults and not the kids, something Peter Engel always claimed was unique about Saved by the Bell. Several times, the main plot of the episode was about our adult characters, and the gang were background characters, not integral to the main plot a all.

This is especially evident during the Goodbye Bayside two-parter. The second part could have been done entirely without the six kids. In fact, the second half pretty much was. The audience is having so much of an orgasm attack over Zack Morris, Slater, and Lisa being back that there’s no reason for anyone but Mr. Belding and Screech to even be there. So, they put the gang behind a curtain and then give them a minor role in singing the school’s song. Whereas some episodes of Saved by the Bell, such as “The Fabulous Belding Boys,” focused on the adults, they did so through the eyes of the kids, always filtered through their perception. Now, it doesn’t matter anymore because the adults really are all that matters.

The writers can’t seem to decide what to do with Screech, either. There are episodes where he’s basically a seventh member of the gang. There are also episodes where he’s supposed to be a responsible adult dispensing sagely advice for our regulars, which are the times I find Screech on this show the least believable. Let’s not pretend: the real reason he’s around is that the producers hoped Dustin Diamond’s return would mark a return of the fan base from the original series, something that was never likely to happen.

vlcsnap-2014-10-13-11h57m09s109So let’s talk about our other adult cast member. Mr. Belding this season seems to be there for the sole purpose of being a foil for Screech. His boundaries with the kids are worse than ever and he takes them on trips to a ranch and a ski lodge, something that may be questionable whether it’s actually allowed. He’s also their boss all summer at the country club, once again questionable, but I’ll talk more about the country club episodes in a minute. Mr. Belding is no longer the lovable, fallible principal guiding young minds into adulthood. He’s now a laughable buffoon slowly losing his sanity to Screech’s idiocy.

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Talk about a character the writers didn’t seem to have a clue what to do with. In the season one recap, I said Tommy D exists for three purposes: to be Scott’s foil, to be Mr. Belding’s mechanic, and to be Lindsay’s boyfriend. Well, Tommy D was certainly not a foil this season with the departure of Scott and they got rid of the third trait this season, which leaves him only as Mr. Belding’s mechanic. How dignified that Mr. Belding uses free student labor. Tommy D spends most of the season solely defined as Lindsay’s boyfriend. The odd thing is that the writers would every once in a while add random traits to Tommy D for no discernible reason. They made him Bayside’s star football player despite establishing in season one that he hates sports. They made him a good singer…because they wanted to rip off “The Glee Club” a second time and had no one else to do it with. They made him a passionate crusader for saving the school because…plot. With Tommy D and Lindsay broken up, I really don’t have any clue what they’re going to do with him in season three.

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Speaking of useless, Lindsay easily wins the award for most pointless character this season. When she isn’t fawning all over Tommy D like he can do no wrong, she’s making light of anorexia and getting drunk. The first half of the season, it felt like sbe didn’t do hardly anything but hang off Tommy D’s ar., especially in the country club episodes. This is because she’s solely defined by the men in her life, as evidenced by her jealousy over Megan and Tommy D potentially getting together. She’s also more than willing to forgive Tommy D being a stupid whore fucktard, and does so in one fucking episode. Yes, they managed to make “The Aftermath” seem believable by comparison. About halfway through the season, it was kind of like the writers realized, “Oh, shit, we haven’t done anything with Lindsay yet!” and so we got the stupid anorexia episode and the breakup with Tommy D, because there’s no better way to revitalize an underdeveloped character than to get rid of the one thing that defines her. They also randomly give her Jessie and Kelly duties, such as being president of the student council or a cheerleader, when the episode dictates, which makes no sense because it just makes me realize how little I actually know about Lindsay.

vlcsnap-2014-09-22-12h03m23s239Megan doesn’t do a whole lot this season, either. Since she’s no longer running from Weasel, she occasionally has one of Jessie’s quasifeminist rants to deliver, and she sometimes finds a guy hot, but that’s about it. Really, I can’t think of much she does this season other than date guys and rant about the beauty contest at the country club. It’s a shame: Bianca Lawson is actually the best actress out of all these fucktards, and she could have easily done a lot more had the writers bothered to flesh her character out. Instead, she just feels like she’s there because we needs six characters by tradition.

