Saved by the Bell Season 4, Episode 17: “The Senior Prom”

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We open with Zack Morris doing what Zack Morris does best: reducing women to sexualized objects he hopes to lose his cursed virginity to! Oh, Zack Morris, no matter how many seasons this show lasted, you were never really going to change, were you?

No, it’s senior prom time and you might expect Zack Morris would be taking Tori since he’s been dating her much of the season. You would be wrong, though, because Kelly and Jessie are in this episode, which means Tori’s locked in Zack Morris’s basement and he’s administered the thing from Men in Black to make everyone forget Tori ever existed. Actually, Zack Morris is unsure who he’s going to take so he’s on the lookout for his conquest.

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Unfortunately for Mr. Belding, that won’t be him, no matter how much he may dream of it.

We find Jessie selling tickets to senior prom and nobody wants to buy them, said no high school ever. Yeah, that’s what we’re going with this episode. Get ready for a bumpy ride.

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Slater threatens to kill Pete if he doesn’t buy a ticket to the prom but Zack Morris convinces him not to because we need him around to be one of the few minor characters who crosses over into the Tori episodes in order to confuse us even more.

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Meanwhile, Screech is selling tickets for the school’s production of Oklahoma and people are practically mobbing him to buy them. Once again, said no high school ever. Did the writers of this show ever actually go to high school?

Turns out the drama club is selling tickets for 50 cents each, which wouldn’t even cover the royalty expenses but this is Saved by the Bell, where we don’t give a damn about what high school is really like. Screech was cast as the perfect role, though: as the back end of a cow. Yeah, I think he just kept playing that role well into The New Class.

Kelly and Lisa join the group and start talking about prom dates. Lisa’s not sure who she’s going to the prom with yet but has given six maybes because she likes to string men along. Nobody’s asked Kelly yet, which may be the most unrealistic thing yet uttered in this episode. Screech says he’s not going to ask Lisa to the prom because there are so many girls at Bayside who find moronic idiots hot.

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Like this girl, who thinks Screech and his Old MacDonald get-up are repugnant. Oh, that’s not the only reason why.

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At The Max, Kelly waits on Matt Wilson, who starts giving her Zack Morris-like pick up lines which naturally gets her lady boner going. As usual, Kelly goes for the older guys since the actor playing Matt was only four months shy of turning twenty-one at the time of this episode. At least she’s getting younger than Jeff Hunter.

Slater has a date now and wonders when Zack Morris will get his. He says he’s narrowed his choice down to one when Kelly comes up and sends Zack Morris into a contrived trance.

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Zack Morris comes out of his trance long enough to nearly ask this girl to the dance, but backs out, claiming going out with her would interfere with the plot of this episode.

Back at Bayside, Zack Morris sees another girl to hone in on but Kelly distracts him with his newly revived crush. He runs away from this girl and tells Slater that he was spoiled by going steady with Kelly since none of the other girls have what she has. Stacey and Tori will be very comforted to hear that they didn’t measure up to the Kelly standard, I’m sure. Screech tries to hone in on the girl but she’s all, “I’d rather go with Tommy D!”

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In the hallway, Zack Morris decides to ask Kelly to the prom. He says she’s the only girl he ever cared about. Once again, I’m sure Stacey and Tori will be glad to hear they meant nothing to Zack Morris. She says she can’t because that would invalidate a lot of this plot, and because Matt Wilson asked her first.

Jessie comes out of Mr. Belding’s office hysterical because he’s going to cancel the prom since no one’s bought tickets, which is not true. We can assume that Zack Morris, Slater and his date, Kelly, Matt Wilson, Lisa, Jessie, and Screech have all bought tickets. That’s eight tickets, practically half the senior class judging by the extras we’ve seen! But Mr. Belding says that since no one at Bayside understands how a prom works, he’s going to cancel it because that’s a reasonable response.

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After a commercial break, the prom committee, joined by Zack Morris, convenes to find a way to salvage this incompetently run prom. Wait…Pete’s on the prom committee?!?! Then, I don’t know, WHY THE HELL DIDN’T HE BUY A TICKET! Jesus I hate that this show can’t remember what it does from one scene to the next.

