Monthly Archives: January 2017

Saved by the Belding

In 2010, two brothers, Matt and Scott Hamilton, directed a short fan film about a group of four friends who not only think Rod Belding, Mr. Belding’s irresponsible brother, is real, but that he didn’t actually stand up the Bayside students on their rafting trip for a girl, and actually had the flu as Mr. Belding told them. When I first about this short film, I thought it sounded intriguing and, at twenty-two minutes, wouldn’t take a long time to watch.

Even more fascinating is that these young filmmakers got Dennis Haskins and Ed Blatchford , who played Rod in the episode “The Fabulous Belding Boys,” involved (Blatchford even helped write and produce the short!). This was no small feat considering that, according to IMDB, the entire thing was shot on a budget of $3,000. I know Dennis Haskins has a reputation for being a really nice guy and supporting fans, but I figured there had to be something he and Blatchford saw in this project in order to get involved. After all, Blatchford basically came out of retirement to do the short; he hadn’t had a project in five years and hasn’t been in anything since.

Indeed, there was something to this neat little film.

The genesis for Saved by the Belding was actually the Hamilton brother’s previous short, 2009’s Lost Heroes: Rod Belding. Shot in the style of True Access HollywoodLost Heroes features interviews with four young men who believe Saved by the Bell was a documentary about the real life antics of Bayside High, and that Rod Belding was a real person who inspired them to greatness. The nine minute short posits that everything started going wrong at Bayside after Rod disappeared, including Jessie getting hooked on caffeine pills, Slater and Jessie breaking up, and Tori’s existence. (I know they got the timelines a bit wrong, but I forgive them for this because I genuinely laughed at this, and I would like to blame Screech being at Bayside during The New Class on Rod’s disappearance.


This apparently lead them to expand the concept into the longer Saved by the Belding, shot in documentary style and following the action real time. Unfortunately, for whatever reason, the Hamilton brothers have removed the short from their YouTube channel so all that is still online is the trailer. As such, I’ll be working from memory on the details. I hope one day they restore the full short so it can be appreciated by a wide audience.

The basic premise is that the four main interviewees from Lost Heroes are in a Rod Belding support group being lead by a psychologist who is a “Rodologist.” They are constantly at each other’s throats about whether Rod actually had the flu or not, and asides from the psychologist reveal he knows Rod Belding isn’t real, but realizes his patients aren’t getting anywhere with their therapy. As such, he decides to send them to California to find Rod Belding.

In California, they actually do find Ed Blatchford, who initially thinks, with the cameras around, they’re a crew from True Hollywood Story. Ed eventually figures out they’re not from the show, but still plays along, even letting them call him Ed and inviting them out for dinner.

But, at dinner, Ed runs into a female acquaintance in town for the night who wants to have some fun with ole’ Eddy. He decides to ditch the four, and Dennis Haskins randomly shows up for a recreation of the scene from “The Fabulous Belding Boys” where Mr. Belding chews out Rod for ditching the students as Ed basically takes the line of, “What the fuck are you doing, Dennis?” Instead of Zack Morris, this time one of the four overhears, and Dennis ends up having dinner with the four instead, with the one who overheard remarking, as before, they got the better Belding.

The short is magnificently shot, especially considering the budget they were working with. It could actually be believed that they were doing a documentary on four really naive kids who wanted to find the real Rod Belding. I can’t emphasize enough as well how awesome it is that both Haskins and Blatchford were so heavily involved in the project. It really is awesome that they support their fans so much they did this.

In the end, it’s a good-spirited send up of “The Fabulous Belding Boys” and Saved by the Bell in general. You can tell those involved in the making of the short are fans and having a lot of fun in the production. I have made my opinion abundantly clear on numerous occasions that I think “The Fabulous Belding Boys” is the best episode of the original class, so I think it’s great that the film picked this episode to do a parody of. I feel like, if they had focused on other episodes such as “Jessie’s Song” or “Running Zack,” it could have felt really overdone considering how cliche those episodes have become. But “The Fabulous Belding Boys” is just well known enough that the whole concept feels original, funny, and a little believable, since the inability to tell the difference between fiction and reality is a real mental condition.

The Hamilton brothers appear to have moved on to other ventures after directing just a few more shorts, which is a shame since they’re clearly talented. They each did a bit of work on legit documentaries, so it would be interesting to see what else they could do. And, hell, with their connections, maybe they could even do a send up to the horrible Lifetime biopic.

In any case, next week we’ll look at a second fan film, one I’m not as big a fan of.

Behind the Bell


In 2009, Dustin Diamond published a tell-all book about Saved by the BellBehind the Bell was touted as the book that would give you all the juicy gossip behind the scenes and drop bombshells about what the cast was really like. In the end, the book actually damaged Dustin Diamond’s reputation and left most of his former cast mates refusing to speak to him or even appear publicly with him.

Diamond’s since went into full damage control, claiming that an unnamed and unspecified ghost writer wrote the entire thing and filled it with lies. He’s attempted to reconcile with the cast, and some, such as Dennis Haskins and Mario Lopez, seem to have accepted his apology. Others have not been so eager. He was even snubbed from the Jimmy Fallon skit.

I don’t believe Diamond for a second. I think he’s full of shit and thought that throwing his former cast mates under the bus would somehow jump start his career. After all, he was on The Howard Stern Show just before the release of the book bragging about his supposed truth bombs. I think when the entire project bit him in the ass, he suddenly realized he had to backpedal, and has been trying to resurrect his reputation ever since.

Naturally, the book is out of print, but I obtained a copy and decided to read it all the way through in order to tell you guys what I thought. Is the book as bad as critics claim? Let’s find out!


The introduction is basically a few pages of Dustin Diamond talking about how shitty Hollywood is. He does take a moment to trash a former cast mate for the first time, in this case Tiffani-Amber Thiessen, saying Hollywood turned her into a whore. This sort of character assassination posing as gossip is a running theme of this book, as we’ll see.

Part 1: The Beginning

Dustin Diamond claims within the first part that he’s not trying to paint a woe is me portrait of his life on the Saved by the Bell set, but he sure does seem that way. What this section taught me is that he has no clue the meaning of the phrase, “If you have nothing good to say, say nothing at all.” The entire section is basically about how almost everyone in Dustin Diamond’s life was a meanie pants who wouldn’t let him play with the cool kids.

And, ironically, his reason for not liking many of them is because they acted like kids. Fred Savage once did something kid like on The Wonder Years, so he’s an asshole. Neil Patrick Harris had an ego like a kid who’s starring in one of television’s hottest shows. Mark-Paul Gosselaar and Tiffani-Amber Thiessen thought they were all great because the fans loved them. Really, he just goes on and on about how everybody was jerks.

Well, almost everybody. He seems to have been in love with Hayley Mills. And Brandon Tartikoff kissed his ass so he was okay with him. He seems to like Dennis Haskins even though he talks shit about his ability to get women. And he has sympathy for Lark Voorhies because he seems to think she was raped or abused or something.

Dustin Diamond is also a petty, petty man. He dedicates entire sections to hammering out old, petty grievances with each of the cast members, although much of his vitriol is directed at Mark-Paul. They each did him wrong so he’s going to get them back, including talking about a rape Mario Lopez supposedly committed and then NBC covered up, which makes me wonder why Mario’s not suing Dustin Diamond for libel instead of inviting him on Extra.

And the jealous talk about sex. To hear Dustin Diamond talk, everyone was fucking everyone except him, and isn’t it just too god damned bad he was left out. As if that’s enough, his section on Elizabeth Berkley is basically devoted to how she saw a picture of his penis once and how he got to see her naked long before Showgirls.

Remarkably, for a section called “The Beginning,” there is very little information on Dustin Diamond’s life before Saved by the Bell. What little he does give seems to be designed to paint himself in a good light as a kid who started from the bottom, unlike all those other child actors who…started from the bottom I guess.  He seems really in a hurry to trash his co-stars, so he doesn’t give much background.

Chronological errors in this section:

  • Dustin Diamond places the release of Showgirls in 1995, but says Elizabeth Berkley was still on the cast of Saved by the Bell after its release. He seems oblivious to the fact that The New Class was getting ready to start its third season by that point and Berkley left Saved by the Bell in 1992. Thus, everything he says about the reaction to Showgirls is a fucking lie.
  • He tries to insinuate Ed Alonzo and Neil Patrick Harris were fucking around. Neil Patrick Harris says this is years before he even knew Ed Alonzo.

His memory of Anthony Harrell’s siblings appearing on The New Class also doesn’t seem to be accurate as he claims they were playing a band that had just lost its singer and Eric filled in. In reality, Harrell’s siblings were playing Eric’s siblings.

Why is Dustin Diamond talking about Anthony Harrell in this section you ask? Because it’s Dustin Diamond and he can’t go two pages without a completely unrelated tangent. He’s just that horrible a writer.

Part II: How the Magic Happened—A Week in the Life of SBTB

This may end up being my favorite section of the book as it’s one of the few where I can actually believe half the shit Dustin Diamond says. As the title would suggest, Dustin Diamond takes you through the work week and explains what it was like to work for a television show. It’s actually quite fascinating and I quite enjoyed picturing what it must be like to be a star week in and out.

