Saved by the Bell Season 1, Episode 14: “The Zack Tapes”

Ah, this is one of the episodes that I’ve heard a ton about but never seen. Let’s see if it’s as bad as people say it is!


Our episode opens at The Max where the students are getting ready for a Sweetheart Dance. Apparently this is a dance where the guys give the girl a heart with the guy’s name on it if he wants to go to the dance with her. And, oh, look, the Guy with Buttrock Hair has a name: Jeff!


Anyway, of course Zack Morris and Slater are fighting over who gets to take Kelly to the dance because at this point in the show they wouldn’t have anything else to do if they didn’t. Slater says Zack Morris ain’t goin’ to no stinkin’ dance because he’s in deep shit with Mr. Belding over pouring tea bags in the swimming pool. Wait, either it’s a really small swimming pool or Zack Morris got a whole lots of teabags. Either way, this is a flimsy excuse of a prank at best. And he erased the blackboards with Mr. Federman’s toupee because he apparently didn’t notice it was gone from his head. So Zack Morris’s mother is coming in for a conference and Slater says there ain’t no way she gonna let Zack Morris’s ass out of the house for this dance!

Lisa comes up carrying a tape recorder playing some cheesy sounding pop song with a gaggle of extras dancing behind her. She tells Kelly that it’s the new Bo Revere single, except I thought they were saying Paul Revere throughout most of the episode and found myself thinking, “Jesus people, if you’re going to make up the name of a singer at least make it up to something that hasn’t been used in the music industry before, unless you’re trying to imply that kids were into the 1971 hit single ‘Indian Reservation’–in fucking 1989!”


Anyway, Screech finds Lisa and starts sexually harassing her to go to the dance with him. He apparently broke into her locker to put a balloon of Harpo Marx in it to convince her. For the record, Harpo’s the sexier one between the two.

Mr. Belding comes down the stairs and tells Lisa to shut her fucking tape off because he was never a fan of Paul Revere back in the 1960s, instead preferring the sounds of the Beach Boys’s “California Girls.” Zack Morris tries to suck Mr. Belding’s ass but Mr. Belding tells him to shut the fuck up because he’s not getting out of trouble.


And look, Mrs. Wentworth is back. She was the crazy sex education teacher way back in “The Lisa Card.” I didn’t mention her name back then because I thought Carol Lawrence would learn her lesson the first time around and not return to this show. But here she is teaching about subliminal advertising, which apparently is the duties of a sex ed teacher.

All the kids are giving Mrs. Wentworth chocolate and flowers and apples and begging her for some hot poon. She tells them that she put subliminal messages on all their Bo Revere tapes and they all suddenly and magically had the desire to buy presents for their teacher. Well, all except Screech, who seems to believe he’s a goat.


And here right away is the problem with this episode. I know Saved by the Bell likes to stretch the truth and there is some evidence that subliminal advertising can work, but no amount of subliminal messages can make every person in the class do something so specific as bring their teacher gifts. Sorry, no, I don’t buy it. Not at all. Unless Paul Revere tells me to believe it, fuck off.


Zack Morris, of course, sees an opportunity to get out of his punishment with Mr. Belding and works with Screech to create a version of “California Girls” with subliminal advertising for Mr. Belding. Zack Morris spouts some bullshit into a microphone and, wallah, instant plot!


The next day, Lisa is trying to avoid Screech because he doesn’t understand the word “no” and is continuing to fallow her around everywhere. She thinks she’s ditched him when suddenly a walking trash can comes up behind her and attempts to put Screech’s heart around Lisa’s neck. Lisa’s all, “Egad! Screech now has common trash cans doing his bidding for him! What sort of sorcery is this?” And she runs off. Meanwhile Zack Morris comes into the hallway and gives Mr. Belding the tape of “California Girls.”

Kelly tells Zack Morris she can’t wait no more for his ass to get out of trouble and she takes Slater’s heart. Zack Morris is devastated that someone wouldn’t forego their own life to fully accommodate him in every way, and mopes off through the cut to Mr. Belding’s office, where he’s listening to the tape Zack Morris gave him.


Zack Morris is suddenly perfect in every way to Mr. Belding because subliminal advertising is like magic brainwashing. Mr. Belding tells Zack Morris he has a special place in his heart and gives him $10 for the dance.

So, seeing how well subliminal mind control works on Mr. Belding, Zack Morris figures it could probably work on the other cast members, and he and Screech put together tapes to test out their theories. They give their tapes to the three biggest nerds they can find.


The first is ‘ole Edgar in his second appearance, who gets a hot chick that wants him to stick his giant chess piece in her pie hole. Oh yeah, you go Edgar. You go get you some of that hot brainwashed girl. As soon as she finds out how much money you made off those sun visors, she’ll see how you’re a real man and stay with you!


