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!