vlcsnap-2014-10-10-21h22m01s81Good lord, where do I even begin with Rachel? I don’t get why the writers brought her over from season one at all. Every characteristic they developed for her this season just made me question what we learned about her in her single appearance during season one. They unintentionally turned her into a giant whore, not only because she cheated on David with Brian in the country club episodes, but because her dating David means she was cheating on David when she went on her date with Scott last season. And, really, what else is there about her? The writers occasionally try to insert glimpses of Lisa’s fashion taste, but it seems almost forced and like a footnote. She sometimes is a cheerleader, other times not. She’s a complete idiot and doesn’t realize when Brian is helping her cheat. Could the writers turn her into a more unlikeable, unbelievable character?

vlcsnap-2014-10-10-21h26m53s184Turning Bobby into the bullied wimp in place of Weasel was a complete mistake from the beginning. It was not in keeping with any of his other characteristics: his confidence, his moral code, his compassion for others. I don’t think the writers even knew quite what to do with him. There was no real reason for Megan to reject him constantly as she did with Weasel. You couldn’t make him into a stereotypical geek like Weasel and Screech were. Thus, the worst geek quality we get out of Bobby is his love of singing. Oh my god! How horrible! He likes to sing! Give him a swirly now! It’s sad, because for a character doomed from the beginning to fail, Bobby actually had one of the most likable moments for any character from this season: when he anonymously gave Megan his tip money so she could win the tip contest. In addition, the attempt to retcon him as an unseen part of the gang in season one just makes the others seem…shallow.

vlcsnap-2014-09-22-11h58m53s95Oh, I’ve saved the worst for last. To give you an idea of what’s wrong with Brian’s character, let’s go on a brief tour through the other characters who have fulfilled the blonde leader protagonist role in this franchise (Scott is an honorary blonde protagonist because he filled the role).

Michael no“Hi, I’m Michael. I might have only appeared in one episode of Good Morning, Miss Bliss, but that episode established that I was rebelling because I was seeking attention following the death of my brother. I might have acted like a douche, but it was because I was unhappy with my life and searching for some validation for my existence.”

vlcsnap-2014-10-24-13h19m21s103“Hi, I’m Zack Morris. I act like a real ass sometimes and it can be very fulfilling to see me fail because of it. In the end, though, I come through for my friends. I’m very loyal despite my flaws and would rather lose some pride than lose a friend. I’m also surprisingly insightful at times when people need advice, and I have the awesome ability to freeze time.”

vlcsnap-2014-04-01-00h21m38s109“Hi, I’m Scott. I started out a huge unlikeable selfish douche, but something funny happened during my short time on The New Class: I actually received character development and became likeable. I had a consciousness and everything! Before I was dropped from the show, I was learning what it was like to be a part of a group and actually became one of the stand out characters from the first season.

vlcsnap-2014-09-14-19h56m03s122Now Brian.

“Hi, I’m Brian! I’m Swiss and I like Rachel!”

Yes, in twenty-six episodes, all I can really say for sure about Brian is that he’s Swiss and he likes Rachel. There are occasional glimpses throughout the season of the writers trying to make him more of a Zack Morris character, but it always falls completely flat because that’s not who he is. After he gets together with Rachel in the country club episodes, I think he very easily could have been dropped from the show with no adverse effect. He’s that superfluous. While the other five have at least a definable personality, Brian is a robot. A walking, talking, Swiss, Rachel liking robot. Why even create a character if they’re going to have less characterization than the Care Bears? And I’m not even convinced he’s really from Switzerland. He’s supposed to be an exchange student but his sister has an American accent! He’s almost like one of those bad James Bond villains who’s obviously trying really hard to be believable but completely failing at the task.


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Now one thing that needs to be mentioned about this season was how much of it was spent away from the school. A staggering eleven out of twenty-six episodes are featured away from Bayside. Most prominent was Palisade Hills Country Club, obviously supposed to be a rip-off of the Malibu Sands episodes from Saved by the Bell. The disturbing thing is that, unlike episodes of Saved by the Bell that took place away from school, all eleven episodes this season featured the adults, Mr. Belding and Screech, because the show is now about them. Why a school principal would need a summer job (when he’s supposed to be at school working!) is never explained. Equally baffling is the willingness with which the parents of our gang seem willing to just let them randomly go off to exotic locations with their school principal.

“Sure, I’ll let you go off in the mountains with your school principal! That doesn’t seem creepy at all!”