Slater suggests they have it in the gym but Mr. Belding says Oklahoma is conveniently being held there. Zack Morris suggests that they change the theme of the prom to be a country square dance, which is the second worst idea for a prom I’ve ever heard in my life but, but at least it’s not Ryan’s stupid go to prom in your t-shirt idea. Everyone thinks it’s a great idea so we’re set for a prom that will surely make most of the students wonder how they got stuck with the school district that doesn’t understand throwing a prom.

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Zack Morris stops Matt in the hallway and tells him a bunch of bull shit about Kelly’s family to make him scared to take Kelly to the prom.

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Screech bugs one of the random girls again to go to the prom with him. She tells him to fuck off with his creepy ass while Lisa watches. Screech walks away dejected and the girl commiserates with Lisa since she think she has a sympathetic ear given how long Screech has been stalking Lisa. Lisa tells her to fuck the fucking fuck off because the producers have suddenly decided to make her sympathetic to Screech’s plot, something very out of character for a person to do with their stalker.

Jessie comes in The Max to announce that tickets are now selling like hot cakes since they changed the prom theme to something no one in their right mind would like, and that she now has a date. That leaves Zack Morris, Lisa, and Screech the only ones without dates, but Zack Morris says that’s soon to change.

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Matt picks that moment to come in and break off the prom date with Kelly. He must have just came to Bayside because he doesn’t know about Zack Morris’s bull shit. Zack Morris swoops in to be her white knight as Kelly marvels at how he’s always there when something bad happens. Oh, she will never learn either.

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Screech comes in dejected that no one will go to the prom with him, and Lisa decides the best way to resolve this plot that’s going way too long is to go with Screech herself because women enjoy going to the prom with creepy ass mother fuckers who have been stalking you since your middle school days in Indiana. I guess otherwise it would have meant bringing in another guest star since Lisa’s not allowed to date the same guy for more than one episode.

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Slater and Jessie go down to the boiler room looking for a ladder and lock themselves in, because the boiler room is a safe place to have a door that locks from the outside with no way to get out. How does Bayside not get sued constantly? They yell for help but, for once in the school’s history, there’s no extras in the corner where the vent is to hear their cries.

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Kelly says she’s glad how things worked out, but then Matt comes up surprised that Zack Morris is taking Kelly to the prom. Zack Morris shoos Matt away, but it’s too late: Kelly’s mind is in full gear and she’s figured out it’s another bullshit Zack Morris scheme. After four years of them, you’d think she’d be quicker on the uptake. She tells him to go to hell and to go to the prom by himself.

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At the prom, Mr. Belding emcees what will no doubt go down in history as the lamest prom ever until Ryan arrives three years from now. Seriously, this entire thing would make me not want to buy a ticket. Mr. Belding thanks Slater and Jessie for the prom decorations but no on thinks it’s odd they’re not at the prom they helped create. Even their dates don’t seem to be concerned they’re missing.

No, they’re still in the boiler room trying to open a vent so people can hear them yell for help. They’re going to die there, aren’t they? Slater has Jessie on his shoulders but loses his balance. They start fighting but then Slater comes up with what’s actually a good idea: to crank up the heat so someone will come down and see what’s going on, but not before the boiler randomly shoots a bunch of dust at the two of them.

Well, it would be a good idea if Bayside had competent faculty, but Mr. Belding assumes that the heat is just because of how many people are in the gym and he promises to turn up the air conditioning.

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Zack Morris tries to talk to Kelly, but they both get pulled into a…square dance…

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Being emceed by Screech, and it’s as bad as you think, with talk about shooting whales and Grandma in the kitchen and shit, and cats licking their fur in the litter box…

Why does anyone ever let Screech do anything?

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Pete cuts in before they can talk so Zack Morris says enough with this bull shit and takes Kelly outside to talk.

As they go, Barry Manilow’s song, “Mandy,” starts playing, because that was what all the hip teenagers were listening to in the early ’90s: Barry Manilow! I often doubt that the writers for this show were ever teenagers.

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Meanwhile, Slater and Jessie, confused by why they don’t have competent administrators at Bayside and in the midst of being hot, dirty, and locked in a boiler room, rekindle their love for each other thanks to “Mandy” and start dancing in the boiler room.

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Zack Morris tells Kelly he’s sorry he pulled another asshole scheme to get her and she says it’s okay because Matt has cooties and she really likes Zack Morris. She forgives him because the plot demands it, and they kiss as Slater and Jessie hear them through the vent.

