Wednesday, June 13, 2012
I think Milhouse Van Houten said it best: "I'm not a nerd, Bart. Nerds are smart."
Nerds are smart, so just what the hell are these monstrosities, referred to as "nerds," that populate the halls of Bayside High? I'm getting ahead of myself. I'll get back to this in a minute. First, a plot synopsis.
Kelly wins two front row seats for the George Michael concert, but probably won't be able to go because she's failed her latest science test. Seeing an opportunity to ease Kelly's suffering and get into her flower-print pants (probably), Zack asks Screech to tutor Kelly so she'll pass the next test, which is both a) conveniently later that week and b) worth 50% of the final grade. Weird, but whatever. If Kelly passes, Zack postulates, she will not only be allowed to attend the George Michael concert, but she will invite Zack to go with her because Screech is his friend, I guess? It makes sense to Zack, so, let's move on.
Screech--who at this point in the series is still smart, silly, and adorable--teaches Kelly about fusion, fission, and radioactivity. Kelly, in turn, develops a crush on Screech, much to the chagrin of Zack and Slater. Pretty soon every girl in school who isn't Lisa or Jessie is big time into Screech, which leads the gang into a group hallucination in which Zack and Slater are either nerds or severely developmentally disabled man-children with extensive lint and earwax collections, Screech is a tuxedo-clad secret agent, and Kelly wears a pepperoni pizza on her head. Obviously, Max has slipped them all a mickey. Probably why he disappeared after the first season. You can't clandestinely drug teenagers and expect to get away with it forever.
As this is Saved by the Bell, Zack and Slater devise a ridiculous plan to break up Screech and Kelly, who, it should be noted, are not romantically involved in any way. So, here's the plan: Zack and Slater convince Mr. Belding that Screech and Kelly are engaged to be married and then, I don't know, Mr. Belding is going to force them to stop hanging out? It's a dumb plan. I don't even think Zack and Slater know the endgame on this one. Belding does try to talk Screech out of his impending teenage wedding to Bayside's head cheerleader ("Screech, you can't elope!" "Who are you calling a cantaloupe, you melon head?"), in a scene reminiscent of Frasier at it's best. Or absolute worst. You decide, Fraiser fans.
So, Kelly takes her test, gets an A, and invites Screech to the George Michael concert. Screech hates George Michael and suggests they attend an "insect expo" ("I hear they've got a petting zoo this year!") to celebrate Kelly's achievement. The duo realizes that they are better off as friends and a bummed Kelly Kapowski--there's an oxymoron--gives her tickets to Zack and Slater. Cue the gay panic jokes.
Fantasy Sequence: I already mentioned it in the synopsis (see: "group hallucination"), but I do want to briefly examine the Saved by the Bell universe's concept of what a nerd is. Bayside's background nerds are smart, I guess, but mostly they are anthropomorphic dork costumes with goofy voices. And pretty much all of them are autistic. However, whenever Zack portrays a nerd character, as he does so memorably in "1-900-Crushed" and in this very fantasy sequence, he does so in the classic "dumb guy" voice. Sure, he's wearing the Bayside Nerd's brightly-colored plumage, but he speaks and laughs in the way I've always imagined Big Moose of the Archie universe speaks and laughs. Not only does he sound dumb, but he likes dumb things, dumb things your classic nerd would never be interested in (I hope), like earwax sculptures. That's all.
Totally Ridiculous: It's kinda shitty of Dr. Mertz to discuss Kelly's "F" in front of the whole class like that, isn't it? Pretty unprofessional, if you ask me.
Zack: Screech was being charming. He was using a spoon.