On top of all this, we were expected to just go along with the country club episode after having seen the new cast in action for all of one episode. Part of why Malibu Sands worked is because we had two years of the same cast and so we knew the dynamics of the characters. The New Class introduced three new cast members and immediately threw us into the country club episodes, which felt confusing and off-putting. The whole season was handled horribly, but the country club episodes just seemed confusing at a time when the writers should have been focusing on establishing character for our new cast rather than focusing on a summer vacation before the school year ever got started.

I already mentioned how poorly integrated these episodes are with the Bayside episodes. I don’t understand why the writers felt like the way to attract more viewers was to just throw as much at the show as they possibly could, hoping a core viewership would magically emerge.


Now it’s time to say goodbye to half our cast…again. Once again, I’d like to say why they departed, but there’s not much information available on this show as people stopped caring about it almost as soon as it aired.

Leaving this show may be the best thing Bianca Lawson ever did. After she left the role of Megan behind, Lawson scored regular roles in the shows Goode Behavior and Pretty Little Liars, as well as recurring roles in Sister, Sister, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, The Steve Harvey Show, Dawson’s Creek, The Secret Life of the American Teenager, The Vampire Diaries, Teen Wolf, and Witches of East End. She’s, without a doubt, the most successful former cast member from The New Class. This may seem baffling but she did come from an acting family. She continues to act to this day, showing why sometimes quitting your first job may be the best thing you ever do.

Christian Oliver has become a fairly successful German actor, appearing in a shit ton of movies and shows you’ve probably never heard of unless you live in Germany. I’ve not seen any of them, so I can only hope his acting in them is better than his acting in The New Class was. He continues acting to this day.

Spankee Rodgers appeared as an extra in a couple episodes of Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. After that, he dropped off the face of the planet. No one seems to know what’s become of him. About all that’s certain is that he left the entertainment business, which may be the result of being scarred on this show. Wherever he is, I wish him luck and success.


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With five more seasons of this show to go, I’m sure it will find a way to keep going downhill, though it’s hard to imagine at this point how they could possibly get worse than season two was. This show is a train wreck. It’s utterly contemptible and, yes, it is much worse than Full House. The fact that this lasted as many seasons as it did, with four of those season logging twenty-six episodes each, is insulting, especially when you consider all the good shows that are cancelled after one season. There’s a special place in hell for the television executives who kept renewing this show. I hope it’s a spot where they have to watch this shitty show twenty-four hours a day for eternity.


My Picks

Ugh, how do I even pick five episodes above the rest from this season that just stand out in their sheer shittiness? It’s like asking a kid to pick just one toy in a Toys ‘R Us. Okay, I’ll give it a go. Remember, feel free to agree or disagree in the comments below.

Episode 7, “The People’s Choice:” The moral of this story is: don’t put Screech in charge of anything. The fact that Bayside is portrayed as being so incompetent they have no idea how their athletic director is spending money is insulting, and this is where the retconning of Tommy D’s character really begins. Add to this the exaggeration of the importance of the PSAT, and you have a very stupid episode.

Episode 15, “A Perfect Lindsay:” This episode is utterly insulting in its portrayal of anorexia, a real issue among the teens this show is trying to target. Lindsay basically goes from normal to anorexic in the span of a few days, showing that anorexia is as easy to catch as the common cold. Bobby and Megan’s stupid subplot about dancing takes up half the episode so there really isn’t time enough to seriously talk about anorexia even if they wanted to.

Episode 16, “Back at the Ranch:” I debated between this one and “Wanna Bet?” Considering that half this episode is a fantasy sequence about Screech wanting to be a better cowboy than Clint, I’ll go with this one. This episode is about as believable as an episode of Scooby-Doo, after the added Scrappy. The fact that Screech ends up inexplicably being the hero is such a contrivance I dare say Ed Wood couldn’t have done worse.

Episode 20, “Drinking 101:” It was between this one and “The D Stands for Dropout.” Both are episodes that throw every cliche in the book at you to convince you how evil their subject matter is. This one would be laughable if it weren’t for the fact that some kid, somewhere watched this episode and believed that alcohol would instantly wreck their life if they even drank it for one night. The fact that they randomly decided to have Tommy D break his leg in the end put this one over the edge. This entire episode made me want to drink copious amounts of alcohol while reviewing it.

Episode 26, “Goodbye Bayside, Part 2:” Is it any surprise this one made the list? The first half is almost completely identical to part one and the second half is a flimsy, cheap excuse for the three cast members from Saved by the Bell who couldn’t find work to make cameos while the gang hangs around in the background wondering why they’re even in the episode. It’s a horribly scripted episode and whoever wrote it obviously has no idea how the sale of public property works.

