Monthly Archives: September 2015

The New Class Season 4, Episode 12: “The Last to Know”

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It’s been a while since we had a school radio episode so I guess it’s time to do it again! And, wouldn’t you know it, Tiger Radio has changed call signs since we last saw it in season one. It’s now KGAB, Cheyenne’s non-stop talk radio! Oh, The New Class, your inconsistencies are so all over the place!

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We open in the hallway where Nicky’s obviously perturbed that Katie’s not giving him the sweet poon he deserves as the man in the relationship. See, she’s now the manager of the radio station and is working hard to make it not suck. She encourages him to, instead, listen to her sing sweet nothings in his ear via radio tonight.

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Rachel, Ryan, and Eric complete their assignment of interviewing the student population about how much the radio station sucks ass since they went all talk. They discover that, amazingly, they have no listeners whatsoever, much like The New Class at this point. The show currently on the air is especially bad, eliciting hateful comments from all who bear witness to it. And what could that show be?

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Why, The Belding Hour with Rich-dog and the Moron of course! They talk about that exciting topic of relevance to all high school students: the dangers of the paper cut! Oh, this is almost as exciting as air conditioning repair!

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Up next is Ask Maria, and Maria, being in full on bitch mode, makes the nerd acting as engineer quit, bringing her count to four for the week. Katie asks Maria how she’s going to do her show if she keeps making engineers quit and Maria says that’s a problem for the writers of this show to come up with a plot contrivance to solve.

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At The Max, Katie has some great ideas to jump start the station, like having a promotional party at The Max, because it’s worked so many times before! She also wants Eric to do broadcasts all over the school doing wild and crazy things because if there’s anything I can’t get enough of, it’s people describing wild and crazy things on the radio! Rachel and Ryan decide to work on it as well and they go off to single-handedly save the radio station.

Katie wants Nicky to act as Maria’s engineer. Since he’s from New York, he’s the only one who can handle her bitchy mood swings. He’s initially reluctant but agrees after Katie gives him puppy dog eyes.

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The first segment of Eric’s show involves him…wearing the same wig he did in “Oh Brother”? This is getting kind of pathetic. At least Zack Morris and Screech varied up their drag collection in the original series.

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The idea of the segment is that Eric will experience how it feels t be in the girls’ gym class because that’s non-stop excitement. Rachel introduces Eric to Coach Pippen as “Erica,” a new student in school, and since Coach Pippen apparently hasn’t paid attention to what’s been going on this season in the athletics department, she doesn’t recognize this ugly girl as the guy who was star football player for half an episode. She’s impressed that Eric is so good at push-ups since girls suck ass at them and the camera pans away as she tries to force Eric to do the splits, because all girls know how to do the splits.

Jesus, could they lay the gender stereotypes on any thicker here? Also, if the gang are in class, who the hell is listening to this broadcast? Well, whoever’s listening, Katie tells Ryan they love it. I think it’s probably some elderly folks at home who think they’ve tuned into a rerun of The Honeymooners.

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Nicky and Maria are at each others’ throats and Katie says she’s counting on them to somehow pull it together so their plot can work out.

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Mr. Belding and Screech’s new show, Live from Mr. Belding’s Office, meanwhile, sucks as much as one would imagine and leads to Screech being a dumb ass and accidentally breaking Mr. Belding’s badminton trophy. Gee, their antics are just hilarious today.

On the set of Ask Maria, Maria sucks ass at giving basic relationship advice to a nerd who calls in, and you can tell he’s a nerd because he talks in a nasily voice. Nicky has to bail her out and tell him to tell the girl he likes the truth. This leads to the guy’s crush calling in and whispering sweet nothings to him on the air. She keeps taking calls and is the best by the end of the program.

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Maria thinks Nicky is the cat’s pajamas for helping her with the show. She leans over and, I can only assume, tries to bite his ear off, leading the audience to lose their shit over it since this is the equivalent to Maria getting to first base.

So…this is the episode that should have aired before last week’s episode. There’s really no excuse this incompetence since both episodes aired on the same morning. Someone at NBC was a complete dumb ass in determining the order these episodes were going to be aired in and anyone watching them back in 1996 would have had absolutely nothing to surprise them that morning.

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Ryan, meanwhile, talks to a locker. Yeah, Eric’s now experiencing what it’s like to be a book in a locker, and it sucks about as much as you can imagine.

Nicky and Maria talk about how awesome it was to work together and how they really like it a lot. Katie comes up and Nicky tries to pull out of the show but Katie, once again, is completely clueless about the brewing plot and begs them to keep doing it.

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In the bedroom of broken dreams for Ryan, Nicky tells Ryan he thinks his character is even more contrived than usual and he’s supposed to like Maria because they briefly worked well together. Ryan says this is a problem and Nicky will have to decide what to do. Also, Ryan doesn’t seem to think Maria has a sweet side despite the fact that, last season, he said she waited with him in third grade when he broke his arm because apparently he lost all memory of that incident in between seasons.

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At The Max, Maria tells Rachel she likes Nicky. Rachel repeats the rote advice that Maria and Nicky need to decide what they’re going to do about it. May I just be the first to say that this is the most unrealistic, convoluted, and contrived relationship in the history of this fucking franchise, and that’s something considering Screech and Alison’s relationship is included in that list.

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Back at the radio station…dear god, it’s Dr. Seuss meets bad early ’90s fashion.  This show…god the things I’ve witnessed on this show. In any case, this latest attempt for Mr. Belding and Screech to come up with a show sucks as much as previous attempts and leads Katie to put music back on the air of Cheyenne’s talk leader.

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Nicky tries to talk to Katie about his sudden contrived feelings for Maria but chickens out when she looks at him pretty. She leaves and Maria comes in to find that Nicky chickened out.

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They decide the best way for this horrible, forced relationship to flare up is if they give the audience a chance to lose their shit.

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Naturally, Katie walks back in to discover them in full lip lock and runs out, yelling how horrible friends they are.

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In the hallway, Katie reels from the sudden turn her relationship has taken on the show and near emotes when she finds out Ryan and Rachel knew about Maria and Nicky before her. She’s upset she’s the last to know and tells everyone to just fuck off and fires Maria from her show because abusing one’s authority is a great lesson to learn from Saturday morning television.

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Eric comes up and starts talking about how Katie wants him to be a human milkshake at the party. Katie drops water down her eyes to simulate tears and Eric assumes Katie’s upset he doesn’t want to be a human milkshake. Way to be a good friend there, Eric. Also, I think Eric’s technically the last to know about Maria and Nicky so the episode title is actually a misnomer.

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Back at the radio station, Katie has Mr. Belding and Screech take over the advice show. Naturally, they suck at it just as they suck at life. Katie fires them and takes over the advice show herself.

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Her first caller is Nicky, who wants to know what he can do to make up for hurting her. She says it’s up to her to forgive him and she needs to drag this all out a few minutes.

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At the party, Eric checks out the giant milk shaker. Eric gets an idea when Mr. Belding and Screech talk about how much it sucks that they don’t have a show and take them outside The Max.

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The gang get worried when Katie doesn’t show up for the party within the first ten seconds, but she finally does and tell Maria and Nicky she’s really hurt and may not be able to forgive them for a long time. I guess that’s why she was so bitchy about it in last week’s episode: no instant forgiveness like usual. She just needed to get her anger out through puppetry.

vlcsnap-2015-08-31-14h32m22s704Mr. Belding and Screech come in dressed up to be human milkshakes, and our episode ends with Mr. Belding and Screech…turned into human milkshakes and finding the niche of pain for their radio career! Unfortunately, Screech doesn’t die performing this stunt.

The College Years Episode 2: “Guess Who’s Coming to College?”

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We have our first cold opening since Good Morning, Miss Bliss, and we use it for Zack Morris to introduce us to…the first day of college registration. So if this is the first day of registration, why the hell were the gang studying last week? It seems we’ve gone back in time, which means we’ll have to watch Screech going out on a date with poor Danielle and Alex again.

Zack Morris cooking a delicious and nutritious Pop Tarts breakfast hoping that the overprocessed  real fruit part of a complete breakfast will loosen Leslie up enough to want to have sex with him. Naturally, she interprets the two Pop Tarts as being that Zack Morris cooked for her and Alex, and Alex cluelessly takes one of the Pop Tarts and coffee. It turns out, though, that Zack Morris didn’t need to go to any such trouble because she instantly accepts an offer for a date with Zack Morris that night, completely contracting her personality last week that was obviously building to a season long cat and mouse game between the two. It’s like the writers of this episode didn’t watch the first episode at all.

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After a slightly modified opening that now includes Kelly instead of Danielle, thus removing all tension as to who’s actually coming to college, our episode opens with Mr. Rogers bringing a giant person sized “care package” to Screech that even he admits is overweight and feels like it’s heavy enough to be a person. Hmm, we never actually find out what’s in that box but I have a suspicion I’ll share in a moment.

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Meanwhile, Kelly wanders around in the hallway lost looking for Zack Morris. She encounters Mr. Rogers, who wonders why anyone would want to find Zack Morris and assures her that his potentially sexually degrading antics have been cancelled for the week. She explains that she went to high school with him and Mr. Rogers expresses his sympathies. He physically lifts Kelly to the suite just a few meters away and leaves her on the door step.

Kelly enters the room without knocking and finds her worst nightmare, a child actor quickly running into irrelevance. She explains to Screech that, despite the fact it was never previously mentioned, she was on the waiting list to get into Cal U and they just called her to let her know she was admitted.

Screech tells Kelly that, conveniently, one of the girls just moved out of their sweet, transferring to another university, so Kelly’s sure to move in. Since we’ve seen Leslie and Alex, that must mean Danielle. But, you know that human-sized care package Mr. Rogers brought in? NO! Screech’s date with Danielle went wrong and he killed her! And, what’s more, he says that this wasn’t the first package he received. Could the others contain…Tori, Mikey, Nikki, and Miss Bliss?!?! It would answer so many continuity issues on this show if Screech turned out to be a serial murderer and, let’s face it, it’s completely believable…

In any case, Kelly asks Screech not to tell Zack Morris she’s there yet as she’s hoping for a convoluted plot that will end with comedy gold.

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We join Zack Morris and Alex in the pre-internet version of registration: standing in lines and waiting to find out what classes you’re in. Alex is upset that she didn’t get into a single theater class and that it’s the end of the world.  Slater, meanwhile, got into really cushy classes because he’s a jock and obviously too stupid to do anything if he’s not coddled. Screech finds Mr. Rogers registering for Sociology 101 because he needs some undergraduate classes towards his graduate work . Screech almost makes fun of Mr. Rogers for doing something stupid like advance his career but Mr. Rogers threatens to pound the shit out of Screech’s stupid serial murdering face. Oh, if he were to prevent me from having to suffer through The New Class he would officially be the best character ever.

Leslie accidentally runs into Kelly without realizing who she is and Zack Morris does the thing where he passes right by Kelly, not seeing her despite the fact she’s right next to him.

Back at the suite, Zack Morris arrive back after their date to see Free Willy. Leslie tells Zack Morris she really likes him which means she doesn’t want to date him any longer because he’s a piece of crap womanizer. He tells Leslie a sob story about how his high school sweetheart Kelly Kapowski died in a boating accident, breaking his heart and leading him to not respect women in any way.

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Naturally, Leslie falls for his shtick completely and kisses him, feeling sorry for him, and giving the audience an excuse to lose their shit.

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Unfortunately for Zack Morris, Kelly picks that precise moment to make her grand entrance. Zack Morris finds out that Screech arranged for Kelly to live in their suite, with Screech saying that he pulled some strings to get Kelly in. Seriously…what does Screech have on the administrators at this school that he keeps pulling strings? Did he threaten to do to them what he did to Danielle?

