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.
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.
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.
So 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.
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.
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.
Megan 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.
Good 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?
Turning 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.
Oh, 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).
“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.”
“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.”
“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.
“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.
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.
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.
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.