Mind you, that doesn’t mean it’s all good. He takes the time to give more subtle jabs at Mario Lopez, Tiffani-Amber Thiessen, Fred Savage, and Neil Patrick Harris. Oddly enough, after accusing them all of being assholes for doing stupid shit, he brags about peeing in an extra’s purse and putting a bottle of Ex-lax in a member of the crew’s drink–or, more precisely, his drink he knew the crew member would steal.

Interesting enough, Diamond claims that “Slater’s Friend” is the least-aired episode of the series. He says even all the cast and he were unable to shoot the episode without laughing every few minutes because it was so ridiculous. I get the out of season episodes are bad, but I didn’t think “Slater’s Friend” was worse than, say, “Screech’s Birthday” or “The Babysitters.”

And it wouldn’t be Dustin Diamond if he weren’t bragging about his prowess with the ladies which, at this point, is beginning to just sound pathetic. He brags about getting audience members and extras to do shit with him and then tries to justify why he’s not a loser at it like Mario Lopez. How noble of him.

In the end, the theme of this section is, “Look, ma, I’m a real actor and all professional like and shit!”

Part III: Famous as Shit

So we went from the best part of the book to the worst. I swear to god, part three spends a large chunk of its time talking about girls Dustin Diamond has fucked. Like seriously, he keeps referring to his penis as a monster and talking in the most sexist terms possible about how much he enjoyed fucking all these girls. Seriously, all the shit he talks about regarding other people, and he brags about picking up foreign girls at Disneyland who recognize him from Saved by the Bell and fucking them.

I feel dirty.

On top of that, he’s turning out to be one of the most sexist guys I’ve ever encountered. Seriously, these girls were nothing but props to him, living, breathing sex dolls, and he has the gall to talk smack about Mark-Paul and Mario fucking around. Seriously, does he have no semblance of measure? He’s making himself out to be such a fucking asshole I don’t even have words.

Perhaps the chapter in this section that nauseated me more than any was him bragging about an affair with Linda Mancuso, who was VP of children’s programming at NBC. You can tell he’s doing his damndest to try to write an erotic account of his time with her, but it just comes off like someone who has no clue what sex or romance is. What’s worse, Mancuso died in 2003, so there’s no way she can defend herself against Dustin Diamond’s bullshit.

His timeline is completely off for his relationship with Mancuso as well. He claims he was fucking her while Saved by the Bell was still going on, but then he says he got his driver’s license shortly before he had sex with her for the first time. If he was eleven when Good Morning, Miss Bliss started, Dustin Diamond would not have turned sixteen until either The College Years or the second season of The New Class.

But, seriously, he wants you to think he fucked all kinds of extras and an executive at NBC.

There’s also a chapter about how he was pissed that Tiffani-Amber Thiessen went to Paris with Mark-Paul instead of him (boo hoo) and one about a violent stalker who tried to set his house on fire, forcing him to move in with the Thiessen family for protection. Perhaps the most bizarre, and infuriating, chapter was a random account of his misadventures with cats and how he seriously brags that he shot his neighbor’s cat with a BB gun to scare it away from messing with his cats. I really have no idea what it had to do with anything else in the book at all other than to further illustrate how fucked up Dustin Diamond is.

By the time I got to the second to last chapter, I was seriously wondering why I was now reading Dustin Diamond brag about all the celebrities he’s met. No, really, that’s the entirety of the second to last chapter. But there are no words for the final chapter, his account of how an extra used him and tried to blackmail him and sue NBC.

Like the previous sections, there are random tangents that have nothing to do with anything, like Mark-Paul urinating in public and Sidney Sharron, the set teacher, having to get him out of it when a police officer witnessed it, and Dustin Diamond’s history with marijuana. There’s also a bizarre account of him getting drunk the night before a promotional appearance in South Carolina and claiming that it was such a disaster the local affiliate dropped Saved by the Bell after that. I need proof of this story actually happening since I find it hard to believe that wouldn’t have made the tabloids.

This section should have been titled, “Hey, guys, I’m cool! Please believe me! I’m cool!” I feel a little sick to my stomach after reading it, and it was the longest section in the book. Dustin Diamond claims everyone else were such huge jerks. Maybe they were. But he’s the biggest of them all and dares to point fingers when all fingers should be pointing at him.

Part IV: The Denouncement

This is a weird section. Diamond has the expected, obligatory chapters on The College Years and The New Class. Yet he talks very little about those shows in their respective chapters. In fact, he really only gives two brief vignettes from The College Years before going off on a tangent about Mark-Paul injuring himself while training for Circus of the Stars and then giving his own woe-is-me story about how he got injured playing at a concert.

There’s no real analysis of why The College Years failed other than Drew Carey and some critics hated it and how pissed off Diamond was that Tiffani-Amber wiggled her way into it. What’s worse, the entire last part of that chapter is all about the final season of the original Saved by the Bell. Yeah, Diamond can’t even stay on topic for a chapter. He talks about the graduation episode and the Tori episodes and continue spewing bullshit about his imaginary timeline for Showgirls. Not only that, he claims Tiffani-Amber joined the cast of Beverly Hills, 90210 immediately after she quit Saved by the Bell, apparently forgetting he was just fucking complaining about her joining The College Years!

He also talks a bit about Wedding in Las Vegas so he can take the opportunity to brag about fucking a Vegas showgirl, the classy guy he is, and accuses Mark-Paul of taking steroids during The College Years. As if that’s not enough, he randomly decides to talk about how Tori Spelling had no boobs in those years and wanted to fuck Mark-Paul, apparently jealous she didn’t want him in real life.

For The New Class, he mostly complains that Brett Dewey was purposely making homoerotic scenes for Mr. Belding and Screech while getting dates very wrong. For instance, he claims that Richard Lee Jackson replaced Robert Sutherland Telfer for season two, even when a photo in his own book clearly shows Christian Oliver in the blonde lead role for the second season. He also claims he grew his hair out into a curly Afro during the final season to divorce himself from the Screech character, even though that was seasons four and five and he was back to short hair for seasons six and seven.

Yeah, he claims that he grew his hair out and did the horrible Screech voice because he thought that would allow future casting directors to separate Dustin Diamond from Screech and not typecast him. He must have been a fucking moron if he really thought that.

He doesn’t get very much into his post-The New Class career. He devotes a chapter to complaining that Hollywood screwed him over because the live action Scooby-Doo movie was his idea and he wanted to play Shaggy and fuck Matthew Lillard and all that shit. He talks about doing stand-up on the college circuit and about how he moved to Wisconsin. He waxes poetic about his messed-up childhood and reveals that his parents squandered most of his money; as a result, he’s not on speaking terms with his father. And he talks about his reality show days, claiming he’s not really an asshole, but it was another role he was playing.

Perhaps the most hypocritical part of the book, though, is when Dustin Diamond complains about people labeling other people based on roles, like how Screech was a nerd. I say it’s hypocritical because he spends most of the book labeling his co-stars and other random celebrities who caught his ire. So, fuck you, Dustin Diamond. Fuck you.


After spending nearly three-hundred pages talking shit and whining, Dustin Diamond switches to philosopher in the last few pages and talks about how, despite everything, he misses playing Screech, but will fight anyone who talks shit to him. Yeah, I think that’s where some of your legal trouble has come from. In the end, it’s an attempt to justify some of the pretentiousness of the rest of the book, and falls completely flat.

My Thoughts

One Amazon reviewer made the claim that this book is basically Dustin Diamond pleading with you, the reader, to think he’s cool. I’m tempted to agree, but I think it’s more than that. Imagine you walked into a bar and saw a drunk Dustin Diamond. You decide you want to speak to this guy who was on one of your favorite shows as a kid, and you ask him what it was like to do Saved by the Bell. This book is the drunken ramblings that follow as Diamond talks shit about everything that comes to his mind.

It’s not a book, really. I’ve read plenty of great biographies and memoirs. This is not one of them. It really has no cohesive structure, and can’t even be said to be chronological considering he seems to write this stream of thought, complete with confusing and boring tangents as well as enough sexism to make me think Dustin Diamond was taking cues from Bill Cosby.

The entire book is about how the cool kids didn’t let Dustin Diamond play with their toys, and now he, a man in his thirties at the time, is pissed and wants to get back at them. It comes off as a pathetic attempt to cash in on his washed-up celebrity status.

What’s worse, the book doesn’t seem to have been edited or even proofread before publication. There are horrible line breaks where there should be none, random repeats of paragraphs, and misspellings all over the place. The book is of such low quality I’m honestly surprised it got published.

This book makes me hate Dustin Diamond. I don’t believe for a second he didn’t write this, and he’s just such an asshole. His high profile run-ins with the law since publication of Behind the Bell seem to confirm this. In any case, I have no sympathy for him and the consequences of publishing this piece of trash. He made his bed. Now he’s sleeping in it.

Who Shrunk Saturday Morning?


I feel like kids these days are deprived in a way. With 24/7 access to cartoons and other children’s programming via cable, they have no idea how big of a deal Saturday mornings once were for the big three (later four and then five) networks and their cartoons. They were damned competitive. What many forget is that, for many years, the networks aired half-hour preview specials showing all the new and returning shows in an effort to convince kids to give their loyalty to their network for the season. Yeah, there was rarely any switching between networks. If you failed to keep a young viewer for a full program, you were screwed. I remember watching these specials, deciding all serious like what cartoons I would watch that year.

