The New Class Season 4, Episode 25: “Fire at the Max, Part 1”

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Ah, Christmas at The Max! Unfortunately for me, Santa didn’t bring me the cancellation of this awful show. Well, there’s always next Christmas, if I’m so lucky. But it’s nice to see the writers of this show know the climate of Southern California so well they dressed our gang like they’re expecting snowfall any moment. Way to fuck up in the first few seconds there, guys.

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But the plot contrivance fairy did visit because Ryan, the guy who’s been characterized the last two seasons as being lazy and refusing to get a job is now working at The Max, and there’s absolutely no reason for it except that it’s convenient to the plot. I seriously think this is the laziest this show has ever sunk. The only way they could have done worse is have Screech spontaneously combust and cause the titular fire. Oh, wait, that would have been awesome! Best episode ever!

In any case, Ryan has Maria spying to find an awesome present for Rachel, and Rachel does the same with Nicky to find a present for Ryan, and vice versa. God, that’s hurting my head. Wouldn’t it have just been easier to fucking ask them what they wanted for Christmas?

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Also, Mr. Belding and Screech are randomly working at a Christmas tree lot because school administrators have so much free time when school is still in session. Oh, yeah, school is still in session, as evidence by some scenes at Bayside this episode. And, yeah, they provide the Christmas tree for The Max, and there’s some unfunny physical comedy as Screech acts like a dumb ass and makes Mr. Belding carry it all in.

Ryan decides it would be awesome to have a party at The Max and they’ll just put their presents to each other under the tree because none of them have homes of their own any longer.

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At the Teen Machine, the Glee Club practices for their upcoming Christmas concert. Yeah, of all places, we’re practicing at a for-profit club instead of in a classroom at school. Also, Screech continues to be a dumb ass when it comes to directing the Glee Club as he flails his arms around in the air like he’s a drunk guy directing air traffic and holds up random props for “Twelve Days of Christmas.” I guess some things never change except when they’re convenient to the plot, like Screech being competent.

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So everyone goes into the mall to buy presents, but the contents of the presents don’t really matter at all. Seriously, they don’t, except for the fact Eric’s a greedy ass and bought lots of presents for himself. Also, Rachel bought Ryan what are obviously skis and walks around hitting everyone in the mall with them because she wants her last two episodes to be classy.

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Meanwhile, Screech harasses a snooty lady over a salami log for Mr. Belding because he likes to eat. Maybe this is how Dennis Haskins gained so much weight over the years: Screech just kept feeding him incessantly. It’s as good an excuse as any I guess.

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At The Max, no one’s seen a Christmas tree before so they’re all shocked into awe to see that it’s possible to put lights around a dead piece of wood. They all decide to go have a circle jerk or some shit, but Ryan has to stay behind and lock up.

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The pay phone rings and Ryan answers it, not understanding that’s not the business phone. At least I hope it’s not considering how much kids have kept it tied up over the years. I assumed it would be someone breathing heavily and asking Ryan what he’s wearing, but, instead, it’s the store saying they’ve found a sweater in Rachel’s size. So, since the only thing you need to do to lock up a restaurant is turn out the lights, Ryan locks up. Geez, we’re lucky there wasn’t a grease fire that burned everything down. But, if any robbers are in the area, they can stop in as The Max doesn’t seem to have any closing cash procedures either. Oh, wait, it’s because no one ever buys anything.

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But, no, the tree spontaneously combusts. They’ll try to convince us that the lights caught fire because Ryan didn’t shut them off but, unless someone put lights in the middle of the tree, I’m not buying it. It was a miracle of St. Peter Engel.

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At Bayside, Ryan and Nicky are the last ones to hear about what happened at The Max but, yeah, The Max burned down. Also, fire trucks are still there because I guess it was such a bad fire it took ten to twelve hours to put out.

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Screech is devastated that the place where he hung out with the only six people who could stand him in high school has burned down, and Mr. Belding says the fire department magically knows they were the last eight to be in The Max before the fire, so they’re going down to an unsafe building at lunch to talk to the firemen and that maybe they’ll even let Screech turn on the siren to make him feel better.

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Yeah, this is the building that took so long to put out a fire: one where the exterior walls are still standing and the walls and furniture look salvageable. Hell, we can see the fucking Christmas garland still hanging in the background. Have the writers of this show never seen a building after a major fire before or do they just not give a shit? Why am I asking this question? Either way, it sucks!

Also, tragedy upon tragedy, the gang’s booth is no more and their Christmas presents were burned up to the point they’re still recognizable. Oh, the contrivance is strong in this episode!

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And meet Mr. Russell, the first owner of The Max we’ve seen in eight years. Mr. Belding makes small talk about being sorry The Max burned down but Mr. Russell says not to worry because he had insurance. Besides, he bought it for a steal from a shitty magician who liked to stick poultry in his pants.

The fire captain says the start of the fire was Christmas tree magic, and Ryan remembers he didn’t turn off the Christmas tree lights. Thus, the plot for the rest of the episode is that Ryan feels like shit because The Max has shitty closing procedures.

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At the Teen Machine, the gang are depressed that their new hangout is a shitty club that, until a couple episodes ago, wasn’t even open on weekdays. Ryan doesn’t feel guilty enough so everyone talks shit about him saying he’s a worse screw-up than Screech. So, of course, since we’re all about contrivance, Ryan hears every word they say and says they’re absolutely right about his idiocy.

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Screech has a breakdown about The Max and can’t flail his arms like a moron for the Glee Club, too, so practice is cancelled to continue the plot as Ryan runs off to blame himself.

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Back at Bayside, Ryan cashes in savings bonds to buy everyone presents and the same people who just called him a fuck up a few minutes ago now think he’s going too far in the guilt trip.

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Lucky for the plot, the gang aren’t running the school newspaper this episode, so two nerds run up and interview Ryan about what it’s like to be the person who burned down the second most frequently used locale on Saved by the Bell. To make things worse, Mr. Belding reveals that he’s now the confidante of Mr. Russell and has found out that Mr. Russell doesn’t intend to rebuild The Max, seeing an opportunity to split town and move to another show that doesn’t rely on tired cliche and paper thin plots, not to mention a chance to abandon the place where no one ever buys anything and which the school system randomly commandeers at their pleasure.

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After a commercial break, Ryan rushes into Mr. Belding’s office following the rest of the gang make bad jokes about fire and tells Mr. Belding that he wants a transfer, that he’ll always be known as the idiot who burned down The Max if he stays at Bayside. Mr. Belding tells Ryan he needs to suck it up and accept that shit happens, especially given that it’s not his turn to quit the show yet, but Ryan’s all, “I’ve got to go before Screech’s voice becomes even more annoying!”

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The rest of the gang find Ryan sitting in the middle of the lightly charred Max. They try to convince him to suck it up but he’s all depressed and shit.

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At the Teen Machine, we find out Ryan’s so depressed he didn’t show up for the shitty Glee Club concert, and the rest of the gang go on with the assembled extras as Screech suddenly figures out how to direct a choir for real. We get a stirring rendition of “Silent Night” to assembled mall extras who decided to come back just for the concert after being clearly seen in a previous scene because the producers were too cheap to pay for additional extras.

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And our episode ends by fading to black over Ryan still hanging out at the horrible fire scene that’s still safe enough for people to be constantly going in and out of. Oh, The New Class, once again, you fail to understand reality at all.

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