When I decided to do a Saved by the Bell review blog, I had a choice to make right away: do I review Good Morning, Miss Bliss or not. After all, it was included in the syndicated package for Saved by the Bell, complete with a new Saved by the Bell-style opening (even though that makes no fucking sense given the differences in characters and settings). I decided this blog would not be complete without it, though, but I didn’t want to delay doing the actual Saved by the Bell episodes for thirteen weeks just to get Good Morning, Miss Bliss in first. So, I’ve decided to start both up at the same time. Since Good Morning, Miss Bliss only lasted thirteen episodes, it won’t take very long to get through. So the working plan is to do Good Morning, Miss Bliss on Monday and Saved by the Bell on Friday. Oh, and if some of the screenshots from Good Morning, Miss Bliss are grainy, it’s because I’m having to get the episodes off YouTube as there never has been, and probably never will be, a DVD release.
So, let’s talk about the opening. The video above has the original version of the Good Morning, Miss Bliss opening set to some song called “These are the Best of Times.
And, if you’re curious, this is the syndicated version when these episodes were released as part of the syndicated Saved by the Bell package, which features the Saved by the Bell opening with the Good Morning, Miss Bliss cast over top of it. The syndicated opening, of course, gives Mark-Paul Gosselaar second billing, implying he was more important a part of this show than he was, but I guess that’s expected considering Zack Morris was the epitome of girl’s (and more than a few gay guys’) wet dreams when Saved by the Bell was on the air. I guess I should be grateful that they at least gave Hayley Mills top billing since this was her show.
Anyway, we have a typical unremarkable ’80s sitcom opening complete with a bland, uninspiring cheesy ’80s theme song. Interspersed on the screen are various still photos of the cast member, which I guess are supposed to be establishing character, but really just serve to make every character look two dimensional. Miss Bliss looks seductive and serious, Mr. Belding does his best impression of a person with varying emotions, and the best comes from the kids.
I can’t tell if Dustin Diamond is trying to look like a Garbage Pail Kid in the left photo or if he just has a facial deformity that was cured by Doctors Without Borders. In any case, Mark-Paul Gosselaar and Max Battimo look content to just let him make a complete ass of himself, as they point at him with knowing looks on their faces, which is all the more disturbing considering Dustin Diamond appears to be coming up between them and through their armpits. Combined with the look on his face, I wonder what was he doing down below? Maybe it’s the real reason Zack Morris has let Screech hang out with the cool kids all these years.
So the episode: we open with a shot of an unnamed junior high school. It will remain unnamed throughout this episode. Hell, I had to look up on Wikipedia to even see what it was called: John F. Kennedy Junior High School in Indianapolis. Oh, this is going to be fun. I grew up in Indiana so I can’t wait to see how much they fuck up Indianapolis.
Anyway, a strange female British voice opens us up with a monologue as the camera pans over students who look way too old to be in junior high loitering in the school.”There’s nothing quite like the first day of school,” British lady tells us, “fresh faces, new clothes, and summer memories. No one is quite ready to give up those memories and get back to the classroom. Especially the teachers.” I guess we’re meant to know that this is the titular Miss Bliss talking, but, really, how the hell are we supposed to know this? It’s another few minutes before we’re even introduced to her. After just making the point that teachers don’t want the summer to end, we get a scene of the kids. What’s the point of setting up something about the teachers if you’re not going to follow through on it? Shouldn’t Miss Bliss just have said something about her kids and summer memories?
So we’re introduced to our three young male students, who apparently haven’t seen each other all summer. We have cool guy Zack Morris (Mark-Paul Gosselaar), who has just bounded down a flight of stairs to exactly where the others happen to be, stereotypical dweeb Screech (Dustin Diamond), and Mikey Gonzalez (Max Battimo), who doesn’t seem to serve any other purpose but to stand there and help deflect the homoerotic advances being made on Zack Morris by Screech. Oh, and to serve as a token Latino character of course. So, Zack Morris gives Mikey a high five and then lets Screech fall to the floor when he tries to do the same. I wish I could show you a screenshot of this, but a brilliant staging decision has a random extra moving through the shot right at the same time Screech falls.
Funny, in later years they will choose to show Zack Morris off as much as possible so horny teen girls and gay guys can go crazy over him, but his very first scene sees him completely blocked by random-extra-we’ll-never-see-again.