1989’s Who Shrunk Saturday Morning? was NBC’s second-to-last Saturday morning preview show. They would do one more in 1991 before the mostly-Peter Engel produced TNBC shows bumped all NBC’s cartoons off the air. This one was, ironically hosted by the cast of the series that would eventually lead to the death of cartoons on NBC, Saved by the Bell, thus why we’re here today. So what happens in this bizarre little short? Why, I’m glad you asked! Let’s find out!


We open in Bayside’s classroom to find Slater, Kelly, Jessie, and Lisa delivering some exposition about how there’s a truant officer looking for Zack Morris. Yeah, there’s actually a very thin plot to this thing, even though there’s not a single laugh to be had, despite the fact that would have been the best advertisement for Peter Engel’s new show. There’s shocked to discover Zack Morris and Screech on the television in the middle of a laser tag arena.


Turns out Zack Morris and Screech can hear every word they’re saying, and Zack Morris says Screech hit them with his shrinking machine, which naturally somehow put them inside every television in the world at the same time. It’s sad when this is already making the leaps of logic on the series proper look reasonable by comparison. Jessie, the supposedly smart one, says she doesn’t know how they’re pulling this off, but they better get their asses to Bayside because being inside the television is no reason to be absent from school. Screech tells the rest of the gang they just need to go to his house and hit the reverse button on the shrinking machine. Slater and Lisa decide to take on the task and head to Screech’s house.


In Screech’s basement, Slater and Lisa discover the machine shooting a laser at Screech’s television. Slater tells Lisa to stand clear of the beam while he looks for the switch, which she automatically interprets to mean wave your hand in front of the beam like a dumb ass. Slater jumps in, trying to keep her from shrinking…


…and soon Slater and Lisa find themselves sucked into the world of the Lite Bright, too.


As they contemplate how they’re going to get out of wherever the hell they are, they discover their first guest, ALF, who tells them they’re in Saturday Morning Land. Not thinking anything of randomly meeting ALF, they ask him how to get the hell out, and, instead of answering their question, airs some clip from his new cartoon, ALF Tales, because that was really helpful to their situation.

The gang are impressed, so ALF shows them another clip and then tells them they need to search out the Master Programmer as the gang whine about the possibility of getting kicked out of school and shit, because that’s their biggest problem right now.


ALF sends them on their way along a Tron dance floor to find the Master Programmer.


They soon meet the Micro Machines guy, who’s apparently just there because they thought the kids would mistakenly believe he’s a main character in something this year. He’s some kind of circuit maker who fits people in their show slots or some shit, and, when he discovers they’re not in a show, tells them to leave the Master Programmer alone, and then disappears in the world’s stupidest cameo.


Back at Bayside, we’re introduced to the truant officer, Marsha Warfield, who apparently wants to sick some vicious dogs on the gang or some shit. In two hours, she tells Kelly and Jessie the rest of the gang will be on permanent detention if they aren’t back. I’m not so sure what’s magical about the two hours, but I guess they thought it would create some fake tension. If anything, this is reminding me of one of the truths I’ve discovered in reviewing twelve years worth of this franchise: Bayside’s faculty are always insane.


Back in the television, the rest of the gang discover a really shoddily constructed Japanese shrine containing a glowing orb with a voice Slater identifies as Mr. Miyagi. Sure doesn’t sound like Mr. Miyagi to me. He’s here to introduce us to the short-lived Karate Kid cartoon. Yeah, it only lasted thirteen episodes because it was shit. After his promotional indulgence, Mr. Miyagi gives them the helpful advice to follow the path they are on and they will be rewarded. I want to know what the hell kind of drugs the writers were on to equate Mr. Miyagi with a glowing orb.


They soon find their way to a big doorway with a smoke machine attached, which Zack Morris, Slater, and Lisa go through to find themselves in the land of the Smurfs. (Screech apparently doesn’t like Smurfs because their homoerotic tendencies make him feel funny inside.) Papa Smurf gives us a preview of what the new season has in store for the Smurfs involving dinosaurs, and I love how they don’t question where Papa Smurf’s disembodied voice is coming from.


They soon find themselves at Camp Candy, where they meet John Candy himself and are, unfortunately, rejoined by Screech, who I guess was just off masturbating in a corner while the rest were visiting the Smurfs. John Candy gives a preview of Camp Candy, but I can’t help but think during this segment how much I miss having John Candy in the world. If this special reminds me of nothing else, it’s that John Candy kicked ass!

Screech wants to stay behind at Camp Candy, but John Candy doesn’t want someone who’s going to grow up to be such a dumb ass in his cartoon. He sends them on their way to go back home, but tells them the Master Programmer is stressed because he’s missing a show for Saturday morning.


Soon they find their way to a bad eighties video, where there are signs pointing to, ironically, lots of NBC prime time shows, including ALFCheersNight CourtThe Cosby Show, and Unsolved Mysteries. You know, back when NBC actually had prime time shows worth watching. I’m not sure why these are here if it’s Saturday Morning Land, but I’m sure very little thought was put into the logic of how this world works.

The Micro Machines guy shows up again and tells them to use their imagination about what kinds of things they’d like to see on Saturday morning, so Screech uses his imagination, and I half expected to see a Mr. Belding porno come up on screen.


Instead, he leads them to a giant Nintendo joystick where, you guessed it, a preview for Captain N and the Game Masters, one of Nintendo’s first forays into horrible adaptations of its intellectual properties, comes on.


Back at Bayside, Kelly and Jessie watch the rest at the Alvin and the Chipmunks house, where the Chipmunks do their usual horrible covers of an old sixties song. Yeah, I can’t understand what  ever saw in that show.


Marsha Warfield comes along and mercifully turns off the Chipmunks’ screeching, asking what the fuck that was. She reminds Kelly and Jessie the rest of the gang have five minutes to make it back before they’re in trouble, in case anyone was actually invested in the plot of this thing.


Back in the TV, Zack Morris and company discover the Master Programmer watching the Saturday morning cartoons on a bunch of monitors for some reason.


Turns out he’s Sherman Hemsley, who was relevant again for a short time due to starring in a NBC sitcom again. Sherman tells them he’ll send them back to Bayside, but only if they agree to be in the missing television show. The others think that’s a great idea but wonder what they’d look like as a silly, nonsensical sitcom, and he shows them clips from their own show. I wonder if these things actually happened to the gang at this point, or if he’s predicting the future? That’s pretty freaky if we’re finding out Sherman Hemsley is psychic. He sends them back and, as much as I wish he’d keep Screech so The New Class had never happened, sends him along with them.

Back at Bayside, Marsha Warfield’s excited that she’s going to get to enforce her arbitrary rules against the gang, but then they pop back into existence out of thin air before her very eyes just before the bell rings, because, get it, they were saved by the bell! Isn’t that a hilarious in joke? Laugh damn it! It took the writers a whole five minutes to think that one up! And our special ends with no one questioning the nature of their reality now that they know Saturday morning shows exist in their universe, controlled by Sherman Hemsley and the Micro Machines guy.

After reviewing the shitty New Class for so long, it was nice to see the original Saved by the Bell gang in action again, especially looking so young and full of life. Even Screech is his much more tolerable and younger self. This special raises so many questions, though. Were the gang self-aware they’re a badly written television series all along?

In any case, we now know why Marsha Warfield came to Thanksgiving at Cal U: to finally get her revenge on Zack Morris for the humiliation of not being able to punish him for truancy even though he was truant.

Saved by the Bell: The New Class…Reviewed!

Saved by the Bell - The New Class

In philosophy, there is a theory that says all possible worlds exist in the same way ours does. So, there is a possible world out there somewhere in which The New Class was not cancelled after season seven. Instead, it continued with Screech as principal and a consistently rotating class, and is still airing to this day. In this possible world, critics look at The New Class as an icon of television in the same way they do The SimpsonsFamily GuySouth ParkLaw & OrderGunsmoke, and other long running shows. Also, Dustin Diamond is a sex icon and all the ladies yearn to be fucked by him.

Fortunately, that is not the possible world we exist in and, on January 8, 2000, the final new episode of The New Class aired, marking an end to the official Saved by the Bell franchise. It’s hard to believe that the franchise which always seemed a decade behind in its fashion and music managed to squeak into the twenty-first century, but it happened.

Meanwhile, in my world, I was blissfully unaware of how horrible a show I’d managed to miss. After all, I was nineteen at the time the show went off the air, so, not only am I as old as some of the cast, but I was the target demographic. Fortunately, I was busy getting into anime and B-movies so I had no time for what seemed like a stupid and brainless American teen comedy.


Was I right to skip this series? Oh, fuck yeah! I had much better things to do with my time and much better shows to watch. But The New Class was still hanging around, waiting for a reviewer with a high tolerance for pain to review every stinkin’ episode. I’d like to say it was because I’d watched so much Mystery Science Theater 3000 growing up, but I would rather watch most of the movies on there any day without Joel, Mike, and the bots riffing them than ever watch another god damned second of this stupid shit.

