Category Archives: Bonus Posts

The Jimmy Fallon Sketch

Jimmy Fallon had been hinting for years that he wanted to be the talk show host to bring the cast of Saved by the Bell back together for a reunion. He eventually got five of the seven cast members to agree, but, because two were holding out, it looked like he was giving up. When he aired a California Dreams reunion instead, it really looked like he was settling for another Peter Engel show over his dream of bringing our gang back together.

I have no doubt that part of this was due to the continued fallout following Behind the Bell as Dustin Diamond managed to piss off his former cast mates royally, to the point he was even excluded from a reunion photo shoot with People magazine. It definitely looked like Diamond was going to be the weakest link in preventing any sort of Saved by the Bell reunion.

Then, in 2015, just as Jimmy Fallon was settling into his new role on The Tonight Show, we were treated to  special Saved by the Bell sketch, starring the original cast. Okay, so it was actually starring only five of the seven original cast members, and Max and Tori are nowhere to be seen either, but it was a joyous event for Saved by the Bell fans who, once again, got to watch their favorite characters in action.

Screech and Lisa were nowhere to be seen, though. In Lark Voorhies’s case, I have no idea why she wasn’t invited to the reunion. Dustin Diamond, though, is obvious: it was the only way to get the other original cast members, who didn’t want to be in the same room as him. Diamond initially claimed he had been invited but declined. He later admitted he’d been snubbed, though, proving without a doubt that he’s willing to lie as much as needed to make Dustin Diamond look better.

The actual sketch is pretty simple. Jimmy Fallon remembers the days when he was a student at Bayside. With the Valentine’s Day dance coming up, Slater plans to take Jessie while Zack Morris is taking a very pregnant Kelly. But all is not well: Jimmy tells the gang he’s moving to New York to pursue his dream of being on Saturday Night Live and dating Nicole Kidman. The gang are dejected by this news and sing Zack Attack’s hit song “Friends Forever” to wish him goodbye and good luck.

What’s more impressive is the production of the entire thing. The hallway from Bayside looks perfect, nearly identical to the show. The clothes are spot on what were used in the show, and the props, down to the brick phones, are very believable as relics of the early nineties. Someone put a lot of love and care into making this sketch feel as close to the atmosphere of the original Saved by the Bell as possible, and it shows. This was something they easily could have skimped on and been forgiven, but they didn’t and it shows a level of professionalism I have to appreciate.

Even more than this, the little things they got right are just amazing. The scene opening music, use of the time out, and Zack Morris’s monologue are perfect. The inside jokes in the background like referencing the rafting trip from “The Fabulous Belding Boys” showed they actually knew what they were doing in recreating Saved by the Bell. And even the references to various episodes didn’t feel terribly forced. Okay, I have to admit, Jessie’s recreation of the freak out from “Jessie’s Song” felt a bit forced, but, other than that, it was great.

I have to admit, the cast looks great. Only Mark-Paul Gosselaar and Dennis Haskins look like they’ve aged at all since the original show. Seriously if Slater, Jessie, and Kelly were to film new episodes today in the costumes Jimmy Fallon provided, I could believe they were leftover episodes from the original series. They were that good. Either they haven’t aged a day or the make-up on The Tonight Show is able to perform minor miracles because it was such an amazing job making them all believable that I can’t praise it enough.

Reviews and buzz on the internet following the skit were overwhelmingly positive. Jimmy Fallon managed to create a tribute to a childhood favorite of many of his viewers without seeming patronizing or overly critical. That’s not an easy task, and this could have been horrible but I think it shows the depth of love that Fallon himself has for the show that it went so well. I have a feeling this is the closest we’ll ever get to an actual Saved by the Bell reunion unless Dustin Diamond manages to kiss ass enough to be invited. As such, I thoroughly enjoyed seeing at least part of the original cast in action again in the midst of doing this blog.

Who Shrunk Saturday Morning?

vlcsnap-2016-12-18-20h03m49s897

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!

vlcsnap-2016-12-18-20h00m08s144

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.

vlcsnap-2016-12-18-20h00m19s718

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.

vlcsnap-2016-12-18-20h01m35s587

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…

vlcsnap-2016-12-18-20h02m01s156

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

vlcsnap-2016-12-18-20h02m29s017

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.

vlcsnap-2016-12-18-20h07m28s666

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

vlcsnap-2016-12-18-20h07m51s399

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.

vlcsnap-2016-12-18-20h08m56s913

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.

vlcsnap-2016-12-18-20h10m03s977

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.

vlcsnap-2016-12-18-20h11m28s693

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.

vlcsnap-2016-12-18-20h13m10s599

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.

vlcsnap-2016-12-18-20h16m03s927

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.

vlcsnap-2016-12-18-20h17m03s918

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.

vlcsnap-2016-12-18-20h18m35s354

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.

vlcsnap-2016-12-18-20h19m54s226

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.

vlcsnap-2016-12-18-20h20m21s483

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.

vlcsnap-2016-12-18-20h21m29s624

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.
vlcsnap-2016-12-18-20h23m57s067

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.

