Not-so-risky business

You know what they say about the ceramic bust of Elvis that appears in the first act…

Zack shows up at Screech’s house carrying a duffel bag and says he can’t believe Screech’s parents are leaving them in charge of the house for four whole days. Me neither. Zack puts his bag down and inexplicably becomes mesmerized with a ceramic bust of Elvis. Screech’s mom comes into the room and immediately freaks out that Zack is touching her prized ceramic Elvis. I’m assuming this is not the first time Zack has ever been to Screech’s house, so wouldn’t he already know about Screech’s mom’s most treasured possession? Anyway, Screech’s mom says that “Elvis is not a toy” and she would die if anything happened to him. Wait, is that foreshadowing? I think it might just be! Mama Screech bids her son good-bye and says how glad she is that he has a friend as trustworthy as Zack. What, is she new?

At school, Slater and Zack are ready to party down with some babes at Screech’s house, but Screech, consulting the extensive list of rules left to him by his mother, says that Rule 137 is “no parties” and Rule 130-something-or-other is “no girls.” Shouldn’t those be like rules 1 and 2? Apparently “no ripping up phone books” and “no loud burping” are not on the list, so that’s what the guys decide to do instead.

As the guys are telling the girls about their plans for the evening, Violet Bickerstaff (aka a snort-eriffic Tori Spelling) comes up and starts flirting with Screech, much to the consternation of her boyfriend, Maxwell Nerdstrom, the richest dork in school. You know, I feel kind of sorry for Maxwell. When you’re born with a name like Nerdstrom, your one-dimensional high-school personality choices are severely limited. Anyway, Maxwell basically acts like a pre-singing-and-dancing Captain Von Trapp to Violet, and naturally, Jessie takes the case on as her own, telling off Maxwell and getting Violet to break up with him.

Suddenly Violet is best friends with Lisa, Jessie and Kelly, and they’re all sitting around talking at the Max. Violet waxes poetic about Screech, and Lisa looks at her like milk just started coming out of her pores or something. The girls wonder what the guys are up to and Kelly says they’re probably seeing who can burp the loudest. The girls think this is gross, so naturally they want to go witness it firsthand.

Kanye West is so jealous right now.

Back at Screech’s bachelor pad, the guys are doing what all guys do when they have a house all to themselves: put on neon-colored tank tops and some of those glasses with little slats in them and dance around to “Barbara Ann.” The guys are so engrossed in their little performance that they don’t even notice the girls quite obviously pointing and laughing at them in the doorway. I won’t even ask how the girls got in without the guys knowing; I’ll just assume that everyone keeps their doors unlocked in the tiny town of Los Angeles. Anyway, the girls start dancing around, imitating the guys, and the ceramic Elvis statue gets knocked over. I totally did not see that coming at all!

Screech fears his mother really is going to die when she finds out about the statue. Cue the fantasy sequence, which features his mother as an angel. Although she has on wings, she’s flapping her arms like she’s in the last stages of Parkinson’s as she tells Screech that she forgives him for the statue being broken, but now he must apologize to Elvis—or Mr. Belding in a really bad wig, as the case may be. If you’ve ever wondered if Dennis Haskins could get a post-SBTB gig as an Elvis impersonator, the answer would be no. He’s really bad at it. Anyway, back in reality, Lisa tells Screech that she’ll track down another ceramic Elvis.

Seriously? This is the guy you want to run a poker scam on?

Which, she does, only it costs $250, which doesn’t seem like a lot of money, considering that there are seven of them involved in the whole Elvis-shattering incident, and they could each chip in about $35 to cover the cost. But why do things the easy way when you can do them with a Zack Morris scam? This particular scam involves Zack trying to hustle Max Nerdstrom at five-card draw. It’s worth mentioning that Max shows up to the game in full poker garb, including one of those little dealer visors. First rule of poker hustling: It’s not a good idea to hustle someone who has their own freaking dealer’s visor! Apparently, Zack is not only unaware of this rule, but is also completely unaware of any of the rules of the game of poker, including but not limited to bluffing. So it’s totally unsurprising that the hustlers become the hustlees and Zack loses all of his money and Screech’s dog to Nerdstrom. Like, who tries to run a poker scam when they obviously don’t know the first thing about poker?? This is the worst Zack Morris scam of all time.

But fortunately, there’s still time for Zack to redeem himself. He tries to sic Slater on Maxwell in order to get the dog back, but Maxwell happens to be equipped with a high-tech nerd alarm that alerts Belding whenever someone’s trying to hurt him. But Maxwell agrees to give the dog back if they can get him a date with Jessie. Slater and Zack know Jessie won’t like that, so they’re all about it. I would chide them for being horrible friends, but come on, it’s Jessie. She totally deserves it.

The second part of the plan involves throwing a party at Screech’s and charging $10 a head to cover the cost of the statue. Are there really enough extras around for that plan to work? Apparently so. Jessie shows up at the party with Maxwell (in a leisure suit, like does this guy have the perfect outfit for every occasion or what??), and Slater teases her that “once you go geek, you can never go back.” Well, Slater, I hear that once you wear a silk shirt, a patterned vest and pleated pants, you are officially gay.

And he’s tearing up the dance floor, too! Is there anything Nerdstrom isn’t awesome at? (Well, other than detecting human lips, I mean.)

Anyway, Maxwell says he won’t give the dog back until Jessie kisses him, which is kind of dumb because at the time he says this, his henchman (Sylvester) has already brought in the dog and given it back to Screech. Still, Zack can’t resist the chance to get in one last jab at Maxwell, and rubs the dog’s nose up against Maxwell’s lips while his eyes are closed. Max must have had his senses deadened or something, because he can’t tell the difference between human lips and a dog’s nose, and starts going into ecstasies about Jessie’s kissing prowess, insulting Violet in the process. Hearing this, Screech breaks down the finer distinctions between “dog nose” and “human lips” for Maxwell, calls him a squid and orders him out of the house. A squid! God, what a great insult!

But the fun’s not over yet, because Screech’s parents are home early. I so did not see that one coming! Not only is there a rager going on in their living room, Slater is still not back from purchasing the statue! But Zack has a plan, and this time it’s one that actually works. He tells Screech’s mom that this is an anniversary party, backing up his claim by pointing to the archway, where a “Happy Anniversary” banner just magically rolls down. Man, Zack’s super powers never cease to amaze me! Just then, Slater shows up with the Elvis statue, but he trips over his own homosexuality…um, I mean Mrs. Powers’ suitcases, and sends the statue flying across the living room. Fortunately, Zack is able to catch it and put it in its place of honor on the pedestal without Mrs. Powers noticing. The King lives again!

Quote of the episode:
“You can’t talk to my girl like that, you squid!” —Screech, to Nerdstrom

Grade: A
OK, so Tori Spelling isn’t exactly Rebecca DeMornay, and Dustin Diamond is a far cry from Tom Cruise. But I heartily condone any episode in which Jessie’s friends sell her off to a nerd and feel absolutely no remorse about it.

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