And, so, I’ve done what no other reviewer I know of has ever done: I’ve reviewed the complete official franchise, including The New Class. Plenty have done the original series, and many, including my reviewing idol, Billy Superstar, have included Good Morning, Miss Bliss and The College Years, but none that I know of have ever tackled this shit stain of a show. Oh, how I envy them. I can’t unsee the last three years of my life, no matter how much I would like to.


So how did a franchise that was once a guilty pleasure so-bad-it’s-good type show that is fondly remembered by many turn into this? Well, I’ll give you three guesses, and, if you say anything other than Peter Engel and NBC wanted to keep the cash cow that was Saved by the Bell going, you lose. It actually made sense for the original Saved by the Bell to go off the air after four seasons. But it had become a cult favorite by that point and NBC wasn’t so willing to let it go.

And so we got the horrible spin-offs that were The College Years and The New Class. Fortunately, they got rid of The College Years after a season. But why did The New Class stick around so long? I’ve had people argue to me that the reason was because it was good. No, the real reason was a Saturday morning show didn’t need the type of ratings a prime time one did, and The College Years just couldn’t compete while The New Class didn’t need to because kids can be stupid and will watch any old shit. So, no, I do not consider seven seasons of this show a real success when it was carrying the Saved by the Bell brand.

It wasn’t helped by its constantly revolving cast. I have no idea for sure why so many teenagers graced the halls of Bayside on The New Class. If I had to guess, though, I would say that, at least in some cases, the cast got too cocky and wanted more money. Dustin Diamond claims in his book that Peter Engel was unforgiving when it came to money, and this is why Kelly and Jessie didn’t return for the final episodes of Saved by the Bell. If this is true (and it is admittedly difficult to tell what that comes out of Diamond’s mouth is real), I would say some of them demanded raises and then walked when they didn’t get them. How else do you explain that Maria was with the series for four filmed seasons, but no one else made it past three? I could especially see this with, say, Bianca Lawson and Richard Lee Jackson, Bianca because she probably genuinely deserved a raise, Richard because he thought he deserved more as Jonathan Jackson’s brother.


The real test is how well the show is remembered today and, as my commenters have pointed out, it’s really not. Many people remember Peter Engel’s other shows such as California DreamsHang TimeCity Guys, and even USA High. But how many really remember The New Class? Not a lot. In fact, it hasn’t been in syndication in at least a decade, and the DVDs are out of print now. For a show that lasted so long, The New Class has had virtually no staying power, and that really says a lot to me about how forgotten this series is.

I mean, people talk about Zack Morris, Slater, Kelly, and even Screech all the time as television icons from their childhood, but when was the last time you heard someone talking about the wacky Swiss boy, Brian, or the pretty gymnast, Lindsay, or the…whatever the hell he’s supposed to be, Tony. At their worst, characters from The New Class made me want to punch my screen. At best, they were bland and uninteresting with no definable characteristics.


That’s because, at its core, The New Class wasn’t about the teenagers. It was about Mr. Belding and Screech, the only two consistent characters over the seven season run. Even when they try to focus on the teenagers, there has to be a subplot between these two, even if it’s ridiculous and contrived. I have a theory: The New Class is really about Mr. Belding’s slow mental breakdown. In the first season, he’s enjoying his job as he’s adjusting to life as a father. When Screech returns to Bayside, his sanity is slowly drained as time and time again Screech makes his life a living hell and makes him look like a complete fool to his colleagues. By the seventh season, Mr. Belding is ready to snap when he gets one final chance to get the hell away from Screech and takes it.

Really, it makes sense. I’ve seen a fan theory that suggested the time capsule clip show episode from the original series was really Mr. Belding imagining what his life would be like had Screech never came to work at Bayside. And it’s sad, indeed, to watch a once great character go downhill so much. Mr. Belding was not Mr. Belding any longer on this show. Instead, he was around to be Screech’s punching bag, and that’s not how I want to remember this character.


The New Class suffered from never having a real identity of its own and always trying to imitate the original, not to mention a few plots ripped directly from other Peter Engel sitcoms. It was most blatant in the first season, but it never really disappeared. In fact, if anything, the more subtle the plagiarism became, the worse the show was.

To me, this is the real reason the series has had no staying power. In the absence of no real identity of its own, the series is instantly forgettable once you turn it off. I didn’t realize until I started putting the bottom ten list for this series together just how many episodes I’ve already forgotten from this series. Is there truly a reason to watch it over and over again?

This was compounded by the fact that the show tried to take all the things the original is remembered for and multiply them. An attempt to recapture the glory days of Malibu Sands led to a tradition of staging episodes in increasingly more ridiculous settings away from Bayside. People’s memory of Saved by the Bell‘s very special episodes led to some pretty horrible, preachy messages that got worse as the seasons rolled on.  Even Screech inventing a robot led to the invention of Kevin’s mentally challenged brother.

All, in all, I don’t have much more to say about this series or its characters I haven’t already said. It should have never seen the light of day, and then it stuck around for seven years with the most incompetent writers and cast I’ve ever seen.


I think Billy Superstar got off easy reviewing Full HouseThe New Class was a horrible, painful experience from start to finish, and, once I’m finished with this blog, I never plan on watching it again. I spent nearly three years reviewing this damned show, and I feel like I’m dumber for the experience. I think it shows in my reviews as well. At times, I wondered how many more ways I could find to express my disgust with this show’s cast and its writers. One commenter even suggested a drinking game every time I call Screech a dumb ass.

And it’s the truth. I completely get why I’m the first person to review this series all the way through. It’s the ugly stepchild of the franchise and, I dare say, if they ever have a reunion movie, it would not surprise me in the least if they retcon everything from this show and declare it non-canonical. It’s time to leave this show behind, with my recommendation that no sane person ever put themselves through what I have. Unless you’re a sado-masochst, there’s really no reason you need to subject yourself to The New Class.

So what now for this blog? Well, I’m not quite done with the Saved by the Bell franchise yet. I probably won’t finish reviewing the comics as the Harvey ones are just fucking horrible and the Roar Comics ones are…well…actually pretty decent, making it very difficult for me to find stuff to make fun of in them. I reviewed the first volume of the Roar Comics version, so that should be enough to give interested people a taste.

That said, there are still some odds and ends in the extended Saved by the Bell universe I want to take a look at, so I’m going to spend the next couple months or so looking at some of the odder corners of this franchise. When I’m done, I will be doing a final retrospective on the franchise as a whole as well as this blog. In the meantime, though, tune in next Monday as we delve into the first installment of the odd, odd world of the extended universe with Who Shrunk Saturday Morning?

The New Class: The Ten Worst Episodes

Last year, I concluded my reviews of the original class by counting down the best and worst episodes from the three series featuring them. I knew, from the beginning, I wanted to give that sort of treatment for The New Class as well. The problem is there’s only two episodes from this series I actually like. “What’s the Problem?” from season three is actually a very well written episode and the highlight of the series for me, proving the writers could pull off very special episodes, while season seven’s “A Mall Shook Up” is just so ridiculous and over the top that I put it in the “so bad it’s good” category.

So, suffice it to say, there won’t be a top ten best episodes list for this series. If you want to know about the episodes I liked, go read the individual reviews. What may be an even more difficult challenge, though, is narrowing down the ten worst episodes of this god forsaken series, considering almost every episode is horrible and unwatchable. With that in mind, here are my picks for the ten worst episodes of The New Class!

Number 10: Season 1, Episode 3: “A Kicking Weasel”


Overall, season one wasn’t terrible, especially compared to what came after, but this one grates on my nerves for some reason. It really feels like the writers don’t understand how football work and that field goals are a relatively minor part of the game, something even I, as a non-football fan, knows. Being able to kick the ball really high, in itself, would not have gotten Weasel on the football team, and it certainly wouldn’t have made him a star player.

That alone wouldn’t have been enough to get this episode on the list, but combine that with the fact the producers didn’t even bother to try to make Weasel look like he could kick the ball. Seriously, watch the attached video clip: he basically kicks the ball across the set, not at the angle shown.  A pretty lazy episode from  pretty lazy season of the show.

Number 9: Season 2, Episode 20: “Drinking 101”


The New Class was at its worst when it was being preach and shit, and this episode is no exception. Alcohol is the devil’s brew, and don’t you forget it! It might make you brain dead like Tommy D and make you want to drive a snowmobile drunkenly and shit! Combine that with the horrible subplot about Mr. Belding spraining his ankle by tripping over some skis and you’ve got a recipe for a pretty horrible episode.

It certainly doesn’t help that Brian is the voice of reason in this episode. I swear, he makes me want to punch his face with every succeeding scene. The reason this isn’t higher on the list is because, unlike some of the other episodes on the list, this one actually does seem like it’s trying, even if it’s written by people who have probably never taken a drink in their lives.

Number 8: Season 7, Episode 9: “Party Animals”


Speaking of drinking, let’s put another horrible anti-alcohol episode on this list. I swear, this episode is like a caricature of what the producers think teenagers are like drunk. Everyone peer pressures Katie into drinking when she doesn’t want to, and she ends up being an asshole to everyone. But it’s okay because she and Nicky promise they won’t ever drink again, not even when they go off to college, a promise I bet they broke within like five minutes of arrival.

