Saved by the Bell Season 2, Episode 12: “Close Encounters of the Nerd Kind”

When I recapped season one, I alluded to the fact that there were more episodes produced for that season than the sixteen I reviewed. NBC ordered a total of twenty episodes for season one but, for reasons that are beyond me, chose to shelf four of those episodes. They aired all four episodes later on, two during season two and two during season four. Because I’ve chosen to take a look at the episodes in order of airing, I am treating them as episodes of season two and season four and referring to them as “out of season episodes.”

It’s painfully obvious these episodes do not belong with seasons two and four. The cast, especially Zack Morris and Screech, are noticeably younger, and Max is still in the cast. But they’re there so let’s take a look at the first of these out of season episodes.vlcsnap-2014-07-10-11h35m48s167We open in the only classroom in the school, where Zack Morris is directing a student film using the school’s new video camera. Jessie is playing a school teacher because all teachers dress like Ma Ingals from Little House on the Prairie. 

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Slater is acting as camera man while lots of extras sit around looking bored in the background for no discernible reason.vlcsnap-2014-07-10-11h36m16s190Zack Morris cues the hideous creature and…oh my god that is a hideous creature! Why, that thing is the stuff nightmares are made of! Oh, yeah, of course it’s just Mr. Belding butting in to give us some exposition about how the camera is expensive so he just decided to let a bunch of teenagers use it on a whim. Gee, I hope this doesn’t play into the plot in like a minute.

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The real hideous creature comes in and I actually think it would be more hideous without the makeup. Like Screech just looks like the Jolly Green Giant glued a bunch of fake eyeballs to his forehead. Hey, they still have better production values than Birdemic. But, yeah, the Screech alien sucks Jessie’s brains out through a giant straw.vlcsnap-2014-07-10-11h37m44s43

Oh and Kelly’s role in the film is to deliver exposition by jumping around and cheering her lines, because that’s totally how cheerleaders act all the time.vlcsnap-2014-07-10-11h38m43s119Lisa comes in playing the school nurse and delivers oh so important exposition about Jessie’s brains being sucked out because a school nurse can totally diagnose conditions just by moving a person’s head around in circles.

The Screech alien tries to suck out Lisa’s brains for dessert but Lisa resorts to physical violence and punches the Screech alien in the straw, causing it to chip a tooth. Zack Morris calls cut and gets hella mad that they’re going off script. In the process, he accidentally knocks the camera out of Slater’s hands.

vlcsnap-2014-07-10-11h39m17s202That was  either one hell of a fall or one delicate camera. Falling on the ground caused the eye piece to fall off, the battery to come off, the cassette to eject itself, and tape in the cassette to come out, not to mention the random exposing of wires. If I didn’t know better, I’d say this was horribly contrived in an attempt to convince us that one fall to the ground damaged the camera beyond repair!

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In Zack Morris’s room, Jessie is freaking out because her reputation is at sake as “President of the School.” Yeah, I’m not making that one up. The writers actually had her say she was president of the school. Does this mean Slater is her first lady? Kelly says the best thing to do is to buy a new camera but Slater says the camera costs $1,200 because…Slater just happened to know how much the camera costs? I don’t know.

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Meanwhile, Screech is reading The Weekly Babbler, a rip-off of Weekly World News. For those who don’t remember, Weekly World News was a trashy tabloid that was sold at supermarket checkout lines to really gullible people filled with supposed paranormal and supernatural headlines. They were most famous for a series of articles on a supposed bat boy but my favorite was always the one that claimed Hitler, JFK, and Elvis were all alive somewhere and hanging out, despite the fact that Hitler would have been 120 years old at the time.

Zack Morris sees an ad that offers to pay $1,500 for the best picture of an alien. They all get the same idea with the implication that they’re going to take pictures of Screech in his alien costume.

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Back at Bayside, Jessie dresses like the Swiss Miss girl in an effort to elude Mr. Belding. She’s supposed to be Spanish or Mexican or some shit here, but her fake accent sounds nothing like either a Spanish or a Mexican accent so the entire getup is, as usual, complete and utter bull shit.

We find out that Mr. Belding has been bugging Jessie for the return of the camera. He finds her but she manages to convince him that her name is “Maria Tortilla” until Zack Morris comes in and ruins the clever ruse. It’s been a week since the last scene and Mr. Belding wants his camera back so he can make internet porn. Zack Morris pulls a new camera out of his bag and Jessie faints because even she can’t believe this entire scheme, including getting paid, was pulled off in only a week.

Yeah, a scheme worked with no consequences, but it wouldn’t be much of an episode if that were the end of it, so let’s get our next point of conflict.

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At The Max, a strange man comes in looking for Zack Morris. His name is Johnson and, although he never says it, the kids assume he’s from the newspaper. He wants to meet the hideous Screech alien and says that he’ll pay $10,000 for a meeting. Ah, so we have some conflict: greed!vlcsnap-2014-07-10-11h53m53s6

After Zack Morris is out of range, Thompson speaks into his beeper, identifying himself as “Lieutenant Thompson” and saying that he has made contact. Yes, folks, the implication here is that a representative of the United States government believes that a cheesy picture of a completely unrealistic looking alien in a trashy tabloid magazine is real. Boy, the writers of Saved by the Bell sure have some faith in their government!

