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.

Zack Morris and Slater commiserate over how awesome it is they’re adults now and don’t have to listen to stinkin’ adults any more but Screech naturally wants his mommy and is already on the phone with her because he loves his mom and it’s hilarious!vlcsnap-2015-08-21-20h55m54s932

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.

9 responses to “The College Years Episode 1: “Pilot”

  1. I remember the first indication that Kelly would be joining the series was a commercial. I believe it was narrated by Mike. There was a brief shot of Kelly, and I rewound the tape and paused it for confirmation. I just about lost my shit.

  2. No mention of the new theme song “Standing at the Edge of Tomorrow”? Not as catchy as the SBTB theme but not that bad.

  3. ILovedKellyKapowski

    Someone at Yale’s admissions office was ahead of the times, and realized that SAT scores are a poor indicator of future college academic performance, and rescinded Zack Morris’ admission.

    Zack Morris had to go to his backup school, Cal U, where the only admission requirement is plot convenience (which also explains how Kelly got in).

    Slater realizes he’s in love with Zack Morris, and gives up his full scholarship to Iowa in order to stay close to Zack Morris, and keep those towel-wearing college hussies away from his property.

  4. Its simple. Connecticut and Iowa isn’t as fun as California. It’s perfectly logical to give up ivy league and a full scholarship to stay in Cali and surf! Remember, that’s why SBTB left the Midwest. It’s all about the West Coast. Iowa and Connecticut have nothing. F.y.I. I am from CT so I know.

  5. How are you reviewing these College Years episodes, are they out there on DVD? If so, I’d like to know where you got them as I always really liked them, even better than the original series at times. Great site, keep up the good work!

    • There’s an out of print DVD set I have. You can sometimes come across it on Amazon or Ebay but you’re going to pay for it being out of print. Cheapest way is to download torrents since there seems to be no interest in reairing the episodes or releasing a decent DVD set.

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