Monthly Archives: January 2014

Saved by the Bell Season 1, Episode 4: “Fatal Distraction”

Girl's ChoiceAh, lust is in the air at Bayside High as our opening shot establishes an upcoming “Girl’s Choice” dance. These things seem to show up in every show from this period, even though I don’t ever remember one actually happening outside the musical Hello, Dolly, but, according to the sitcom cliché handbook, they make for lots of wacky hijinks and misunderstandings, which means Saved by the Bell was going to try it sooner or later.

Zack arabAnd, look, it’s wacky racial insensitivity. An obvious white guy dressed up as a Middle Easterner is so hilarious! And it’s made even funnier by the horrible attempt to do a Middle Eastern accent that sounds more like a white guy doing an Indian accent. Oh, what will that wacky Saved by the Bell do next? Put a yamaka on a Christian and ridicule the Holocaust?

Anyway, our unnamed extra is looking for Zack Morris to ask him to the Girl’s Choice Dance and our Middle Eastern white guy directs her in the opposite direction. And now for the big reveal! You’ll never guess who our Middle Eastern white guy is!

Wait for it…

Wait for it…

Zack revealOh my God it’s Zack Morris! I never would have guessed! It’s like this show just keeps finding new ways to surprise me! I mean, come on guys, this reveal is on par with Dallas‘s “Who Shot J.R.?” episode or Twin Peaks‘s reveal of who killed Laura Palmer! This was more dramatic than the ending of The Sixth Sense or Brian’s death in Family Guy or the shocking reveal that Subway’s Jared gained weight again or the age-old question of how many licks does it take to get to the Tootsie Roll center of a Tootsie Pop! I almost shit myself when he took off his racially insensitive clothing and declares himself to be Zack Morris! This is one for the ages! Oh, Saved by the Bell, why did you never win an Emmy?

Zack Morris is denigrating other cultures in order to hide from girls who want to ask him to the Girl’s Choice dance because he’s hoping Kelly will ask him. Because that’s how I get people to ask me out: hide as racially insensitive stereotypes. Kelly hasn’t asked anyone yet and Zack Morris and Slater have a pissing match over who would be the better fuck.

Zack Slater argue

Kelly’s unimpressed and for good reason. I think she’d be better off staying home and using a vibrator than going out with either of these self-righteous egotistical misogynists. But this is the Saved by the Bell universe so of course that won’t happen. Slater tells Zack Morris he should just find another date now and, right at that very moment, Rhonda Robistelli appears on the stairs and chases Zack Morris through the hallway.

Rhonda

Get it, it’s funny because she’s masculine and butch and tall and more of a man than Zack Morris and Slater put together. We’ll see Rhonda Robistelli show up a few times this season, basically every time we need a gender non-conforming female to make fun of.

There’s a pointless scene in which Zack Morris tries to bribe Lisa into telling him whether Kelly is going to ask Slater or him, to the dance, and she basically ends up telling him Kelly is either going to take Slater or him to the dance. Thanks for that great bit of info.

Zack Morris and Slater have a pissing match at The Max over who has turned down more girls to the dance, and Jessie tells them both they’re worthless, disgusting pigs who should crawl in a hole and die. Lisa comes in and tells Jessie that Kelly can come to a slumber party at Jessie’s house and they have to fight Zack Morris off with a stick when he begs them to find out for him whether Kelly wants to ask him to the dance or not.

Max message

Max does a lackluster magic trick to deliver a message to Zack Morris and it’s from Rhonda Robistelli, and she once again chases him around a public facility. Oh, exaggerated gender stereotypes. Because they’re always funnier the second time around. And, for some reason, Rhonda Robistelli sits down with Slater, Jessie, and Lisa and tells them all about how she wants to fuck Zack Morris in the ass with her vibrator.

We cut to the multipurpose bedroom set, which is apparently serving as Jessie’s room again this week, and Zack Morris and Screech are breaking in through the open bedroom window. Because no one in the Saved by the Bell universe locks their windows when they aren’t home. Zack Morris convinces Screech to bug Jessie’s room by telling him it’s the only way he’ll ever find out what Lisa really thinks about him. Because shoving Screech in his locker back in Good Morning, Miss Bliss wasn’t an obvious enough sign. And Zack Morris apparently forgets about Kelly long enough to engage in some foreplay with Jessie’s Little House on the Prairie doll.

Zack doll

After almost getting caught and attempting to kill Screech by pushing him out the window, the wire is set up and Zack Morris is ready to illegally tape the conversations of his friends.

That night, Zack Morris and Screech listen in on the girl’s slumber party in the multipurpose bedroom set, now re-purposed to serve as Zack Morris’s room, using a reel to reel tape recorder from the ’60s. We have Kelly, Jessie, Lisa, and two unnamed extras who we’ll never see again engaging in delightful banner over who’s fucking whom and who sexually harassed whom. Lisa asks someone to pass the pepperoni, which obviously is an allusion to her wanting to fuck Screech. And we have a bizarre fantasy sequence in which the girls are all ga ga over Screech which has some very dated references about Screech being hotter than River Phoenix. The sad thing is River Phoenix may be dead, but he’s still a better actor than the Saved by the Bell actors. And the audience goes fucking nuts over Lisa saying the word “tingle.”

Screech fantasy

Lisa next reveals that she wants to fuck Michael Jackson, which obviously means she wants to fuck Screech. Oh, more dead people the Saved by the Bell girls are into. Kelly reveals that if she had to make her choice whom to take to the dance right now, she would take Zack Morris. This makes Zack Morris so excited that he screams loud enough from his house so that the girls in Jessie’s house discover the bug, and, after covering the bug with a pillow so the boys won’t be able to hear, Kelly devises a way to get back at Zack Morris.

Girls slumberpartyThe tape recorder starts working again, and Zack Morris and Screech think nothing of the fact they weren’t able to hear the girls for some time. The girls start playing a game about deep, dark secrets and, when it’s Kelly’s turn, she reveals that, when she likes a boy, she gets a headache, turns into the Incredible Hulk, and blacks out, only to wake up and discover that she’s beaten him senseless. Zack Morris and Screech totally buy it. They share a tender moment as Screech worries about the only person at Bayside who tolerates him being murdered by a girl.

Zack Screech tender momentThe next day, Screech, in a horrible Michael Jackson outfit, approaches Lisa in a horrible cowboy outfit and asks her to fuck. She tells him to fuck off before she cuts his balls off and shoves them down his throat.

Screech MJJessie keeps up the ruse by telling Zack Morris to be careful around Kelly, and Slater enters in a wheelchair with a cast over his leg, saying that Kelly did this to him but that she said she likes Zack Morris more.

Slater wheelchairI actually think our actors are better when they are lying in their acting than when they’re trying to tell the truth, which says something.

Zack office

Zack Morris breaks into Mr. Belding’s office to look at Kelly’s permanent record (because the principal’s office is totally where permanent records are stored) and discovers that Kelly was in a hospital for the criminally insane.

In a science classroom, Lisa knocks Zack Morris’s books out of his hands to give Kelly enough time to corner him and get him alone in the classroom after the bell rings. Looks like Zack Morris wasn’t saved by the bell this time! She puts on her best Hannibal Lector impersonation as she swings a baseball bat menacingly at Zack Morris.

Kelly batZack Morris runs out of the room in terror telling Kelly he already has a date and, surprise, surprise, it’s Rhonda Robistelli, whose idea of dancing apparently includes using her partner for weight lifting. Oh the gender hilarity never ends!

Rhonda dance

Two questions come to mind: why the hell is a school dance being held at The Max, and where the hell did Rhonda Robistelli buy her dress? The same place where Max buys his magic tricks?

Rhonda Robistelli exits to go to the pisser while Slater and the girls enter and reveal their little scheme. Jessie and Lisa planted the note in Mr. Belding’s files and, of course, Slater’s leg wasn’t broken. Rhonda Robistelli comes back in and tells Zack Morris she wants to take him back to her empty house and fuck him. He feigns having to be home in ten minutes and Rhonda Robistelli plants a big sloppy kiss on him as Max and two extras stare creepily in the background.

Rhonda kiss

And so we end another week of hijinks at Bayside High and boy has it been a week! Racial insensitivity, gender stereotypes, illegal wiretapping, Screech as Michael Jackson, and breaking into the principal’s office for revenge. I guess the lesson here is that if you dress as a horrible racist Middle Eastern man and wiretap your friends to find out if you’re getting some poon, you’ll end up tricked by fake files planted in the principal’s office and will have to go on a date with a masculine she-male. Oh, and your geeky friend will dress up as Michael Jackson.

