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'Bad Teacher' recap: Making the grade

Season 1 | Episode 3 | “Evaluation Day” | Aired May 8, 2014

It’s evaluation day at Richard M. Nixon Middle School, but our favorite bad teacher isn’t worried because fired teachers get really great severance packages and have a golden parachute, right? Wrong, Meredith. So wrong.

This week finds our teachers worried that the state evaluators will cut their budgets and fire them, so Principal Carl decides to visit classrooms to ensure everyone measures up. He starts with Meredith, who has devised a plan to bribe her students away from watching Breaking Bad long enough to convince Principal Carl she’s the best teacher. This results in a pretty obvious gag that included an Asian student reciting facts he’s read from the textbook. The joke is a little lazy for my taste, but it serves the greater purpose here: to make Meredith look like she’s completely incompetent while pretending to be completely competent.

PilotOf course, she comes out ahead in these visits, and Principal Carl pairs her with the uptight Jenny, who did the worst, so that Meredith can help her in her classroom. Cue the fake snores and snarky exchanges, including one in which, after being called uptight, Jenny retorts, “She’s too down-loose. You know, too loose, down there.” The exchanges between these characters are so funny. Because Jenny is so perpetually cross, it is such a delight to see Meredith mock her into a foaming little tornado of swishing ponytails and buttoned cardigans.

irenewithballoonsJenny, however, is no Irene; she plots to get Meredith drunk and make her confess her secret to good teaching. When Jenny asks how a night out sounds, Meredith says, “Like the most exciting night of your life, and the most boring night of mine.” Meredith drinks far too many vodka tonics while Jenny sips on her lime water. Meredith winds up telling her all about the bribery system and gives Jenny the ammunition she needs to sabotage her. By the way, Meredith is an adorable drunk, and she makes Jenny look like the chaperone at a party. But when Irene shows up with her pitiful red balloons, having been stood up by Meredith, the party doesn’t seem so fun anymore, and you kind of feel bad for Irene.

Meredith wakes up in the supply closet at school, still wearing yesterday’s clothes. She has a sad little one-sided confrontation with Irene, and Meredith realizes she’s been duped. In a scene that pays homage to the original film, Meredith slumps at her desk, sunglasses on, nursing a hangover, when the state evaluator comes in. Impervious to her flirtations and coy giggles, the evaluator says, “Ma’am, I’m completely aware that my looks are average.”

withevaluatorIn the most contrived moment I’ve seen on a sitcom in a long time (sorry, folks, it was pretty wooden), Meredith remembers a conversation she had with Irene about parasites and trots it out for her lesson plan about the American Revolution. The kids perk up like she’s giving away free PlayStations, while the evaluator looks as if she’s just invented the hall pass. The day is saved!

In other news, Joel teaches Principal Carl to climb the rope in gym and vindicates him from failing gym class so many years ago. He also works it into a pretty clunky metaphor about gaining his independence from his ex-wife Carla and his terrible roommate Ron. But his misery is part of what endears me to him, so I hope his newfound confidence only lasts as long as his rope-burn injuries.

Even though I’m finding Bad Teacher a little predictable in terms of story arc, I am willing to take it on its own terms because the cast is so fun, and they gel so well with each other, and I get a LOT of tweetable quotes every week. Meredith is not really a bad teacher, now is she? She’s more like a sorta-slutty-pretty-selfish-teacher-with-a-heart-of-gold.

How does “Evaluation Day” hold up compared to the other episodes? Tweet me and leave your comments below.

Bad Teacher airs Thursdays at 9:30/8:30 C on CBS.

For more insights and opinions on TV and such, visit honestreviewscorner.com.

TV Families | EW.com
Mark Harris
February 23, 1990 AT 05:00 AM EST

The Bradys are back, with a passel of 90’s hassles. Do they represent the typical American Family? Did they ever? Who does? Stare and compare!

Kind Of Family
TheBradyBunch 1969-74: Blended
The Bradys 1990-: Enormous
Married…With Children 1987-: Postnuclear
Thirtysomething 1987-: Extended
The Flintstones 1960-66: Modern Stone Age

Family Pet
The Brady Bunch: Tiger
The Bradys: Alice
Married…With Children: Buck
Thirtysomething: Grendel
The Flintstones: Dino

Typical Guest Star
The Brady Bunch: Davey Jones
The Bradys: There’s no room
Married…With Children: Sam Kinison
Thirtysomething: Carly Simon
The Flintstones: Ann Margrock

Expression Of Joy
The Brady Bunch: Groovy!
The Bradys: Ritual hugging
Married…With Children: ”Oh, great.”
Thirtysomething: ”Of course I’m happy for you. Really. But what about me? Why does it always have to be about you?
The Flintstones: ”Yabba-dabba doo

Expression Of Rage

The Brady Bunch: ”Hmmm…”
The Bradys: ”If you back away from something you really want, then you’re a quitter!” (the angriest any Brady has ever been)
Married…With Children: ”Aaagh, God, take me from this miserable life!”
Thirtysomething: ”I’m not angry, OK?”
The Flintstones: ”Willllmaaaa!”