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In the student union, Slater has to kick Screech out with his stupid ass looking bicycle. Yeah, I have no idea what this is about. It does come back later but it’s almost an attempt at a Monty Python-esque random joke that doesn’t have anything to do with anything else.

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Meanwhile, Zack Morris tries to apologize to Leslie for being a creep and lying about Kelly.She tells him, once again, she wants nothing to do with him and tells him to fuck the fucking fuck off.

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Zack Morris tells Slater his plan to get Leslie to like him: sneak into her room, copy down her schedule, and get into all her classes so he can have sexy study dates. Fortunately, Leslie’s smarter than 95% of all characters on this show and listens in on Zack Morris’s plan so she won’t fall prey to his conniving ways.

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Back at the suite, Kelly tries to bond with Alex but just discovers how bat shit crazy she is when she goes on a huge over-dramatic rant about not getting into any theater classes.

Leslie asks Kelly to hide her stuffed animals and if she has a boy over to fuck and then starts to pry into Kelly’s relationship with Zack Morris.

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After Kelly leaves, Alex says that it’s clear even to her that Leslie is jealous. Leslie denies it but puts her plan into motion to get back at Zack Morris, changing key elements of her schedule.

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This leads Zack Morris to inadvertently enroll in a graduate level Mandarin class because Cal U apparently sucks at managing prerequisites. He also ends up in a class with a professor who insists on speaking to Zack Morris in Mandarin even when it’s crystal clear he’s in a class beyond his means and, to throw a bit of racism in there, every person in the class is of Asian descent because only Asian people would learn something stupid like Mandarin. Oh, Saved by the Bell, you never cease to amaze me with your cultural insensitivity.

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At the student union, Zack Morris and Leslie instantly make up for her deception and his invading of her privacy. Zack Morris invites Leslie to a REM concert the next night and she decides that all that shit about not wanting to date him is so twelve minutes ago.

Kelly finds Zack Morris and they decide to go out to the square and talk in order to build up to a forced subplot.

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Slater sees Mr. Rogers studying and brags about taking really easy classes and Mr. Rogers points out that he took really easy classes when he was an undergrad and now he’s on a stupid Saved by the Bell spin-off. We cut away with Slater looking thoughtful, wondering if Peter Engel will make him be on The New Class if he stays in these really easy classes.

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Zack Morris and Kelly come back to the suite after midnight, talking about how it’s been a long time since they had a heart to heart talk. They even reference their night in Palm Springs, even though that wasn’t actually Palm Springs but Palm Desert. Kelly says she’s beginning to feel more at home thanks to Zack Morris and that he’s more than a friend to her. She decides it’s time for some forced romance even though, with the exception of Palm Desert and the senior prom, she hasn’t shown any interest in him for nearly two years.

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They kiss and, naturally, Leslie walks in on them, leading, I’m sure, to a zany subplot!

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Zack Morris wakes Slater and Screech up to talk about his girl problems. He kicks them out of their own beds when Leslie comes in so he can talk to her. Leslie’s also changed clothes since the last scene so we can look at her in a night gown which means she stewed in anger long enough to change into bed clothes.

Zack Morris looks into Leslie’s eyes and realizes the writers want to extend this subplot so he still likes her and says that Kelly has it all wrong and he’s going to tell her he doesn’t want to date her.

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He walks into the girls’ room, kicks Alex out, and tries to break it off with Kelly. He realizes he likes her pajamas so he says he and Leslie aren’t a thing and he’d rather go to the REM concert with her so he’ll break it off with Leslie.

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He still can’t break it off with either of them, though, so, when they meet in the suite, he runs out of the room. Leslie and Kelly decide they need to talk so they can put this subplot to rest.

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At the student union, Slater’s new schedule takes him all across campus so he wants to borrow Screech’s stupid bicycle to get around. For some reason, though,  beautiful girls wants to use it since girls on this show can’t tell how untouchable Screech is. Since we never see this girl again, I can only assume she’s Screech’s newest victim.

Mr. Rogers comments on Slater’s new courses and Slater says he decided he wanted to register for real courses. Slater thanks Mr. Rogers, or Mike as he’s now calling him, for being the conscience he’s been looking for the last four years without the boundary crossing action.

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Back at the suite, Kelly and Leslie tell Zack Morris they’ve decided it’s sweet he didn’t want to hurt either of them so they’ve decided the logical thing to do is for neither of them to date Zack Morris until a later time when it’s convienent to the plot. They’ve also decided to steal Zack Morris’s REM tickets and go to the concert together because that’s a reasonable thing to do.

Zack Morris gives us a monologue that maybe he doesn’t need to date his roommates.

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Alex comes in, though, and, though she’s the worst girl in the suite, he decides she’s better than nothing when she comes in to say she got into an acting class. And our episode ends with Zack Morris and Alex going out to eat so Zack Morris can finally try to get rid of his cursed virginity with someone, anyone.

vlcsnap-2015-08-29-21h03m23s303During the credits, we get a scene of Zack Morris and Screech breaking into the girls’ room to copy Leslie’s schedule. Screech, naturally, acts like a complete dumb ass when he’s supposed to be watching to make sure the girls don’t come back, so I guess some things never change. Also, I’m not sure what the deal with showing this during the credits is. Is it a cut scene? Is there one of these in every episode? I guess only time will tell.

Firsts: Kelly at Cal U.

 

The New Class Season 4, Episode 11: “Renaissance Faire”

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We open in the hallway where Ryan and Rachel are now engaged in the stage of their relationship where they are vomit inducingly lovey dovey with each other. Eric’s already sick of this crap and tells them to cut it the fuck out before he throws up, especially since Ryan does this for all the girls he’s attracted to.

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In the spirit of yelling random announcements in the hallway rather than using the intercom, Mr. Belding and Screech announce the upcoming Renaissance Faire. While Screech does a bunch of idiotic shit that I’m sure the producers of this show thought would be funny but even the students of Bayside don’t find funny, Mr. Belding says anyone interested in running it should skip class next period and go to his office. Has this school never heard of after school activities?

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Nicky says he’d look stupid wearing tights but Maria think they’re hot. Wait…since when is Maria into talking about how hot Nicky is, especially with Katie right there? That’s…uncomfortable…

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At the meeting, Maria signs Katie and her up for a puppet show. She apparently forgot to include Katie in on this idea as she’s unsure she’ll actually like a puppet show. Maria says to trust her and Katie says that the last time she trusted Maria, she lost her boyfriend.

Wait…SAY WHAT? Nicky…is dating Maria now? Well, that just came the fuck out of nowhere. As I see it, there are two possible explanations for this: either he started dating Maria off-screen or the episodes are horribly out of order again. Either possibility is equally likely on this show so I reserve judgment until I’ve seen more episodes. In any case…wow, how awkward.

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Rachel wants to decorate the gym with random shit from the Renaissance period but Mr. Belding says that, with all the random shit Bayside spends its money on, there’s no money left in the budget for decorations so they’ll need to fund raise. Tim, the guy to Rachel’s right in the screenshot, suggests they ask local business owners to sponsor the faire because if there’s anything businesses love spending their money on, it’s random nonsensical shit like Renaissance faires. Mr. Belding thinks it’s a great idea, though, and says he’ll call some of his friends at the Palisades Chamber of Commerce about sponsoring the event. Furthermore, since Tim and Rachel were the first two people to not speak about puppet shows, Mr. Belding suggests they be made chairs of the committee. Everyone agrees since they don’t want to do that shit themselves except for Ryan because he’s, of course, being set up for a jealousy plot.

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At The Max, Maria decides that she and Katie should do a Punch and Judy show, which Katie doesn’t even know what it is since she’s not all sophisticated and shit like Maria. Maria just tells her to get with the program, let Maria hit her puppet, and memorize a bunch of lines she prepared for Katie without consulting her. Maria’s just determined to control Katie’s entire life.

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Meanwhile, Nicky and Eric dress as musketeers so they can sing random plot points throughout the episode. Yeah, from here out that’s pretty much all they do so look forward to really bad singing from our idiotic duo here.

Ryan volunteers to work on trash collection since he wants to impress Rachel and show her he can do shit too. He also wants to go on a date with Rachel but she has to work on the faire with Tim tonight. Even though Rachel’s shown no inclination towards Tim, Ryan’s instantly jealous they’re going to be alone in Rachel’s room since he still remembers what happened last time one of his girlfriends worked with a hot guy.

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At Rachel’s house, Rachel and Tim rehearse Romeo and Juliet, because I know when I think of Renaissance faires, I think of Shakespeare. Much like high school, I’m beginning to suspect the writers don’t know what a Renaissance faire actually is.

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Ryan barges into the rehearsing to ask questions about trash cans, which leads Rachel to say she thinks he may be jealous. He’s all, “Of course I’m not jealous! I just like talking about trash!” Ryan admits that he doesn’t like his property spending time with another man and Rachel says he just has to trust that she’s not going to randomly fall for other men like Lindsay. As she goes back in her room, Ryan mutters that it’s Tim he doesn’t trust, which seems like it’s pretty much the same thing but whatever.

Back at Bayside, Katie doesn’t like the Punch and Judy script because Punch is so violent towards Judy, hence the fact it’s a Punch and Judy show. Katie asks why Punch can’t be a nice guy and Maria’s all, “Because you’re an idiot.” And, in case you didn’t catch that scene, Nicky and Eric are on hand to sing it for you.

Rachel’s still cancelling shit with Ryan, making him further jealous and making him decide it’s time to go into Asshole Ryan mode.

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Meanwhile, Mr. Belding’s decided to wear a suit of armor, which has nothing to do with the rest of the episode but they decided that Mr. Belding and Screech needed something to do.

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Despite the fact that we clearly saw Screech easily put the armor on, Mr. Belding is now stuck in the armor because we needed a contrived joke just before the meeting with the business owners.

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And the subplot involving the stupid puppets heats up as Katie talks to Maria through Judy, telling Maria she’s a mean and bossy bitch.

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Ryan locks Tim in the janitor’s closet just before the presentation because that’s a great way to win Rachel over if she was cheating on him. He has Nicky and Eric stand in front of the closet and sing and play non-conspicuously about how there’s no one locked in the janitor’s closet. Ryan writes the scene from Romeo and Juliet on his palm so he can take Tim’s place in the presentation.

Jesus this is stupid.

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The sponsors have gathered and Mr. Belding and Tim are both missing.

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Mr. Belding comes in, still dressed in the armor. Screech props his helmet open with an eraser as the writers drag out this gag that was never really funny for all it’s worth.

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The Punch and Judy show ends in disaster as Maria and Katie get in a fight, Katie telling Maria she’s a stupid whore for stealing her boyfriend off screen.

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Ryan shows up, telling Rachel to go with it. Screech, as usual, sucks at life and erases Ryan’s palm with grease he used trying to get Mr. Belding out of the armor. Ryan says a bunch of random shit that’s not even trying to emulate Romeo and Juliet accurately and they crash and burn.

Nicky and Eric come in with Tim, who I assume has kicked his way out of the janitor’s closet as Slater once did Mr. Belding’s door.

The sponsors have had enough of this idiocy and march out, declaring that people don’t sponsor stupid Renaissance faires. Tim tells Rachel that Ryan locked him in the janitor’s closet, leading Rachel to call him a stupid doo doo head and storm off.

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The male cast stares disdainfully at Ryan for ruining everything with jealousy mode, even Nicky and Eric, who participated in locking Tim in the closet. But this is a lesson for Ryan to learn so who the hell cares?