Firsts: Rhonda Robistelli, racial insensitivity.

Good Morning, Miss Bliss Episode 4: “Leaping to Conclusions”

In our cold opening, Miss Bliss is trying to teach a lesson on the Civil War but the movie she ordered came with…just the film. Then her map tears when she tries to pull it down. Where has she been buying her supplies from, Goodwill? Something tells me there’s a little thing called a return policy that could fix this entire pointless situation.
Bliss film

After the opening, Miss Bliss and Tina try to convince Mr. Belding to approve new supplies for them, but he’s a cheap shit and won’t even approve new paint for an art class, much less let Miss Bliss take her students across town to the statehouse. He apparently hasn’t approved any supplies for Miss Bliss in three years, which makes me think he’s using the money to buy hookers and blow. He tries to give Miss Bliss her mail but she leaves before he can and notices a letter from Trump Hill Academy which apparently recruited two of Mr. Belding’s teachers last year. He assumes they’re trying to get Miss Bliss and, because he needs a competent staff member around, he declares to the little green gremlin on his shoulder that they’re not getting Miss Bliss.

In the science class…oh boy, the science class. Remember in the first episode when I questioned whether Miss Bliss was the only competent teacher in the school? I’m beginning to think that’s the truth.

science teacherThis is Mr. Morton the science teacher, played by a guy with Mario Lopez’s hair whose only major accomplishment seems to be a small role in an Elvira movie. Mr. Morton has a case of bad actor-itis so he has to overemphasize every line he delivers. He really makes the kids look Oscar worthy in these scenes.

Apparently it’s dissection day tomorrow, and Zack Morris and Not-Slater are a little too excited about the prospect of killing and slicing up another living being.

Zack Mikey slice and dice

Yeah, their role throughout this entire episode is basically to play the stereotypical assholes who really just can’t wait to think about anything but killing and slicing. It may be from watching too many bad crime shows on cable, but I think that’s a symptom of a budding serial killer. It makes sense now why Not-Slater didn’t move to California: he’s really Jeffrey Dahmer!

Mr. Morton seems even creepier, though, with a cardboard box that apparently has live frogs inside. I…don’t know what to think about this other than this is not the way things are done at all.

Morton animals

Not-Jessie, being the stereotype of the concerned eco-feminist, doesn’t want to do the dissection and looks visibly shocked in her boy scout uniform outfit.

Nikki shockedYes, it’s going to be a Not-Jessie episode that tells us about the evils of dissection in a heavy-handed way. The writers obviously want us to hate Zack Morris and Not-Slater and love Not-Jessie in this episode but I really just want to commit them all to mental institutions. Especially after Zack Morris tells Not-Jessie to lighten up because they’re only frogs. Yes, I think we have a future Hannibal Lecter in the making here.

In the teacher’s lounge, Mr. Belding comes in with a globe, which just happens to be one of the things Miss Bliss wanted, making Tina and Mr. Morton think that Miss Bliss is doing a little something something with Mr. Belding to get supplies.

Belding glob

 

Meanwhile, the boys keep acting like assholes towards Not-Jessie when she asks them to sign a petition against dissections.

Yeah, the screenshots of Mr. Morton doing really bad acting are endless.

Morton beaker

Miss Bliss comes to see Mr. Morton telling asking if he’d let Not-Jessie do an alternative assignment instead of the dissection. He says if Not-Jessie doesn’t do the dissection, she’ll fail. Yeah, no. There’s always an alternative assignment. If Mr. Morton really did this, he’s have PETA on his front door splashing blood on his lab coat.

Miss Bliss tells Not-Jessie the bad news and tells her to follow her conscience, which, of course, means stealing the frogs and setting them free.Nikki stealing

In the middle of a test, Mr. Belding calls Miss Bliss to the office and she places Zack Morris in charge of making sure everyone is being honest on the test. Yeah, that’s a law suit waiting to happen.

Zack in chargeZack Morris is in charge long enough to piss everyone off and then like only after a minute of Miss Bliss being gone, the bell rings. Really, why the hell didn’t Mr. Belding just wait for passing time to call Miss Bliss? It’s a lot easier than the law suits after the dictatorial regime of Zack Morris.

In the office, Mr. Morton says that he caught Not-Jessie letting the frogs go by the football field and demands justice after Not-Jessie says she did what Miss Bliss told her to do, which, of course, she didn’t. This is such a flimsy excuse to get Miss Bliss involved in this conflict. Mr. Belding, who’s still up Miss Bliss’s ass, takes Miss Bliss’s side and lets Not-Jessie off with a don’t do it again. Mr. Morton is, understandably, outraged. He thinks stealing is a crime worthy of capital punishment, which makes me all the more disturbed that he’s teaching young teenagers.

Back in Miss Bliss’s class, Tina is outraged that Mr. Belding cancelled her field trip to the ballet. She still thinks Miss Bliss is doing a little something something with Mr. Belding, which is confirmed in her mind when Mylo brings in a new TV and VCR, along with a set of textbooks, all items Miss Bliss wanted.

Bliss TV

Really, Tina, that’s not a television to get jealous about. That’s small even for late-1980s standards, which makes me think why anyone would think a classroom of twenty-five children would be able to watch anything on this thing. It looks like Mr. Belding went into one of his kids’ rooms and stole it.

The boys continue displaying aggressive serial killer tendencies towards Not-Jessie in the aftermath of the frog incident. For some reason, Zack Morris and Not-Slater suggest Not-Jessie should release the lettuce on the salad bard next because lettuce is a living thing. I’d actually like to see that, Not-Jessie throwing the lettuce down the football field screaming, “Be free!”

Not-Jessie goes over to Miss Bliss’s house. Really, what is it with Miss Bliss and boundaries with her students? Does she hold office hours in her living room? Miss Bliss tells Not-Jessie that she deserves the serial killer behavior because the other students have their rights too. But Miss Bliss has a solution: a computer program about frog anatomy on a rad 5 1/4″ floppy disk. Remember those things? We thought they were the bomb back in the ’80s. I doubt today’s children would even know about them.Bliss diskNot-Jessie thinks this means that none of the other kids will have to do dissections now but Miss Bliss tells her Mr. Morton has already ordered a new batch of frogs. I’m so confused by this plot contrivance. The subplot in this episode is that Mr. Belding is a cheap-ass when it comes to school finances so why the hell would he buy a new batch of frogs? And where did Mr. Morton get these frogs so fast? I mean come on it’s been a day!

At school the next day the whole Mr. Belding kissing Miss Bliss’s ass subplot is wrapped up when Miss Bliss reveals the envelope he saw was just a letter from one of the teachers who went to Trump Hill Academy. But Mr. Morton is pissed because his new frogs are missing because he’s apparently too much of a dumb ass to do anything but leave the frogs out in open sight, even though they’ve already been stolen once. Miss Bliss thinks he’s leaping to conclusions (haha! Title reference!) but Not-Jessie comes in with the box full of frogs. Mr. Morton tells the frogs he’ll make love to them later before he allows Zack Morris and Not-Slater to murder them in cold blood.

Not-Jessie reveals that she let one frog go, to which Mr. Morton threatens to give her an F. She says she learned a valuable lesson: that we always have to respect other’s opinions. There’s so much wrong with this lesson, starting with the fact that she is essentially saying that in any moral situation we must respect other people’s rights and opinions, or she’s no better than the things she’s against. Tell that to the French Resistance during World War II or Martin Luther King, Jr., or Gandhi. Are they immoral in the Saved by the Bell universe because they refused to respect the opinions of their oppressors? Are they no better than their oppressors because they fought against being oppressed?!?! Seriously, this is giving me a headache over here as I try to comprehend this backwards, stupid ass moral they’re trying to cram down our throats.

Miss Bliss tells Mr. Morton about the software and Mylo tries to give away Miss Bliss’s new visual aids, and we get a nice, arbitrary ending, all while Miss Bliss turns into a werewolf.

Bliss mad

I guess we’re left to assume Not-Jesse got what she wanted. After all, the ultimate moral in the Saved by the Bell universe is it doesn’t matter what stupid ass shit you pull. Everything will always work out okay.

First: Heavy handed moral episode.