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Finally, someone hears Slater and Jessie yelling through the vent. Zack Morris and Kelly retrieve Slater and Jessie and get them back to the prom in time for the last dance. The producers must have spent all their money on the stupid western props and on the Barry Manilow song because, while this one has a country feel, as far as I can tell, it’s another Saved by the Bell original. I guess we should just be faithful they’re not dancing to muzak really.

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And our episode ends with Zack Morris and Kelly slow dancing and talking about how they care for each other, despite the fact this won’t come up again until The College Years, because we have to wait and give the viewers another forced romance between Zack Morris and Kelly next year!

9 responses to “Saved by the Bell Season 4, Episode 17: “The Senior Prom”

  1. Hate.This.Episode. As you eloquently pointed out with your review this episode seems way too forced even by SBTB standards.

  2. Why didn’t Zack go to the prom with Tori???? Bad joke I know….

    I don’t know what to say about Zack’s hair in this episode. It’s almost as bad as Kelly’s makeup job. It’s like the hair and makeup crew didn’t give a damn.

    But at this point I didn’t think the main cast or St Peter didn’t give a damn. They just wanted to end this and go on to bigger and better things.

    The College Years!!!!

    Sigh….

    • Zack’s hair gets worse and worse and worse in the later seasons. I think it’s the right idea to change up the hair so he looks more mature, but they really missed it.

      • Kind of like how Kelly got allergic to sleeves when she went to college. Whoever conned their way into being in charge of clothes and hair and stuff on this show, I hope they’re in a different line of work now.

  3. ILovedKellyKapowski

    I can’t figure out Zack Morris’ intentions towards Kelly in this episode. Does he really want to get back together with her, or just fuck her on prom night, then go back to lesbian Tori?

  4. Zack was strange in this season with his relationship with Kelly.

    He first starts by trying to bang everyone and everything. Hooks up with Lisa for an episode. Then hooks up with Tori for the Tori episodes. Then at the tail end of the season when the Tori episodes are done for, he drops everything and has a quasi friends with benefits relationship with Kelly.

    Then in the college years it was wash, rinse and repeat until Kelly said I do.

  5. I actually wish they hadn’t done the College Years. The extra season with Tori didn’t bug me as much because it was still supposed to be their senior year (though the back and forth with Kelly/Jessie eppys made it weird, which is why I think they just should have done another summer season with Tori or something).

    But the OG SBTB actually ended well. Everyone went off in their own directions and it made sense (for the most part). Why would Zack not go to Yale when he actually made the conscious choice to see what he could do there? Why would Slater give up his wrestling scholarship to the best wrestling school in the country? And where did Kelly suddenly get money from? At the earliest she wouldn’t have been able to show up until transferring as a junior or whatever.

    I do know that Zack/Kelly were the “it” couple for the majority so it was nice for their fans to end the series with a wedding. But, after those first couple of seasons, they never played Zack/Kelly like the “it” thing to me. Really Slater and Jessie had a more extensive relationship IMO. To me the writers made it so that Z/K liked to fool around sometimes until something better came along (usually on Kelly’s end). I figure that marriage ended in cheating/divorce.

    • I also think the marriage will fail. For one thing, Kelly is an extremely, extremely boring person. I can’t remember her ever doing anything interesting. Whereas Zack is a horrible human being, but he’s certainly not boring. He’s always coming up with a new, improved, creative way to have fun, and unless he really settled down, I don’t think he would enjoy being with Kelly for real.

      But back to the horrible human being thing, Kelly is a nice person. Zack is a person who got everyone to treat his best friend like shit to drive him away, so Zack could have control of the school. Kelly would have to realize that Zack’s “charming antics” were industrial-grade sociopathic. And he only got worse in the College Years.

  6. This episode was one of the worst I could think of. The Senior Prom a square dance? Talk about losing your alumni funding. At least some positives came from the Tori episode (can’t wait till you recap the Bayside theme song episode). As for Zack’s cursed virginity, remember he had his chance, but Rhonda Robistelli was too much woman for him. Which is frustrating, considering all the exciting sex he could have had. On second thought, considering first base is all the cast was interested in, the prospect of some push up makeout sessions might have been a turnoff.

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