After a commercial break, Maria and Katie make up since the writers want to focus on the main plot. They agree to stop fighting over stupid shit like stealing each others’ boyfriends off camera and go to write a new puppet show together.

Ryan tries to offer a non-apology to Rachel, asking her how she’d feel if her last girlfriend was a fucking cheater and Rachel tells him to fuck off. After all, she’s dated a sexual assaulter, an illiterate man, and a fake Swiss man.

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Mr. Belding says it’s time for a special moment between the two of them. Mr. Belding say jealousy and possessiveness drove away the people he cares about as well as the sponsors and walks away without any further punishment. Wow. Way to be there for no other reason than to voice the moral in order to cram it down the audience’s throat. Screech comes up with the armor, saying they can’t afford it any longer, and Ryan says he’ll get the sponsors back through one finals Ryan plan.

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This involves tricking three grown business owner into eating lunch at The Max because they conveniently don’t talk about how they all think the lunch spot was the others’ idea until they get there.

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Nicky and Eric come in and show how they can sing product placements for the owners.

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And Screech pretends that one of them, who owns a medical center, cured a hunchback. Oh, Screech doesn’t have a hunchback that needs cured. He has a lack of brain that needs cured. In any case, the business owners are apparently even more easily impressed than this show’s audience because they decide they’re going to back the faire because why the hell not.

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At the faire, the revised Punch and Judy Show involves Punch and Judy…making out I guess? I don’t know. All I know is that it’s a stupid subplot that I’m glad is over.

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And, as jousters, Mr. Belding…

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And Sir Fucking Moron. They come at each other on skate and, unfortunately, only use Nerf swords because I’d like to see Mr. Belding “accidentally” stab Screech in the fucking eye.

In any case, getting the sponsors back apparently completely atones for Ryan’s psychopathic, potentially abusive behavior and all is completely forgiven so let’s never speak of any of this again.

vlcsnap-2015-08-24-12h34m58s597And our episode ends with our characters looking self-satisfied that there’s yet another thing in the world they’ve managed to pull off that they’ll never mention again.

Firsts: Maria and Nicky dating…I guess?

 

The College Years Episode 1: “Pilot”

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It’s time for Saved by the Bell: The College Years, that exciting answer to the question no one but die hard fans really had: how did the gang fair when they went to college? Peter Engel and company saw a chance to potentially drag out the franchise another four years, though, so he thought, “What the hell!” On top of that, Zack Morris and Slater suddenly gave up great schools in order to go to the same university as Screech…without explanation! Yeah, we’re contradicting major plot points of the original series just in the premeise of the show. That’s a really good sign…

Maybe I’m being too harsh, though. With an original episode title like “Pilot,” how could you go wrong?

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Also not a good sign is that Cal U is tinted a pinkish-red. Either this indicates that we’re viewing the school through rose colored glasses or there’s some serious murder going on in this school. Cal U is going to try and steal your soul!

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Our episode opens in the dorm hallway where Zack Morris gives us his first monologue of the series, excitedly bragging about how he managed to make his way through the LA education system and turned down a place at Yale in order to go to a fake university just across the Bay from San Francisco.Also, Zack Morris is well on his way to the Dawson’s Creek haircut he sported on The New Class. I guess his outfit here is supposed to shout, “Rugged hunter” as he hunts the elusive co-ed.

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Speaking of co-ed hunting, he quickly gets to what’s important: asking random girls in towels to strip for him. They naturally think he’s a weird creep, as do most sane people who meet Zack Morris, but the more pressing issue is why these girls are in the hallway in nothing but towels anyway. We see later that the dorms have their own showers. Is Zack Morris in the nudist dorm at Cal U?

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Zack Morris soon finds what he believes to be his room and collapses on a bed, complaining that he needs a jacuzzi and shit. In walk two girls, though, who want to know what such a pervert is doing in their bed. Zack Morris insists he was given this room, room 218, even though the door clearly says it’s actually room 204 but we’ve spent five years not giving a damn about continuity right before our eyes so why start now?  One of the girls explains that he has the right suite but wrong room and tells him to get the fuck out before she cuts off his penis.

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But not before our third girl comes in so we can contrivantly meet all three of our girls at once. From left to right, meet Danielle Marks (Essence Atkins), who’s basically a Lisa clone; Leslie Burke (Anne Tremko), a finance major who will be playing a Kelly/Jessie cross and, naturally, serves as a love interest for Zack Morris since she has a vagina and breathes; and Alex Tabor (Kiersten Warren), who’s a theater major and actually has a lot in common with Vicki Needleman in that she’s a complete moron. Maybe they’re cousins or something.

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After the girls finally kick Zack Morris out of their room, he fucks off to his own room and discovers who else but Slater already there! Yes, no word about why they would both suddenly decide to turn down amazing opportunities at other universities, but they’re here, complete with Slater setting up a weight set in the middle of the floor because Cal U is apparently the only university with a sports program that doesn’t also have an athletic center

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And rounding out our cast is the man voted most likely to be less intelligent than belly button lint, Screech, the only one who was actually supposed to be here originally! He says he pulled some strings so he could be their third roommate and save lots of production costs over filming Screech in another room. Plus, I’m sure he’ll provide lots of antics the writer of this show will be convinced are funny.

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Our equivalent for The Max will be The Falcon Nest, aka the Student Union, where Slater works. Slater tells Zack Morris that his wrestling scholarship doesn’t pay for everything so he has to work at the student union in order to make ends meet. I don’t know, maybe that wouldn’t be a problem if you’d stayed at the fucking school that offered you a full scholarship! Slater’s job sucks because the students at Cal U are apparently snobs who can’t be bothered to be nice to mere peons who work for student unions.

Meanwhile, Zack Morris spots the girls and decides to make his move. He interrupts them studying and strikes up conversation about where they’re from: Washington, DC for Danielle, Oregon for Alex, and San Francisco for Leslie. Zack Morris proves his skillful knowledge of geography by pointing out that San Francisco is just across the bridge. Leslie’s not impressed with Zack Morris’s ability to recite geographical facts but he sees this as playing hard to get. He asks when he can buy her dinner and she does, perhaps, the most amazing thing ever for a girl on a Saved by the Bell series: she tells him right now and gives him the bill for all three girls as they get up and leave. He remains there, stunned that anyone could resist the Zack Morris charm.

We also find out Zack Morris is a finance major because he hopes to one day contribute to a major financial crash, say, about 2008.

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Back in the boys’ room, we needed an excuse to show Zack Morris and Slater in nothing but a pair of boxers to get the girls’ tingling in their special areas so why not just do it. It’s great to know the audience is still so easily impressed as they lose their shit over the scene before them, and I’m convinced one of them had a heart attack.

Zack Morris can’t believe that they actually expect him to learn at college and bemoans the fact he has to read two hundred pages of history. Slater tells him to quit his bitching while Screech makes a nonsensical remark about the Russian Revolution that I’m sure is supposed to impress me but only saddens me to know this is what someone envisions as comedy.

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Leslie barges in wearing nothing but a towel to find out who used all her Soft ‘n Sassy shampoo. Naturally, it was Zack Morris, who’s trying to keep up his new hair style, but Leslie’s not having it and says that, since they’re going to be together at least a year, more if the network renews them, they need to have a meeting to set some ground rules. The better question here is what is it with girls at Cal U running around in nothing but a towel? Really, does no one put on clothes before they leave the shower around here?

At the meeting, Leslie says they need to figure out how to decorate their common room. Zack Morris quickly vetoes whatever dumb ass suggestion Screech was about to make before he had the opportunity, sparing us another dumb Screech joke.

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Just then, our final main character enters, Michael Rogers (Bob Golic), the resident director for the dorms. Naturally, he introduces himself as “Mr. Rogers” to set us up for another stupid ass Screech joke, which he doesn’t fail to deliver in confusing this man with the one on PBS obsessed with puppets. We find out that Mr. Rogers was a linebacker for the 49’ers and Zack Morris quickly tries to suck up to him using the same techniques that worked so well over the years on Mr. Belding. Mr. Rogers tells Zack Morris to quit trying to fucking suck up because he’s not going to be naive and believe all Zack Morris’s bull shit until it’s convenient to the plot.

Mr. Rogers says that the dorm rules are no loud parties during the week and no alcoholic beverages on the premises because those are the two that will be convenient to the plot in a minute. Mr. Rogers says they better follow the rules or else he’ll be forced to deliver a punishment that isn’t nearly proportional to the offence.

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At wrestling program, Slater suddenly sucks ass at wrestling because we need more reason to think the gang are having trouble adjusting to college life. The coach tells Slater to quit acting like a bad wrestler and shit. Meanwhile, Screech randomly stalks Slater and sees the whole thing. Slater makes Screech promise not to tell anyone he got pinned, which, knowing Screech, I’m sure will be a promise he’s able to keep.

Back in the boys’ room, Screech talks about food with his mom, annoying the hell out of Zack Morris and Slater, who are trying to study. Slater pretends he’s doing good at wrestling and tells Zack Morris he’s a loser for not being able to have sex with Leslie yet. He says that he’s determined to impress her because she’s the love interest the writers threw in for her.

Danielle and Alex come in and tell the boys that, by some sort of wacky coincidence, tomorrow is Leslie’s eighteenth birthday and they’re going to have a celebration for her. After Alex talks about lots of stuff involving cake and sugar, the girls leave and Zack Morris says they have to do something special for Leslie to get the plot of this episode moving. He says it’s party time!

And, conveniently, the next scene is party time, with every extra available there to celebrate Leslie’s birthday! And it’s a whacked out universe because a random girl starts hitting on Screech, thinking he’s hot because he knows shit about computers as a computer science major. Number one, why is he such a dumb ass about the baby simulator dolls in “Baby Care” then? Number two, why did a computer science major get an internship in school administration? These, of course, are questions that will never be answered as the writers hope you will contract amnesia and forget they ever happened, but they show how continuity is a no brainer in this franchise, as in no one has a brain about it.

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The girls come in and discover the party, with Leslie seemingly unsure what to think about a shit load of strangers in her suite. Danielle gets mad at a jock from the wrestling team who’s eating all the birthday cake. She tells him to fuck off and the jocks start making fun of Slater, saying Danielle is tougher than he is. Slater says this is the last straw and tells Screech he’s quitting the team.

Zack Morris tries to cut in on the guy dancing with Leslie, who just hands him a can of beer randomly, and Zack Morris tells him there’s no drinking in the dorm.

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At that very moment, Mr. Rogers, by pure contrivance, just happens to run into Zack Morris. He calls off the party and sends everyone on their way.

After the party goers are gone, he says he has to punish everyone for the party and the alcohol, despite the fact that he was quite literally right there when the guy handed  Zack Morris the alcohol, so why the hell isn’t he punishing that guy for alcohol and not them? Also, the girls’ not knowing about the party seems like a pretty good defense. Call me crazy, but I don’t think his case would stand up…

Mr. Rogers says there’s three options: expulsion from the dorm, curfew for a month, or help the psychology department with a research project. The project is to get a questionnaire filled out by every freshman on campus, and they naturally take the third option since that’s what the plot demands. Why do I get the impression Mr. Rogers’s just having them do his homework for him? In any case, everyone sulks off, pissed off at Zack Morris as Leslie tells off Zack Morris and calls him a selfish, immature fucker.

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At the student union, Screech finds Zack Morris playing pool and reminds him all about the people who hate him at Cal U. Zack Morris says he can’t believe that he can’t do whatever the hell he wants in school and is thinking about transferring to a school back in LA. Screech lets out about Slater wanting to quit college. Zack Morris says that’s horrible as it would cause Slater to lose his wrestling scholarship and have to drop out of school since no one apparently realizes there are military scholarships Slater would more than qualify for. Zack Morris tells him it’s time to put a Zack Morris plan into action to keep Slater in school.