The episode doesn’t even feel like it’s trying, and all consequences are shown off-screen. In the end, the only reasons given for not drinking are that underage drinking is illegal and you might act like a jerk. So I guess if you’re twenty-one and you know you’re not an angry or sarcastic drunk, it’s okay, which I’m sure is not the message Peter Engel was going for, but it is the message that came across. It’s like he has no idea why actual teenagers drink.

Number 7: Season 3, Episode 16: “Screech’s Millions”


Every Screech-centric episode of the series was bad, but this one is just terrible. Screech thinks he’s won a $2 million lottery and, not knowing the value of money, decides he can afford to retire now in his early twenties. Of course, the predictable result is that Screech only got four out of five of the numbers but, in the meantime, the gang take advantage of him while Mr. Belding finally fires him, only to rehire him before the end because Screech is very sorry!

This episode just makes me question why Screech is trusted with anything, and was one of the early examples of him really abusing his authority and crossing boundaries with students. But the really unfortunate thing is that Mr. Belding set a precedent that, as long as you’re sorry for your incompetence, he’ll hire you back every time. Yeah, administrator of the year right there.

Number 6: Season 3, Episode 23: “No Smoking”


Nobody wanted to see The New Class take on teen smoking, and this episode didn’t disappoint in its incompetence. Lindsay and Tommy D take up smoking and, in the end, the only consequences are their friends act like little assholes, Tommy D can’t play football, and Lindsay sets a dress on fire through her napalm-filled cigarette, getting fired. Apparently cigarettes ruin your life almost instantly.

What this episode taught me is that Peter Engel doesn’t understand why kids get started smoking, and, so, we get a mess of an episode giving reasons for smoking no kid I’ve ever met would give. The only redeeming value of this episode is that, while everyone’s a little asshole to Lindsay for smoking, no one gives a shit about Tommy D, leading me to believe they’d just as soon see him dead as well.

Number 5: Season 2, Episode 15: “A Perfect Lindsay”


Lindsay sure was in some pretty bad very special episodes. In this one, she becomes anorexic in a matter of days to the point that she has to be checked into a treatment facility. What pissed me off about this one when I reviewed it was that they took a very serious issue that many teenagers in the show’s demographic actually face and turned it into a caricature.

Really, you don’t become anorexic in a week. It’s a long-term problem that calls for long-term solutions, and doesn’t happen just from skipping some meals for a few days. This one could have been good in the hands of a good writer, but, alas, the writers on this show aren’t good so they weren’t ever going to produce the sort of treatment of eating disorders teenagers need to see.

Number 4: Season 3, Episode 9: “Boundaries”


When I reviewed “A Perfect Lindsay,” I was convinced that no other very special episode would piss me off more than it did. I was wrong. “Boundaries” is an episode that wants to talk about the very real problem of sexual assault on college campuses, but doesn’t have the guts to get beyond forced kissing. While forced kissing is technically sexual assault, there are much worse issues that could have been tackled in this episode and weren’t.

But that’s not why this episode pisses me off so. Forced kissing is often used as a comedic device within Peter Engel’s shows. But to use it as a comedic device within an episode about how forced kissing is sexual assault is hypocritical beyond believe. I just can’t believe that no one in the writers, cast, director, or producers spoke up and said, “Hey, aren’t we being just a little hypocritical here?” It just angers me beyond belief.

Number 3: Season 4, Episode 26: “Fire at the Max, Part 2”


Most of the time, clip show episodes don’t qualify for these lists, but this one is a very special exception.  See, they burned down The Max, an iconic symbol of the Saved by the Bell franchise, in the first episode, set up a conflict with Ryan feeling responsible and with the owner deciding not to rebuild, and then concluded it with a god damned clip show episode centered on memories of The Max. Ryan’s conflict only gets a couple minutes of screen time and The Max is saved because everyone loves it so.

Even worse, they wasted a cameo from Slater, the last time an original series cast member other than Mr. Belding or Screech would appear, by having him show up just to introduce more clips. The writers of this episode just don’t seem to get that, while burning down The Max is not necessarily a bad idea for an episode, you have to conclude the story with the respect it deserves and not just end on a god damned clip show episode.

Number 2: Season 2, Episode 26: “Goodbye Bayside, Part 2”


Perhaps the most pointless episode of the series, there’s really no reason for its existence other than to give a reason for Zack Morris, Slater, and Lisa to make cameos. The entire first half is almost a scene-by-scene rerun of the first part except that, because Mr. Belding is present this time, they figure out who the big bad capitalist was horny for. The second part is basically a lame excuse for the cameos except to establish that the woman the capitalist was horny for is Zack Morris’s aunt.

This episode could have easily been concluded in one part and, at the time, I thought it was the worst episode of the series. While it may have been up to that point, unfortunately,  there was one episode that ended up being worse. Much, much worse.

Number 1: Season 5, Episode 24: “Into the Woods”


I knew from the first time watching this episode it was going to make this list. I also knew that it was going to go down as the worst episode unless there was a particularly bad episode in the final two seasons. Fortunately, there was not, but I still have the memory of this shitty episode stuck in my brain.

The entire wilderness survival arc was a bad idea from the beginning, but this episode just drug on and on and on. On top of it, Maria is completely insufferable this episode as she whines and complains about the outdoors and, for once, Screech is not the most annoying character of the episode, although his subplot about looking for a bird with Mr. Belding was pretty damned bad in itself.

In the end, I have no sympathy for anyone in this episode, and the events would have lead to a major lawsuit for Bayside as both Ryan and Maria’s parents sued the fuck out of them for letting two teenagers journey through the outdoors without adult supervision. Between that and the amount of money Screech has to be costing the school, it’s a wonder they can even afford to keep the lights on.

Well, there it is: my ranking of the ten worst episodes of The New Class! Feel free to disagree with me in the comments below, especially if you feel I left off an especially bad episode of this really terrible series. And tune in Monday for one final look back at The New Class before I try to forget I ever watched this series through years of intensive therapy!

The New Class Seasons 6 & 7 Recap

Recapping these two seasons may be one of the most boring things I do for this blog, as these were two of the most boring installments of this franchise I’ve watched. Really, there just wasn’t a lot going on to piss me off like in past seasons other than general incompetence. It just seemed to be the show coasting along for two more years so they could milk every bit of this cash cow they could.

At this point, this show had long outstayed its welcome, and any possibility of laughs and redemption had died a slow, painful death. The six “teenagers” had long since grown up, all of whom were in their late teens and early twenties by this point, and you can tell they’re just absolutely bored by the horribly cliched scripts they’re being forced to deal with. And, by this time, Mr. Belding and Screech just look like they’re trying to do whatever stupid shit they can to remain relevant in a franchise that passed them by ages ago.

I’ve mentioned before my reasoning for recapping these seasons together. They were filmed as one twenty-six episode season and artificially split into two to draw out the show for one more year. I do try to be fair since I don’t know what incompetent baboon’s fault the horrible ordering of episodes is, but it did make these twenty-six episodes very difficult to figure out when they’re supposed to be taking place, and that’s a problem.

I suspect the show would have had a much more dignified ending had they stopped after season five.


It didn’t help the cast was so weak this season. With the departure of Richard Lee Jackson, the producers had basically two choices: don’t replace him and just strengthen the five remaining cast, or bring in a new guy and hope they can make the audience give a damn about him in just twenty-six episodes. Unfortunately, they chose the latter, and Tony was certainly never going to be strong enough of a character to develop in such a short period of time.

On top of that, it’s obvious that some of the cast had already began to check out. Ashley Lyn Cafagna is barely around this season and Samantha Becker seems bored out of her mind. It’s kind of pathetic to watch. Needless to say, there’s no running thread of senior year as there was on the original series. In fact, there’s no mention that it’s the gang’s senior year or that graduation was coming up until almost at the very end. At one point, it’s even implied they would be around next year! It’s like they were trying to delay the inevitable as long as possible, hoping for a last minute order for a season eight.

Of course, this also confuses the timeline quite a bit. We know season two was right after the cancellation of The College Years in 1994, due to Screech’s arrival. Maria joined the cast in 1995 as a transfer student, implying she’d been at Valley at least one year, and, if this season is to be believed, they were the class of 2000. This means Maria, and Tony (who was supposed to be the same age as her) were in high school for at least six years. This school just wouldn’t let go of their souls.


One positive thing is that it does feel like more episodes took place at Bayside. Other than the requisite mall episodes we’ve come to expect out of The New Class as well as the three episode police academy arc, every episode takes place in school. I didn’t do an episode count to see if that was actually the case but, after spending half of the last four seasons away from Bayside, it was refreshing to see the gang at high school so often in a show about high school. Mind you, the police academy arc was horrible and one of the mall episodes made me laugh very ironically, but, still, it’s nice we weren’t going to the Antarctic or some shit this year.

But a recap of these seasons wouldn’t be complete without mentioning NBC’s incompetence at airing them. How on Earth can you have a series finale that takes place before the actual final chronological episode? What were they thinking? I suspect, by this point, NBC didn’t give a damn about The New Class. Remember, they were only a year from cancelling the whole of TNBC in favor of that show kids love: Saturday morning news! They didn’t care anymore. Saved by the Bell had long passed its relevance to the world and, judging by what I’ve read, an increasing number of people didn’t even know The New Class was still on the air, if they ever knew it was to begin with.

