The College Years Episode 17: “Love and Death”


vlcsnap-2015-12-15-18h36m38s119In our cold opening, Kelly blows off Zack Morris to go out with the girls Saturday and Screech is disappointed he doesn’t have a vagina so he can’t go, but he hopes maybe Zack Morris might go out with him instead. Zack Morris’s characterization here is more akin to his early original series self than what I’d hoped he’d evolved into. He’s possessive: Kelly should clear her schedule for him and he shouldn’t have to ask her out; it should be assumed her duty is to him and fuck everything else. Also, the plot thread that’s littered throughout this episode is, “Does she love me or not?” Love in The College Years has not progressed far beyond the original series.

More interesting, we find out what happened between Screech and Linda, his last girl: he “handled” her. I can only assume this means she’s six feet under with Danielle and that Screech will soon be appearing in an episode of Criminal Minds. This is why no woman should touch Screech, ever.


After the credits, we meet Professor Rich, who conducts his class in the student union because he’s edgy and shit. I haven’t the slightest clue what kind of class this guy is teaching. He mentions Paul Revere, but I don’t think it’s American history as he’s giving the standard Carpe Diem speech, encouraging his students to seize the day and even complementing Zack Morris on not paying attention to him so he can hit on Kelly. It’s the last day of yet another class that every one of the gang is in despite the fact that, at the beginning of the semester, they didn’t look like they’d be in any classes together. I don’t remember being in any college classes with all my friends. Sometimes I was lucky to know anyone at all. But this is The College Years, where a class can be a set of motivational speeches and no one bats an eye.


Speaking of which, Dean McMann decides that having class is too edgy so she makes sure to tone it down on the Robin Williams impersonation. Inspirational Robin Williams, not cross dressing Robin Williams or Martian Robin Williams. Yeah, I’m pretty sure there’s no university administrator around who actually gives a fuck if the classrooms are used or not. Dean McMann does, though, because she has to appear to be a strict prick. Also, she gets on her phone and arranges to have a bunch of students go to her office and drop their pants.

Zack Morris says he’s going to miss Professor Rich and the strong bond they’ve developed over the last couple of minutes and Professor Rich says not to worry: he’s going to Egypt tomorrow but he’s heard all about the loose boundaries with Cal U’s faculty so he’ll stop by his suite.

At the suite, the gang prepare a surprise party for Professor Rich and we find out Alex entrusted the cake with the only member of the gang less competent than her so it’s late. No introduction needed. Professor Rich knocks on the door and Zack Morris shoos everyone into the girls’ room until the cake gets there.



Zack Morris stalls Professor Rich by listening to Professor Rich tell Zack Morris how awesome he is. Professor Rich says he’s a fake and has played it safe his whole life. He’s never taken a risk. But Egypt will be the first time he’s actually taken his own advice.

On this note, Zack Morris goes into the girls’ room to find out what’s going on and they find out Screech has managed to wreck the cake store because he’s a complete dumb ass. Zack Morris says they can’t wait any longer so they all rush out and throw confetti and streamers on Professor Rich and…


Kelly pronounces him dead because she works for the student medical center and shit. Yeah, he died in this position and doesn’t move until Screech rushes in and makes an ass out of himself as usual by pushing the late professor over.  I’m no expert but I’m pretty sure someone who died wouldn’t just stay in this staged position. Fortunately, Leslie’s the only one with enough sense to call 911 as the rest just stand around agasp. Kelly, our potential future doctor, doesn’t even think to do CPR because we need Professor Rich to be dead to advance the rest of the episode.

I get really annoyed by one-off characters who die in their sole appearance. Both the original series and The New Class did it, and it frankly always falls flat because we’re not emotionally invested in this character. You know what would have been better? Rather than have Professor Lasky around, whose sole purpose has been to instigate conflict between Zack Morris and Kelly, why not have Professor Rich as a recurring character for the entire season and actually do some character development to make us care about him. That way, we’ll feel the sadness just as much as the gang does. Instead, I’m busy feeling numb because I don’t give a shit about this guy!

But this is Saved by the Bell. What do I expect? Good writing? That’s just crazy talk!


After a commercial break, we see the gang preparing for Professor Rich’s funeral. Yes, Screech is seriously dressing as a vampire because he doesn’t have a black suit. Why does anyone let him go out in public? A guy they supposedly care about died and the writers are playing it for laughs. How sensitive. And, yes, it gets worse.

Also, interesting enough, Screech tells Slater he’s been to a funeral: for his Grandfather Powers. Yes, the Grandfather Powers we’ll get to meet in season three of The New Class. Oh, Saved by the Bell, it’s so cute how you don’t give a shit about continuity.


Zack Morris decides that just before a funeral is the perfect time to find out if Kelly loves him or not, and she’s just as appalled at his insensitivity as I am. She finally relents and tells him that she can’t say she loves him because she wants to be a doctor and won’t have time for love, which is complete and utter bullshit of course. If it weren’t for the rest of the episode, I’d suspect that she’s just blowing him off, and not in the good way.


At the funeral, Mike shows up to fulfill his purpose of the episode: to run around asking if anyone wants to talk to someone who’s training to be a therapist. Yeah, that and pointing out that Screech is wearing high heels are Mike’s only contribution to the episode. I only wish I was joking about this.