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Back in the suite, the gang’s offering a raffle for a free trip to Hawaii for a random person who turns in a survey. Mr. Rogers, naturally, catches him and says Zack Morris’s bull shit still isn’t convenient to the plot and that offering a free trip to Hawaii and then not giving it away is fraud and he better fucking come up with a trip or else.

This leads to Zack Morris taking a job at the student union so he can pay for a trip to Hawaii for someone. Oh, Zack Morris, if you just hang on one more episode Kelly will be there and you can just arrange for a stay at the Hawaiian Hideaway since you did help save the place! This must be a slow term solution in any case since it would take forever to fund a trip to Hawaii on student union pay. Guess Mr. Rogers is suddenly a patient man in waiting for fulfillment of Zack Morris’s bull shit.

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Also, I see the stereotypical nerds have followed us to The College Years. I guess Peter Engel figured why the fuck not? It’ll be successful because it has Saved by the Bell in the title, right?

Leslie comes in to apologize to Zack Morris because she thinks she was overreacting to Zack Morris being a jack ass. Oh, Leslie, you have so much to learn in order to become a full-fledged cast member of this show.

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Also, a random girl says Slater’s a great wrestler and that she thinks he’s hot and wants his man chowder. Slater suddenly thinks he’s a god at life but, as the girl slips by Zack Morris, he gives her $20 for pretending to like Slater.

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Back at the boys’ dorm, Danielle and Alex have a lot to learn about being in this franchise as well, as they’ve agreed to go on a date with Screech, not realizing the horrors that await them. It must have been quite horrible because we’ll never see Danielle again. She was a dull knock off character with very little potential to this show, but she didn’t deserve what she got: a date with Screech. Oh, poor Danielle. Only the ages know the horrors you saw…

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Slater tells Zack Morris the girl gave the $20 back . He says he appreciates what Zack Morris did but he’s not a quitter and he’s signed on to this show for at least a season so he’s staying. They commiserate over how hard college has been so far and hope they can contain their homoerotic desires towards each other. Slater goes off to the gym, leaving Zack Morris to believe he has a date with Leslie.

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Leslie has another date, though, leaving Zack Morris crestfallen. She says she hopes they can still be friends and shouldn’t date while they’re suite mates.  He sends her off to have a date as they almost nearly kiss.

And our episode ends with a monologue from Zack Morris about how he didn’t get the girl this time despite his best efforts and that, after briefly considering studying on a Saturday night, he’s decided he’d rather keep up the status quo in order to let viewers know that yes, indeed, this is a continuation of the original series, even if it seems that way in name only.

Firsts: Leslie Burke, Alex Tabor, Mr. Michael Rogers, the gang in college, the gang as suite mates, Zack Morris likes Leslie.

Saved by the Bell Season 4 Recap

Season four of Saved by the Bell is simultaneously the weirdest and least consistent of the seasons. Pretty much every source from interviews to documentaries to the Lifetime biopic each confirm that this was intended to be the shortest season since the first season but NBC, at the last moment, decided to expand the number of episodes for maximum profit. This would normally be a disastrous move but, as we’ll see, it didn’t turn out as bad as it could have…or as bad as most people remember.

This is a complicated season to recap as well since the twenty-six episodes fit into four categories, none of which really have anything to do with one another: Kelly-Jessie episodes, Tori episodes, clip show episodes, and out of season episodes. I’ll deal with the first two categories in a moment. All I’ll say about the clip show episodes is they’re horrible, each more terrible than the last, and completely worth skipping unless you have a penchant for the most boring episodes of the series. They’re not even worth putting in my bottom episodes list because they’re not even real episodes. I won’t talk much about the out of season episodes but they will come up later.


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The Kelly-Jessie episodes are the eleven that were intended to air this season. They were considered to be an epilogue for the series, featuring the gang’s senior year and providing some closure as to the series. And, to say the least, these episodes were underwhelming. They were so all over the map and provided no character development that lasted longer than an episode. Zack Morris and Lisa date…and then never speak of it again. Screech dates Punky Brewster and then break up with her. Slater and Jessie & Zack Morris and Kelly renew their relationships and redeclare their love for one another…and then never mention it again. With the exceptions of “The Fight” and “Graduation,” I really can’t understand the purpose of most of these episodes.

This doesn’t even take into account how stupid many of these episodes are. A square dance senior prom would bring open rebellion from the students. Nobody cares about Screech’s love life or his spaghetti sauce. And we get a completely unbelievable excuse to put Zack Morris in charge of the school and a resolution to the plot that left a Donald Trump presidency looking plausible by comparison. All of our favorite characters were really at their worst in these episodes, as we’ll discuss more in characterization. If these had been the only episodes of the season, this would have been my least favorite of the series.


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The Tori episodes are the ones usually remembered as bad and I think the reason has been voiced by many people in the comments: many people were bitter that Tori replaced Kelly and Jessie. And I will be the first to say she’s not a good replacement for Kelly and Jessie. With that being said, she’s not bad as people make her out to be and, more surprising, the episodes featuring her this season are of a higher quality overall than the Kelly-Jessie episodes. Even the worst Tori episodes, like “Day of Detention” and “School Song” are a lot better than the worst Kelly-Jessie episodes. Tori brought something different to the series and, for that, I’m impressed.

It’s even more impressive considering these episodes were kind of ordered at the last minute to pad out the season. The writers could have very easily just blow off these episodes and not done crap with them and, though we would have hated the episodes, we wouldn’t have been able to blame them. Instead we got some high quality episodes that aged well and are enjoyable. There’s faults with the episodes, like every Saved by the Bell episode, but, with the possible exception of continuity issues, the faults are easy to overlook.

Where and how exactly these episodes fit in is another matter entirely. Kelly and Jessie don’t seem to exist in the Tori episodes. This has lead to lots of fan speculation, from the idea that they take place in a parallel universe to Chuck Klosterman’s theory that Zack Morris and the gang just weren’t hanging out with Kelly and Jessie during these episodes. I have trouble accepting either explanation because of some continuity problems during the season. Slater has a new magic sister, Lisa doesn’t seem to remember that she dated Zack Morris earlier in the season, Slater doesn’t seem to remember Zack Morris’s relationships with Kelly and Stacey, and Screech goes back on his promise to stop sexually harassing Lisa. The biggest problem of all, though, is the fact that some elements of the Tori elements find their way into The New Class episodes, including the school song and Little Zack. It’s just impossible to resolve these contradictions. As such, I don’t think there is a satisfactory explanation. It’s just one of those things we have to accept, like the magic move from Indiana to California.


Let’s talk characters.

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Zack Morris is douchey, as usual. This isn’t helped by his competing claims in both Hawaiian Style and “Senior Prom” that he has either loved no one like he did Andrea or no one like he did Kelly. One might excuse this as just being a horny teenager who can’t make up his mind, but he doesn’t reflect on his changing tastes so it’s not clear there is character development. So much on this show is done off camera so you never know, but we need to be able to see it to be sure that it’s real.

Having so many out of season episodes, though, did demonstrate that Zack Morris has grown somewhat. He has more of a conscience than he did during season one and, rather than being a complete sociopath, is only a partial one. After all, he does engage in a pissing match with Slater over multiple girls who aren’t attracted to either of their dumb asses. I continue to fail to believe he was admitted to Yale as well and am convinced the writers don’t understand college admissions requirements.

He’s at his best in “Earthquake,” taking charge of a bad situation and turning it around. If he was like this in every episode, he might actually be a decent human being. Instead, he’s a caricature because that’s what we’ve gotten used to. Naturally, he’ll probably lose any character growth once he reaches college.

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The number of out of season episodes also shined the spotlight for me on how Slater has changed. Whereas Slater started as a rival for Zack Morris, he evolved into a clone of him, with the only discernible difference being a worse taste in fashion. Really, Slater hasn’t had a whole lot to do this season. The problem is he doesn’t have much to do this season. Only two season four episodes focused on him: one on his relationship with his father and the other one on a sister that had never been mentioned before and will never be seen or mentioned again.

Sure, he had a brief flame up of his relationship with Jessie that came the fuck out of nowhere, but that doesn’t really cut it. I miss the rival Slater, and I think that was something this series drastically needed: regular tension that wasn’t always forced through situations and guest stars.

In any case, I can’t hate Slater. He was just there. I don’t believe for a second, though, that, in real life, he would hang out with Zack Morris or Screech. The girls maybe, but not Tweedle Preppy and Tweedle Dumb. In any case, his just being there must have paid off since little girls fought over who made them tingle more: Zack Morris and Slater and, in the end, maybe that’s what Slater contributed the most to Saved by the Bell.

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Screech is a moron and the longer he’s with this franchise, the bigger a moron he is. I’ve decided that Screech’s biggest function this season is to be a walking, talking plot contrivance. Really, the only episode he’s truly the focus of is “Screech’s Spaghetti Sauce” and that episode is fucking stupid. He’s around to tell secrets, to cause drama, and to prevent anyone from dating Lisa except for himself. The fact that someone doesn’t punch him every episode is beyond me.

Really, he’s the court jester, the one who makes the lame ass jokes that make no sense. Despite this, he pushes on, convinced of his own humor, which is not so far from Dustin Diamond in real life. I don’t believe for a second he’s the real valedictorian or that he could really create artificial life. Screech reminds me more of a Ralph Wiggum or Peter Griffin than an Einstein. The fact that he was admitted to multiple Ivy League schools but chooses Cal U instead says it all. No semblance of common sense.

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Kelly hasn’t changed a bit over the past four years. Not a bit. She’s around to be pretty and give all the little boys boners. That’s it. There’s an ample comparison between “Video Yearbook,” an episode produced during season two, and “Senior Prom,” both of which feature Zack Morris doing despicable things to Kelly and both of which lead to Kelly instantly forgiving Zack Morris to get back to the status quo. Really, if it weren’t for her being overly nice, she wouldn’t have a personality at all.

I’m going to say something controversial: I didn’t miss Kelly much during the Tori episodes. She just doesn’t do a lot of important things. She has a role in “Student-Teacher Week” and a major plot in “Senior Prom,” but both plots are only in relation to Zack Morris’s plot. This season, Kelly only does things in conjunction with the rest of the gang. She doesn’t do things on her own.

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Jessie is at her strongest when she’s the moral center of the group, which doesn’t say much considering she’s pretty much a caricature of feminism. This gradually fades over the years until there’s only a handful of instances where she acts as the ethical one. Other than that, her only other discernible character trait is being a psychopath…about everything. Going off on Slater. Believing a t-shirt to be sexist. Wanting to be valedictorian way too much. All signs of an unstable mind.

It’s no wonder Slater’s really her only boyfriend over the course of the series. I mean, you could count her dance partner in “Dancing to the Max,” but that guy just didn’t know what he was getting himself into. She ranks as just slightly more tolerable than Screech but, suffice it to say, I won’t miss her on The College Years. It was time for Jessie to go, even if that exit was only caused by Elizabeth Berkley doing an NC-17 movie.

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Lisa finally got shit to do this season! After spending much of the last three years as just a big plot contrivance as Slater, she actually got to date Zack Morris for an episode, even if that was quickly forgotten in the realm of plots the producers didn’t care to carry over for more than one episode. Not to mention the fact that, in the Tori episodes, she kind of becomes a lead girl, picking up the slack for Kelly and Jessie. It’s the way she should have been used throughout the series.

And, yet, something was still missing. It feels like the producers never took Lisa seriously. Out of all the characters, she shows the most growth over the course of the series, even growing to tolerate Screech, a feat I’ve not yet accomplished. I like Lisa and I wish she had carried on to The College Years.