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”

vlcsnap-2014-04-03-22h15m08s189

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”

vlcsnap-2014-11-13-21h06m48s160

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”

vlcsnap-2016-11-15-15h33m51s169

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”

vlcsnap-2015-04-04-20h14m56s74

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”

vlcsnap-2015-04-24-20h21m18s207

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”

vlcsnap-2014-10-10-21h34m31s163

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”

vlcsnap-2015-02-16-17h24m41s27

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”

vlcsnap-2015-12-05-20h38m42s146

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”

vlcsnap-2014-12-21-17h40m16s142

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”

vlcsnap-00053

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!

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

vlcsnap-2014-04-01-00h21m38s109

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

vlcsnap-2014-12-28-19h23m50s155

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

vlcsnap-2015-01-02-19h13m02s135

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

vlcsnap-2014-04-13-09h15m27s149

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

vlcsnap-2014-05-25-18h22m44s67

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

vlcsnap-2015-07-09-20h21m30s107

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

vlcsnap-2014-08-04-18h36m13s44

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

vlcsnap-2016-07-25-17h46m36s126

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

vlcsnap-2016-03-22-17h48m47s69

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

vlcsnap-2016-03-15-11h59m12s226

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

vlcsnap-2014-04-01-00h50m19s203

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

vlcsnap-2014-04-13-09h28m59s86

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

vlcsnap-2014-07-18-18h22m28s188

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

vlcsnap-2014-04-13-09h18m46s75

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.

vlcsnap-2015-02-21-20h34m36s75

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

vlcsnap-2016-07-11-19h53m13s97

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

vlcsnap-2014-09-22-11h58m53s95

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 Original Class: The Ten Best Episodes

Yesterday, I counted down my least favorite episodes from the original class. While it may be cathartic to examine the worst of anything, it’s also good to examine when the franchise, intentionally or unintentionally, got it right. And this franchise has gotten it right, sometimes very right. So let’s celebrate these wins before we go back to more epic fails on Monday, and remember the episodes that were just that good.

Like my ten worst list, this list comes from the original class era: Good Morning Miss BlissSaved by the BellThe College Years, and the films (spoiler alert: there’s not a single The College Years episode on this list). So, now, sit back and let’s look at the episodes that made this franchise a legend.


Number 10: Saved by the Bell Season 3, Episode 12: “The Last Weekend”

vlcsnap-2014-11-14-10h39m24s50

The Malibu Sands episodes were a very good idea on the part of the producers. After getting to know our gang for the last two seasons, we have an opportunity to see them in a new setting, interacting with new characters. These episodes were all good, despite completely forgetting to make it clear Mr. Carosi wasn’t supposed to know about Zack Morris and Stacey’s relationship. I must admit, I was sad to leave them behind around mid-season. Despite being, arguably, the most pointless of the clip episodes, “The Best Summer of My Life” was right: Malibu Sands was awesome.

My pick for the best of these episodes was, well, the last one. We get a touching conclusion to the Zack Morris and Stacey relationship plus a final admission from Mr. Carosi that he had grown fond of the gang, especially Zack Morris. Despite the creepiness of Rusty from Full House hitting on Kelly and the barely acknowledged subplot involving a secret admirer for Slater, this is a solid episode and one that illustrates how the Malibu Sands episodes helped keep Saved by the Bell fresh into its third season.

Number 9: Saved by the Bell Season 3, Episode 26: “Mystery Weekend”

vlcsnap-2015-02-13-16h39m59s225

Season three of Saved by the Bell seems like it was about taking risks to keep the show fresh, and this may be the oddest of them all. Many episodes his season took place away from Bayside, with some better than others. The premise is that the gang won a mystery weekend, but Zack Morris soon finds himself accused of a real murder. Soon, even Lisa disappears and he finds his friends doubting him.

And, strange enough, it works! We get a chance to see Zack Morris squirm for something he didn’t do (for once) and we get a genuine mystery as we at home try to figure out what happened (well, until we realize that the two women are men in bad drag). It’s a nice break late in the season and, as an unintentional season finale, it’s a fun excursion from the normal on this show.