Saved by the Bell Season 1, Episode 3: “The Gift”

Zack Morris’s monologue tells us that it’s mid-term time. Wait, didn’t they just get report cards last week? Whatever, this school has the most fucked up academic year I’ve ever seen. Anyway, Zack Morris tells us there’s one teacher whose midterms strikes fear into the heart of all students, and he yells it: “Terrible Testaverde.” Except I thought he said Terrible Testes at first. Seriously. Hey, it could have been a sex ed mid-term, and after the insane biology teacher last week, nothing surprises me.

All the students in the hallway suddenly shriek in fear.

Bayside scared

My favorite is the girl to the left of Zack Morris in the Betty Rubble costume whose idea of being scared is standing completely still with her hands on her head.

Apparently the gang has all become a nervous wreck over Mr. Testaverde’s mid-term, which is supposed to be nearly impossible to pass. Lisa has taken to overeating to cope. Jessie has turned to over-studying, and Slater has taken the opportunity to pull some rigged bets on Zack Morris in order to steal property from him. His latest involves throwing water balloons at Screech, which I guess he wins since Zack Morris doesn’t automatically throw a balloon at Screech, so Slater wins Zack Morris’s sunglasses. Oh, and Slater’s balloon looks like a boobie.

Slater boobie

Zack Morris challenges Slater to make a real bet, and Zack Morris bets his ham radio against Slater’s bomber jacket.Now this is an area I happen to know a lot about, and you need a license to operate a ham radio. Back when this episode was made, you needed to pass a test involving electronic theory and Morse Code. Something tells me this is a test that neither Zack Morris nor Slater could pass, meaning they’re operating ham radios illegally.

Slater bets him that Kelly will be the next one to run down the stairs, because she’s the only one of the six who hasn’t been seen yet. And, of course, Slater stole Kelly’s tennis shoes so that she would have to come back down to her locker and get them. What does she see in either of these guys, really?

That night, Zack Morris, who’s apparently using his ham radio to do bad impersonations of Elvis Presley in violation of FCC regulations, has Screech on his roof helping him disconnect his ham radio from the antenna. Once again, this makes no sense because all you have to do is screw the coaxial cable off the back of the radio. He never attempts to give the antenna to Slater later so why the hell is Screech on the roof? And yes, his bedroom is another reuse of the Jessie/Lisa bedroom.

In sitcom cliché number one million, Screech is struck by lightning and, rather than dying, simply has the least convincing Afro wig I’ve ever seen.

Screech Afro

Screech stumbles around drunk muttering about his dinner and turns on the TV by touching it. And wouldn’t you know, an episode of Saved by the Bell is on. I guess this is their attempt to be meta.

Screech TV

Edit: Reader Mark Moore points out in the comments that I may be mistaken about this being the exterior of Bayside High. I could have sworn this was the case but it’s looking like he’s right. It’s still a damned weird thing to come on Zack Morris’s television.

Edit Again: Mystery solved! The building used in the television is not Bayside. It’s the exterior of John F. Kennedy Junior High School from Good Morning, Miss Bliss! That makes it even more weird and meta!

JFK Jr High

Screech leaves, but not before telling Zack Morris to answer his phone…before it starts ringing! I sense a plot!

The next day, Screech has gotten over his bad-Afro syndrome, but he’s still seeing things before they happen. Lightning kills people, or, at the very least, seriously injures them. It does not give them fucking psychic powers! I wish this plot would die already. Screech keeps Zack Morris from being killed by some negligent workers installing a fluorescent light directly over his head. Really, I know this show bends the truth but I can’t imagine someone so incompetent they would work on a fixture directly over a teenager’s head. Screech sees some bad actors pretending to be “nerds” and, well, maybe we should play twenty questions to decide what Zack Morris is going to do about Screech’s new found powers. If you don’t know by now, you don’t watch nearly enough Saved by the Bell. You lucky soul.

In the classroom we finally meet Mr. Testaverde and OH MY GOD IT’S THE MICRO MACHINES GUY!!!

Testaverde

If you grew up in the ’80s and ’90s, there was no way to avoid this guy! He became famous because he could talk really, really fast and so he was cast on lots of different shows where he talked…really, really fast. Most famously for my generation, he was the spokesman for a line of miniature toy cars called Micro Machines that aren’t made anymore but should be. I have no idea what talking fast had to do with toy cars, but the commercials were unavoidable and are now classic.

Here’s to you, Micro Machines guy! Long may you talk!

So, of course, the Micro Machines guy talks so fast during his review session for the History mid-term that the kids can’t keep up with taking notes, and the bell rings before they can ask questions.

In the locker room, the girls are freaking out about the mid-term, with Lisa displaying traits of obesity as she can’t seem to get her mind off food.

Lisa chocolate

Jessie is equally obsessed as she claims she’s never gotten less than an A in her life. And, in a moment of insight, Jessie actually realizes that the three of them are only based on one trait each and, if she doesn’t get an A, she won’t be the smart one anymore.

Meanwhile, Zack Morris uses Screech to win a bet against Slater to not only earn back his ham radio but also get Slater’s bomber jacket.

Mr. Belding calls Screech into his office after learning that he got struck by lightning to make sure he’s still the same unlikable squeaky-voiced teen he always has been and always will be. Geez, I’m glad some adult gave a damn about whether he has brain damage or not. He could be comatose by now and no one would be the wiser. The scene goes nowhere, though, except for Mr. Belding having to admit that Screech may be able to see the future.

At The Max, Zack Morris is on his ’80s style cell phone making plans to take Screech gambling at the race track Saturday, which neither of them can legally do yet since neither of them are 18.

Zack cell phone

Zack Morris also decides to use Screech to find out the answers to the Micro Machines guy’s mid-term. With these answers, he bets Slater a week as his love slave he’ll get an A on the mid-term, which should automatically tell you that Zack Morris now wants to flunk the mid-term. Kelly overhears and Zack Morris decides to use the knowledge of the exam questions to invite Kelly over to his house to date rape her.

In Zack Morris’s room, he stares creepily at Kelly as she sexily highlights text in her book. He really wishes she’s highlight something else.

Zack Kelly room

Zack Morris tries to molest Kelly, but he’s cock blocked by Lisa and Jessie, whom Kelly told about Zack Morris having the answers and have decided they want the answers too, so they climb through his bedroom window. Seriously, why are the neighbors not calling the police when strange girls are climbing up trees and through windows? He gives them the questions so they’ll get the fuck out of his house and he can masturbate. After he’s done, he’s studying the three questions, but Screech comes in and tells Zack Morris that he’s lost his ability to see the future and is unsure if the test questions he saw are the right ones.

The next day, Zack Morris comes up with a scheme to keep the Micro Machines guy from showing up to give the exam. In the bathroom (why does this show like using the boy’s bathroom as a set so much), Zack Morris turns on all the water while Screech makes noise on some pipes. Zack Morris calls the Micro Machines guy on his cell phone pretending to be Mr. Belding, telling him that there’s a crisis at the school and the Micro Machines guy doesn’t need to come in today. Zack Morris then calls Mr. Belding pretending to be the Micro Machines guy and tells Mr. Belding that he’s contracted laryngitis. Zack Morris gives Mr. Belding the three test questions Screech saw as the mid-term. That was actually quite a clever plan, especially since Zack Morris knew it would have to work given the rule on Saved by the Bell that all adults are morons.

In the classroom, Mr. Belding comes in to give the mid-term, and Zack Morris thinks he’s won one over on the adults since Mr. Belding gives the three questions Screech saw. Everyone thinks Zack was right all along, but just then the Micro Machines guy comes in dressed as a Mario Brother.

Testaverde plumber

 

The Micro Machines guy and Mr. Belding quickly realize they were mindfucked, and Zack Morris rings, letting them know it was him that orchestrated the whole thing, because Zack Morris was apparently the only teenager in the world at this time to own a cell phone, and it couldn’t have possibly been someone else on another phone.

The Micro Machines guy gives the real questions to the mid-term and, the next day, Kelly has a C-, Lisa has a D+, Zach Morris has a F (meaning he has to be Slater’s love slave now), and, worst of all, Jessie has a B. Oh the humanity! Turns out the only person who got an A was Screech because he didn’t trust his own prediction and studied everything as a result. The girls are pissed at Zack Morris and Slater gets his bomber jacket back, because that’s apparently the first step to stripping Zack Morris. And Zack Morris orders the two of them some yummy pizza on his cell phone for their candlelight dinner later that night before they consummate their love.