This is something I don’t get about Zack Morris’s characterization in Good Morning, Miss Bliss: it’s hard to decide whether he’s actually friends with Screech or whether he just feels pity for him and lets him stick around. Either way, Zack Morris looks quite satisfied that he allowed a boy who did nothing to him to fall flat on his face. You’re an asshole, Zack Morris.
As if to increase the homoerotic tension in this scene, Mikey reveals that his parents dragged him to a “sausage convention” (I couldn’t make this up, folks!) and he just got back last night, hence why he hasn’t seen Zack Morris all summer. Screech seems a little too excited to hear that Mikey saw a bunch of sausages. Zack Morris interrupts the sausage talk to tell them all about how he fucked a great girl at summer camp and she’s *gasp* in the ninth grade! What a scandal!
Zack is interrupted in his conquest bragging by a random girl who just butts in and asks why she would fuck an eighth grader like Zack. Oh, silly girl, if only you could see the teen magazines a few years from now. Turns out this is one of our two female students, Nikki Coleman (Heather Hopper), and she’s with our token African-American student, Lisa Turtle (Lark Voorhies). We’ll be seeing plenty more of Lisa over the years, but Nikki will fail to move to Los Angeles with the kids.
Oh, hell, why am I even trying to learn the names of these two characters who I’ll never see again after these thirteen episodes. I’m just going to call it like I see it: from now on, Nikki will be referred to as “Not-Jessie” and Mikey will be referred to as “Not-Slater.”
Anyway, it turns out that Zack Morris lied to get some of that great ninth grade poon. He told this girl he was in ninth grade as well. I hope this doesn’t come back and bite him in like five minutes!
Finally, after two minutes of meeting the kids, we finally meet the titular Miss Carrie Bliss (Hayley Mills). She’s in the school office looking over her school schedule with another teacher, Miss Tina Paladrino (Joan Ryan). Miss Bliss remarks that she finally has a school schedule that she can live with, but Tina isn’t so happy. Wait, it’s the first day of school. Why are the teachers just now finding out their schedules? Don’t they get those over the summer so they have time to, I don’t know, write lesson plans and prepare to teach? Nothing about this scene makes any sense and it’s obviously just an excuse to get most of our adult characters in one room with one another.
Tina has a throw-away gag here that she believes her bad schedule is due to her putting on a production of “Rambo and Juliet” as the school play. Actually, I wouldn’t mind seeing that one. Maybe Rambo massacres all the Capulets in order to get to his precious Juliet. Tina wants Miss Bliss to come to a water aerobics class on Wednesday, but Miss Bliss tells her she has better things to do, like getting a sweet fucking from someone named Brian. Tina’s shocked that Miss Bliss is going out on a school night, which is shared by the principal, Mr. Richard Belding (Dennis Haskins), who has quite a different personality from the same character in Saved by the Bell. Maybe it comes with becoming the token adult character of a series.
Tina briefly flirts with Mr. Belding and Mr. Belding just looks uncomfortable.
Tina conveniently exits so Mr. Belding can try and guilt Miss Bliss into giving up her sweet fucking with Brian and chair a PTA board meeting on Wednesday. Miss Bliss isn’t having any of it, and tells Mr. Belding in no uncertain terms that she’s going to make sweet love to her mystery man. The funny thing is she almost forgets that she has a date on Wednesday when Mr. Belding asks, even though she was just discussing said date with Tina thirty seconds before Mr. Belding entered the scene.
As the bell rings, a mystery girl enters and asks Miss Bliss where a certain room is, explaining that she’s new to the school. Miss Bliss says she’ll take the girl on the way to her own room. And wouldn’t you know, as they’re walking through the hallway, who would bound down the stairs but Zack Morris. Wait, didn’t we see Zack Morris already come down the stairs not four minutes earlier? Why did he go back upstairs if he just has to come back down? This staging doesn’t make any sense!
And wouldn’t you know it: our new girl is Zack Morris’s summer love, Karen. I love it when foreshadowing pays off! Zack Morris gives us his best surprised face. I’m glad Mark-Paul Gosselaar’s acting lessons paid off for him.
Miss Bliss is all like, “Zack Morris is getting some sweet poon tang tonight!”