At Bayside, Screech has had his tooth filled and his filling now magically picks up bad muzak radio stations because that’s totally a thing that happens with fillings. Zack Morris and Slater tell Screech their plan to continue defrauding a newspaper. Screech is hesitant and says he’ll let them know after he drops off his doctor’s note with Mr. Belding.

And magically, through contrivance, who should be in Mr. Belding’s office but Lieutenant Thompson, who identifies himself as a member of the Air Force’s UFO Investigation Unit. Yeah, this is totally a thing. There’s a running gag that gets no laughs about Lieutenant Thompson being really clumsy and Mr. Belding tries to convince the lieutenant that Zack Morris is not a reliable source.

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Conveniently, Mr. Belding gets called out of the office because the water polo team has a horse in the swimming pool. I don’t know what it was with the writers during the first season and the swimming pool but that poor swimming pool sure saw better days. Screech comes in and encounters Lieutenant Thompson, whose keen intuition hears the radio stations in Screech’s fillings and becomes convinced he could be an alien.

At The Max, Max is totally willing, as the responsible adult he is, to help the gang defraud a newspaper. He agrees to show Screech some magic tricks to convince Lieutenant Thompson that he’s an alien.vlcsnap-2014-07-10-11h59m12s119

First is drinking milk through your finger, because when I think aliens from the great sci-fi shows like Star TrekStar Wars, and Doctor Who, I think drinking milk through your finger.

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Then Max teaches Screech how to make two metal xylophone mallets appear behind his head like antennas. Yeah, Max, I had forgotten how useful and integral to this show you were. I don’t know how we’ve gotten through most of this season without you.

It’s after school hours at Bayside and Zack Morris breaks in to lead Lieutenant Thompson to see the alien. There’s some lame practical effects including lights blinking smoke, and lockers opening and closing on their own, as well as some scary muzak. Screech comes out dressed as the alien and though Lieutenant Thompson believes the ruse at first, even he catches on to a fake ear and fake antennas falling off. The rest of the gang come out apparently admitting to the ruse.

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Screech rips his face off to reveal Dustin Diamond’s true appearance and this convinces Lieutenant Thompson he’s an alien because the lieutenant is a moron. Lieutenant Thompson finally tells them who he is and reveals his plans on dissecting Screech because dissection seems to be the first thing that comes up in every bad sitcom involving an alien. Just ask Alfvlcsnap-2014-07-10-12h05m22s234

Rather than tell their parents there’s a creepy guy from the government who wants to murder one of them, Screech hides out at Zack Morris’s place and keeps Zack Morris up with his incessant praying and referring to himself as “the Screechster.” He also wants Zack Morris to come to Heaven with him so their love can be eternal.
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And it’s finally time for them to consummate their love beneath Zack Morris’s Bejeweled blanket.

In Mr. Belding’s office, even Mr. Belding can’t help but laugh at Lieutenant Thompson’s idiocy in believing Screech really is an alien and, after the lieutenant tries to rip one of Mr. Belding’s ears off, Mr. Belding does the first sensible thing anyone has done this episode and tells Lieutenant Thompson to leave, to which the lieutenant continues his idiocy by demanding that Mr. Belding produce the alien, threatening the wrath of the federal government if he doesn’t.

Zack Morris and Mr. Belding team up for a plan they thought up off camera. Lieutenant Thompson comes in to take Screech who comes out of a locker ready to go. But the rest of the lockers open up revealing the most hideous site you ever saw.

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Oh my god, the gang and all the extras have taken too many caffeine pills and turned into Dustin Diamond clones! Get your children inside! Get your guns! Hide your prostitutes who might want to make a horrible sex tape!

The logic here is that if Lieutenant Thompson wants to take Screech, he has to take everyone, which is completely ludicrous but whatever. We’re almost done with this stupid episode.

vlcsnap-2014-07-10-12h09m17s20Screech reveals the mask that he used in an attempt to defraud a newspaper, which resolves the conflict instantly, completely rendering the others dressing as Screech pointless and idiotic. The lieutenant says that wasn’t very honest and Mr. Belding lectures him about how it wasn’t honest to tell a group of kids that he was from a newspaper despite the fact that he never actually did that. The lieutenant leaves flabbergasted by his own idiocy and we end with Mr. Belding and Zack Morris showing a grain of respect for each other before each runs in the opposite direction in fear of this new blossoming love.

Firsts: Out of season episode.

5 responses to “Saved by the Bell Season 2, Episode 12: “Close Encounters of the Nerd Kind”

  1. Maybe this episode was held back, because even the network decided it was too stupid.

    I wonder if these held-back episodes debuted first in syndication.

    • From what I understand, these episodes were originally aired on Saturday morning during seasons two and four opposite another episode. So, this episode aired before “Running Zack.” Of course, information about this show is so notoriously inaccurate it wouldn’t surprise me if this is wrong.

      After viewing the other out of season episode for season two, you might be right about it being too stupid. These are some of the worst episodes of the show I’ve seen yet.

  2. The Screech mask has been haunting my dreams since I first saw this episode and Cop is a moron.

  3. A better episode would have been the gang making the student film. It might have required an additional set though.

  4. It’s the National Babbler, not the Weekly Babbler. So it’s almost certainly a parody of the National Enquirer, not the Weekly whatever that I’ve never heard of.

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