Firsts: Zack Morris’s room, Jessie isn’t the smart one.

Good Morning, Miss Bliss Episode 3: “Wall Street”

In our cold opening, Zack Morris tells Not-Slater that he broke his father’s $300 video camera while he was on his roof video taping some twin girls down the street. Zack Morris is trying to hit Not-Slater up for the money to buy his father a new camera, which Not-Slater very reasonably refuses. They’re in eighth grade. Why the hell would Zack Morris try to hit up an eighth grader for $300? I don’t think I had $300 of my own that my parents didn’t give me until I got a job well into high school!

After the credits, Miss Bliss reminds us in voice over that the computer age is on us and we can bank, shop, and invest without ever leaving the house. Given when this series was made, something tells me that the computer’s capabilities were still pretty limited. But whatever. She’s tricked her students into learning about American business through putting $2 each into stocks using the classroom computer.

Mikey computer

Not-Slater goes on the computer (he’s apparently the only one competent enough to use the computer in Miss Bliss’s class) to check their stocks in Elliott Airlines, an airline they’ve apparently invested all $50 into, and Miss Bliss tells the class their airline was bought out by another airline, which they discover caused the price of their stock to jump $3 a share. The class decides not to sell their stock yet and, instead, wait and see what will happen with it.

We cut to Tina and Miss Bliss in the office. Now, before I go on, I have to point out that Tina is wearing the absolute worst fashion I think I’ve seen in this series yet. I mean, really, was this ever in style, even in the ’80s? Half my childhood was spent during this decade and I certainly don’t remember seeing anything this god awful hideous. Of course, she’s never been shown in class so maybe she’s off in the home economics room making her own clothes to match her insane personality.

Tina clothesMiss Bliss and Tina discuss Miss Bliss’s new sports car, which is to be delivered in a few days, and just in time because Mylo comes in and bitches about Miss Bliss’s old car leaking oil all over the asphalt. I’m sorry, Mylo, but if that’s the biggest problem in your job, you really have a stupid job. A parking lot without oil on the asphalt would be an unused parking lot. Mr. Belding comes in next and complains about Miss Bliss being successful in her job and actually getting her students to learn something. Seems he’s jealous they’ve earned $500 and claims that’s more than he gets paid. I’m calling bullshit on this entire scene because school administrators would not do the very difficult job they have if they got paid less than $500 a week. Miss Bliss tells Mr. Belding to go fuck himself, that she’s teaching over here.

The next morning, Zack Morris and Not-Slater break into school at 6:00 a.m. Turns out Zack Morris has a get-rich-quick scheme to sell the $500 the class has invested in the airline and put it all into potatoes. He claims that he read about a guy who got $300,000 in thirty minutes investing in potatoes. Yes, potatoes. They’re the miracle spud apparently. Of course, since Not-Slater is the only one competent enough to use a computer, he has to get him on board by inviting him to imagine his greatest fantasy come true: a private jet of his own with a naked Justine Bateman as the stewardess. I don’t even know what to say. This fantasy dates this episode and makes it seem creepy at the same time. But Not-Slater decides to do it, hard-on leading the way.

They run into Mylo on the way who wants to know why they’re at school at 6:00 a.m. Mylo, the better question is why you’re there. Something tells me that most custodians aren’t required to be at the school all night. Are you living there?Mylo Zack MikeyZack Morris and Not-Slater tell Mylo they’re there to use a computer to complete a class assignment, and Mylo totally buys it. Mylo must be the most incompetent staff member at this school if he doesn’t give a shit that two students broke into the school during the night to use a computer. He also must be the dumbest if he believes their story. Don’t worry: Mylo doesn’t tell a soul throughout the rest of the episode, rendering the entire scene pointless. Not-Slater still has reservations about using the money, but Zack Morris convinces him it’s ok and he’ll take care of everything.

Students cafeteria

In the cafeteria, Mr. Belding is still butthurt about Miss Bliss being a successful teacher. Meanwhile, Zack Morris is working to manipulate his fellow students into embracing the gospel of the potato. He’s convinced everyone in the class except Lisa and Not-Jessie to bow down and worship the potato, and finally convinces them with visions of shopping sprees and endangered animals. He also refers to Screech here as “Sammy,” the only time I ever remember any of the kids calling Screech anything other than Screech.

So the only real conflict we’ve encountered so far is about Zack Morris and Not-Slater selling the stock before they consulted the rest of the class, which has just been rendered void by this scene. At this point I was really asking myself why I should care. Why is there a risk? As Not-Slater points out, they only stand to lose $2 each. Did they need that to buy lunch?

Tina orgasm

Tina gives Miss Bliss a pair of red leather racing gloves to celebrate the purchase of her sports car, and she looks like she’s about to orgasm while stroking the gloves and thinking of Miss Bliss in the car. Miss Bliss tells Tina to shut the fuck up, that hot men are going to bang her in the car, not Tina. Boy, they keep mentioning this car. I sure hope something doesn’t happen during the episode to fuck it up. That would be a total surprise.

Zack dreaming

Zack Morris and Screech tell Lisa and Not-Jessie that potato stock is up $3,000, meaning each of them get $300. They wonder why people think it’s so hard to make money and decide their parents are sending them to school so they can make all the money. Yeah, keep telling yourselves that, especially when Zack Morris tells his dad about the video camera. Ironically, Zack Morris and Screech start dreaming of being in Malibu. Give it a few years, guys. Maybe the stock market is how three of them were able to move from Indianapolis to Los Angeles over a summer.

Not-Slater comes in and tells Zack Morris he’s worried about their investment costing Miss Bliss a lot of money. Turns out they bought the potatoes on margin, meaning that Miss Bliss has to pay back any money they end up losing. Ah, our forced conflict that hasn’t been mentioned before in the episode. I mean it’s like they just pulled this out of their ass at the last minute when they realized they had no conflict. And they expect us to care three quarters of the way through the episode.

Not-Slater tries to be the voice of reason and convince Zack Morris to sell now and get out, but Zack Morris doesn’t ever listen to reason. He’s a greedy fuck and doesn’t care about anything but his dad’s stupid video camera.

Potatoes drop

Miss Bliss hears rumors from Mr. Belding that the class has made a lot more money than she thinks they have, and comes in just as the class discovers that the price of potatoes has plummeted and they’ve lost all their money. Not only that, but Miss Bliss is now on the hook for $1,567. She questions our five main characters and discovers they were all in on it but doesn’t bother asking if the other twenty students knew about it. Still, she tells the entire class they’re the greediest mother fuckers she’s known in fourteen years of teaching and she hates them. Plus, she’s not going to be able to afford her sports car anymore and can’t get laid.

Bliss angry

Miss Bliss abandons her class to go to the office and spout off to Mr. Belding about how horrible she was to the students. Wait, those fuckers lost $1,567 of your money and you’re the one feeling guilty because you told them off? Come on, Miss Bliss, those fuckers deserve a lot more than what you gave them. Mr. Belding tells her she’s a good teacher and that he told her so. Glad to know you’re such a great motivator of your subordinates, Mr. Belding.

students guilty

The kids get a weekend to think about it and, on Monday, they all realize what greedy, stupid fuckers they truly are. They decide they’re going to have to find a way to pay Miss Bliss back. Zack Morris realizes he’s going to have to sell his dirt bike to pay Miss Bliss, and his VCR to pay his dad. Good thing he won’t have to sell his blow up doll. He really needs that. Not-Jessie thinks she’s become shallow and Lisa tells her to shut the fuck up and stop thinking of herself.

Mylo potatoes

Miss Bliss enters the room and the class tells her what stupid fuck-ups they are. She apologizes, too, and tell them they’ll always be her special angels and that she’ll give them wet slobbery kisses after school. Mylo brings in a sack of potatoes and Miss Bliss puts a telephone book on Zack Morris’s desk, telling them it’s now time to sell the potatoes because she wants to get it on in her sports car this summer.

And that’s seriously how this episode ends. No punishments for anyone, not even Zack Morris. They just have to sell the potatoes so Miss Bliss can buy her car that we’ll probably never hear about again. Please, paddle him, send him to detention, make him clean Mr. Belding’s underwear. Do something to punish Zack Morris for doing something so stupid and greedy! You gave him an F last week but this week you won’t do squat to him because you feel guilty for yelling at them? Miss Bliss, grow up and do your job! And slap Mr. Belding while you’re at it!