The New Class Season 1 Recap

 

Season one is over, one of the worst things I’ve ever watched in my life. And the most disturbing part is that I’ve heard this is best season of Saved by the Bell: The New Class, that it’s all downhill from here.

There’s no better way to say this: Saved by the Bell: The New Class sucks ass.

What in god’s name made these people think that, if they simply hired six teenagers who vaguely resembled the cast of the original show and recycled story lines from the original that they would automatically have a good show?

The disturbing thing is, they were, in the long run, successful. As we’ll soon see, this show ran for seven seasons. Seven fucking seasons. How? Why?


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This is not to say the original was a stunning achievement of television greatness. Far from it. But a commenter (I think it was Mark Moore), hit the nail on the head as to why this show is not remembered today like the original class (and even Good Morning, Miss Bliss and The College Years to a degree) were: the cast of this show has absolutely zero charisma together. For all its faults, you could genuinely believe that Zack Morris, Slater, Screech, Kelly, Jessie, and Lisa were who they said they were: six high school friends trying to make it in the world with all its awkwardness.

On this show, I don’t believe for a second that any of these morons give a damn about one another.  None of the six really had any experience in professional acting prior to this show and it is really palpable.  Each of the six presents wooden performances that are only highlighted by Dennis Haskins showing them up with his Oscar worthy by comparison acting. Even some of the guest stars did a better job than the main cast this season. James Marsden, though his character was an unlikable douche, definitely demonstrated why he’s successful today despite being on The New Class. Hell, by comparison, the baby playing Little Zack is a fucking child prodigy compared to these idiots.

But, for all this shit, there’s one character who actually developed over the season, and it’s probably not who you think I’m going to say.

vlcsnap-2014-04-01-00h21m38s109As scary as it is for me to admit, Scott really does grow over the course of the season. He starts out an unlikable, irredeemable piece of shit whose sole ambition in life is to steal Lindsay away from Tommy D. Yet, throughout the season, we actually see him gradually develop a conscience. On one occasion, he actually feels guilty for trying to get Lindsay to cheat on Tommy D with him and stops his plan in the middle. Towards the end of the season, he actually dates a few other girls, and he seems to be becoming more socially adjusted. My god, given a few more stories, he could have actually become likable, so of course he’s one of the characters the writers jettison.

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They also jettisoned Vicki, and with good reason. Vicki didn’t do shit this season. No episodes focused on her. She occasionally has a supporting role in one of the group’s schemes, but she had no personality or life outside the group. Her one thing was being a complete dumb ass, which  grated on my nerves more than anything. They hinted at a running subplot with her having a crush on Scott but it only showed up a few times when it was convenient to the plot and was forgotten the rest of the time. Consider the fact that Vicki was jealous of Scott and Megan but not Scott and Rachel. In fact, she helped facilitate Scott and Rachel’s date!

vlcsnap-2014-04-26-12h34m03s218Obviously, Weasel was supposed o be Screech and he sucked ass at it. He received more shows with him as a central character than any other character besides Scott. He really didn’t do much, though. He’s supposed to be lifelong friends with Lindsay but this is only explored in one episode. He’s supposed to have an unrelenting crush on Megan, but this is dropped when it’s inconvenient to the plot. Hell, most of the time his entire existence on the show was defined in terms of Scott.

vlcsnap-2014-06-15-22h13m21s136Out of the three characters who made it to season two, Lindsay is the most understandable. For much of the season, she’s the only likable character. This, unfortunately, is also her weak spot. Lindsay exists as a sexy lamp shade for Tommy D and Scott. What little development we get apart from the boys involves Vicki and Megan being super bitches to her for no good reason. And she has exactly two emotions: super happy or “oh my god my kitten just died.”

vlcsnap-2014-04-13-09h15m27s149I don’t have any strong feelings towards Megan one way or the other. She’s an okay character but her characterization is so inconsistent. One minute, she’s a horrible super bitch to Lindsay. The next minute, she’s a super nice and even caring, even towards Weasel’s creepy sexual advances. I am glad they kept her and got rid of Vicki, but Megan just doesn’t do anything for me. I can’t quite put my finger on it.