Okay, let’s talk characters.


Like Ryan before her, Maria’s turned into a shadow of what she once was. Almost completely gone is the angry character who won’t take shit from anyone, replaced with someone whose entire life seems to center around her relationship with Tony. I mean, really, other than an episode exploring her friendship with Katie and another with her father, Maria’s entire existence this season depended on Tony. Considering how underdeveloped her relationship with Nicky was in season four, this is surprising, and I’m realizing that, like Rachel, Maria’s a character who is at her best when single.

It’s a shame because I like Maria and would have liked to see her have such a stronger season. They could have turned her into the lead character this season, but it feels like Samantha Becker was just counting down the days until cancellation. Even the little thing they gave her at the end, being valedictorian, came the fuck out of nowhere considering she had an episode in season three where she was struggling with a class. I wonder what Maria would have been like in the hands of competent writers.

Samantha Becker is now Samantha Esteban, She continues to act to this day and hasn’t done bad for herself, though her resume certainly isn’t as impressive as others. Among her more recognizable roles, she had recurring roles on the short-lived television shows The System and From Dusk Till Dawn: The Series and in the films Training Day and Harsh Times.


It boggled my mind for a bit why they wouldn’t develop Nicky’s character more this season and turn him into an actual draw for the series. And then I remembered: it’s because Nicky is boring as sin. He’s never had a definable personality other than NEW YORK, and it seems like the writers realized that this season as they awkwardly put him in things he’d never expressed interest in before, like as a football player and aspiring filmmaker.

Still, he wasn’t a bad character; he was just the catch-all for every trait Eric and Tony didn’t exhibit, which is kind of scary considering those characters. Nicky was never going to be as exciting as Zack Morris or Slater, but they at least could have given him some definable characteristics other than standing around with one look on his face all the time.

Ben Gould had a few more miscellaneous small roles after The New Class, but pretty much left acting after 2005, playing bass for a rock band for a while. According to IMDB, he later moved to NEW YORK for real to work in the restaurant business, but I’ve been unable to confirm this for sure. He’s keeping pretty low key nowadays.


Katie’s all over the place this year, alternatively being the smart girl, the socially conscious girl, and the stupid girl depending on what the script calls for. She’s almost completely defined this season by her relationship with Nicky and whatever whim the writers had for her that week, and it’s hard to tell if any of it was out of character.

Even when the writers wrote something just for her, like her conflict about not getting a scholarship to go to New York with Nicky, it seemed contrived, especially given how obsessed Katie was with doing everything she could over the last four seasons to get scholarships and shit. She had definitely take over the smart girl role by this time.

Lindsey McKeon continues acting to this day and has seen some degree of success. Probably her most recognizable roles post-The New Class are in regular roles on Supernatural and One Tree Hill. She was also twice nominated for Daytime Emmy awards for a role on Guiding Light. She’s also tried her hand at blogging and writing.


Eric is horribly underdeveloped this season, not even getting one of his usual wacky shenanigans with Screech episodes. He has an episode where he acts like an asshole to the rest of the gang to try and make a music video, and he gives a shit for some reason about the police academy, but that’s about it. There’s not a lot to say about him other than he likes to sing, in case you weren’t clear about that the previous two seasons.

Anthony Harrell tried his hand a bit longer at acting, but eventually gave it up to focus on his music, which continues to be a primary focus to this day. He comes from a family of musicians and even appeared in a reality show with his brothers in 2008, Brothers to Brutha. He and his brothers had a hip hop group together from 2002 to 2011, and Anthony did a bit of solo work. Nowadays, judging by his Instagram, he’s keeping busy raising his beautiful family.


Liz is barely in these seasons. Sure, she appears in all twenty-six episodes, but she’s frequently reduced to an extra with a few lines. I’m sure some of the blame for this was that she was simultaneously acting in The Bold and the Beautiful during this season. Nevertheless, I’m willing to place some of the blame on the fact the writers never evolved her past a sex doll for Ryan and being obsessed with swimming. With Ryan’s departure, the writers didn’t bother to figure out anything else for her to do and, so, it’s frequently easy to forget she’s even still around.

Ashley Lyn Cafagna is now Ashley Tesoro. She didn’t keep up acting much beyond her 2001 departure from The Bold and the Beautiful. In fact, she went a completely different direction: Christian music, producing gospel and Christian country music with her husband, producer Anthony Tesoro. She’s also busy nowadays raising her two children.


Where do I even begin with this season’s weakest link? Tony basically has all the worst qualities of Tommy D and none of the charisma of previous blonde leads like Ryan and Scott. To top it off, Tom Wade Huntington can’t act to save his life, and, as a result, Tony’s a character who’s all over the place, annoying the shit out of us and making me beg the question what I ever did to deserve such torture. Still, he’s almost exclusively defined by his relationship with Maria and being on the football team. I can’t help but question how the writers thought they’d make us give a shit about him in just the little time he had on this show.

Still, as you found out in my bonus post yesterday, I don’t quite rank him at the bottom of The New Class characters as at least he’s not Brian. Still, Tony was an entirely unneeded character in what was, no doubt, the weakest seasons of the show since the second. He was a desperation character and he didn’t work.

Tom Wade Huntington may be the biggest mystery post-The New Class since Spankee Rodgers. He had a few minor roles through 2005, and then he kind of dropped off the face of the planet, keeping no social media accounts I can find. To top it off, when I commented on Cookies and Sangria‘s Where Are They Now post for The New Class and pointed out they left off Rodgers and Huntington, an anonymous poster commented that Huntington has been dead since 2008. This sent me in a frenzy to see if I could confirm this rumor, and I have not. Through some persistent searching, though, I think I was able to track down his mother and sister on Facebook, and, judging by their posts, it seems like he moved back to his hometown in Missouri post-acting and is probably leading a relatively normal life.


Mr. Belding and Screech have little to do during these seasons other than their C-plot of the week, which is usually a pretty terrible excuse for them to act gay and/or completely incompetent for cheap laughs from an audience who doesn’t have any idea how horrifying it is that two administrators would act this way. Both characters have very little interaction with the gang this season, and Mr. Belding especially is a shell of his former character. Dustin Diamond claims, in his memoir, that he and Dennis Haskins were almost relieved when this stupid show was finally cancelled, and that’s one of the few things I can believe coming from his mouth.

I wish Mr. Belding had a more dignified end, but I suppose getting a new job and getting the fuck away from Screech is about as good as we were going to get. Mr. Belding was one of my favorite characters throughout the original. It was so painful to see him reduced to this idiocy for The New Class. I’m glad he’s finally out of his pain.

But fuck Screech. Fuck Screech and his complete incompetence that was constantly being rewarded. Thank god he didn’t end up principal, at least on screen. It’s horrifying to think of him fucking up the young lives of his students. I’m so tired of him I just can’t muster the hate for him any longer.


These two seasons will definitely go down as two of the least memorable, even if they’re not technically the worst. I find myself, as I prepare to give my worst list for the season, having already forgotten most of them as they really left that little impact on my memory. Some of you have said in the comments that these episodes never aired in syndication. If that’s true, it wouldn’t surprise me. There’s just nothing here of any interest, and, perhaps it’s fitting that The New Class ended so horribly unspectacular.

My Picks

As usual, here’s my picks for the best and worst of the year. Feel free to disagree with me in the comments below!

One Episode I Loved Ironically:

Season 7, Episode 8: “A Mall Shook Up” Don’t get me wrong: this episode is terrible. But it’s terrible in such a way that I was laughing hysterically the entire time at the sheer ridiculousness of Nicky’s mistreated PTSD after saving Tum Tum, not to mention the fact everyone stuck around the mall after falling debris nearly killed the two of them.

Five Episodes I Hated:

Season 6, Episode 5: “Cigar Wars” We did not need a second anti-smoking episode, especially one centered around Tony. It’s not quite as terrible as Lindsay’s anti-smoking episode from season three, but it’s certainly as preachy, and the reverse peer pressure and Tony smoking on the world’s most open campus are two of the stupidest things of this season.

Season 6, Episode 9: “Mind Games” This is a painful one to watch as the writers are obviously doing their best to try and depict an emotionally abusive relationship, and obviously failing hard at it. I don’t buy for a second Liz would put up with the bullshit in this episode, especially after how quickly she was shown to have the confidence to date again after Ryan’s departure. This episode was complete bullshit.

Season 7, Episode 5: “Liz Burns Eric” All three of the police academy episodes are ridiculously stupid, but this one has a special place in the pits of hell. Liz suddenly acts like an asshole to attract a boy she likes. Is it out of character for her? Does Liz have any character? Who knows. The sudden contrived friendship with Eric and Liz is pretty horrible too, since it comes the fuck out of nowhere.

Season 7, Episode 6: “The X-Friends Files” Another ridiculously over-the-top entry where the writers made a character an asshole for no particular reason other than it was convenient to the plot. How was Nicky the voice of reason for this episode while Katie was the impulsive asshat? I guess we’ll never know, but it made for a horrible episode.

Season 7, Episode 9: “Party Animals” What a terrible, preachy episode. Basically, don’t drink because it’s illegal and you might act like an impulsive asshole. I bet Nicky and Katie’s vow to never drink again lasted about two seconds until they got to their first college party. The fact that most of the consequences of the episode happened off-screen didn’t help either, and Mr. Belding and Screech’s subplot was more moronic than usual.