I hate this episode. It’s truly the first episode in the franchise I cannot stand because the writing is beyond lazy. This episode is truly insulting to my intelligence in every way and marks the first episode of the franchise where every adult in the episode is fucking useless. It sets a great precedent for what’s to come in Saved by the Bell.

Firsts: Adults are useless.

Site Announcement

If you follow Full House Reviewed, you’ll know that Billy Superstar reviewed his final episode of Full House this week. Billy Superstar was a major influence on me starting this blog and I am very grateful for his undertaking of the Full House project through the years, even when he thought it was painful. He has announced his new project: a Rifftrax style Saved by the Bell reviewed podcast featuring the guys from the Gentlemen of Leisure blog.

When I started this blog, I had no idea that Billy Superstar intended to do Saved by the Bell when Full House was complete. I contacted him because I don’t want to step on his toes, and he and I both agree that there’s room for both of our projects. I know I don’t have much of an audience yet (at least judging by the lack of comments left), but I encourage everyone who follows me to also follow the new podcast. I’m looking forward to seeing how much each of us catches that the other does not.

The Saved by the Bell podcast will be posted on Tumblr here. There will also be a link in the blogroll.

Saved by the Bell Season 1, Episode 2: “The Lisa Card”

It’It’s report card day at Bayside High. Boy, this episode really drives home how out of order these episodes really are. Episode two and we’re getting report cards. By episode four, I’m expecting graduation. Zack Morris enters and tells us all about report card day in his monologue. Zack Report CardApparently Jessie got all A’s so her parents bought her flowers. Kelly got all B’s and her parents bought her ice cream. Aren’t these kids in high school? These seem like inane gifts to reward your kids with for good grades, even by Saved by the Bell standards. Lisa made the honor roll so her father gave her his credit card to go buy something nice for herself. Is this really a thing? When I was in retail, we were told to check the name and signature on the card and not allow someone to use it who appeared to not be the cardholder. I really think Lisa’s father could have a case against this store. After all, selling Lisa anything on her father’s card is stupid.

But we still haven’t seen Lisa yet, and everyone’s aching to see what her new outfit, especially Screech, who can barely keep from pleasuring himself right there at the table about what it might look like, although Kelly looks excited over Screech. Screech excitedMax brings the gang their food in his new magic serving cart, which is basically a big box on wheels with a horrible looking curtain. The food comes out without any magic to be seen, and they ask Max what’s so magical about it. Max opens the curtain again and out pops Lisa. Lisa magic cartDo I really have to make any jokes about how creepy it is that Max had Lisa in his magic box? I mean, really, a high school girl popping out of your box. And no one seems to think anything about it. Lisa’s new outfit appears to be a glow in the dark neon yellow three piece that looks like she probably picked it up at Spencer’s on clearance. But, no, when the gang adds up how much she charged to her father’s credit card, it turns out that he’s now in debt $386, including for some “Man-eater Perfume.” I knew this series could get dark but cannibalism, really? Now we know what Lisa did to the guy who quit as her dance partner last week. The others encourage Lisa to keep one thing and take back the rest since they reasonably conclude that Lisa’s father will probably kick her ass when he finds out she’s charged nearly $400 to his credit card. But it turns out that the store wouldn’t let Lisa take back her stuff so she’s planning on running away. I don’t get why the store wouldn’t take it back. After all, most stores have a return policy, but that would complicate the plot.

Zack Morris enters…a room. Seriously, for a minute I thought this was Jessie’s bedroom from last week. It’s the exact same bedroom, only decorated slightly different. The fact that Jessie, Kelly, and Lisa are all there didn’t help matters in figuring it out. But I assume this is Lisa’s room since she’s packing her clothes to run away. Zack Morris, Jessie, and Kelly try to talk Lisa out of running away. Jessie and Kelly encourage Lisa to tell her father the truth, and we get a daydream sequence in which Lisa’s father does some horrible acting that I’m assuming is supposed to make him look enraged. Lisa's father enraged

Lisa's father bug eyesSeriously it doesn’t get any worse than this. I’m sure the writers were trying to go for the effect of Lisa overreacting, but it just comes off horribly and actually kind of detracts from the situation because you already know he’s not going to react like this. Oh, and Screech, for some reason, is dressed as the Grim Reaper in her fantasy, so I guess that means her father killed her with his bad acting. Or he at least kills any sense of her dignity, as she’s dressed as the worst attempt to copy the ’80s punk style I’ve ever seen. It comes off more like she’s dressed as Ragedy Ann. Lisa punk Jessie and Kelly suggest she try to earn the money back, and when Lisa points out she’s never earned a god damned thing on her own in her life, Zack Morris rips open his shirt and says, “This sounds like a job for Zack Man!” The audience goes fucking crazy, except he’s not showing any skin at all. He’s wearing a t-shirt underneath with a giant Z on it. Two things are apparent here: Zack Morris wears a Z t-shirt at all times just in case the time comes where he should need to rip open his shirt, and this is the most easily sexually impressed studio audience in the history of television. I mean, it’s not even a muscle tee that might at least show off what little muscular definition Zack Morris might have. Zack manThe next day at Bayside High we begin to see Zack Morris’s plan unfolding. And what a plan it is. You see, it appears Zack Morris has become a pimp and he is literally whoring out Lisa for money. Yes, the plan for Lisa to earn $400 is to become a prostitute. Except Zack Morris isn’t a very good pimp because he only sells kisses. The johns have to wait for later for the sweet fucking, including Screech, who bought a buttload of tickets.

I’d like to take this opportunity to introduce an important character we meet for the first time in this scene. He almost never talks and he’s never given a name, but we’ll see him show up throughout the series. He’s the background character that Billy Superstar refers to as “That Guy.” And That Guy will usually be seen showing the collective reactions of the rest of the student body towards our main characters’ antics. But here his sole purpose is to be the first to molest Lisa. Here’s to you, That Guy. I will be looking forward to seeing more of you in the future.

That Guy

As their oblivious biology teacher teaches about animal sex (and appears to want to participate in it herself), the boys start one by one redeeming their kisses with Lisa, to her horror. I think that’s called sexual harassment. This is as good a time as any to mention that, in the retool from Good Morning, Miss Bliss, it appears that all the school faculty became raving idiots. At least Miss Bliss and Mr. Belding were halfway competent in Good Morning, Miss Bliss. Here we seem to be going for the “all adults are idiots” trope of so many teen comedies. Oh, and the actress playing the teacher is Carol Lawrence, an award-winning musical theater actress, which makes me think this was a low point in her career. Carol Lawrence Zack Morris apparently isn’t even a competent pimp in how much he’s charging. Lisa’s apparently a cheap hoe, going for $1 a kiss. Zack Pimp Total And, at that very moment, Mr. Belding announces there’s going to be an earthquake drill, during which Screech tries to redeem his kisses with Lisa and we get a cartoonish sequence reminiscent of Scooby Doo in which which Lisa and Screech’s heads keep popping up above different tables as Lisa tries to get away from Screech. The editing is horrible on this sequence as well, as it’s quite obvious that it was shot in several different cuts, and one can see Jessie in the foreground under a table not moving at all. She apparently died from the shock of the earthquake siren. Zack Morris’s next idea is to sell Lisa’s clothes, and Screech wires up a system so that he can open and close all the lockers in the hallways simultaneously, complete with Lisa’s clothes inside. The sell goes on forever and one wonders why all the kids aren’t in class. Are the teachers all off smoking weed? The highlights of this scene include Zack Morris selling Lisa’s lingerie to Screech, Slater trying to keep Mr. Belding away from the sell, and Kelly in one of Lisa’s bathing suits. And, yes, the audience goes as fucking nuts over Kelly in a swimsuit as they did Zack ripping his shirt open, which this time they actually have a reason to. Kelly swimsuit

We’re also introduced to two more background characters we’ll see throughout the rest of the series: The Twins. They always dress in matching outfits and do the same things, because conforming to sitcom clichés about twins is the cool thing to do. Here they each buy one of Lisa’s cowboy boots.

