Season one is over, one of the worst things I’ve ever watched in my life. And the most disturbing part is that I’ve heard this is best season of Saved by the Bell: The New Class, that it’s all downhill from here.
There’s no better way to say this: Saved by the Bell: The New Class sucks ass.
What in god’s name made these people think that, if they simply hired six teenagers who vaguely resembled the cast of the original show and recycled story lines from the original that they would automatically have a good show?
The disturbing thing is, they were, in the long run, successful. As we’ll soon see, this show ran for seven seasons. Seven fucking seasons. How? Why?
This is not to say the original was a stunning achievement of television greatness. Far from it. But a commenter (I think it was Mark Moore), hit the nail on the head as to why this show is not remembered today like the original class (and even Good Morning, Miss Bliss and The College Years to a degree) were: the cast of this show has absolutely zero charisma together. For all its faults, you could genuinely believe that Zack Morris, Slater, Screech, Kelly, Jessie, and Lisa were who they said they were: six high school friends trying to make it in the world with all its awkwardness.
On this show, I don’t believe for a second that any of these morons give a damn about one another. None of the six really had any experience in professional acting prior to this show and it is really palpable. Each of the six presents wooden performances that are only highlighted by Dennis Haskins showing them up with his Oscar worthy by comparison acting. Even some of the guest stars did a better job than the main cast this season. James Marsden, though his character was an unlikable douche, definitely demonstrated why he’s successful today despite being on The New Class. Hell, by comparison, the baby playing Little Zack is a fucking child prodigy compared to these idiots.
But, for all this shit, there’s one character who actually developed over the season, and it’s probably not who you think I’m going to say.
As scary as it is for me to admit, Scott really does grow over the course of the season. He starts out an unlikable, irredeemable piece of shit whose sole ambition in life is to steal Lindsay away from Tommy D. Yet, throughout the season, we actually see him gradually develop a conscience. On one occasion, he actually feels guilty for trying to get Lindsay to cheat on Tommy D with him and stops his plan in the middle. Towards the end of the season, he actually dates a few other girls, and he seems to be becoming more socially adjusted. My god, given a few more stories, he could have actually become likable, so of course he’s one of the characters the writers jettison.
They also jettisoned Vicki, and with good reason. Vicki didn’t do shit this season. No episodes focused on her. She occasionally has a supporting role in one of the group’s schemes, but she had no personality or life outside the group. Her one thing was being a complete dumb ass, which grated on my nerves more than anything. They hinted at a running subplot with her having a crush on Scott but it only showed up a few times when it was convenient to the plot and was forgotten the rest of the time. Consider the fact that Vicki was jealous of Scott and Megan but not Scott and Rachel. In fact, she helped facilitate Scott and Rachel’s date!
Obviously, Weasel was supposed o be Screech and he sucked ass at it. He received more shows with him as a central character than any other character besides Scott. He really didn’t do much, though. He’s supposed to be lifelong friends with Lindsay but this is only explored in one episode. He’s supposed to have an unrelenting crush on Megan, but this is dropped when it’s inconvenient to the plot. Hell, most of the time his entire existence on the show was defined in terms of Scott.
Out of the three characters who made it to season two, Lindsay is the most understandable. For much of the season, she’s the only likable character. This, unfortunately, is also her weak spot. Lindsay exists as a sexy lamp shade for Tommy D and Scott. What little development we get apart from the boys involves Vicki and Megan being super bitches to her for no good reason. And she has exactly two emotions: super happy or “oh my god my kitten just died.”
I don’t have any strong feelings towards Megan one way or the other. She’s an okay character but her characterization is so inconsistent. One minute, she’s a horrible super bitch to Lindsay. The next minute, she’s a super nice and even caring, even towards Weasel’s creepy sexual advances. I am glad they kept her and got rid of Vicki, but Megan just doesn’t do anything for me. I can’t quite put my finger on it.
Oh god, Tommy D, why are you on this show? You exist for three reasons: to be Lindsay’s boyfriend, to be Mr. Belding’s mechanic, and to be Scott’s foil. You really have no purpose outside these three things this season. Even his one episode devoted to him was all about how the gang could take advantage of his impending driver’s privileges. It’s genuinely baffling to me why they kept him but got rid of Scott. A triangle in season two between Scott, Lindsay, and Rachel could have been a very good story line, even if The College Years did it already.
