A note on episode order. Some of you will no doubt notice that there are a few more episodes that were produced during season one. They are even in the season one DVD box set. However, the Saved by the Bell episode list is a mess. Episodes were aired out of order left and right and a few, such as these early episodes, were aired out of season. Therefore, I’ve made the decision that I’ll be reviewing in airing order. Also, the Complete Series DVD box set is a mess in terms of episode order. They claim to have all episodes in order of airing, but “The Election” and “Save That Tiger” is out of order, and several season two episodes are included in season three. I don’t even think they know when things were produced/aired. Therefore, I will be following the IMDB list.
I don’t think anyone but the most die hard fans would disagree with me that Saved by the Bell is a flawed show. And, when I say flawed, I mean stuck somewhere between Justin Bieber spewing gangsta wanna-be nonsense and Henry VIII murdering his wives nonsense. Reviewing every episode of the show, you really realize how horrible the writers, prop designers, costumers, and even boom mike operators were. Hell, in the previous sixteen reviews I’ve barely scratched the surface of how terrible the production value of this show was. I could probably write a feature length review on every single episode and still have stuff left over to say.
Needless to say, the transition from Good Morning, Miss Bliss to Saved by the Bell was definitely not a smooth one. Watching this season back to back with Good Morning Miss Bliss definitely made me appreciate the fact that they actually seemed to be trying on Good Morning, Miss Bliss. With this, it’s almost like they expected to be out of a job by the end of the season.
And, yet, the show stuck around for three more years.
Zack Morris and Screech actually show a bit of regression in personality this season over their Good Morning, Miss Bliss portrayal. Essentially, it’s as if the writers took their one characteristic they were remembered for and made those their only traits. It’s no help that Slater is basically a carbon copy of Zack Morris except he’s a “jock” and not a “prep.” We’ll just forget the fact that Zack Morris is pretty much a jock himself, unless cross country doesn’t count in the Saved by the Bell universe.
Screech begins his long descent into becoming one of the most annoying characters in television history this season. Yet, he’s still a hell of a lot more likable than he will be later on. His status as stalker of Lisa is solidified, though. Whereas he could have simply been said to have a simple crush on Lisa in Good Morning, Miss Bliss, it’s turned into unhealthy psychotic behavior in this season, to the point she actually starts to have nightmares of him.Lisa is now a member of the stupid spoiled rich bitch club. Her fashionable traits held up better on Good Morning, Miss Bliss, especially since the only other child female regular on the show was Nikki, who was played as an unfashionable tomboy. When compared to Kelly and Jessie, Lisa honestly is nothing special in her dressing.
Jessie’s entire shtick is bleah bleah bleah eco-feminism, save the whales, goodie goodie two shoes, I make As. The only change in her personality is when she shows obvious signs of hypocrisy by refusing to date Screech after seconds earlier saying he was being treated bad when she didn’t know it was him. She wins the student body election and it’s actually remembered in a subsequent episode, but she doesn’t do anything else even remotely important this season.
Kelly is the most likable of the regular cast because she’s the one who’s the least stupid, least manipulative, least bitchy, and least overall annoying. She actually gives Screech a chance when no one else will, she has a good heart for others, and she looks out for her friends. Yet, even she has her moments, as in the pimple cream episode, and the fact that she has no aspiration other than to get fucked and pop out children. To Zack Morris and Slater, she’s a piece of meat, one they will constantly fight over.
Mr. Belding is being set up as the epitome of the “adults are stupid” theme on this show. He falls for the gang’s stupid plans on more than one occasion and blames Zack Morris for at least one scheme that he had nothing to do with. Yet, I can’t say he’s a completely unlikeable character, even if he seems a bit narcissistic trying to insert himself in everything, such as the Casey Kasem dance-off.
Max was, of course, a useless character and contributed nearly nothing to the show. He did magically solve all the gang’s problems on one occasion by giving them friendship bracelets, but that was the extent of the useful things he did. He kept lots of animals in his clothes, which is actually kind of disturbing.
There were a number of recurring characters introduced this season, each one based either on an exaggerated stereotype or on the adults are stupid thread. It’s kind of painful to realize that one-dimensional and stereotypical are the only ways that the writers of this show know to create a character. And they still, despite their best efforts, manage to get it wrong.
For instance, despite their best attempts to get me to hate the nerds, I am still convinced that Edgar Poindexter is the most useful recurring character on the show and, quite frankly, girls would be stupid not to go for him. The way he and his friends transformed a stupid idea of a cardboard surfboard into a smart idea of a sun visor and made profit shows that he’s obviously going to be a very wealthy man someday.As bad as some parts of this season were, it was still entertaining. I totally get why many people have very fond memories of Saved by the Bell. It’s one of those things that’s so bad it’s good. There were times I was genuinely laughing and felt genuinely entertained.
But, will this feeling last as we go into season two? We’ll soon find out.
As usual, I encourage you to agree or disagree with my picks in the comments section below.
Five Episodes I Loved:
- “King of the Hill” (Episode 15): OK, I’m the first to admit that it’s pretty bad when the pilot episode makes this list. But it was a genuinely good introduction to the characters and actually felt believable in terms of Slater’s shaking up of Zack Morris’s world. Why they waited until almost the end of the season to show this, I’ll never understand.
- “The Mamas and the Papas” (Episode 12): As far as episodes went, this one was quite entertaining. Besides Zack Morris being framed for something that he didn’t do, it was quite an enjoyable set-up and actually provided fertile ground for character development, even if there was no follow through.
- “The Gift” (Episode 3): I’m actually surprised at myself that I’m including this one, but the unbelievable premise wasn’t enough for it to not be enjoyable. And, what can I say, it’s the mother fucking Micro Machines guy!
- “The Lisa Card” (Episode 2): I nearly didn’t include this one for the simple reason it had such a ridiculous and convoluted ending, but it is believable and entertaining, even if Zack Morris was trying to whore out one of his friends.
- “Fatal Distraction” (Episode 5): Zack Morris getting his just deserts for invading Kelly’s privacy? Hell yeah! This episode started my love of Kelly as she is both the most likable character and the one you don’t want to mess with!
Three Episodes that I Hate:
- “The Friendship Business” (Episode 11): This is a stupid, stupid, stupid episode. The idea that a school would randomly give $100 to teenagers to start stupid businesses that a kindergartner could predict the failure of is ludicrous. The ending is even worse and it makes me vow to never wear a friendship bracelet again, even if they do come back into style.
- “Dancing to the Max” (Episode 1): I liked this one more the first time around but, the more I think about it, the stupider this entire episode is. Sorry, but Casey Kasem does not randomly show up at high schools to watch random teenagers do stupid dances involving hopping on your uninjured foot. The Jessie-is-scared-to-dance-with-a-boy subplot was ridiculous and contrived and Zack Morris does not help matters at all by treating Kelly like a pawn in his game.
- “Pinned to the Mat” (Episode 9): The moral of this episode is you don’t need to know what you want to be for the rest of your life in high school. Unfortunately, this is something any high school kid with a brain cell should already know, or, at the very least, would be told by any competent guidance counselor. And Zack Morris does not have the power to bring in random students to the wrestling team on a whim just to keep from losing a bet.