Number 8: Good Morning Miss Bliss Episode 1: “Summer Love” 

Zack Morris pool

Good Morning Miss Bliss‘s second attempt at a pilot didn’t waste any time establishing Zack Morris as the primary character of the gang and, in this episode, we get a hint of what the show could have been had the episodes been much more consistent. Zack Morris has a summer romance with an older girl, lying to her about his age, and is shocked when she shows up as a new student at RFK Junior High. He tries to keep up the charade for the benefit of the girl, but can’t keep it up forever.

The episode perfectly balances Zack Morris’s story with Miss Bliss’s subplot about going on a date. She’s the mentor figure that Mr. Belding became at his best and is dedicated to her students, helping Zack Morris figure out what he needs to do. It is kind of creepy that Miss Bliss’s students know where she lives and randomly show up at her back door, but it’s a minor unbelievable plot point that we would have just laughed and poked fun at. All in all a good episode.

Number 7: Saved by the Bell Season 4, Episode 5: “The Bayside Triangle”

vlcsnap-2015-03-20-12h53m25s238

Lisa didn’t get much of a chance to do anything on Saved by the Bell other than being the voice of reason (and absorbing some of Kelly and Jessie’s characteristics during the Tori episodes) so this episode is refreshing. Zack Morris and Lisa work together and realize they’re falling for each other. It’s also nice in that she didn’t often get to have a relationship longer than an episode so the possibility of her actually dating a main character was intriguing.

If the episode has a weakness, it’s Screech’s idiocy in being jealous at the new relationship, and it’s really a sign of things to come with Screech’s borderline psychotic relationship. The episode is saved by Lisa being the one to stand up to Screech and tell him to back the fuck down. It’s unfortunate that the writers decided to forget about the Zack Morris/Lisa episode after this. It could have made for a nice arc. Of course, the writers would have eventually defaulted back to Zack Morris/Kelly, but it’s nice to think of them actually doing something different.

Number 6: Saved by the Bell Season 4, Episode 21: “Earthquake”

vlcsnap-2015-07-09-14h36m50s151

It’s understandable the Tori episodes have a bad reputation: Tori was a replacement for two popular characters whose absence is never explained. But Tori really wasn’t that bad, and all of the episodes she appears in during season four are better than most of the Kelly/Jessie episodes. For a tacked on arc where one could excuse the writers for not giving a fuck, they really put out some good episodes.

“Earthquake” is my personal favorite of the bunch. It starts ridiculous, with Zack Morris using Mrs. Belding’s pregnancy as an excuse to get out of a test, and ends with Zack Morris and Kelly delivering Mrs. Belding’s baby. Sure, it’s absurd. Slater single-handedly kicks down a door. Mr. Belding and Screech run around like morons. Tori has a phobia of earthquakes. But it all somehow works in this absurdest humor sort of way, delivering a solid episode in a mostly low quality season.

Number 5: Saved by the Bell Season 3, Episode 11: “Pipe Dreams”

vlcsnap-2014-11-08-15h37m16s71

Now we get to a whole other form of “good” altogether: the unintentionally hilarious! And what do you get when you mix an oil tycoon so stereotypical he could have been in an episode of Captain Planet, a desire for improvements at Bayside and Zack Morris’s love for a duck? Why, the stupidest take on environmental issues ever.

And it’s so bad it’s good! Everything about this episode is so over the top that one can’t help but find it absolutely hilarious at points where the producers obviously intended seriousness. If the writers had simply embraced the self-parody of this episode, we could have had the most epic episode of the franchise. What more can I say other than, “Becky!”

Number 4: Saved by the Bell Season 2, Episode 9: “Jessie’s Song”

vlcsnap-2014-06-22-11h12m44s65

Speaking of the “so bad, it’s good” category, Saved by the Bell‘s first attempt at a very special episode is just amazing in how over the top it is in every way. All you really need to know is that it thinks a serious examination of drug use is Jessie misusing caffeine pills. Yeah, it’s as stupid and ridiculous as it sounds and Jessie’s breakdown as she quotes Pointer Sister lyrics is known even by people who know nothing else about Saved by the Bell.

I tend to wonder if the cast realized they were making an episode that has turned out to be so epic. In any case. Saved by the Bell created an absolutely awe-inspiring display of pure unintended humor. Later very special episodes fell flat because it was obvious they were taking themselves too serious, but this one…once again, it could be considered self parody if it weren’t clear from reading about the episode that Peter Engel was intending to be one hundred percent serious.

Number 3: Saved by the Bell Season 2, Episode 1: “The Prom”

vlcsnap-2014-04-18-19h52m58s232

Season one teased us with who Kelly would pick: Zack Morris or Slater. This episode resolved that running plot to some degree, though Slater would continue to try to win Kelly over for much of the season. But, more than this, it showcases Zack Morris at his best: doing his best to make Kelly feel better about not being able to attend the prom.