Turns out Karen just moved to Indianapolis because her dad got a transfer and didn’t tell Zack Morris because she didn’t know while they were at camp. Wait, Zack Morris told Not-Slater he’s only been back from camp two weeks. Are you telling me that, in two weeks, her father got transferred and moved the family to Indianapolis? Agh, why am I trying to figure this out? If the writers don’t care, why should I?
Miss Bliss tells Zack Morris to take Karen to her homeroom and tap that sweet poon-tang. Zack Morris continues to lie to Karen and even lies some more, telling her he got his driver’s license and he’s going to have some sweet fucking in the backseat. Karen wants a ride on Wednesday, and Zack tells her the man won’t let him drive his car on Wednesday. Remember this, because we’ll be asked to decide whether we think Karen is an idiot or not later in this episode.
We cut to Miss Bliss’s class as she is explaining her rules and, right as she says not to show up late without a good excuse, Zack Morris runs in. Zack Morris uses the excuse of “hall terrorists.” Wait, why does Miss Bliss want Zack Morris to give her an excuse? She just told him not one minute before to walk Karen to his home room! God, the writers can’t be bothered to remember what they wrote in the previous scene!
Zack Morris is supposed to give a speech at the assembly as the eight grade student council representative. Zack Morris tells Miss Bliss fuck that and resigns. He tells Not-Jessie she can do it instead. If it’s the first day of school, how is Zack Morris even student council representative? My head hurts!
After the commercial break, we find Zack Morris and Karen in the cafeteria together. Zack Morris introduces her to Not-Slater and Screech, and it turns out she thinks they’re all in an experimental ninth grade that meets off-campus. In the teacher’s lounge, Mr. Belding interrupts Ms. Bliss’s reading to try to guilt her again into giving up her sweet fucking so he can get some sweet fucking from his wife. Miss Bliss ain’t having none of it!
I swear I hate it when this happens in real life. Miss Bliss is obviously trying to relax on one of her few breaks of the day, and Mr. Belding can’t think of anyone but himself. Typical.
Cut back to Zack Morris and Karen, and it’s time to introduce Karen to Not-Jessie and Lisa, except Zack Morris has trouble remembering Not-Jessie’s name despite the fact this is their third scene together and less than a minute later Not-Jessie establishes that she and Zack have known each other since first grade. Lisa starts babbling about some place called “Cosmo’s” that Not-Jessie says is the only hang-out in town. I’m sorry but Indianapolis has more than one place for teenagers to hang out at. It’s not like this is the middle of nowhere.
Not-Jessie tries to cock block Zack Morris, but does a piss poor job of it, and Zack Morris tells her to fuck off when the bell rings. Karen leaves to go to class but, before Zack Morris can escape, Miss Bliss comes out and asks him what’s going on with resigning from the student council. This is the last we’ll hear of this subplot so it really goes absolutely nowhere. Zack Morris tells Miss Bliss that he’s hoping to get some poon-tang but that he lied to her. Miss Bliss says if he hopes to get anymore sweet fucking, he better tell Karen the truth.
In the hallway, Zack Morris tries to tell Karen the truth but, before he can, she tells him that her parents are going to be away on Saturday and he can come over for some sweet fucking. He says fuck it to the truth and goes off to take care of his boner.
Finally, nearly eleven minutes into the show, we’re introduced to our final main character, Mylo Williams (T.K. Carter), the schools “maintenance supervisor” (glorified janitor) whose sole contribution to the episode is a throw away gag about Miss Bliss having to park a mile away from school while the parking lot is repaved. Bye, Mylo! Glad you were such an integral part of this episode!
Miss Bliss runs into Zack Morris and Karen coming down the stairs and, after a brief amnesia attack where Zack Morris doesn’t realize it’s the end of the school day, he tells Miss Bliss he’ll see her in homeroom tomorrow morning. Man, Zack Morris comes down those steps more than anyone else I’ve ever seen! Couldn’t possibly be because they’re convenient for staging! Karen finally starts to get a clue.
She sees through Zack Morris’s lies and asks him if he thinks she’s an idiot. Actually, Karen, yes I do think you’re an idiot. You believed Zack Morris when he told you he had a driver’s license that he couldn’t use on Wednesday and that he was in an experimental ninth grade off campus. It took a minor detail like Zack Morris being in Miss Bliss’s homeroom to get you to realize he’s a douche? If that’s how dumb you are, then I’ve got some swamp land to sell to you!