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Mr. Belding hit his stride in season two and he’s been going downhill ever since. He shows so much incompetence in administrating Bayside this season that one could make the argument it’s foreshadowing things to come in The New Class. At his best, he’s a wise mentor and a foil to Zack Morris. At his worst, he’s the butt of stupid jokes and just kind of existing in limbo within the series: kind of there but kind of not.

Mr. Belding is the one character who shouldn’t have been the focus of too many episodes but I still wish we could have saw the wise caring Mr. Belding more often. He only goes down after this season and it’s hard to believe that Dennis Haskins really thought his character was growing in the right direction. Rather than character growth, I think we saw character decline in Mr. Belding, not quite as drastic as Screech, but there nonetheless.

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A commenter asked me last season to be easy on Tori and judge her on her own merits, not on her legacy within the fandom. Fortunately, this is where never seeing the series before came in handy. Tori was original. If there’s a previous character I’d compare her to in terms of personality, it’s Stacey. She’s brash, independent, and doesn’t take Zack Morris’s shit. Her relationship with Zack Morris was quite sudden and not really developed, but I attribute that to the low number of episodes she was in.

Naturally, her absence from “Graduation” raises questions despite the fact we know the actual reason for her absence: “Graduation” was filmed before Leanna Creel joined the cast. The solution could have been simple: make her a junior and make her the starring character in The New Class as she befriends a new generation of characters. Unfortunately, people rebelled against Tori. She replaced a popular character and she was never going to be accepted because of that.

Tori got a bum wrap. She’s not the best character ever, but she’s not annoying. She doesn’t deserve the reputation she’s received and, I dare say, there were many times I found her more interesting than Kelly or Jessie. We’ll never know what the potential for her character could have been but there were so many things they could have done with her.

As for Leanna Creel, she continued trying to act throughout the nineties but she never landed another major role. Her next best remembered role was as half of Mike Seaver’s love interest in an episode of Growing Pains (she’s actually a triplet; her sisters appeared in that episode as well). According to IMDB, she currently works as President of Production at Ignite Entertainment. In any case, she never shook the fact that she was the most unloved character from Saved by the Bell  and, last year, appeared in Bayside: The Musical, partly as a way to find closure in her own experience from Saved by the Bell.


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When I started this blog last year, this was as far as I knew for sure I wanted to go. And here I am. Naturally, it’s morphed into a monster featuring multiple incarnations of the franchise, and I’ve loved it completely. Yet there’s something kind of sad about leaving the original Saved by the Bell behind, even if I know that I’m not leaving the original cast yet. This is the series that people look back on fondly as a nostalgic part of their childhoods. This is the series that made six young faces household icons. There’s something special in that and, though I’m not done with this blog, I’m aware that there’s about to be a shift.

I’m not going to do a grad recap of the entire series. I’m saving that for after The College Years. But I’ve enjoyed the process of really dissecting this series. I hope you have, too. If I have made you smile, think, or notice something new in your favorite childhood show, this blog will have been worth it. I’m sure I missed a lot, but I’m only one person. Hopefully, I’ll inspire some other blogger to write about the things I haven’t. Thank you for reading, commenting, and sharing this blog. It’s been such a rewarding experience for me so far and I’m looking forward to completing the rest of the franchise.

It’s quite clear that the franchise was not intended to continue. The College Years and The New Class were both huge cash grabs as there was a finality about “Graduation,” even if it was ultimately unsatisfying as a series finale. But I move on, now, to Peter Engel’s attempt to keep the Saved by the Bell cash train going.


My Picks:

As usual, I encourage you to agree or disagree with my picks in the comments section below.

Five Episodes I Loved:

1. “Earthquake” (Episode 21): There’s no question in my mind this is the best episode of the season. It showcases Zack Morris simultaneously at his best and worst and really shows him stepping up to help both Mrs. Belding and Tori. The whole gang really steps up in this episode and it was a quite enjoyable, solid episode.

2. “Teen Line” (Episode 6): I don’t buy the concept of the gang running a teen line, but I like this episode for Zack Morris being forced to confront his own prejudices. It actually shows a rare bit of growth on his part and it’s a nice change.

3. “Slater’s Sister” (Episode 16): Ignoring the inconsistent characterization of Zack Morris and the fact Slater’s sister has never been mentioned before, this is actually a pretty good episode on its own. Slater’s animosity about Zack Morris dating his sister is actually a bit justified and it’s nice to see Slater actually do something.

4. “Masquerade Ball” (Episode 7): Another nice Zack Morris growth episode. If only more could be more episodes could be more like this one. On top of this, Tori proves she’s not one to be fucked with and both Zack Morris and Slater receive much earned comeuppance.

5. “The Bayside Triangle” (Episode 5): FINALLY a good Lisa episode. I heard Lark Voorhies and Mark-Paul Gosselaar were actually dating at the time of this episode, and it shows: the chemistry is there and right and I actually found myself rooting for a Zack Morris/Lisa relationship. The only reason this episode doesn’t rank higher is because of Screech’s idiocy. There was no reason for his jealousy and it’s actually stalker-like behavior for him to control Lisa when she’s never shown a bit of interest in him.

Three Episodes I Hated:

1.  “Snow White and the Seven Dorks” (Episode 20): I hope whoever thought this would be a good idea for an episode was fired. I never wanted to see a rap version of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and it just comes off as completely stupid. If I bought a ticket to the performance, I’d walk out. Oh, and the Zack Morris and Jessie possible romance was so forced it wasn’t even funny.

2. “Screech’s Spaghetti Sauce” (Episode 3): Punky Brewster comes off as a caricature of a gold digger and what’s sad is she really doesn’t do anything worse than Zack Morris has ever done. On top of that, the fact the gang actually believed Screech could make them money just showed how much they never truly learn.

3. “Video Yearbook” (Episode 18): This one is just stupid. If Zack Morris really gave girls’ contact information away to possible delinquents, he’d receive more punishment than a “GOTCHA!” He’s at his worst in this episode and, what’s worse, Screech is just as bad as him and gets no punishment.

The New Class Season 4, Episode 10: “To Tell the Truth”

For once in its run, the time frame of an episode from this show actually makes sense as we open to discover it’s time for mid-terms at Bayside. Given that we’re nearly halfway through the season and that includes two episodes that took place over two weekends at the mall. That means this episode takes place at roughly the right time in the school year. I’m a bit blown away they got something like this right…

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Naturally we open with Eric being horrible at being over-dramatic over being finished with a midterm the previous period. Considering Anthony Harrell might now be the worst actor of the bunch, he’s not doing a very good job and really just comes off as a bad Screech impersonation.

The girls are bummed because they have to study for a hard history exam but the boys say they’re  finished studying. All they have to take is a home ec final and everyone knows home ec is super simple and you never need to study for it because home ec is stupid girls’ stuff no one cares about.

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Enter the home ec teacher, who’s no longer the maid from Diff’rent Strokes but is now Mrs. Wellington, a cheap look-a-like who didn’t do much else in her brief Hollywood career. Naturally anyone who teaches home ec has to be plus sized. They also apparently need to be incompetent as she admits that, though she hasn’t allowed her students to cook all semester, instead insisting that they just watch her, and now she expects them to bake a lemon meringue pie as their midterm. They’re naturally panicked by this and rush off to study how to cook, however you do that.

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Meanwhile, Screech begs Mr. Belding to hold a dance for the students following midterms. For once in his career, Mr. Belding doesn’t want to have a dance. Given the excuses Bayside has used in the past to hold dances, Mr. Belding naturally doesn’t want to do anything that will raise morale and release tension following a stressful time like finals. That’s just crazy talk. He finally relents to get Screech to leave him the hell alone and rushes off.

After he’s gone, Screech needs someone to monologue to since he can’t break the fourth wall like Zack Morris unless he’s recapping two parters, so he tells the girls that the party is really a surprise party to honor Mr. Belding’s tenth anniversary as Bayside’s principal. Nothing better to celebrate a man with no professional boundaries than a party that all his students will be at!

Now this naturally presents a problem with the timeline of the franchise since that means Mr. Belding couldn’t have been in Indianapolis to be principal of JFK Junior High during Good Morning, Miss Bliss, but I suspect they said fuck all to that show long ago.

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After Screech is gone, Maria conveniently gets up and turns her back in such a way that she won’t see Sean, a guy who’s now the hottest guy at Bayside, come up behind her. She mumbles about how he’s the hottest guy in school and, when Rachel and Katie let her know he’s standing behind her, she plays it off as if he doesn’t have ears like most of the rest Bayside’s student body. Sean asks Maria to The Max for lunch, and she accepts, despite the fact that this means she’s blowing off Rachel and Katie for studying.  This naturally upsets Rachel since she’s trying to form a tight psychological grasp on her friends but Maria won’t be budged: she wants some hot Sean meat.

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At The Max, the boys study for their home ec midterm…by reading cookbooks. Not the brightest bulbs in the bunch since even the biggest simpletons know that cooking is a practical art that requires experience you can’t get just by reading a book.

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Katie eyes Maria and Sean creepily, offering running commentary on everything they do as Rachel tries to study. Meanwhile, Sean sucks ass at speaking Spanish so he figured that, since Maria’s the current Latina character, maybe she could help him study for his Spanish midterm. Maria says that she has to study for her own midterm but Sean insinuates he’ll get some other girl to help him study. Seeing her chance at getting laid slipping away, she agrees to help him study after school. She rushes over to tell Rachel and Katie, which doesn’t please Rachel’s controlling ways, but Katie’s all, “Let her get a guy. She’s the only girl without one after all!”

The boys are finding studying hopeless but, when the waiter comes over to offer them desert, which, by contrivance, just happens to be lemon meringue pie, they see an opportunity and order a whole pie to go. Also, if you pay attention to the background, Rachel and Katie are now magicians who have teleported themselves across the room to another table so the producers wouldn’t have to pay extras to sit at that table. It’s magic!

At the home ec midterm, the boys have somehow snuck in the pie while pretending to bake one and fooled Mrs. Wellington, who loves their pie and gives them an A. Screech comes in and tastes the pie, agreeing that it’s great. In fact, it’s so great that he wants the boys to bake a cake for Mr. Belding’s party. They try to refuse, saying they don’t deserve the honor. Also, if Screech wasn’t so incompetent himself he might realize that skill coking one thing doesn’t equal expertise with something else.

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The boys’ refusal to be Screech’s slave elicits the logical reaction from Screech: doing an impersonation of the Pillsbury dough boy on Ryan’s abs. I wish I was joking but that really just happened. The boys stop resisting Screech’s advances lest he give a bad touch to Nicky or Eric, too, and they begin to panic that they now begin to panic that they have to bake something else.

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In Katie’s room, Rachel doesn’t understand why Maria would want to spend so much time with Sean so Katie explains that Maria hasn’t fully accepted herself as a lesbian yet and wants to spend time with a boy who might have sex with her. She walks in late, explaining that Sean’s so bad at Spanish he can barely order off a Taco Bell menu, which is disturbing considering Taco Bell isn’t real food. She can’t stop talking about him, distracting Rachel and Katie from studying. This culminates in Sean calling Katie’s phone since everyone at Bayside knows everyone else’s number, and Maria says she has to go help him study some more. She needs to help him study bad.

When she leaves, Rachel and Katie agree that Sean’s using Maria for cheap studying and that he’s  a stupid doo doo head for it. Actually, if Sean is the villain of this episode, he’s yet to do anything worse than Zack Morris which means, four years after the original series ended, they’re still making Zack Morris look like a total sociopath.

Back at Bayside, the boys try to convince the girls to chip in money so they can buy him a cake, but they think a cake is a stupid idea and would rather buy him a tie.