So that’s it for the recap. I’ll have another bonus post tomorrow. And this Monday I’ll have one final recap of The New Class as a whole, along with some news as to what’s next for this blog.

Who’s Useless: A Ranking of The New Class’s Characters

A while back, I received an intriguing request in a comment: would I do a ranking of characters from The New Class in terms of best to worse? I decided back then that this would be one of my final articles on the show as it really will be the best way to look back on the many, many characters we’ve been exposed to on this show over the years.

I’m ranking from best to worse, so number one is my favorite while number seventeen is my least favorite. Also, I’m not including Mr. Belding or Screech on this list as I will be dealing with them at another time. So, without further adieu, here’s my ranking! Please, feel free to disagree with my reasoning in the comments!

1. Scott


I’ve maintained since the beginning that Scott should have never been fired after the first season. I don’t know why on Earth you’d fire the only character who received any semblance of character development the first season, but they did, and the show suffered for it. Scott was witty, sneaky, and conniving. Towards the end of the season, he even starts developing a conscience for all the shit he does to try to steal Lindsay from Tommy D, and there’s even hints of possible growing feelings with Megan and Rachel. But, after only thirteen episodes, Scott was exiled without even a proper goodbye. What would The New Class have been like with more Scott episodes? I’d like to think it would be an improvement over the boring episodes we got near the end of the series and a huge improvement over his successor.

2. Maria


Maria showed so much promise, especially in seasons three and four. She was at her best when she was single and acting as one of the leaders of the group. She was feisty, quick-witted, and not a direct replacement for Megan, and, though underused and underdeveloped in her early appearances, was always someone I looked forward to seeing on screen as Samantha Becker was one of the best actresses on the show. I can’t quite put her at number one because her character suffered so much during her relationships with Nicky and Tony, but, all in all, I like Maria and am glad she got to be on the show until the end, even if it meant she was in high school for five years.

3. Ryan


If ever there was a character who could have saved this show for me after the abominable season two, it was Ryan. I commented early in his run that he was like Scott 2.0 for me, and I stand by that: it felt like the producers were trying to fix the screw up they made with Brian, and thought, “Why don’t we just get someone to play Scott again?” Ryan brought so much to the show, especially in season three, and made me feel like the show had a leading man again. Unfortunately, the longer he was on the show, the more his character suffered in the hands of incompetent writers who had no idea what to do with him other than have him date more girls. But I can forgive these flaws as Ryan brought something back to the show that was sorely missing for me during the final two seasons after his departure.

4. Megan


Let me make this abundantly clear: Bianca Lawson was too good for this shit storm of a show, and good for her for abandoning it after only two seasons. Of all the characters with untapped potential, Megan probably ranks up there near the top as she really never achieves much on this show other than being a lust object for Weasel and Bobby. But it says something about the level of acting Lawson brought to this role that, despite the horrible underdevelopment of the character, she was the one I felt the most sad about leaving in the entire run of the show. We’ll never know what could have happened with her character in the hands of a competent writer, but it’s no surprise that Lawson has gone on to be, perhaps, the most successful former cast member after her run on this show.

5. Lindsay


I never disliked Lindsay; I just always felt like she was a very poor woman’s Kelly Kapowski. But Lindsay existed for two reasons: to be a love interest for Scott and to date Tommy D. With both of those reasons gone by the end of season two, her character suffered as the writers realized they were going to have to do actual stuff with her now, and they never quite figured out how to develop her in the third season. But she was never a bad character; just chronically underused and underdeveloped.

6. Nicky


Nicky could have been a much better character, but all he got for most of his existence was NEW YORK and the odd sport that was convienent to that week’s plot. Still, he wasn’t a terrible character, and he was a huge improvement over Tommy D, so I can’t rank him too far down. I just wish most of his personality hadn’t been derived from the girls he dated. If they’d drawn out the rivalry between Ryan and him, he could have been so much more interesting.

7. Rachel


Despite being badly written and acted, I can’t hate Rachel too much. After all, she got some great moments in season three (along with, admitedly, some terrible ones). And that’s the problem with Rachel as a character: she was at her best when she was single. When she was dating someone, she was completely at the whim of whatever they were doing that week. Because she had some pretty terrible moments in season two, I can’t rank her any closer to the top.

8. Katie


I just found Katie to be completely bland. Whatever personality she had was stolen from the plot of the week or based on her relationship with Nicky, and it was hard to be interested in her most weeks. Still, she’s not terrible and, other than usually being the one to be too preachy, she wasn’t usually a terrible character.

9. Eric


Eric was definitely the best of the four characters fulfilling the former Screech role. Still, that doesn’t say much considering he was up against Weasel, Bobby, and R.J. The problem with Eric is he was at his best when they were letting him do his thing with music. He was at his worst when they were trying to make him athletic and shit. Still, Eric was often the most disposable of the characters, especially during seasons four and five, so I can’t really place him much higher.

10. Liz


It might surprise some people I didn’t place Liz lower, and the reason is simple: she didn’t annoy the shit out of me like many in the bottom seven. Sure, she may have been dull as rocks and had next to no personality, but at least I didn’t cringe every time she was on screen. And, on this show, that’s a huge accomplishment in my book.

11. Weasel


Okay, so let’s face it: Isaac Lidsky may have accomplished some amazing things in real life, but he couldn’t act to save his life and, as a replacement Screech, Weasel definitely feel flat. Weasel had all the characteristics of Screech from the original series, so there was never any guessing what he would do. Combine that with Lidsky’s poor acting and you get a recipe for my first entry in the bottom seven.

12. Tommy D


It’s no secret to regular readers I hated Tommy D. How did they take a bland greaser character who hated sports from the first season and turn him into a stupid jock in seasons two and three? It was horrible. Combine that with the fact Tommy D really had no purpose on the show after he broke up with Lindsay and you’ll get that he was a terrible character all around. He could have been saved through a rivalry with Ryan, but the writers were anxious to resolve that and get him back to his idiotic status quo.

13. Bobby


The writers didn’t seem to know what they were doing with Bobby. One minute he’d be the smooth, street wise character that would later find fruition in Eric. The next, they were trying to make him a geek in the vein of Screech and Weasel. The latter failed horribly, as did Megan’s supposed repulsion to him for no other reason than the script called for it. Which is sad, because I could have actually seen potential for Bobby, thus why he’s not further down on this list.

14. Vicki


Vicky was probably the most original member of the first season cast, which is a sad indictment for the originality of this show. She’s obviously taking all the worst qualities from Alex of The College Years, and she seems to exist for no other reason than to act stupid and get horny for Scott. No episodes revolved around her, and she was the first character who made me want to punch the screen every time she came on.

15. R.J.


R.J was barely a character. Sure, he had a couple (horrible) episodes center around him, but most of the time his sole purpose for existing was to serve as a pawn in some wacky scheme that Ryan or Screech were putting on. He was instantly forgettable when he left the show, and even the other characters didn’t give a shit about him when they mourned Lindsay and Tommy D’s departure but were completely silent about R.J. It makes me wonder if the writers even forgot he existed in between seasons.

16. Tony


This may be my most controversial ranking on this list because I’m not putting Tony at the bottom. Sure, he was a horribly weak character and Tom Wade Huntington couldn’t act to save his life, but at least I could laugh at how ludicrous a character Tony was on occasion. Of course, most of the time he was just terrible and I questioned why he was even on the show except to give Maria something to do during the last two seasons, so, yeah, he deserves to be near the bottom.

17. Brian


Have I mentioned before how much I hate Fake-Swiss Brian? If not, let me tell you: I hated him! If Vicki made me want to punch the screen every time she was on, Brian made me want to gouge my eyes and ears out. He has no redeeming value and existed solely for the purpose of sexing Rachel up.  Season two felt like the longest of the seven to me just because I had to see his stupid face week after week, and I was so relieved to see him depart, even if I had to be reminded he existed in a couple of later clip show episodes. Peter Engel claims he had no faith in the first season cast. If Brian was his way of making up for it, he sure had no fucking clue what makes a compelling, interesting, and likeable character, and created a one-dimensional guy whose sole purpose in life is to break up Rachel and her boyfriend. Really, after that he had no real purpose on the show other than to have a sister of the wrong accent to break up Tommy D and Lindsay. Good riddance to bad rubbish and let us never speak of him again.

The New Class Season 7, Episode 13: “A Repair to Remember”

I’ve really been putting off this episode. After watching these idiots graduate last week, it really feels like a step backwards to go back and do this out of order episode. I want this show to be over already! Can’t I just give my summary of what I know this episode will be like: the gang are idiots, Tony has some bad acting, Screech acts like a moron, and everyone learns a valuable lesson in the end?

I guess you’re going to make me review it, huh. Well, here’s to the final episode of this god damned awful series…


We open at The Max, where Eric comes in to give some exposition dump about the gang going on a ski trip to Tahoe. I’m impressed they picked a real place this time, though I wonder, if Screech’s grandfather owns a resort that one member of this gang helped save, why they don’t just go there. I guess that would make too much sense and prevent this episode from getting off the ground before it started. In any case, they’re psyched that Maria is going to take them all in her Jeep, which they claim has room enough for six.

