Since I’ve been doing this for a year now, I thought I’d let you in on my process. I always view episodes once so I can take screenshots and think of what I’m going to say. I write the actual review while I’m viewing the episode a second time and sometimes take a break in between the two, as I did today.
As I was on my way to the train station during my break, I passed a couple crouching behind a bush trying to smoke a joint clandestinely. Remembering the lesson I learned tonight from this episode, I told them, “There’s no hope with dope!”
“But why?” they asked.
“Because…there’s no hope!” I told them.
“But we enjoy it and it’s not harming you!”
“But…there’s no hope with dope!” That’s when they told me to leave them the hell alone before they shanked me with a broken beer bottle. I don’t know what I did wrong! I applied everything Saved by the Bell taught me in this episode! Maybe I’ll figure it out in the review…
We open at Bayside where the great actor Johnny Dakota is visiting. You remember Johnny Dakota, right? He was in all those great films like … and … Yeah, they just made him up, didn’t they? You know, if they were going to make up someone, I’d have rather they brought back Stevie just so I could see her fall from grace.
Lisa’s in love with Johnny Dakota and Zack Morris immediately takes to Johnny so he can go up a few more pegs on the scale. Zack Morris takes Johnny to Mr. Belding’s office where he introduces Johnny to his Dick which, no joke, is what people call Mr. Belding all through this episode.
Turns out Johnny is looking for a school to film an anti-drug PSA for NBC. Zack Morris senses the opportunity for exploitation and decides it’s time to convince Johnny to stay at Bayside for about seventeen more minutes.
He starts with a well choreographed song from the gang and random extras about how they won’t use drugs. They must all be telepathic or else write anti-drug raps in their spare time because they all magically know the lyrics to this song despite having about three minutes to write it.
Johnny’s still not sure so Jessie talks about academics and shit. They go off to talk as Kelly runs up excited because she saw Johnny Dakota’s limo. Wait…how does everyone know that particular limo is Johnny’s? Does it have a giant cut out of Johnny’s head on the side?
Zack Morris introduces Kelly to Johnny and that’s the clincher. Because Johnny’s heard the reputation of Bayside students, and Kelly in particular, for dating older men, he sees the opportunity to get some great underage poon.
It must be some time later but I only guessed because everyone’s wearing different clothes and a full crew has moved into Bayside’s single classroom. Johnny shows Kelly a storyboard and tells the one on the right is Kelly. You know, I never picked Kelly for being a Charlie Brown look alike but, you know, whatever.
Meanwhile, Zack Morris is doing what Zack Morris does best and trying to profit off Johnny Dakota being there. Profit apparently means trying to sell doorknobs Johnny touched or sunglasses with his sweat and eyelashes on them. EEEEEEEEEEEWWWWWWWWWWWWW!!!!!!!!!!! Mr. Belding comes up and tries to put a stop to this most disgusting form of entrepreneur spirit but Johnny comes in and says that it’s okay because he gave Zack Morris permission to sell them and give the profits to an anti-drug charity.
Zack Morris thanks Johnny for saving him and Johnny says that Zack Morris reminds him of himself when he was in high school he gives Zack Morris his jacket to sell and Zack Morris decides he wants to keep a little piece of Johnny close to his body.
We follow the boys in the restroom where this man way too old to be a student at Bayside throws a paper towel at Zack Morris. We’ll soon find out his name is Scud and, yes, Scud has a purpose.
Slater finds a joint on the floor, calls it a roach, and Screech runs out doing the usual Screech stupidity. Zack Morris and Slater decide to try and hide the joint from Johnny to prevent it from casting a negative shadow on Bayside that someone dares to do a mostly harmless narcotic, but Johnny walks in and drills them on the joint. Zack Morris and Slater are all, “We’re too lame to ever do marijuana!” and Johnny instantly believes them, flushing the joint down the toilet. He asks both of them to be in the PSA. Turns out the entire PSA is our gang plus a girl too old to be a student at Bayside. Yes, this is the meat of the episode, where we’re going to talk about why drugs are so bad. So here are our answers:
Screech: One twigie and I’m out of control. You know, Screech high might actually be a pleasant change on this show, or The New Class. It would make him interesting until he found a way to be annoying high.
Random Girl: Her brother used drugs, drove to the beach, and is now in a wheelchair. It makes sense! Drugs made her brother’s legs fall off!
Slater: Len Bias, the NBA player, died because of drugs! Yeah, Bias’s death was tragic. He od’ed on cocaine in 1986. What does that have to do with marijuana, which is the drug most often referenced in this episode and the one actually used! That’s like comparing heroin to Tylenol!
Zack Morris: John Belushi died because of drugs! Yeah, Belushi’s death was tragic, od’ing on a mixture of cocaine and heroin. Once again, what the hell does that have to do with marijuana?
Kelly: I don’t get it; I just don’t see why people do it! Yeah, and I don’t get why a pretty teenage girl would date men in their twenties, but you do it anyway, Kelly!
Jessie: I once was hooked on caffeine pills! Yes, you keep telling yourself that Jessie, and my readers can go back and read my review of the most unintentionally hilarious episode in this franchise’s history if they want to relive it.
Johnny goes to get his director so he can actually tape the gang saying all this stuff when in walks Scud. Turns out he’s random girl’s boyfriend. The boys start thinking and realize Scud was in the bathroom, and the joint was in the bathroom, so Scud must be the pothead! Great logic there, guys.