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Before they can object too strongly, the Sweedish Dumb Ass Chef escorts the boys off to bake a cake because what they need to help them is a guy who was once mistaken as an alien.

Maria and Sean find the girls and Maria decides to chip in with the rest of the gang. Sean says that he knows a great place to get a designer tie so Maria yanks the gang’s money out of Rachel’s hand and gives it to Sean to go buy a tie. The implication here, naturally, is that we’re supposed to believe Sean is also a thief since he’s using Maria to study, which doesn’t follow and makes every previous contrivance of this franchise look plausible by comparison, but the writers decided they really wanted to hammer home that Sean is a scumbag so why the hell not.

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In the kitchen, the boys don’t know shit about baking, literally beating their butter and throwing the eggs in shell and all, but, since Screech is even more incompetent than them, he doesn’t know the difference. He leaves them to cook three cakes, with the plan being to secretly have Mr. Belding taste all three and see which is the best.

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This, of course, leads to disaster as all three cakes are potential health hazards and actually lead to Mr. Belding’s health being threatened.

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Maria brings in the tie Sean bought and Rachel doesn’t believe it actually cost $150 because it looks like crap. I’m going to give Rachel the benefit of the doubt since she’s supposed to be the fashion expert and say that she can tel the material sucks ass. At least I hope this is the explanation since I’ve seen ties that look a lot worse cost a lot.

Rachel and Katie decide they have to tell Maria that Sean is as big of a bastard as Zack Morris, knowing that she’s going to react badly.

Back at Bayside, the boys confess that they cheated on their midterm and Screech is mildly disappointed they let him down despite the fact they never claimed to be able to bake cakes and it was just Screech’s idiocy that put them there.

Studying paid off for Rachel and Katie as they think they did good on the history midterm. Maria, on the other hand,  isn’t so optimistic.

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Rachel and Katie sit Maria down and tell Maria that Sean sucks ass in a contrived sort of way. We’ve still got seven minutes left in the episode so Maria doesn’t believe them yet and accuses them of being pissed off that she likes someone outside the core six. Rachel and Katie tell her that, while hiring a recurring character would put the show over budget, they’re just hating Sean for the reasons they’re supposed to this episode. She rushes off, telling them if they can’t like her man, she’ll just drop out of the cast.

At The Max, Rachel and Katie update the boys on the Maria subplot while Eric says Screech won’t talk to them, which one would think is a blessing but they’re upset that the most incompetent man on Saturday morning television doesn’t like them anymore.

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Rachel and Katie try to make up with Maria, saying that she can just date Sean off screen like Screech and Alison, but this isn’t good enough for her and she tells them to fuck off before Sean gets there.

Rachel and Katie return to their table and show Sean’s tie to the boys. Eric recognizes it as a tie he saw on sale at the mall for $10. Rachel convinces the boys it’s time to cross subplots so that the boys can get in on the pissing off Maria action.

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Maria got a D on the midterm and begins to have doubts when Sean doesn’t care about her problems and just keeps bragging about getting an A.

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After he leaves, the boys come in wearing the cheap tie. She needs a more dramatic reveal that Sean’s a horrible person, though, so she storms off, unsure of who to believe and certain the writers wouldn’t really let the only guy to touch her in ages be a douche.

Screech is upset that he has to return his present to Mr. Belding in order to buy a cake, but the boys promise that they’ll stay up all night and have the most convoluted plot off screen as possible if that’s what it takes to bake a good cake for Mr. Belding.

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The next day, Mr. Belding’s tenth anniversary party gets off to a roaring success with Screech nearly killing him as he turns out the lights and leaves a conveniently placed chair in the middle of the floor.

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The boys reveal their horrible lop-sided cake which, fortunately, tastes better than it looks. Screech says that this totally makes up for their cheating so he’ll force Mrs. Wellington to give them an A or else he’ll make her watch his porno. Thus ends the thrilling “the boys suck at baking and cheat” subplot.

Maria realizes that Sean has a new cell phone and he confesses that he bought a cheap ass tie and used the rest to buy a new cell phone. I hate to tell them this but $140 wouldn’t have bought very many cell phones in 1996 but whatever. Maria tells him to fuck off and steals his phone, telling him that she’s going to give it to Mr. Belding because you totally don’t have to worry about cell phone billing or anything silly like that.

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Maria makes up with Rachel and Katie once again because she hasn’t realized they can do no wrong. They say it’s a shame they don’t have a good present for Mr. Belding. Maria gives him the phone. It turns out that Screech’s present was also a cell phone but Screech tells Mr. Belding not to worry and calls him.

vlcsnap-2015-08-17-18h43m22s042And our episode ends with Screech informing Mr. Belding that now they’ll never be apart since they have matching cell phones which is, quite possibly, the most terrifying thing one could be told during a celebratory party. It ranks up there with finding out you have cancer or that your partner has been cheating on you.

Saved by the Bell Season 4, Episode 26: “Graduation”

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So I guess Zack Morris’s scheme to replace the normal yearbooks with video yearbooks only lasted as long as it was a plot point because we see all kinds of people getting autographs in their yearbooks in the opening at The Max. Seriously, this could have been the perfect opportunity for lots of subtle references to previous episodes for people like us who pay way too much attention to the details of these episodes, but we apparently have more important things to do, like one more foray into the administerial incompetence that is Bayside.

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Our gang’s excited because they’re done with their last final exam and Screech is a moron like usual, which makes what’s to come seem even more far-fetched.

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Jessie’s super pumped because, if she got an A on the final, she’ll be valedictorian and, since intelligence and quasi-feminism are Jessie’s primary two attributes, this would be the best thing in the world for her. Lisa tells her to fuck off with her fake humble bragging while Kelly’s bummed that their high school career is soon to be over.

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Sylvester, Pete, and Ollie come around to remind the girls to be on time for ballet rehearsal. Like usual, our gang is involved in every possible extracurricular activity so naturally they’re also involved in ballet. I’m more confused by Ollie’s sudden reappearance, though. I’m pretty sure this is his first actual appearance in an episode this season. They brought him back for the series finale but they couldn’t be bothered to bring back any real memorable guest stars?

Zack Morris has to run because Mr. Belding wants to see him. He figures Mr. Belding’s going to miss Zack Morris so much he wants to give him a goodbye blow job so he rushes off to see his soon-to-be former principal.

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In Mr. Belding’s office, Mr. Belding reveals the real reason he wanted to see Zack Morris: incompetence. You see, during Zack Morris’s sophomore year, he apparently dropped a class. In the two years that followed, no one bothered to warn him that this lack of a credit would prevent him from graduating and apparently Bayside doesn’t do any graduation audits until it’s too late to do anything about it so Zack Morris is just screwed. He has to go to summer school all because Bayside apparently has the worst administrators on the face of the planet.

Yeah, I don’t find myself defending Zack Morris very often, but this is fucking bull shit and I’m pretty sure Mr. Belding would be fired for allowing such a thing to happen under his watch, but we haven’t given a damn what high schools are really like for the past four years so why start now?

In the hallway, the rest of the gang find out about Zack Morris’s predicament and, in the usual contrived Saved by the Bell fashion, the girls say it’s a shame Zack Morris isn’t in their dance class since the recital counts as the final and isn’t until Friday. This is despite the fact that, two minutes ago, they were super excited to be finished with their last final. So far this is painful as a series finale or a regular episode.

After the rest leave, Zack Morris tells Slater he has a plan to get into the recital. He returns to Mr. Belding’s office under the pretense of asking for advice on a course to take during summer school.

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While there, Pete comes in and tells Mr. Belding he pulled a muscle during rehearsal and won’t be able to be in the recital. This upsets Mr. Belding since everyone worked so hard.

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Of course, in the hallway, it’s revealed that, predictably, Pete isn’t hurt at all but pretended at the beckoning of Zack Morris and Slater, all for a Letterman jacket because that’s incentive to just quit something you’ve been working really hard on. But this is the Saved by the Bell universe so everything has to work out for Zack Morris in the end no matter what the other students at Bayside have to give up.

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Mr. Belding, depressed and desperate to save the recital, says it’s too bad Zack Morris doesn’t have dance experience. Zack Morris claims he’s been taking dance lessons for the last ten years. Mr. Belding promises Zack Morris that, if he dances in the recital, Mr. Belding will makes sure he gets the credit he needs to graduate. After all, Mr. Belding’s been incompetently administering this school up to this point so why care about the fact that a final exam is only part of the final grade now?

At the recital, the nerds suck up to Jessie for no reason, asking for an extra special ass kissing message in their yearbooks from the soon to be valedictorian. Jessie eats up the attention of people she barely paid attention to the last three years her head is practically ready to explode.

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Mr. Lazaar, the dance teacher, introduces Zack Morris as their replacement dancer and, with the girls still in disbelief, Zack Morris immediately starts sucking at dancing, but not nearly as much as a certain inferior gang a few years later.

Also, Sylvester has the sniffles. Yes, this is actually going to play into the plot in a few minutes.

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In Mr. Belding’s office, Lisa shows Mr. Belding the “B” medallion she’s made for the valedictorian to wear. She’s even had Lisa try it on for size. Mr. Belding, continuing in his theme of incompetence for this episode, doesn’t follow education privacy laws so he flat out tells Lisa that Jessie isn’t the valedictorian.

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Yes, that’s right, the stupidest, most incompetent student at Bayside beat out Jessie for valedictorian by a tenth of a point. Screech, proving how stupid he is, runs out of the office insisting he won’t accept the valedictorian and tells Mr. Belding to find another one. I’m pretty sure that’s not how valedictorian works. He’s still valedictorian even if he refuses to give a speech. But why start making sense now.

Lisa chases Screech into the hallway where he says he knows how important the honor is to Jessie so he won’t take it over her. He makes Lisa promise not to tell Jessie that Screch refused to be the valedictorian.

Mr. Belding comes out and delivers bad contrived news to the gang: the nerds are sick so they have to cancel the recital after all. The girls will be graded on their attendance and work to this point but, for Zack Morris, that means that, once again he needs to find a way to earn his credit.

Also, Mr. Belding tells Jessie she’s the valedictorian and, for once, doesn’t violate privacy laws by telling her the reason why.

Mr. Belding and Mr. Lazaar agree that, if Zack Morris can find replacements for the ailing nerds, the recital can go on. Gee, I wonder who’s going to fill in?

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At the recital, we find out Zack Morris’s plan to save the recital: put Slater and Screech in place of the ailing nerds, Screech in a giant red chicken costume. The performance actually doesn’t suck as much as one would expect, especially given that I’ve already reviewed The New Class‘s take on this scene, but Screech in that costume is just terrifying. He even throws eggs into the audience afterwards because…Saved by the Bell has no clue what ballet is really like?

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In the hallway afterwards, this is apparently the first time people haven’t walked out on a ballet performance at Bayside so everyone gets As and Zack Morris gets to graduate. The gang reminisce as they realize this may be their final time loitering in the hallway, but Zack Morris is all, “Fuck Bayside! I’m never coming back unless a rich industrialist we met in Hawaii wants to close the school, but what’s the chances of that happening?” Also, we finally find out that Screech choose to go to Cal U and that he’s upset he won’t have any company there. Oh, Screech, you’re only going to be at Cal U for a year so what the fuck does it matter?

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The rest of the gang conveniently leave Jessie and Lisa alone, where Jessie talks smack about Screech. Lisa lets it slip out that Screech gave up being valedictorian for her and, as Lisa walks away after telling off Jessie, Jessie is obviously moved by Screech’s sacrifice for her.