Twins Boots

The scene between Slater and Mr. Belding is fucking pointless and adds nothing to the rest of the story, as Mr. Belding discovers the sell anyway, but we do find out a few things: we find out for the first time that Slater is a military brat and has moved around quite a bit, and Mr. Belding went to his high school prom with his sister (yay for Saved by the Bell incest), was in the army during the Vietnam War and apparently made sweet love to a Vietcong woman, and met Mrs. Belding while he was a towel boy on his college women’s swim team. Creepy. Mr. Belding returns to the hallway and discovers the sell in session. Zack Morris admits it’s all Lisa’s stuff and Mr. Belding assumes it’s all being donated to the school charity drive. It’s hard to tell if he’s serious, though, or if it’s a strange sarcastic punishment as the acting is just as bad either way. Lisa’s next attempt to earn money is by getting a job at The Max, which she’s horrible at. She spills three trays and Max isn’t even pissed. I guess it comes with what ever was going on in his magic box earlier. I should also point out that the tray Lisa is carrying has two empty glasses on it. Did the customers order some delicious air to drink? Oh, and he Velcroed the items to the tray so Lisa couldn’t spill it anymore, although I suppose he forgot to Velcro the drinks. Max Lisa tray Lisa is rude with the customers and the others help her take away plates before people can even finish eating with the logic that she can serve more people and earn more tips. No, that’s just idiotic since people aren’t going to tip if they can’t even finish. But no worries: Slater is there to extort the money out of the customers. And Max is in the middle of it all but doesn’t seem to find anything wrong with the gang ruining his business. Lisa’s earned $37 in tips, bringing her total between the kisses, the clothes sell, and her tips to $157, which is way more than I would have expected.

She decides to tell her father the truth, and he wants to take her out to the Sizzler (no joke!). This is the worst characterization of a father I’ve ever seen. Maybe in a future episode she’ll murder Screech and Lisa’s father will take her to Red Lobster to celebrate. Lisa begs her father to punish her but, instead, he tells her she has to keep her job at The Max until she earns enough to pay him back. Zack Morris and Jessie apparently broke into Lisa’s house and they rush into Lisa’s room at that moment to give her another $83. Lisa can’t accept it suddenly because she wants to earn back the money herself. More prostitution and yard sales are in her future I guess. And Zack Morris gives us the moral of the story in monologue: “The Lisa Card: don’t leave home with it!” Thank you Saved by the Bell for imparting this ageless wisdom to me. Maybe next week you’ll have a horrible nonsensical pun to give me on cheating on tests or prostitution. Zack Lisa card

Firsts: Dr. Turtle (Lisa’s father), Lisa’s room, That Guy, the Twins.

Good Morning, Miss Bliss Episode 2: “Love Letters”

So, first of all, it looks like someone has been talking up this site on some message boards and, to whoever is doing it, I want to thank you for helping to promote me. I do this site out of love and means so much to me to know that someone enjoys it enough to tell others about it! Keep it up!

This episode, unlike the first, starts with a cold open: as Miss Bliss walks through the hallway, she’s stopped by Screech, who wants advice on love, and we get Screech’s real first name for the first time, “Samuel,” which only Miss Bliss calls him. Seems there’s a certain girl he wants to get it on with, and anyone who’s watched any amount of Saved by the Bell will know that Screech is obsessed with Lisa. And I do mean obsessed, to the point that today it would probably be considered sexual harassment. Screech wants to know why he gets a boner every time this certain girl walks by, and she tells him it’s because he wants her in the sack. He then asks how to tell if the girl wants to fuck him too and Miss Bliss tells him that he’ll just know. Screech decides to put this to the test by saying hi to Lisa, and she promptly shoves him into his locker. He thinks this means she likes him. Oh, the naivete! It’s so hilariously expected that I forgot to laugh! Lisa-Screech lockerAfter the credits, we find ourselves in Miss Bliss’s room, where she tells us in voice over about Screech being in love, which we already knew if we watched the cold opening. I guess these voice overs are going to be a regular thing on this show. Just as the bell rings, Miss Bliss reminds the class that their term papers on the War of 1812, which are worth twenty percent of their grade, are due at the end of the week. Zack Morris looks panicked and Miss Bliss holds him back momentarily, telling him there better not be any funny stuff with his paper or she’s going to smack the shit out of him. Seriously, did he really use his grandma spontaneously combusting while reading his paper as an excuse? Last week he convinced Karen he had a driver’s license he couldn’t use on Wednesdays and this week he has this excuse. Eighth grade Zack Morris has the worst excuses ever. I also have to assume that Zack Morris has been in Miss Bliss’s class before, but they don’t explicitly tell us this.

Zack Morris offers Screech a favor in exchange for Screech writing his term paper for him. Screech tells Zack Morris that he wants a date with Lisa, and Zack Morris is understandably skeptical of the chances. Zack skepticalZack Morris tells Screech he’ll make it happen, despite the fact that Lisa apparently dumped Spaghetti-Os on his head last week. We then cut to Lisa standing at her locker with Not-Jessie, reading a love letter from a secret admirer. Geez, I wonder who could have possibly written it? I’m in such suspense! How will I ever contain myself! Not-Jessie is skeptical and thinks Lisa wrote the letter to herself, but apparently she’s convinced when Lisa says it would make her fingernails break. Of course this comment makes no sense until we find out later the letter was typed, but whatever.

We cut to a wacky collision as Miss Bliss, a hunky substitute teacher, and Lisa all collide, knocking their papers on the floor. Lisa grabs her papers and hurries to class, while Mr. Belding comes out and chews out the teachers for being in the hallway trying to fuck when their unsupervised teenagers are in the room.Collison

 

After a commercial break, Miss Bliss and Tina are at Miss Bliss’s house grading papers. Tina finds a secret admirer letter in the pile of papers and convinces Miss Bliss the hunky substitute teacher slipped it in when he dropped his papers and wants to bang her. Or, just as easily, it could have been written for someone else and Miss Bliss just happened to pick it up. But never mind reason and multiple possibilities when we need to move the plot along! Let’s just jump to conclusions! Gee, I wonder what’s going to happen?

Back at school, Lisa is obsessing to Not-Jessie about who could possibly want to bang her.

Lisa obsessing

In the teacher’s lounge, Tina pushes Miss Bliss into making her move on the hunky substitute. She sits down and tells Mr. Hunk that they can fuck when he’s done substituting at the school, and Mr. Hunk asks if he can bring his wife. Oh, and Mylo is listening in for part of it, but it goes absolutely nowhere, proving Mylo to be a useless character two episodes in a row.

Mylo easedropping

Miss Bliss realizes that Mr. Hunk didn’t give her the letter

Back in the cafeteria, Screech sees Lisa obsessing and wants to make his move, but Zack Morris holds him back and tells Screech to trust him. I bet you didn’t see this one coming, but the letter was written by Zack Morris in an effort to get Screech to write his term paper for him, and he’s going to write another one to turn up the heat for Lisa (and give Screech time to finish the paper)! Oh, the surprises and twists and turns this episode is taking! I just can’t keep up! Wait, why is Screech taking love advice from Zack Morris after the Karen fiasco last week? I think Zack Morris adequately proved he has no idea what he’s talking about when it comes to girls.

Back to the teachers lounge, and Miss Bliss and Tina have decided that the only other logical conclusion is that the letter is from Mr. Belding, who just happens, after a brief commercial break and by the magic of plot contrivance, to walk in at that very moment and, through narrative oversharing, tells Miss Bliss that his wife is out of town and he feels lonely. Mr. Belding tells Miss Bliss he’ll come by her room after school for some requisition forms, which she decides is code for hot fucking, and tells him to come by during class instead. Oh these wacky misunderstandings! When will they end?

Zack Morris and Screech have gone into the restroom of all places so Zack Morris can read the new note for Screech. The new note finally tells Lisa to meet her mystery admirer in the cafeteria after school the next day for some hot fucking. Wait, really, did they not have a better set they could do this in but a restroom? I mean that’s where Mr. Belding goes poo! But, yeah, Zack Morris gives Screech the note and Screech gives Zach Morris the term paper.

Zack Screech noteIn Miss Bliss’s room, Lisa and Not-Jessie read the new note while Miss Bliss finishes up the requisition papers. Not-Jessie tries to tell Lisa that no self-respecting man would want hot fucking in a cafeteria, but she won’t listen. Miss Bliss confiscates the note and places it right on top of the requisition papers that Mr. Belding wants. Oh, man, these twists and turns just keep coming!

Mr. Belding comes in for the requisition papers and, wouldn’t you know it, Mr. Belding accidentally takes Lisa’s note as well. When will the writers stop with all these surprises? And, of course, because the plot demands it, Mr. Belding reads the note in the hallway and automatically assumes it’s from Miss Bliss to him.