One, I’m pretty sure that’s against regulations to allow students to drive to a school trip since the school would be liable should they get in an accident. More importantly, do these fucks not realize how big a Jeep is? Seriously, Nicky and Katie think they’re going to have enough room to fuck in the backseat. Possibly if they lay across Eric’s lap I guess.


And, since it’s the final episode, I just had to show this screen shot of Nicky and Katie making out, not because I give a damn about Nicky and Katie, but because the extra behind them looks in awe to be seeing people mildly make out, possibly because a girl has never touched his winkey dink!


Maria and Tony come in and Tony gives, in his usual graceful acting, our plot point this week. “CAR OF MARIA NO GO ZOOM ZOOM! CAR OF MARIA NEED NEW ALTERNATOR! MARIA GO GET ALTERNATOR FOR COUPLE HUNDRED DOLLARS AND CAR GO ZOOM ZOOM AGAIN!” Maria’s bummed because this means she won’t have any spending money for Tahoe, but she decides to get the car towed to a mechanic at lunch. If it’s not lunch, when the hell is this taking place? Is this official confirmation that Bayside students can just leave and go to The Max whenever the hell they feel like it?

Tony offers to go to the mechanic with Maria since girls don’t understand cars and shit, but Maria tells him to rest up his acting chops as he might be needed again later in the episode.


Screech comes in, showing off his usual incompetence in life by trying to snow board in the middle of The Max. Turns out he’s the chaperon for the ski trip because apparently all of Bayside’s students have a death wish. The gang flee at Screech’s advance, and Mr. Belding comes in so we can get the introduction to their final zany plot: Screech has drafted a proposal to the school board demanding a raise because he’s shown himself so capable of doing his job over the past six seasons. Mr. Belding tells Screech that even the writers of this show, with their limited understanding of how schools work, know that, in a school with constant budget problems and being the middle of the school year when this episode is supposed to take place, know that a raise is unlikely for an employee more likely to be a liability to the school than an asset. Screech has his head up his ass, though, and decides he’s going to make it happen because plot!


At the mechanic’s shop, the repairmen tell Maria that she also needs a starter, meaning the bill is going to be another hundred dollars. Katie says Maria should take the car for a second opinion, but Maria insists that would get in the way of the plot this week. Not only that, but she signs a blank work order because women don’t know shit about cars apparently just turned into women don’t know shit about how to do business. The result will be predictable, but let’s play along and pretend California Dreams hasn’t already done this plot.


In Mr. Belding’s office, Screech shows off a bunch of expensive shit that he’s splurged on because he’s so convinced the school board will give him a raise. Apparently the school board convened a meeting just to consider Screech’s proposal because Mr. Belding is already able to tell Screech they turned down his request for a raise because he’s an idiot and it’s the middle of the school year. Not to be deterred, Screech says he’s sure he’ll find some way to turn this into a full-blown subplot.


And, just because it’s the final episode, here’s one more horrifying Screech face that would make me never want to send my child to Bayside while this psychopath is working there!


Back at The Max, Maria delivers the shocking news that the repair guys were crooked and have charged her a thousand dollars for repairs they deemed necessary and are holding the car until she pays. Tony’s all, TONY KNOW TONY SHOULD GO WITH MARIA BECAUSE VAGINA PEOPLE KNOW NOTHING ABOUT ZOOM ZOOM MACHINES!”


Back at Bayside, the gang continue talking about crooked auto mechanics as Tony decides he just needs to go down with Maria and use the power of bad acting to set the auto mechanics straight.


Meanwhile, Screech is, for some reason, no longer the chaperon of the school trip, and Eric and Liz bemoan the fact that it will be hard to find someone as incompetent as him who will turn a blind eye to whatever whims they decide to have. Suddenly, Miss Biddy comes around the corner, apparently lost and disoriented after having escaped the dementia ward at the nursing home. Eric and Liz decide that this Miss Simpson rip off would be perfect to lead them on the school trip, and chase after her, apparently not concerned that she can’t even tell Eric’s a boy.


And we get our reason Screech isn’t chaperoning the trip any longer: he’s decided to go on strike, because one lone employee on strike is sure going to put fear into the hearts of the school board. Not to be one to give up a chance to abuse his authority and engage in flagrant professional boundary violations, Screech starts recruiting random extras to support his campaign of idiocy, including one named Chuckles, which makes me think this guy’s going to grow up be in bad horror films.


At the mechanic shop, Tony’s all, “GIVE BACK SEXY FRIEND OF TONY’S KEYS!” and the mechanic is all, “No!” The gang try to strike fear in the heart of the mechanics, who are all, “Prove we did anything wrong. You can’t because Maria is an idiot.” The gang go away, defeated by the idiocy of this entire situation.


Back at Bayside, Miss Biddy is excited to be getting a trip away from the home, so excited that she thinks Eric and Liz are Nicky and Katie because they all look so alike. She’s also drafted a list of rules for the trip, and randomly starts talking about when she was in the military. This suddenly strikes fear in the hearts of Eric and Liz, even though, as far gone as Miss Biddy is, there’s no way she’ll be able to enforce said rules. But Eric and Liz want something to do in this final episode so let’s pretend there’s a real conflict.


The rest of the gang continue recapping the events of the last scene, and decide to try to go to a consumer group to investigate the crooked business.


Screech, along with his student minions, protest in front of Mr. Belding’s door and scare away random students who just need to meet with Mr. Belding. Rather than firing Screech on the spot for gross insubordination and threatening to suspend the students for going along with Screech’s idiot plan, Mr. Belding is just like, “Let’s let Screech act like an idiot and get it out of his system one last time.”


And, to compound the idiocy, Screech holds a press conference, and it must be the slowest news day ever in L.A. if they have time to come listen to Screech’s idiot ramblings. One of the reporters asks Screech how he proposes to fund a raise from a school constantly in crisis, and Screech starts proposing to cut all the activities his supporters care about, leading them to question why they’re supporting the world’s most idiotic administrator and leave.


In the hallway, Maria discovers that no consumer groups want to help her because she has no proof the mechanics ripped her off except a corroborating eyewitness and the unethical nature of presenting a blank work order to a customer. But that’s not enough proof for the Saved by the Bell universe because otherwise the episode would be over in five minutes. Tony is all, “MARIA STUPID GIRL FOR AUTO MECHANIC SCENARIO!” and Maria walks off pissed.


Eric and Liz try to play Mr. Belding to send Miss Biddy back to the nursing home rather than on their ski trip, but he’s all, “I’ve gone on every other school trip the last seven seasons! I’ll just go along and make sure Miss Biddy is okay!”


And Tony is all, “TONY SORRY FOR OUTBURST TO MARIA IN LAST SEASON. TONY CAN BE SUCH SELFISH PRICK SOMETIMES!” They wonder what to do until Screech walks by mumbling about the stupid reporters wanting actual news.


Screech chains himself to Mr. Belding’s desk, continuing to demand a raise. Rather than firing Screech and having him forcibly removed from Bayside, Mr. Belding locks himself in as well and starts talking about the way budgets work. Screech finally realizes he’s a dumb ass who should have figured out how school pay works like five seasons ago, and unlocks himself from the desk to wait until next year for a raise. But he doesn’t have a key to Mr. Belding’s lock so, one more time, Screech has fucked over Mr. Belding for being way too permissive in his supervisory style.


Since the mechanics haven’t met her and Screech has been busy being an idiot, Liz pretends to be a southern belle who knows nothing about car repairs, and the mechanics decide that, since she’s an idiot, they’ll take advantage of her as well.


Maria and Tony rush in with a camera crew to bust the crooked mechanics, and they’re suddenly scared of being exposed, even though the news crew wasn’t inside the shop to film the bust. I guess they have the first ever news camera that can film through walls. The mechanics give Maria back her keys free of charge, but Maria says she’s still going to expose them with her magic tape.


At The Max, everyone watches the news story that couldn’t possibly have been filmed, and Maria pontificates about the lesson of the episode being that, if you make a mistake and a shady adult takes advantage of you, you have to expose them. Also, the police are apparently shutting down the mechanics pending investigation, which I’m pretty sure is not how how fraud cases work, but this show hasn’t made sense the previous 142 episodes; why would I expect it to now?


Eric says that, now that Screech is over his latest bout of stupidity, they don’t need Miss Biddy anymore, and Mr. Belding says he’ll just send her back to the nursing home with promises of extra Jello for dessert. And our episode, the season, and the series ends with Mr. Belding getting mad at Tony for kissing Maria at a place where he has no authority and assuring the gang he’s still coming along to teach them how to use a trash can lid as a sled, and god knows why we didn’t get a third ski trip arc in a series that seems so excited to recycle plots constantly, but let’s just be thankful the horrible experience that is Saved by the Bell: The New Class is finally over!

Holy fuck! I did it! I actually did it! I reviewed every last episode of this horrible abomination of a series and I’m really done this time! I swear, if someone digs up a lost episode of this show for me to review, it may really drive me crazy! All that’s left now is to wrap it up. I’ll have my usual season recap Wednesday, along with bonus reviews on Tuesday and Thursday. And, next Monday, I’ll give my final thoughts on this horrible series as a whole and finally put this series out of my mind for good!