Season 5, Episode 12: “Graduation Day”

We open with the three cast couples really making it a point to show how much a loser Mark is because he’s the odd person without a significant other in the main cast now. It’s the last day of school and Mark wishes he had more time to get a girl to touch him, but that will never happen because they’re all repulsed by his mere existence.

Yeah, this is a Mark-centric episode. I’m sorry in advance. Also, this plot would have seemed a lot more natural last week when we were talking about regrets. Here, it seems forced and shoe-horned. But that’s the Engel-verse for you.

Of all the girls Mark could have a crush on, it’s Tara Reid, apparently because he hopes she’ll get him a job on one of the Sharknado movies one day when his acting gigs are slim pickens. Alas, though, she has taste, and she’s unlikely to ditch it in the next day in favor of our lame attempt of a protagonist.

Meanwhile, Sam is valedictorian because of course she is. Since it was established a mere few episodes ago that she’s the smart one of the group, they have to do this to make it look like the writers had a plan all along. But, alas, she’s now nervous to give a speech in public because talking is something Sam’s always struggled with on this show since ever. So one of our subplots this episode will be Tony helping Sam get over her fear of public speaking.

Principal Blumford is back one more time as well to moralize about the evils of drinking at graduation parties, and, yeah, the actor looks tired and ready to be done with this gig. Tara Reid is like, “Fuck you hippie! We do what we want!” and Mark claps entusiastically hoping she’ll touch him by the end of the episode.

In the hallway, we find out Jake and Tiffani’s teacher was Phil the Bum from Night Court, and, as they ass kiss about what a great teacher he is, he tells them they both missed a pop quiz, which means they get an incomplete and won’t graduate.

So many problems in logic with this subplot. How the hell does a teacher get off waiting until the last day of class to give this sort of information? Wouldn’t you just give the student a zero on the pop quiz and, as long as they’re otherwise passing, they’re fine? Why does one missed quiz count as an incomplete? Do the writers have any idea how high school works?

All these questions will remain unanswered this episode as we watch Jake and Tiffani cobble together a project to try and graduate on time because why not.

Oh, and Tony’s getting on Sam’s nerves about the valedictorian speech. Exciting stuff.

At Sharkey’s, Mark gets up the nerve to ask Tara Reid to some sober graduation party without wetting his pants, and she’s all, “Places without alcohol are uncool!” So, Mark invites her to a party at Lorena’s house since the set was available and Jake’s garage might seem a bit forced. He promises there will be alcohol a plenty, and he proceeds to convince Lorena off camera.

At the loft, some Stingray rejects bring in some beer, instantly sending all the band except Jake and Mark into a judgmental tizzy because alcohol is the devil in the Engel-verse.

Mark won’t be deterred, though, and jumps all over Tara Reid when she gets there in a scene so important that the camera isn’t even focused on them. He steals some beer from one of the Stingray rejects and proceeds to booze it up, which, in my experience, means someone’s going to learn a tragic but ultimately inconsequential message by the end of the episode.

Mark proceeds to sing a song to Tara Reid as they each continue gulping beer. It’s a good thing Mark has a different voice actor so this Mark doesn’t have to worry about alcohol affecting his singing ability.

Lorena starts getting pissed that her classmates are a bunch of morons.

And you know Tara Reid must be drunk as hell if she finds Mark touchable at this point.

We rejoin the Jake and Tiffani project subplot by Jake revealing they bought a Taj Mahal made out of pretzels. Yeah, I’m not sure why Jake’s bringing it out right now when there’s an entire house downstairs where he could stash it, but we need some wacky hi-jinks…

…like the football players getting hungry and eating it in fast motion while Jake just stands there and watches! Remember when Jake was supposed to be a tough guy everyone’s afraid of? Why does he never beat the crap out of anyone except Sly in this whole damned series? I get the urge to punch Sly; that’s a near universal. If he’s a true tough guy, though, why does he let everyone walk all over him?

Mark and Tara Reid decide to go get it on as Lorena kicks everyone out of her loft for being stupid pigs, and Jake and Tony decide they need to cock block him lest Tara Reid regret her horrible mistake in the morning. They basically trick Mark out of his keys by being smarter than him in every conceivable notion, but the joke’s on them: Mark keeps a spare key in his wallet just in case he’s outsmarted by people who are better than him in every conceivable way.