Miss Bliss chases Mr. Bleding into the hallway to talk about the note she thinks he wrote and they each have a wacky exchange where each thinks the other wants some hot fucking and try to let each other down gently. They finally figure out the wacky misunderstanding and Miss Bliss gets a clue about what might have actually happened.

Belding Bliss lettersIt’s what I assume is the next day given that Lisa is primping and obsessing for her big fucking, while Not-Jessie tells her to relax. Miss Bliss calls Zack Morris and Screech into the classroom and asks if there’s anything they want to tell her about the term papers. Screech completely loses it and rats out Zack Morris. Miss Bliss shows them the love letters and says that Zack Morris and Screech’s term papers were typed on the same typewriter as the love notes, which makes absolutely no fucking sense. First of all, I’m pretty sure that Miss Bliss doesn’t have the skills necessary to do a forensic analysis of typed notes. Second of all, Screech was typing the papers while Zack Morris was typing the notes. Are you telling me they were both using the same typewriter at the same time? I’m pretty sure this scenario holds up about as well as Mr. Belding dancing with Casey Kasem.

Unlike future appearances in Saved by the Bell, Miss Bliss sees through Zack Morris’s bullshit apology and gives him a zero. Oh my god, Zack Morris actually has to face the consequences of his actions! Screech is let off with a D, which I’m pretty sure is not the way plagiarism policies at most schools work. Miss Bliss slaps Zack Morris for taking advantage of Screech, and, in the hallway, Zack Morris and Screech kiss and make-up before Screech goes into the cafeteria for his hot fucking with Lisa. Our episode ends with Screech going into the cafeteria and the sound of screaming from a horrified Lisa, presumably as Screech began to undress.

Zack-Screech FountainWhat can I say about this episode? The entire premise is cliché and has been done dozens of times on dozens of other shows, and it’s not even the last time well see it done in the Saved by the Bell universe. Miss Bliss and Mr. Belding are total narcissists for thinking that, in a school full of horny teenagers, a typed love letter without any names on it is automatically for them. The idea of multiple people finding love notes and mistaking the identities of the author and intended recipient was much better done in a 1973 episode of the British series Are You Being Served? But, while I can’t think of too much good to say about this episode, there’s not a whole lot bad to say either. It’s a mediocre episode: lots of contrivance and lots of cliché, but generally watchable. And we see Screech’s stalking of Lisa for the first time.

Firsts: Screech’s first name (Samuel), Zack Morris manipulating Screech, Screech stalking Lisa.

Saved by the Bell Season 1, Episode 1: “Dancing to the Max”

Ah, the first episode of Saved by the Bell, the one that started it all! Before we talk about it, let’s talk about the opening for a moment.

There’s something about the opening of Saved by the Bell that I love. There’s energy behind it that wasn’t present in the Good Morning, Miss Bliss opening The lyrics are nothing to get excited about, but the tune itself makes me want to watch. It’s a tune that’ll get into your head and stay there, I swear. That’s something ’80s shows were good at that we’ve kind of lost today: catchy theme songs that create a brand for the show in and of themselves. Hell, Full House was terrible, but even it had a catchy theme. The actual graphics are simply scenes of all the cast members over top of a really cheap looking neon background; nothing to get excited about.

SBTB Opening

And, of course, we get a picture of Zack Morris that makes him look like he’s utterly pleased with himself. But, oh, that theme! It’s addicting! In fact, I’ll probably be humming it for the rest of the day. But it’s alright…damn you, whoever wrote this song!

So recapping this episode is going to be a little difficult in that this wasn’t the first episode produced. No, NBC decided fuck all with establishing continuity and characterization and just started with a random episode that assumes we already know everything there is to know about the characters. In fact, we won’t be seeing the pilot episode of Saved by the Bell for another fourteen episodes. Why NBC decided to do this I’ll never understand. It’s something networks occasionally do, but the only other times I can think of it being done are CBS with Star Trek and Fox with Firefly. As a new viewer, I find it utterly confounding to watch the first episode of a show and be expected to know everything about it.

I debated on how I would handle this situation. It could be amusing to pretend that I’m a new viewer and know jack about this show except what they’re telling me, but then I wouldn’t even have characters’ names to refer to. So, instead, I’m going to pretend like the episode actually introduces these people and explains who they are.

We open on The Max, which will serve as a major hangout for the teens throughout the show, and its owner, Max (Ed Alonzo). Oh what a clever pun the writers did there! Max comes down and unplugs the juke box, receiving jeers from his dancing patrons. But don’t you worry! He says he received a telegram!

Max-TelegramThis episode was filmed in 1989. I know e-mail wasn’t around for most people yet, but were people really still sending telegrams? I can’t ever remember even seeing a telegram when I was a kid. But here we see the major problem with the character of Max. Even though he’s a main character, it seems like the producers only hired him to do random magic tricks on the show. Now don’t get me wrong: Ed Alonzo is a very talented magician. I just wish they had given him more to do than random tricks. He could have been a great balance to Mr. Belding. But I have to hand it to him: he actually does a pretty good Casey Kasem impersonation.

Max tells the room that Casey Kasem is coming to town to film an episode of his show Dance Party, which, if it really existed, I can’t find anything about. I thought that might explain the out of order airing, but no such luck. He’s going to have a dance contest for the students at Bayside High School, our other primary setting in Los Angeles. Immediately, our main characters want to enter. Zack Morris and his rivaathletic beefy muscle man A.C. Slater (Mario Lopez) both want beautiful and talented Kelly Kapowski (Tiffani-Amber Thiessen), whom they both want to fuck, as a partner. There’s some jive going on, and they finally agree to a dance off to see who will fuck Kelly.

Of course, Screech still wants to fuck Lisa, a trait brought over from Good Morning, Miss Bliss, but she tells him to go fuck himself. Some random guy named Danny wants to fuck Jessie Spano (Elizabeth Berkley), but, after being initially excited, she tells him that she doesn’t believe in dance contests. And I wish I was kidding about the fucking part. When Jessie turns Danny down for the dancing, he actually suggests they just kiss all night instead. Zack Morris seems to like this, as, in his very first breaking the fourth wall monologue, says Danny might have the right idea.

Zack First Monologue

 

Get used to these monologues. They’re going to become a staple of the show for the power of exposition and, if I remember correctly, they’re almost always, if not always, done by Zack Morris.

We have a random scene in the girl’s locker room where the only purpose served seems to be to establish that Jessie doesn’t like that she’s tall and freaks out on a scale. Then we have a random scene in band class with a giant, really long throw-away gag about how the teens play like shit when the band teacher is in the room but then start playing amazingly when he leaves the room. Little shits. And the band teacher, of course, is completely oblivious. There’s lots of stupid and painful puns on classical music. We have what’s obviously a pink balloon coming out of Zack Morris’s tuba, but the crazy band teacher calls it chewing gum. The only real purpose of the scene seems to be to establish that Jessie is a really good dancer and that Zack Morris seems to be avoiding dancing for everyone.

Jessie-dance

 

This scene is painful to watch. It’s really a bad scene that adds nothing to the rest of the episode and it’s hard to even make fun of it. Of course, we’ll never see the band teacher again despite setting up this gag. But fun fact: the guy playing the band teacher, Hamilton Camp, was a prolific voice actor and played, among other roles, Greedy Smurf and Harmony Smurf on The Smurfs and Gizmoduck on DuckTales. It can’t be a coincidence that he’s in an episode with Casey Kasem.

Our next scene shows Zack Morris in Jessie’s room. He confesses to her that he can’t dance, telling her he just didn’t want Slater to win the contest with Kelly, so he said he could dance so he could cock block Slater. He begs Jessie to teach him to dance. But we don’t get to see that yet. Instead, we have a commercial break.

And our first scene with Mr. Belding, who’s in his office when he has a mysterious knock at the door. Who else could it be but Casey Kasem in the flesh. Poor Casey. He looks like he’s in so much mental anguish during his scenes. The man who once did the voice of Shaggy is now reduced to stupid gags with Mr. Belding. Turns out all Casey wants is a school banner to hang at The Max during the dance off. Of course, Mr. Belding has to try and insert himself into the contest by demonstrating his best Chubby Checkers dance moves. And no, I’m not being sarcastic. He actually tries to do an impersonation of Chubby Checkers.