And now it’s time to say good-bye to the three actors who are leaving us. I would like to tell you why these three were dropped, but information is few and far between. Common fan belief seems to be that the producers believed the solution to all their problems was to shake up the cast and bring back Dustin Diamond. Diamond claimed in Behind the Bell that Robert Sutherland Telfer was fired for having very conservative beliefs, which is a bizarre claim since Peter Engel once served as dean of Pat Robertson’s Regent University, and, I’m sorry, but you don’t get much more conservative than Pat Robertson. I tend to think Dustin Diamond is full of shit and, for now, the true reasons behind the three’s firing will remain unknown.
For Isaac Lidsky, being fired may have been a blessing. I swear, looking up information on this guy, you couldn’t help but be inspired. He has persevered against some fucking tough odds. He quit acting and was soon after diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa, a degenerate eye disease that eventually left him blind. Even this didn’t stop him. Lidsky studied Law at Harvard and, in 2008-2009,, clerked for Supreme Court Justices Sandra Day O’Connor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg, becoming the first blind person to clerk in the Supreme Court. Today, he’s CEO of a construction company and heads a charity called Hope for Vision that seeks to bring awareness and advocacy to degenerate eye diseases.
Bonnie Russavage managed to stay off the radar for a number of years until a blog tracked down her personal Facebook. (I’m not linking to the blog because I’m personally opposed to pointing out celebrities’ personal Facebook accounts without their permission.) Like Lidsky, Russavage quit acting. Today she’s divorced with a son and works as a recruiter for a company that seeks to find jobs for medical professionals.
Robert Sutherland Telfer is the most difficult of the three to track down. Wikipedia claims he got into amateur gymnastics after he quit acting, but he kind of dropped off the face of the Earth after that. I haven’t the slightest clue what he’s doing today, and that’s probably how he wants it, which I respect.
When it comes down to it, it’s baffling that this show survived its initial season. If not for Peter Engel and the Saved by the Bell pedigree, I have a feeling it wouldn’t have. It just goes to show that, with the right circumstances, even the worst piece of shit can manage to get a second season…and a third…and a fourth…
You may recall that, for Good Morning, Miss Bliss and Saved by the Bell, I picked five episodes I loved from the season and three I hated. Well, I just can’t maintain that format here. Every single episode is detestable. Every single episode is cringe worthy. So here, instead, are five episodes of this season I hated the most:
Episode 3, “A Kicking Weasel:” Ugh, do I even have to say much about this? You don’t become a football star by being able to do field kicks. It just doesn’t happen. Add to this the fact that nothing is really resolved at the end and the bitchiness of Vicki and Megan towards Lindsay, and you have a painful combination.
Episode 4, “Home Shopping:” If you’re going to rip off the zit cream episode, at least do it in a believable manner. Seriously, chocolate memory may be the worst excuse of a dumb ass idea I’ve seen in this franchise yet, and I’ve seen “Jessie’s Song.”
Episode 6, “George Washington Kissed Here:” This episode is a mess. There’s so much going on that it’s like the plot is rushing trying to keep up. Scott’s an asshole in this episode, Lindsay’s an asshole, Megan’s an asshole, and Tommy D, the only one not being an asshole, is being told he’s an asshole. Oh, and lack of historical fact checking.
Episode 8, “Belding’s Baby:” Little Zack was the only good thing about his episode. The fact that not only was Mr. Belding seemingly bringing his infant son to work but that said infant son was also being hauled around Los Angeles by our brain dead characters in an effort to get Scott laid make this one even more painful to sit through.
Episode 10, “Swap Meet:” If you’re going to do an episode heavily focusing on comic books, you better do your fact checking or geeks like me will call you out in a heartbeat. Tommy D’s geek costume to get into the comic shop was just horribly insulting and Rachel could have been replaced with a vacuum cleaner with no change in the plot.
And so we reach the end of season one of The New Class. We’ll jump into season two on Monday. But be sure to check back tomorrow for a special review of Bayside: The Musical!