Typical Problem
The Brady Bunch: Marcia and her rival both want to be the prom queen.
The Bradys: Bobby gets paralyzed.
Married…With Children: Al doesn’t buy his family Christmas presents.
Thirtysomething: Nancy gets cancer.
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney are staying out too late.

Typical Solution
The Brady Bunch: The prom committee decides to have two queens.
The Bradys: Bobby gets married.
Married…With Children: They hate him.
Thirtysomething: If only we knew…
The Flintstones: Wilma and Betty decide to follow them.

House Style
The Brady Bunch: Conservative but mod, circa ’69
The Bradys: Conservative but mod, circa ’90
Married…With Children: Roach motel
Thirtysomething: Enviable
The Flintstones: Suburban cave

Clothing Style
The Brady Bunch: Early Osmonds
The Bradys: Made in the USA
Married…With Children: Flammable fabrics
Thirtysomething: Eclectic earth tones; nice ties
The Flintstones: One-piece

Most Annoying Character
The Brady Bunch: Alice’s cousin Emma, the substitute housekeeper (too strict)
The Bradys: Marcia’s husband, Wally (chronically unemployable)
Married…With Children: Steve (supercilious)
Thirtysomething: Ellyn (goes through Hope’s drawers, babbles, changes hairstyle every other week, generally mistreats her friends)
The Flintstones: Mr. Slate (bossy)

Attitude Toward Sex
The Brady Bunch: Never heard of it
The Bradys: Omigod — even Cindy does it!
Married…With Children: Peg: Yes. Al: No.
Thirtysomething: They didn’t get all those kids by accident.
The Flintstones: Prehistoric

How Spouses Fight
The Brady Bunch: They don’t.
The Bradys: Infrequently, but it happens
Married…With Children: Tooth and nail
Thirtysomething: They stop talking
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney go bowling while Wilma and Betty max out their charge cards.

How Kids Get Into Trouble
The Brady Bunch: Greg takes a puff of a cigarette.
The Bradys: Carol’s grandson steals her business cards and sticks them in the spokes of Bobby’s wheelchair.
Married…With Children: By committing felonies
Thirtysomething: Ethan plays with a forbidden toy rocket.
The Flintstones: They don’t.

How They’re Punished

The Brady Bunch: ”It’s not what you did, honey — it’s that you couldn’t come to us.”
The Bradys ”Next time, ask.”
Married…With Children: By the authorities
Thirtysomething: It blows up in his face.
The Flintstones: They’re not.

What Family Does For Fun
The Brady Bunch: Takes special three-part vacations to Hawaii and the Grand Canyon
The Bradys: Has flashbacks
Married…With Children: Exchanges insults
Thirtysomething: Talks
The Flintstones: Attends showings of The Monster at the Bedrock Drive-In

Unsolved Mysteries
The Brady Bunch: How exactly did Carol’s first husband and Mike’s first wife die?
The Bradys: What’s with Marcia’s new face and Bobby’s blonde hair
Married…With Children: What kind of hair spray does Peg use?
Thirtysomething: Why did Nancy take Elliot back? What do Gary and Susanna see in each other?
The Flintstones: How does Barney’s shirt stay on if he has no shoulders? Where do Fred and Wilma plug in their TV?

Worst Behavior
The Brady Bunch: The Brady children once made Alice feel under-appreciated.

The Bradys: Marcia’s son Mickey watches Bobby’s car-crash tape for fun.
Married…With Children: The Bundy’s kill their neighbor’s dog.
Thirtysomething: Elliot has an affair and talks about it.
The Flintstones: Characters don’t wear under-clothes.

Best Reason To Watch
The Brady Bunch: This is what life should be.
The Bradys: They’re all grown-ups now!
Married…With Children: Terry Rakolta hates it.
Thirtysomething (Tie) This is your life. This isn’t your life.
The Flintstones: This is what life might have been.

Best Reason Not To Watch
The Brady Bunch: Blurred vision from rerun overdoses.
The Bradys: You’re all grown-ups now.
Married…With Children: She has a point.
Thirtysomething: After a while, you think it’s real.
The Flintstones: The Simpsons

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