The band make their way to the party at Sharkey’s where the usual Engel-verse muzak is in high gear, which Jake, a rock guitarist, thinks are some slamming tunes. Principal Blumford’s already checked out of this show, though, and is busy jamming it up to the Village People and hoping there’s another Terminator movie before Arnold gets a movie career.

The fun is interrupted by a police officer informing the band that Mark’s been in a car accident, and I’m pretty sure he violates several privacy laws as he tells the entire restaurant about Mark and Tara Reid’s conditions. Mark’s fine but is under arrest. Tara Reid has some physical injuries. Lucky for her, though, the accident occurred before Mark could touch her in naughty ways, so the mental scarring isn’t there.

It’s time for graduation, but Jake and Tiffani haven’t shown up yet and Mark has to tell us all about how drinking is bad and shit.

As if that’s not enough, Principal Blumford has to shame the class for Tara Reid not being able to graduate that day, and he practically looks straight at Mark to give him the eye of disappointment. If I were a parent of this graduating class, I’d be pissed that the principal is choosing graduation as a time to shame one student, ONE FUCKING STUDENT, into feeling bad about his life choices. Seriously, what the fuck!

Principal Blumford calls up Sam to give her speech, but she says she can’t because it’s an Engel-verse tradition to make valedictorian speeches way over-complicated.

Just then, Jake and Tiffani rush in with a Taj Mahal made out of motorcycle  parts, thus bringing that thrilling subplot to an abrupt end.

Anyway, Sam yields the floor to Mark, and he proceeds to give what may be the most moralistic speech I’ve yet heard on a Peter Engel show. I mean, Jesus Christ, when this show gets preachy, it gets preachy, and I’m literally laughing hysterically at how ridiculous this whole damned episode is as my dogs look at me and wonder what’s gotten into me. Thank god someone had the good sense to realize this wouldn’t make a good series finale as it really may be second only to The New Class for worst graduation episode I’ve seen in the Engel-verse.

Anyway, it’s time to hand out diplomas, and each member of our cast, and no one else, gets to graduate, including a stupid last-minute revelation that Sam has an ethnic sounding last name she hasn’t been using the last four seasons, because that was so vital to the episode.

Mark even gets a touch on his shoulder from Principal Blumford for learning from the best how to be really moralistic when the script calls for it, thus fulfilling Mark’s three season quest to get someone to touch him lovingly.

Of course, Sly’s cap has his catchphrase on it because why wouldn’t it? This series is so formulaic at this point it makes paint by numbers look like abstract art.

And our episode ends with our cast and the assembled extras leaving PCH for the final time. This episode is a big pile of what the fuck. From an amazing level of preachiness I’ve never encountered outside of fucking Full House to half-assed subplots that went nowhere, I really am amazed how terrible it is. Of course, it doesn’t help that it’s Mark-centric and completely out of what little character he has, but damn! This was the best they could do for a graduation episode? This is sad!

“Must Be Love”
Mark singing

If it’s season five, it must be another repeat song. Yeah, it’s an okay song for what it is. What makes it amusing this time around is Mark taking chugs of beer as he sings, and then staring at Tara Reid as if they’ve been dating for ages. In any case, it is what it is: the Engel-verse continuing to save money on producing new songs because they really didn’t care about this show anymore, what with quality shows like USA High and The New Class being produced.

2 thoughts on “Season 5, Episode 12: “Graduation Day”

  1. If you want kids and young adults to stay away from drugs show them two things.

    First: Have them watch this episode. Then, Second: have them watch Sharknado 5.

    Tara Reid was so hot in this episode. Yes I know it was a mid 90s and she was most likely 18 to 21 at the time. But look at her now. Watching Sharknado 5 was painful to see her that way. She looked like the after photo of how drugs ruin your life. Sad.

    As with any Mark episode you just watch it and try to get though it. I said it before. Mark is like Voldemort. He’s the guy CD fans do not talk about or even say his name. I think it was Mark’s time in the rotation to have an episode so why not a “Very Special Episode”?

    BTW anytime I see Principal Blumford I just think Linda Hamilton will show up any second and brake his arm.

  2. Yeah this is bad. As an anti-drinking episode it’s cornball and one of the worst of the Engleverse, second only to Hang Time’s.The awkwardness of Sam calling Mark up to talk/apologize is handled badly, and the graduation part is like an afterthought. Reading/watching again made me realize how bad Mark is.

    Seeing Tara Reid is the only reason to watch it. The irony being the year after doing this, she ended up working with the Coen Brothers in The Big Lebowski. The Dreams cast would do nothing of note.

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