Dean McMann shows up to give the eulogy and drops her cell phone in the casket. So she reaches in and gets her jewelry caught on Professor Rich’s shirt. So now we have Screech dressed in high heels as a vampire and Dean McMann with her hand stuck in Professor Rich’s casket. What a respectful way to send out someone the gang supposedly cared about so much.


Zack Morris interrupts in the middle of the dean’s eulogy to point out what Professor Rich told him about being a fraud. So Zack Morris says he doesn’t know about all the other chumps but he’s going to go out and seize the day by playing ultimate Frisbee in the cemetery because upsetting grieving loved ones is the perfect way to honor those who have died..


Back at the suite, the rest of the gang are worried about Zack Morris until he rides in on a motorcycle. Yeah, his idea of seizing the day is driving a motor vehicle in an area with lots of people who could be injured because that’s edgy. Yeah, the writers of this show wouldn’t know edgy if it bit them in the ass.


At the student union, Dean McMann tells Slater to call security because there’s an idiot climbing down the building.


Naturally, it turns out to be Zack Morris, who’s decided that repelling down the student union is a great prank, once again proving that the writers don’t know shit about college. Also, he deflates Dean McMann by not caring about being suspended, since he’s figured out that all authority figures in this universe eventually back down because he’s Zack Morris and he must be around until the end of the series.

For whatever reason, the writers decided to portray Slater as the reasonable one and he’s suddenly really uptight and judgmental about Zack Morris’s antics.


Kelly’s also judgmental but Zack Morris tells her she shouldn’t care since she can’t love him. She says he’s an idiot and could jump out of an airplane for all she cares, and he decides this is a really good idea. He goes to prepare for his ultimate edginess.


And he leaves Screech hanging outside the student union while the extras look on.  As far as I’m concerned, they can leave him like that the rest of the episode.

Back at the suite, Zack Morris peer pressures Slater to come along with him skydiving, citing his sudden change in characterization, but he doesn’t want to go until he finds out this would make him more pathetic than Screech as our resident moron has decided to jump out of a plane.


And, without any further delay, we’re on a plane. Yeah, they’re actually going to do it…except Screech and Slater both chicken out. Zack Morris says they’re pathetic and prepares to jump when the instructor starts receiving an alien message from a planet far, far, away.


No, it’s just Kelly at the airport but the alien thing might be more interesting. And, yes, the airport randomly decided to let Kelly use the radio to let Zack Morris know that she figured out off-screen that she loves him and doesn’t want him to jump out of a plane because I’m sure that doesn’t violate any FAA regulations. Zack Morris decides he doesn’t want to jump after all…


…but then the instructor almost pushes Zack Morris out of the plane. I have to give it to the producers on this one: at least they didn’t chicken out and do an obviously fake looking set: they actually got real footage in the air. Kudos on doing something right.

Zack Morris tells the instructor to turn the plane around because none of them are jumping. He does without closing the door…


…and all three fall out of the plane. Geez, this company is a law suit waiting to happen. What would they do if Slater and Screech had taken off their parachutes after they decided not to jump? Well, I mean, Screech could have and it wouldn’t have been the end of the world. Also, I can’t tell whether the three actors actually jumped or if it’s look alike stunt doubles. It’s sad that skydiving may be the best scene of this series so far.


Back at the airport, Zack Morris and Kelly kiss and declare their love for each other and shit and our episode ends with them practically fucking in the middle of the airport as Zack Morris breaks the fourth wall and asks for privacy.


During the credits, we get to see the set crew torturing Dustin Diamond, which is totally worth the extra scene.

4 responses to “The College Years Episode 17: “Love and Death”

  1. Doesn’t this series only have a few more episodes left? And the “Series Finale” is the Wedding in Vegas TV movie?

    IMO, there were many reasons why this show failed. But the main one for me is that it didn’t have the charm, the cheese factor or the over the top nature of the original show.

    No episodes about facial cream that turns your skin maroon. Screech can’t see into the future. No Buddy Bands. No music videos. No one acting like they had to go into prostitution for their caffeine pills addiction. Etc.

    Say what you will about the original show but those episodes are the ones people remember fondly. The only thing people remember about TCY is Zack and Kelly get married.

  2. I think the problem is that the College Years don’t seem to know what audience they want. Does it want to target the same demographic of tweens who watched the original series or does it want to skew towards an older audience? If it’s the former, then there are a bunch of issues that it can’t discuss because it’s “a kids show,” but if it’s the latter, being too smutty would tarnish the image of the characters, and perhaps the whole franchise. So what we end up with is a college show aimed at kids, which is really an odd mix. The goofiness that works at Bayside High doesn’t really work at Cal U.

  3. ILovedKellyKapowski

    What was the PURPOSE of this episode?

    To give the audience a lesson on Carpe Diem? To mourn the loss of a well-loved character we never met until now?

    No, the only purpose was to get Zack Morris and Kelly to be in love again (and start their journey to a wedding series finale), which is silly because at the end of the previous episode “Bedside Manner”, they were already starting up their relationship again. If you tacked on the last 30 seconds of this episode to “Bedside Manner”, no one would even be aware they missed an entire pointless episode.

    • Yeah for this episode to have worked it should have been Mike. The audience is aware of the gang’s connection to him so it would have seemed more genuine. He’s been hanging around all season with no real purpose, why not get something out him?

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