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Oh god, Tommy D, why are you on this show? You exist for three reasons: to be Lindsay’s boyfriend, to be Mr. Belding’s mechanic, and to be Scott’s foil. You really have no purpose outside these three things this season. Even his one episode devoted to him was all about how the gang could take advantage of his impending driver’s privileges. It’s genuinely baffling to me why they kept him but got rid of Scott. A triangle in season two between Scott, Lindsay, and Rachel could have been a very good story line, even if The College Years did it already.


And now it’s time to say good-bye to the three actors who are leaving us. I would like to tell you why these three were dropped, but information is few and far between. Common fan belief seems to be that the producers believed the solution to all their problems was to shake up the cast and bring back Dustin Diamond. Diamond claimed in Behind the Bell that Robert Sutherland Telfer was fired for having very conservative beliefs, which is a bizarre claim since Peter Engel once served as dean of Pat Robertson’s Regent University, and, I’m sorry, but you don’t get much more conservative than Pat Robertson. I tend to think Dustin Diamond is full of shit and, for now, the true reasons behind the three’s firing will remain unknown.

For Isaac Lidsky, being fired may have been a blessing. I swear, looking up information on this guy, you couldn’t help but be inspired. He has persevered against some fucking tough odds. He quit acting and was soon after diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa, a degenerate eye disease that eventually left him blind. Even this didn’t stop him. Lidsky studied Law at Harvard and, in 2008-2009,, clerked for Supreme Court Justices Sandra Day O’Connor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg, becoming the first blind person to clerk in the Supreme Court.  Today, he’s CEO of a construction company and heads a charity called Hope for Vision that seeks to bring awareness and advocacy to degenerate eye diseases.

Bonnie Russavage managed to stay off the radar for a number of years until a blog tracked down her personal Facebook. (I’m not linking to the blog because I’m personally opposed to pointing out celebrities’ personal Facebook accounts without their permission.) Like Lidsky, Russavage quit acting. Today she’s divorced with a son and works as a recruiter for a company that seeks to find jobs for medical professionals.

Robert Sutherland Telfer is the most difficult of the three to track down. Wikipedia claims he got into amateur gymnastics after he quit acting, but he kind of dropped off the face of the Earth after that. I haven’t the slightest clue what he’s doing today, and that’s probably how he wants it, which I respect.


Saved by the Bell - The New Class

When it comes down to it, it’s baffling that this show survived its initial season. If not for Peter Engel and the Saved by the Bell pedigree, I have a feeling it wouldn’t have. It just goes to show that, with the right circumstances, even the worst piece of shit can manage to get a second season…and a third…and a fourth…


My Picks

You may recall that, for Good Morning, Miss Bliss and Saved by the Bell, I picked five episodes I loved from the season and three I hated. Well, I just can’t maintain that format here. Every single episode is detestable. Every single episode is cringe worthy. So here, instead, are five episodes of this season I hated the most:

Episode 3, “A Kicking Weasel:” Ugh, do I even have to say much about this? You don’t become a football star by being able to do field kicks. It just doesn’t happen. Add to this the fact that nothing is really resolved at the end and the bitchiness of Vicki and Megan towards Lindsay, and you have a painful combination.

Episode 4, “Home Shopping:” If you’re going to rip off the zit cream episode, at least do it in a believable manner. Seriously, chocolate memory may be the worst excuse of a dumb ass idea I’ve seen in this franchise yet, and I’ve seen “Jessie’s Song.”

Episode 6, “George Washington Kissed Here:” This episode is a mess. There’s so much going on that it’s like the plot is rushing trying to keep up. Scott’s an asshole in this episode, Lindsay’s an asshole, Megan’s an asshole, and Tommy D, the only one not being an asshole, is being told he’s an asshole. Oh, and lack of historical fact checking.

Episode 8, “Belding’s Baby:” Little Zack was the only good thing about his episode. The fact that not only was Mr. Belding seemingly bringing his infant son to work but that said infant son was also being hauled around Los Angeles by our brain dead characters in an effort to get Scott laid make this one even more painful to sit through.

Episode 10, “Swap Meet:” If you’re going to do an episode heavily focusing on comic books, you better do your fact checking or geeks like me will call you out in a heartbeat. Tommy D’s geek costume to get into the comic shop was just horribly insulting and Rachel could have been replaced with a vacuum cleaner with no change in the plot.


And so we reach the end of season one of The New Class. We’ll jump into season two on Monday. But be sure to check back tomorrow for a special review of Bayside: The Musical!