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And it’s time for the final Saved by the Bell scene: the actual graduation. Mr. Belding says he has more memories involving this class over the last four years than any other class and he’s sure his experiences with them will serve him well as he violates boundaries like never before over the next seven seasons.

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Jessie gets up to give her valedictorian speech but, instead, says that Screech is the real valedictorian and brings him up on stage to honor him. Screech says that he’s not much of a speech person so he brings Zack Morris up on stage to give a speech. Of course, Mr. Belding does nothing to stop all this because it’s completely normal to just randomly bring people on stage during graduation. Why, let’s just allow the whole senior class give speeches while we’re at it!

Zack Morris says he didn’t realize how much Bayside meant to him until it was time to graduate, meaning that, in the space of a scene, he’s resolved his conflict off screen about not giving a shit about Bayside. This would have been a much more interesting plot than the whole ballet thing but why start writing good, compelling stories now when we can just have character development happen off screen and have the characters tell us about it later?

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Mr. Lazaar helps Mr. Belding pass out diplomas because why bring back any of the iconic regular teachers like Miss Simpson, Mr. Dewey, Mr Tuttle, or Miss Wentworth to help out when we can just have a guy help out we only met this episode? God, I hate how cheap this show is sometimes. It’s also a good thing that Bayside doesn’t hand out their diplomas in a sensible alphabetical order and just does it randomly for the most dramatic effect. Jesus Christ, is there nothing about high school this show can get right?

The extras from this episode go first of course, followed by the gang in reverse credits order, each having an emotional reaction to receiving their diploma. Tori and anyone else not having a role in the episode apparently fail to graduate because no one except our six main characters matter in the slightest when i comes to this show.

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Zack Morris and Mr. Belding finally give the audience their long-awaited embrace, hoping for more at the after party. Mr. Belding tells Zack Morris that he know Zack Morris will turn out to be something special and he hopes to be around to see it. Too bad he’ll be with an inferior cast who won’t turn out to be anything special at all.

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Zack Morris gives us the final monologue of the season, proclaiming that the state of California has actually seen fit to grant him a high school diploma despite the fact that the closet he ever came to learning anything at Bayside was when he did a project on his fake Native American ancestry.

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And our episode, our season, and our series ends with our gang and the assembled extras cheering and tossing their hats into the air as we freeze on Peter Engel’s name one more time.

This was pretty bad for a series finale. I wanted something special, not just your run of the mill episode with a half-baked unbelievable plot written by people who never went to high school, much less understand how it functions. I guess this is the mediocre ending we get, though, as Saved by the Bell fades off into the sunset.


And, so, that’s it for Saved by the Bell. It’s hard to believe but this is it for our original series. Don’t worry, though. I’ll have a recap of season four on Wednesday. Also, there’s still three and a half seasons of The New Class left to go so I’m not going anywhere anytime soon. And that’s about it, right?

Oh, yeah. Join me again next Friday as we learn how Zack Morris, Slater, Screech, and Kelly fair in college as we join our gang on The College Years.

The First of Its Class: From Sit-com to Icon

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Before we take a look at the final episode of the original Saved by the Bell on Friday, I thought we’d take a look at the final bonus feature on the Saved by the Bell DVDs, and it’s, of course, another documentary about how awesome Saved by the Bell is. Three original documentaries on the DVDs. Let’s see if this one has anything new to add.

So, let’s meet our cast for this feature.

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Of course, there’s Peter Engel talking about how brilliant Saved by the Bell is and practically sucking Brandon Tartikoff’s cock posthumously. He’s wearing the same clothes he was in the other two bonus features, which leads me to believe either he has Matlock’s wardrobe or they were all shot on the same day.

I’m also not so sure about his account of the origin of the show since he says Tartikoff was concerned about losing the high end of the cartoon demographic on Saturday mornings. Considering Tartikoff’s original idea was Good Morning, Miss Bliss, which evolved from a raunchy prime time comedy into a Disney Channel original series, I kind of tend to think Engel’s blurring details together in his old age.

Engel claims that, despite research showing nobody would watch Saved by the Bell, within four weeks of it being on the air, 15% of all teen girls were watching the show. He says that, at one point, more kids were watching Saved by the Bell on Saturday morning than The Cosby Show, then the number one show in prime time.

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Bennett Tramer is a new face for this feature. He was the show runner for much of the original series and, damn him, helped develop The New Class. Interestingly, Peter Engel admits that Tramer used to get on his nerves so bad. Tramer says that they really looked for ways to make cliched plots original, like stealing your principal’s car instead of your parents’.

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Jeffrey Sachs was one of the many writers for the original series. Both he and Bennett Tramer are on set at The max, leading me to ask if they actually reconstructed the set just for this feature. Weird…

Sachs talks about the screaming audiences and how frustrating it could be that Saved by the Bell had one of the most easily impressionable audience in the world.

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Carl Kurlander was a writer and producer on The New Class, mostly during the third and fourth seasons. I have no clue why he’s here as The New Class isn’t mentioned once during the feature and he didn’t have anything to do with the original series. I guess they needed another guest to pad it out? In any case, fuck you, Carl Kurlander, for writing The New Class.

Kurlander does talk about the morality aspect of the show and how they tried to deal with the things that kids were really dealing with on the show and showed that things always work out, because that’s a positive message to send to your target demographic when things don’t work out. Also, yes, kids deal with caffeine pill addiction all the time.

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Ellen Seiter is a professor of critical studies at USC and has, perhaps, some of the best insights in the whole thing as to why Saved by the Bell became the phenomenon it has. They should have done the whole thing around her. While the others were shrugging their shoulders and saying, “I don’t know why it was popular,” she actually analyzes the show and gives real reasons for its success.

She talks about how the Saved by the Bell universe is basically utopia: what would high school be like in a universe where everyone basically loved each other and the kids were in charge and, at the same time, it helped kids to understand moral lessons realistically. Basing the situations in the mundane realities of adolescent life was ingenious for the show.

There’s a spread of ages who like the show and learned from it, she says. In addition, the fact that the characters took turns being the butt of the joke lead audiences to have a great affection for them.

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They also interview three random Saved by the Bell fans who I guess they found on the street to find out what they think. Lisa here  talks about how Saved by the Bell helped her transition from middle school to high school and, I swear, the way she says “transition” I thought they were actually going to show a transgender person. I should have known better: not in a documentary featuring Peter Engel.

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Gavin says he loved the characters and idolized each of them in a different way. Oh, Gavin. Don’t idolize Screech. It will only encourage him.

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Regina says she used to watch the three hour blocks of reruns on TBS while she was on the phone with her best friend being as easily impressed as the studio audience.

Engel and Kurlander talk about how the FCC and Congress each sited Saved by the Bell as example of educational shows before the three hour ruling came out. Because everything works out, kids can learn from Saved by the Bell because they always made the right choices. Yeah, because you can predict whether kids will take that away or Zack Morris’s sociopathy. Tramer says most of the writing staff were parents and wanted to make sure they presented these issues in the a responsible way.

They also think it helps that the kids were, roughly, the same ages as the characters they were playing, unlike the background characters. Interestingly, Engel says he didn’t realize Dustin Dimaond was only eleven until three episodes in or he wouldn’t have hired him. Oh, to have a time machine and go back in time and change that. They bring up that Lisa’s and Slater’s characters were originally supposed to be white kids and they changed them because of Mario Lopez and Lark Voorhies. How progressive I guess?

vlcsnap-2015-08-02-16h02m10s864Some of the more interesting revelations are around how the show was written. The staff would spend hours laying out each episode and deciding how it would go before they assigned it to a writer. They would work the show out and break it down. Above, you see a board where they’ve written down scene by scene what should happen in every episode, from which they produced a ten page outline they gave to the writer.

The bottom line: they think each new generation finds something new in Saved by the Bell. Engel says they shot each episode like it was both their first and their last, a standard of quality I guess didn’t carry over to The New Class.

I guess this is okay for a bonus feature. Hearing about the writing process was interesting and Ellen Seiter’s comments were very interesting but, overall, I guess there’s not much here I didn’t already know.

 

The New Class Season 4, Episode 9: “Wrestling with Failure”

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Ah, it’s been a while since we had an episode about wrestling (since Slater was on the show, actually), so The New Class has decided to shoehorn in a love of wrestling on characters who have never mentioned the sport before in their lives! How convenient!

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And our episode opens with Screech being a creepy fuck as usual. He’s hiding behind a trash can, waiting to pounce on his prey.

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And his prey is Mr. Belding, of course, because he can’t keep his hands off the Mr. Belding’s manly muscles. Screech says he’s practicing his wrestling moves since he’s the team nutritional consultant, which I’m sure involves lots of wrestling, and Mr. Belding basically tells him to cut the fuck out before he kicks him in the balls. vlcsnap-2015-07-29-19h08m44s161

Ryan and Rachel find Screech and tell him that Ryan wants to sign up for varsity tryouts…even though Screech just said he was only the nutritional consultant and not the bloody coach! God, not even two minutes in and this episode can’t keep track of what it’s already established! Can I stop reviewing yet?

Rachel says that Ryan was the star on the JV league last year even though it was never mentioned in twenty-six episodes that he was a wrestler so he’s a shoo in for varsity this year. I smell a retcon the size of Tommy D becoming a football star. Nicky also signs up for a lower weight class than Ryan because he’s from New York and shit.

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Meanwhile, Bayside’s going through one of its biweekly financial shortages caused by too many long distance field trips and sending students to Catalina, so Maria and Katie’s subplot this episode will involve figuring out a way to make up for administrate incompetence at Bayside. All their ideas suck ass, though, as they involve shit that won’t even help a little bit. Rachel suggests they do a jocks of Bayside calendar since that’s close enough to a plot from an original series episode to count as derivative and Maria and Katie decide it’s a great idea.

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At The Max, Maria holds sign-ups for the Boys of Bayside calendar while flirting with men obviously too old to be jocks at Bayside since, once again, the producers of this show seem to have no semblance of what a teenager looks like. Katie gets pissed off that Maria’s lady parts are going crazy over the guys but Maria’s all, “I’ve got to get a date somehow since the writers won’t let me have a steady boyfriend yet!”

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Screech comes in with some juice for Nicky to drink to bulk up. Though he claims it’s made of egg, wheat grass, and sea urchin, I don’t trust that’s really where Screech got the ingredients for that shit.

Ryan’s super-confident that he’s going to make the team at his weight class so he’s already planning a victory fucking with Rachel to celebrate. Of course, in the most cliched way possible, this can only mean that he’s not going to make the team.

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At the photo shoot, Maria insists our too old to be a high school student take his shirt off so the audience can lose their shit. She’s used three rolls of film on this guy and Katie’s  getting extremely pissed off since she’s inheriting some of Jessie’s quasi-feminism as of this episode because this guy isn’t just a piece of meat. Shirtless or clothed, I think you’re exploiting him just a bit to get money to help the ever-deficit ridden Bayside.

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Meanwhile, Mr. Belding heard non-students are having their pictures taken for the calendar so he shows up to get a place himself. Unfortunately, he doesn’t take his shirt off so Maria’s not at all interested.

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As with Eric, who seems to have somehow found a way to get a toll free number in an era before they were cheap and readily available. Of course, as established last week, everyone on this show is posh and upper class except for Katie.

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Ryan shows up for his photo, still arrogant he’s going to be on the wrestling team, and I really am not sure what is up with t-shirts under singlets this episode. It shows up throughout a good deal of the episode despite the fact it looks fucking stupid. I’ve never known anyone on a wrestling team to do this. Maybe it happened and I just didn’t know about it but it seems to defeat the purpose of a singlet.