Karen tells Zack Morris to fuck off, that he’s a liar and he ain’t getting none of her poon-tang. Karen storms off, never to be seen again, and we have a brief seen with Mr. Belding trying one more time to guilt Miss Bliss into the PTA meeting. You would think she’s the only competent teacher there, but, judging from Tina, that may be the case. Miss Bliss rightly tells him to go fuck himself.
Back at Miss Bliss’s house, Tina shows up and says she was unable to find flowers for Miss Bliss to give to Brian but that she wants to make him tissue paper flowers instead, and there’s a short insane scene that’s broken when Brian shows up and sees a raving lunatic woman in his date’s house. Really Miss Bliss, why are you hanging out with this woman after work hours? If I were Brian, I would turn around and go back home. The only thing this scene contributes is to let us know that Tina is the music and arts teacher. That explains a lot. If her classes are anything like my middle school art classes, she works with scissors and glue all day. Must be the fumes.
After Tina’s exit, Miss Bliss and Brian sit down for a meal that doesn’t quite look romantic to me, but whatever.
We find out Brian is a doctor, but only because Miss Bliss calls him “doctor.” That’s a strange thing to call your date. Will he be expected to call her Miss Bliss now?
Miss Bliss goes in the kitchen to get desert and discovers Zack Morris is hanging around her backyard and peeking in her windows.At this point, I would call the police. I mean, I don’t give a damn if he is one of her students. How the hell does he know where she lives? Indianapolis is NOT A SMALL FUCKING TOWN! IT’S THE THIRTEENTH LARGEST CITY IN THE UNITED STATES! The only way Zack Morris could know where Miss Bliss lives is if he’s been stalking her!
Well, of course Miss Bliss doesn’t call the police. Instead, she invites Zack Morris in, and it turns out Zack Morris has stopped by to talk to Miss Bliss about Karen thinking he’s a total dickhead for lying. Couldn’t he wait until tomorrow at school? There’s a wacky misunderstanding when Miss Bliss lies to Brian about who Zack Morris is right after she lectures Zack Morris on telling the truth. Brian storms out and who can blame him after seeing a crazy woman there earlier than night and now one of Miss Bliss’s students roaming around in the backyard! She tells Brian that her schedule is not her own during the school year. Apparently she has horrible work boundary issues. But, alas, he’s not mad. He just has to go do some emergency surgery, and he tells Miss Bliss that she’s a wonderful teacher and he’ll fuck her some other time.
Zack Morris and Miss Bliss commensurate over some apple pie, and Zack Morris tells Miss Bliss that Brian was right, she is a great teacher. And, after Zack eats Miss Bliss’s pie, he completely gets over Karen. And we learn, through the miracle of exposition, that Miss Bliss has been widowed for three years, a fact Zack Morris somehow knew despite only being in Miss Bliss’s class one day. That must have been one hell of a first day.
There’s so much wrong with this episode. Why would anyone still want to date Miss Bliss once they found out it is a common occurrence for one of her students to drop by unannounced? And why does Zack Morris just feel like he can drop by unannounced? And what’s the lesson here? Miss Bliss was trying to get it across to Zack Morris that honesty is the best policy, but then she lies to Brian about something stupid with no consequences. It’s obvious the writers here have no sense of continuity, even with only one episode to work with! We’ll see if it picks up throughout the season but, somehow, I seriously doubt it. It’s easy to understand, though, why Saved by the Bell came out of this. Zack Morris’s scenes dominate the story and, other than a stupid subplot with Mr. Belding that went nowhere, Miss Bliss doesn’t have a whole lot to do that doesn’t involve Zack Morris. What does she do all summer? Sit around and pine for Zack Morris’s beefy pubescent muscles?
Firsts: Miss Carrie Bliss, Zack Morris, Screech, Lisa Turtle, Mr. Belding, Mikey Gonzalez (Not-Slater), Nikki Coleman (Not-Jessie), Miss Tina Paladrino, Mylo Williams, Zack Morris’s girl troubles, Mr. Belding’s guilt trips, Miss Bliss’s boundary issues, someone treats Screech like shit.