The boys go in the bathroom where they find Scud smoking a cigarette. Screech overreacts, as usual, and they briefly consider giving Scud a lecture on the dangers of cigarettes, but they realize how lame that would make the episode so, instead, Peter Engel jots it down as an idea in case he’s desperate for story concepts on a stupid rip off of Saved by the Bell four years from now.
At The Max, Johnny and Kelly are on their first date when Lisa and Jessie walk in to interview Johnny for the paper. The only purpose of this scene is to emphasize how much Johnny gives spontaneous orgasms to Lisa and how much Johnny loves underage girls. Zack Morris comes in to waste some more time by asking for an autographed photo for Mr. Belding’s wife. Finally, Johnny invites six underage kids to a party at his house where I’m sure nothing will go wrong.
Time for the party, and Screech dresses as a retarded version of Buffalo Bill from The Silence of the Lambs. A recurring gag in this scene is that girls won’t give a second look at Slater which, why does he care? Isn’t he dating Jessie?
Jessie and Lisa are excited because they got to dance with Storm Sutherland and Luke Diamond, obviously two of the hottest hunks in Hollywood no one who hasn’t watched Saved by the Bell has ever heard of.
And, much to Slater’s dismay, Screech’s Buffalo Bill get-up actually makes a girl think Screech is attractive. Miracles do happen! Screech tries to impress the girl by pretending to be Johnny’s stunt double, and he manages to throw his back out falling off the back of a couch. Bravo, Screech. Your stupidity level just rose by 500 points.
But Johnny’s groping of Kelly is interrupted by a random guy with a joint. Yeah, this would have been really great with Stevie! Show how much Stevie’s gone down in the world since she met Zack Morris!
Johnny offers the joint to Kelly, and we cut to commercial with an implication that Kelly’s considering it. Yeah, as if Kelly would do even the softest drugs. This is the goody two shoes who sees the best in everyone, even Screech!
After a commercial break, Zack Morris comes back in to find Johnny’s friends actually peer pressuring Kelly into trying marijuana. Yeah, there’s your real very special episode: adults with inappropriate senses of boundaries who hang out with and try to force stuff on teens. Zack Morris rescues Kelly and takes her home.
The next day, it’s time to shoot the commercial, but Zack Morris confronts Johnny about his marijuana use. Johnny’s defense is basically, “It’s my life. Fuck off.” He has a point. Johnny’s biggest sin, besides his propensity for underage girls, is his hypocrisy. If he wasn’t shooting PSA’s telling kids not to do drugs, I’d be rooting for him right now. But Zack Morris doesn’t give a damn. He wore Johnny’s jacket just so he can take it off and give it back to him, much like when the Rigmas humiliated him back in Good Morning, Miss Bliss.
The gang one by one decide to walk out on Johnny as Mr. Belding wonders what the hell is going on. The straw that broke the camel’s back is when Kelly walks out on him, and Johnny’s all, “I can’t believe that, in the early ’90s, someone is calling me on anti-drug hypocrisy!”
In Mr. Belding’s office, the gang explain what happened, and Mr. Belding tells the gang he’s proud of them for being the squarest possible students in the world. The gang decide that NBC probably won’t be shooting the PSA at Bayside, but Mr. Belding says he knows someone who might be able to help.
And Mr. Belding’s solution is some fictional guy named “Brandon Tartikoff,” who’s supposed to be the “President of NBC Entertainment.” Yeah, as if anyone would believe this guy was real! They might as well have brought Johnny back in to shoot the PSA!
Yes, I know Brandon Tartikoff was real before the comments section blows up. What the hell is he doing at Bayside, though? Well, turns out he grew up with “Dick” and wanted to be a high school principal while “Dick” wanted to go into show business. They were both chasing after the same girl but “Dick” got her and put his dick in her. She was the school superintendent’s daughter, which apparently got Mr. Belding a job as Bayside’s principal and Brandon couldn’t get a job..
That is the weakest, stupidest excuse for Brandon Tartikoff to be at Bayside I could have possibly imagined. He dropped everything because he credits Mr. Belding with pushing him towards show business! Well, nothing else has made sense in this episode. Why start now?
There’s also a meta reference where Brandon Tartikoff suggests doing a sitcom about a principal and his kids. Way to make a joke that none of the kids will get since they’ll have no idea Good Morning, Miss Bliss was originally Tartikoff’s idea.
The gang watch the PSA and it’s one of the most infamous scenes in the franchise. So what do I think of it?
First of all, the audience doesn’t seem to know how to react to this as there’s some nervous laughter over the part with Screech being in his locker. Second, this is the worst propaganda I’ve ever seen. There’s no reason not to do it in the PSA. Just some rhetorical peer pressure. “Oh, no! Not the dreaded drugs!” Third, and this annoys the hell out of me, they conflated all drugs into one horrible very special episode. Even Jessie’s caffeine pills make an appearance. Some drugs are dangerous, as they do actually point out. But marijuana and caffeine pills are not the evil this episode makes them out to be. Like people who are drinking alcohol, many people can do it safely and responsibly, but a small percentage can’t, and that’s okay. But don’t fucking blanket generalize everyone!
Also, they totally fuck up the last sequence which we just saw them shoot. In the first scene, Brandon Tartikoff was sitting on the desk and the gang joined him. In the finished product, Zack Morris was sitting on the desk and everyone else, Tartikoff included, joined him. Come on, it couldn’t have been that hard to get simple staging right!
So my mistake in approaching the couple smoking marijuana? Taking fucking advice on drugs from Saved by the Bell. I swear, if this episode were full of any more propaganda, I’d expect Hitler to jump out and do a waltz while shouting anti-Semetic phrases.