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So it’s time for the tryouts and Ryan’s up in the 142 pound weigh class, even though, according to Wikipedia, 142 pounds isn’t an actual weight class for high school varsity wrestling. Instead, it would be 145 pounds. But who cares about accuracy, because this guy totally takes Ryan down like he’s nothing because Ryan’s obviously never wrestled before. The coach tells Ryan he can only have one person per weight class, which I’m not sure is true at all but I can’t find anything confirming or denying it, and Ryan’s crushed that he won’t have a Letterman to give Rachel and get laid.

Also, why the hell is Screech the referee? Do the writers for this show not understand what the hell a nutritional consultant is?

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At The Max, Ryan’s still bummed he didn’t make the team because now Rachel won’t fuck him and tells Eric that, since, in a bit of contrivance, tryouts for all weight classes aren’t held on the same day, Ryan has two days to lose eight pounds and make the 134 pound weight class, which also isn’t a real weight class but who the hell cares? He tells this to Nicky, who reminds him that he’s trying out at 134 pounds but Ryan tells him it’s too bad because he’s going to make it and get rid of his cursed virginity.

Meanwhile, all the shirtless jocks don’t know whether they should have taken their shirts off for the pictures but Maria assures them they’ll make great fapping material for the calendar. Katie comes in and is all, “Feminismz! Equality! Shit like Jessie would say!” and quits the calendar.

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Ryan and Eric come jogging in with Ryan wearing…oh my god…that’s not seriously what I think it is! It’s a fucking Slim Suit! If you don’t remember these things, this was one of the biggest scams of the exercise industry!

Yes, these things claimed to help you lose weight while you sat around and did nothing, but worked best when you exercised in them, almost like it was the exercise doing it and not the stupid suit that looks like an alien costume from the original Star Trek. I never thought anyone would be dumb enough to buy one of these stupid things, but it seems like the props department for The New Class were just that stupid.

Ryan tells Screech to sign him up for the 134 pound weigh class tryouts, and Screech tells Ryan that losing so much weight can be hazardous to your health. So…this is going to be a very special episode on male eating disorders? If so, it’s actually quite progressive for 1996. If this is the direction they’re going with this episode, I’ll be impressed they tried to tackle this subject back then, even if they do completely fuck it up.

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Katie rallies the jocks to fight back at posing shirtless for a calendar, but they don’t seem to speak the English language and look at her, obviously confused and revealing why they’re still in high school well into their twenties.

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So Ryan continues exercising and skipping meals throughout the day, including doing push-ups in class, because, luckily, all of Bayside’s faculty will overlook shit as long as it progresses the plot.

The night before tryouts, Ryan’s down to 136 so Eric tells him to give it up, uttering nonsensical things about giving a Letterman jacket to Rachel and losing his virginity. When Ryan insists he can still make the weight, Eric tells him he’s not going to help him anymore since he’s talking crazy like about The New Class actually letting someone get laid.

After Eric leaves, Nicky finds Ryan barely able to stand up but still insisting he’ll make the weight. Nicky tries to tell Ryan that making the team isn’t worth risking his health over, but Ryan leaves to go jogging again.

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In the gym, Maria’s got a ton of orders for shirtless jock calendars. Katie brings in the jocks with conveniently rehearsed lines about not being mindless slabs of meat that they obviously don’t understand. They tear their photos off Maria’s display and say they’re quitting the calendar because stuff, and Maria gets pissed off, asking Katie what she’s supposed to do about getting a calendar out to the people who bought one.

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Meanwhile, Ryan makes weight and prepares for his match with Nicky. Eric tells Nicky that Ryan feels like a loser for not making the team and is afraid he will be a perpetual virgin.

Also, we randomly get Screech and Mr. Belding doing a bad homage to The Three Stooges…for some reason. I wish just once this show would make sense.

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Nicky throws the match and lets Ryan win. Ryan realizes right away what Nicky has done, but Nicky denies throwing the match, leaving Ryan to have a guilty look on his face about making the team.

In the hallway, Mr. Belding congratulates Ryan on a successful eating disorder and for making the team and reminds him that, conveniently, the match against Valley is tomorrow because who the hell cares about actually giving athletes a chance to practice and condition before the competition season starts.

Ryan confronts Nicky on throwing the match and Nicky tells Ryan that he did it because Ryan’s a whiny little bitch so now he gets to be on the team.

Katie tells Maria there’s still got to be a way to do a sports calendar and then opportunity falls stupidly on its ass.

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Yes, their brilliant idea is to do a calendar full of photos of Screech being sporty because it will supposedly appeal to the everyday person who isn’t much of an athlete…which makes sense in the mind of no one except the writer of this episode.

God, why me?

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So Screech shows up and almost immediately acts like a dumb ass, falling on his ass when he even tries to fake a shot. Oh god help me…vlcsnap-2015-07-29-19h25m23s247

So we get a montage of Screech having his picture taken in various athletic apparel. I wish he’d stick that fencing sword up his ass. At one point, Screech wears a basketball tank top for the “Panthers,” making me think the writers forgot what Bayside’s mascot is.

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And it all culminates in…OH DEAR GOD NO! SOMETHING I NEVER WANTED TO SEE! SCREECH IN NOTHING BUT A SPEEDO! WHY ME? WHY AM I BEING PUNISHED WITH IMAGES THAT WILL HAUNT MY DREAMS AND GIVE ME PTSD FLASHBACKS?!?! WHY ME?!?!? WHY!?!?!

Well, after having a bit of a meltdown there, I returned to writing this review, ensured that the resulting trauma will eventually be addressed using a cocktail of psychotropic drugs. I’m left with one question: who the hell will buy pictures of Screech in a Speedo? Luckily, Maria and Katie are able to produce the calendar overnight and sell it at the Valley match the next day, where people practically knock each other down to get pictures of Screech in a Speedo because…he makes them feel better about themselves. Well, this is true, but it’s not worth the nightmares and hallucinations. Trust me, I know.

The gang wait for Ryan to come out for his match, but, then…

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Nicky comes out wearing the singlet instead, suddenly without a t-shirt for some reason. Ryan tells the gang he felt guilty because Nicky threw the match to let him on the team and he couldn’t let Nicky do that.

Wait, the moral of this episode isn’t about male eating disorders. It’s about being a god damned fucking good sport. They had the chance to do something progressive with this episode and they choose to ignore Ryan doing things that were clinically unhealthy. Not only that, but these are the exact same fucking things they condemned Lindsay for doing a couple years ago, but this time it’s a guy so it’s okay. And it’s all in favor of a good sportsmanship moral…

FFFFFFFFUUUUUUUUUUUUCCCCCCCCCCCCKKKKKKKKKKKKKK!

I hate this show. I hate this show with all my guts. I want this show to die a slow agonizing death at the hands of the Olson twins and that Vicki robot from Small Wonder. Vengeance is mine. The New Class, your days are numbered…

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Naturally Nicky quickly wins the match because we’re running short on time and Screech is the referee which I’m sure is a conflict of interest and makes no sense but I don’t really care anymore because all hope I had for this episode is gone.

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And we still have one more scene I have to watch now that I’m really sad this episode vomited all over so much good potential, where basically Rachel tells Ryan she doesn’t give a fuck about wrestling and only liked it because it’s important to him and shit.

vlcsnap-2015-07-29-19h29m05s727And our episode ends with the audience losing their shit over Ryan and Rachel kissing at a private table for two in The Max, because we may not be able to have a progressive episode on this show, but at least the management of the god damned Max will always capitulate to the whims of our main characters.

Between seeing so much potential for this episode flushed down the toilet and witnessing the horror of Screech in a Speedo, I think I’m off to alternately drown my sorrows down with whiskey while vomiting, all the while crying that this is what my life has become.

Saved by the Bell Season 4, Episode 25: “The Time Capsule”

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We open  our penultimate episode with Mr. Belding completing the all important task of polishing his picture frames. It’s an older Mr. Belding, too, as you can tell because he has a mustache. Mustaches always indicate age.

Yes, it’s the year 2003, despite the fact that Mr. Belding is still in his old office when we know he got a new one in season two of The New Class. This is the clip show episode people have been warning me about since I started this blog. Oh, how bad can it be?

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Bad. Meet our graduating class of 2003, proving that the producers of The New Class never do stop recycling the character templates of the original series. This gang makes even Brian seem like a competently designed character by comparison, though, as they seem to enjoy talking in ways that openly people who haven’t been a teenager for a very long time would think teenagers talk. Also, I lived through 2003. I’m pretty sure their fashion was pretty outdated by then.

They tell Mr. Belding they found this metal case buried outside and Mr. Belding instantly recognizes it as a time capsule buried by the class of 1993. He says this was a special class and he was very close to it. Very close. He opens it and finds a video tape.

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Naturally, since the gang are the only members of this graduating class who matter, they’re the only ones featured on the tape. Yeah, this is how a real time capsule would look. Totally.

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They’re also apparently wizards because they rigged a booby trap for Mr. Belding that he somehow didn’t manage to set off in ten years, even with Screech all over his ass for much of that time. It’s nice to know Mr. Belding never opens that particular drawer in his file cabinet. It’s probably where he keeps his stash to cope with Screech.

The rest of the episode is about as competently produced as one would expect, as each member of the gang share their memories of their four years at Bayside featuring clips from the show where there was obviously never a camera present to record the events the time capsule is depicting. It also shows dream sequences, which means that there are cameras in their brains apparently.

It’s also strange how it’s supposed to be a retrospective of the series but the vast majority of it is clips from season one and two episodes. I don’t think they know what a retrospective is.

Also, Screech wants to pick up girls in the future. Nice to know he was always a creep with pedophile tendencies from the beginning.

In any case, all of the 2003 gang think their 1993 counterparts are super cool and they wish their 1993 counterparts were still around so they could make love to their prototypes.

The 1993 gang each give a message for the 2003 gang. Maybe this episode won’t be a complete waste and we’ll actually get some wisdom out of it? Nah, it’s just old cliches and character traits of our gang, complete with my commentary.

Jessie: Take care of our planet so the kids of 2103 can enjoy it as much as we do. Peace and love. [Jessie, the kids of 2103 will be much more concerned with caffeine pill addiction than environmental issues! Get with the program!]

Slater: Bayside was the first real home I ever had. Be good to it, or I’ll come and get you. [New Screech might actually enjoy the sound of that.]

Lisa: All my fashion secrets are taped to the back of my old locker, number 144. In the meantime, keep on rockin’ Bayside. [Nice to know Lisa’s characterization is shallow as ever.]

Screech: Class of 2003, let me leave you with one wise thought: be kind to geeks, dweebs, and nerds. Ten years from now, they’ll be the ones with all the money! [Except for Screech, who grew up to lose all his money to hookers and drugs, made a bad porno, pissed off his former cast mates by publishing a fake tell all book, and went to jail for assault.]

Kelly: No matter what happens, keep on smiling! And when life hands you a lemon, make some lemonade! [Keep on smiling, even through your loveless marriage to Zack Morris! Geez, I called Lisa’s characterization shallow? I guess this is the essence of Kelly: keep on smiling!]

Zack Morris: High school is the best time of your life! So love it, live it, and enjoy it! And, if you have any time left, do some homework. {And sometimes, in between, dress in drag and go on dates with your nerdy best friend.]

The real lesson here: clip show episodes suck, and having a premise you think is clever such as the gang recording a time capsule video doesn’t make them any better. I’m honestly unsure of which is worse: this or “Best Summer of My Life.”

And, before anyone says it, I know the premise of this episode directly contradicts the finale of The New Class. I’ll have more to say about that next year when I finally reach season seven, but, suffice it to say, both episodes can’t be true.

In any case, our episode ends with the gang smiling on as they prepare to go into the final episode…

Firsts: A look into the future.