Belding Chubby CheckerPoor Casey Kasem looks like he’s horrified. The laugh track seems to love it, though.

Back in the hallway, Screech comes down the stairs dancing with a doll and tells Lisa this could be her. It makes a lot of sense as I’m sure he’s fucking that doll.

Screech dollLisa tells Screech that she’s already entered the contest with someone else, and both seem to pretend like he didn’t just ask her yesterday at The Max. Continuity is not this show’s strong suite.

We cut back to Jessie’s house and see her teaching Zack Morris to dance. For a guy who couldn’t even dance yesterday, he sure is doing pretty good thanks to the magic of choreographers and unlikely plot devices.Zack-Jessie DanceJessie pours her heart out to Zack Morris, telling him that she doesn’t want to enter the dance contest because she’s taller than all the boys. Come on, you’re barely taller than Zack Morris! And lots of guys are into tall girls! Suck it up, Jessie!

But no, instead, we get a daydream montage with Jessie where she’s growing taller and taller every time someone asks her to dance. And the first kid we see is obviously a bit younger than her, probably in junior high school.Jessie fantasyOur next scene shows Slater and Screech in the locker room wearing very short ’80s style shorts. And the boy’s locker room looks just like the girl’s locker room, which makes me think that they’re waiting in there to pounce on Kelly and Lisa and fuck them. Or it may just be the set designers were lazy and only built one set for both locker rooms. You decide. Anyway, Screech is obsessing over Lisa and Slater tries to comfort him and pushes him away when another student enters the room. And we have established a very weird relationship with Screech and the rest of the characters: all his friends seem to want to be his secret friends, despite the fact that he’s always around them so there is no secret to keep.

Zack Morris knocks on Jessie’s bedroom door. Man, this show goes through a lot of days. Does this mean that this episode has already taken place over the course of three days? Jessie seems to be surprised to see him at her door, saying it’s the first time Zack Morris has come in through her door and not the window. Well that’s…creepy. They have their final dance lesson, and, somehow, Zack Morris has become a good dancer in three days. Or as good as you can get on Saved by the Bell.

Back at school, Lisa has sprained her ankle after she kicked the television set, angry because she found out from a commercial that they discontinued her nail polish. Nothing about this makes sense. First, if you kick a television, you’re going to break your toes or your foot. Second, commercials generally advertise products that are available, not products that have been discontinued. Although that could be fun: air a commercial for a product and then say, “Ha ha! You can’t have it! It’s been discontinued!”

But let’s just roll with the Lisa sprained her ankle thing. It means that she might not be able to be in the dance contest. At that precise moment, her dance partner comes up and says he can’t dance with her because he wants to win. Lisa gets all butt hurt and Zack Morris, Slater and Screech threaten the guy, but, let’s face it: it is a dance contest and if Lisa’s not even planning on dancing, why is she so pissed? Oh, Lisa, it looks like you’re the one looking for a good fucking this time but all you got is a guy who wants to dance.

Kelly wants to have the dance off right there in the hallway, but Zack Morris tells her to just go with Slater, that he wants to go with Jessie. These early episodes really make it seem like Zack Morris might want to fuck Jessie, but, alas, we’ll never get to see that.

So, for the final scene, we’re at The Max for the dance contest. Max introduces Casey Kasem, Mr. Belding tries to insert himself again, and our contest begins, except we skip directly to the three finalists, and who else could it be? And, I have to say: The Max seems to be headquarters for ridiculous costumes tonight. Max is wearing a ridiculous hat.

Max-HatSlater is dressed like a gay Power Ranger, and Kelly is wearing a spandex dress.

Slater-SpandexZack Morris and Jessie are dressed in the worst attempt to create “preppie” looking sweaters I’ve ever seen.Zack-Jessie PreppiesAnd, of course, our third couple is Danny and Mr. Belding. Of course it’s fucking not. Lisa decided to go with Screech after all and, for once, they’re the most relatively normal looking couple there, despite Screech’s shorts.

Screech-Lisa danceI really don’t get the costume thing. Screech and Lisa aren’t dressed up, and none of the extras in the background, including Danny and Lisa’s original date, are dressed up, so why did our “heroes” feel the need to dress up? Is it Halloween or something?

Anyway, the judging, which seems to be based on Max’s arbitrary interpretation of the applause from the audience, says that Screech and Lisa, with their ridiculous looking hop on one foot dance they call “the Sprain,” win the contest. We know who Screech had to fuck to win this contest, although, as desperate as he wants to fuck Lisa, I could actually see him trying that. The episode ends with Casey Kasem encouraging the audience to all do the Sprain. And I think I can almost see Casey Kasem’s dignity dying.Casey Kasem sprain

Poor Casey Kasem. It’s not the last time we’ll be seeing him on this show.

As a filler episode, “Dancing to the Max” is pretty typical for early Saved by the Bell. You have a basic problem, the characters struggling to solve it, and an entirely predictable (and ridiculous) conclusion. There’s nothing special about this episode, which may be why they choose it to be the first episode. But, as a first episode, it’s horrible as the uninitiated viewer is required to constant guess at who the characters are and what their traits are. I don’t know why TV shows do this and I really wish they wouldn’t. It’s stupid and almost insulting. At least it’s not like some of the ridiculousness we’re going to see the longer I watch this show, though…

Firsts: Kelly Kapowski, A.C. Slater, Jessie Spano, Max, Casey Kasem, The Max, Zack Morris’s monologues, Zack Morris and Slater’s rivalry, Zack Morris and Slater love Kelly, Zack Morris and Jessie’s friendship, the identical locker rooms, daydream sequence, celebrity cameo, out-of-order episode.

Good Morning, Miss Bliss Episode 1: “Summer Love”

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.

miss bliss open

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.

Random extraFunny, 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.

Zack Morris satisfiedAs 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.

Belding-TinaTina 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.

Zack shocked

Miss Bliss is all like, “Zack Morris is getting some sweet poon tang tonight!”

Bliss-Karen

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!

Belding-BlissI 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.

Zack Morris poolFinally, 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.

Karen gets a clueShe 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.

Brian-BlissWe 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.Zack Peeping TomAt 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.

Bliss-Zack pieThere’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.

An Introduction to Saved by the Bell

So before we get started with the joy that is Saved by the Bell, let’s look at how this series got started. If you’re a huge ’80s pop-culture nerd like me, you probably already know about the series that started it all: Good Morning, Miss Bliss. Produced by NBC especially for the Disney Channel (back in the good ‘ole days when Disney Channel programming wasn’t all mind-numbingly awful tween crap), Good Morning, Miss Bliss followed a teacher from Indianapolis, Indiana, Miss Carrie Bliss (played by Hayley Mills) and her day-to-day activities, both in her personal life and in her professional life as a teacher at John F. Kennedy Junior High.

Good Morning, Miss Bliss was, by all accounts, a flop, and it was cancelled after only thirteen episodes. I really have no idea how they intended to continue this series had it been renewed for a second season. Five  of the nine main characters were students in Miss Bliss’s class. Were they going to pull a Boy Meets World and just have Miss Bliss follow her students throughout high school? Seems a bit creepy to me. We may never know what NBC intended because, after Disney Channel cancelled the show, NBC acquired the rights to Good Morning, Miss Bliss and decided to retool it. You see, apparently some NBC executives saw potential in the subplot involving the young students in Miss Bliss’s class and decided to keep three of them around (and one adult) for a new show called Saved by the Bell. And yes, the three students they kept around are supposed to be the same characters from Good Morning, Miss Bliss, only in a different city, Los Angeles, and a different school, Bayside High School, but with the same principal (apparently Mr. Belding did follow his students around).

Saved by the Bell succeeded where Good Morning, Miss Bliss failed and, for four seasons, from 1989 to 1993, was a staple of NBC’s Saturday morning line-up. In fact, it quickly became the highest rated series on Saturday mornings, and convinced NBC executives to shift from airing primarily cartoons to airing live action teen oriented shows. The cast even routinely toured malls and public venues throughout America interacting with fans and signing autographs.

The series came to kind of a natural conclusion in 1993, but NBC wasn’t ready to let this cash cow die and green-lighted two spin-off series, Saved by the Bell: The College Years, which was a flop and cancelled after one season, and Saved by the Bell: The New Class, which lasted quite a bit longer.

But that’s enough about the series for now. We’ll meet our heroes in the next couple of posts!