In the second test, this girl is apparently approaching a guy with really large muscles. But does she go for him?


No, she goes for this unfortunate looking boy named Alan.


Finally, Weird Al Yankovic here gets a Max waitress to come out. He orders one of her with nothing on it and she falls for him.

The tests are encouraging to Zack Morris’s plan and the next step is to make tapes for Kelly and Lisa so they’ll choose them to be their dates. But how to get the tapes to them?


Well, the easiest, most logical way, of course, is to dress Screech up in Winnie Cooper drag as his female persona, “Barbara Bush,” and send him into the girl’s locker room.


But, oh, that Jessie is nearly too smart for him and wants to help a girl she’s never seen before work out on the soccer team despite the fact that this is something you have to try out for and can’t really come in mid-season. But Barbara takes advantage of Jessie leaving the room to switch the tapes and does what her namesake does best: hide out of sight from all the dumb people around her.

And, of course, the tapes work perfectly. Kelly quite literally throws Slater’s heart on the floor and he’s all, “Dayum, gurl, how you gonna do me like dat?” She says Zack Morris is all the man she’ll ever need. Lisa, meanwhile, is head over heels for Screech and says she always wanted a guy who can look uglier than Robin Williams in drag.


At The Max, Jessie has been listening to Kelly’s Bo Revere tape so, of course, she’s now in love with Zack Morris, too, and Max’s bow tie goes crazy because it’s apparently in love with Zack Morris as well.


Kelly and Lisa come in with Lisa expressing her love for Screech. Kelly and Jessie both start saying all the same things about Zack Morris and Jessie gets a Looney Tunes light bulb announcing she has a clue.


They imagine Screech naked in the locker room and deduce that Barbara Bush is probably actually in Washington, DC in 1989 and not the locker room at Bayside High. This leads them to the obvious conclusion that Zack Morris and Screech must have brainwashed them to go for their hot pubescent bodies instead of desiring to ride through the Massachusetts countryside yelling, “The British are coming!” and decide to get revenge. But Screech better enjoy being imagined naked while he can. After all, it’s probably the last time it’s going to happen.


The girls recruit Mrs. Wentworth for the project, and, sometime later, Mr. Belding announces he’s going to play Kelly’s Bo Revere tape on the loudspeaker. Jessie runs up and forces herself on Zack Morris and soon all the female extras in the room follow.


Zack Morris runs out into the hallway and he’s soon latched onto by both Kelly and Lisa, and an even bigger mob of female extras finds him and tries to take off his clothing for an on-the-spot group orgy.


Slater comes in and Zack Morris thinks he’s there to rescue him, but turns out Slater wants Zack Morris for himself as he’s finally stopped repressing the homoerotic urges that fuel his rivalry with Zack Morris.


Zack Morris runs into Mr. Belding’s office to get him to turn off the tape, and Mr. Belding also starts flirting with him because everyone loves Zack Morris. Mrs. Wentworth blocks his exit from Mr. Belding’s office with her cougar flirting, and Jessie, Kelly, Slater, and Lisa soon join in. Mrs. Wentworth finally tells Zack Morris that every female student in the school was in on an elaborate revenge plan against him because they all suddenly had the urge to get revenge despite the fact the vast majority of them were unaffected by this week’s plot. She also reveals that the tape Mr. Belding was playing wasn’t Zack Morris’s tape with the subliminal messages on it at all but, rather, a regular tape. Apparently no one at Bayside High had anything better to do that day than help the girls get revenge on Zack Morris. I mean, it’s not like Mrs. Wentworth or Mr. Belding had anything to do that day like teach or run the school or anything.

Mr. Belding tells Zack Morris he’s in deep shit and he better pay him back the $10 and have his mommy in the next day for a good spanking.

So, yeah, this episode is ridiculous and completely unbelievable, but it’s entertaining, and I guess that’s the most I expect from a Saved by the Bell episode at this point. I’m aware that there are more episodes in the future that I will want to rip to shreds so I’m enjoying the ones that are just good, dumb fun while I can.

In case you missed the announcement on Wednesday, I start reviewing Saved by the Bell: The New Class on Monday, so make sure to check it out as I take on the evil, horrible, ugly offspring of the Saved by the Bell franchise!

4 responses to “Saved by the Bell Season 1, Episode 14: “The Zack Tapes”

  1. This is the first time I’ve realized that it’s NOT Paul Revere…

  2. Why does Slater’s heart have his last name on it while all the others have first names?

  3. This was the first episode I ever saw of this show and I think it was during the first run. I was around 6 and I remember being alarmed at the idea of subliminal messages and asked my mom about it. She started watching it with me and explained it was BS and that I should think of this show like a cartoon and that really is the best way to think of SBTB…

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