Kelly’s socio-economic status often seemed like a plot point that was only brought up when it was convenient to the plot, but this episode makes good use of it and deals with an issue that many in the target demographic will actually face: not being able to live up to the popular standards of their peers. It was a good start to a continuing plot that would have its up and downs over the season.

Number 2: Good Morning Miss Bliss Episode 5: “Parents and Teachers”

Zack Bliss heart to heart

I still maintain that this episode is not only the best episode of Good Morning Miss Bliss. It’s one of the best of the franchise. The plot is simple: Miss Bliss goes on a blind date with a man who turns out to be Zack Morris’s original father, Peter Morris. Though she’s quite taken with Peter, Miss Bliss has to decide whether to date him, especially when Zack Morris deals with the news of his father dating his teacher in a less than excited way.

Miss Bliss shines in this episode and shows her obvious devotion to her students that she would put her own happiness aside in order to help her students. It’s a high point in the series, perfectly showcasing Miss Bliss’s dilemma over an issue that I’m sure many real teachers have faced, and Zack Morris’s reaction is so realistic: even if he likes Miss Bliss, he’s not necessarily ready for her to date his father. Unfortunately, neither Miss Bliss nor this incarnation of Zack Morris’s father made it to Saved by the Bell, but we can imagine what might have been.

Number 1: Saved by the Bell Season 2, Episode 15: “The Fabulous Belding Boys”

vlcsnap-2014-08-03-19h20m41s242

What can I say about this episode I haven’t already said? It highlights Mr. Belding at his best: not as a boundary crossing, idiotic clown that many episodes, especially in The New Class, will portray him, but as a mentor figure that loves his students and won’t stand to see anyone, even his own brother, hurting them. More episodes should have utilized Mr. Belding like this rather than making him look barely competent to engage in everyday life.

The way Zack Morris discovers Rod Belding’s irresponsibility is perfect, too. It’s not the usual Saved by the Bell omniscient point of view, but he overhears Rod ditching the gang and Mr. Belding kicking him out of the school. This is the point in the series where Zack Morris should have finally seen Mr. Belding as the wise and sagely figure, but they’ll never explore this, although it could have been a perfect lead into Mr. Belding naming his son after Zack Morris.


And there you have it: my picks for the ten best episodes from the original class (and, by extension, the best episodes of the franchise). Feel free to disagree with me in the comments. And stay tuned tomorrow as we take one more look back at the original class and why it’s endured in the hears of viewers nearly thirty years after its introduction.

The Original Class: The Ten Worst Episodes

The original cast have a cult following for a good reason, which I’ll be analyzing on Friday in my final recap for them. But, for all the highs of the series and the beloved episodes, there are an equal number of bad ones, some of them really bad.

In honor of reviewing every episode and film featuring the original cast, I thought I’d do two bonus posts featuring the best and the worst of the original cast. Anything featuring the original cast is fair game for these lists: Good Morning Miss BlissSaved by the BellThe College Years, and both films. I plan on doing another list around this time next year when I complete The New Class since that’s a whole other animal in itself.

Today, let’s look at the ten worst episodes in order of badness. So, number one will be, in my opinion, the worst episode of the original cast. Without further adieu, let’s start with number ten.


Number 10: Good Morning Miss Bliss Episode 10: “Stevie”

Stevie Screech 2

I still hate this one so much. A former student of Miss Bliss’s who’s become a pop star returns to RFK Junior High. She makes the decision to quit music so she can go to college, delivering the message that, despite fame and fortune, college is an absolute necessity for everyone and giving unrealistic expectations to thousands of kids who will never attend college. Yeah, this cliche alone was enough for me to hate this episode.

But, on top of it, the actual episode was…wow. Zack Morris kisses the adult Stevie, and keep in mind he’s supposed to be in eighth grade in this episode. The song Stevie performs is just terrible and it’s obviously a recording, not the actress singing it. And the whole premise of Not-Jessie and the rest of the gang not believing Zack Morris kissed Stevie is boring and predictable.

Number 9: The College Years Episode 4: “Slater’s War”

vlcsnap-2015-09-21-17h31m51s247

I hate this episode with a passion. This episode takes Slater, who was a misogynistic uber-masculine guy in Saved by the Bell and makes him suddenly care about his Latino heritage when it may get him laid. This, despite the fact he never gave a shit about any of Jessie’s causes when they were dating. It’s completely out of character for Slater and comes the fuck out of nowhere.

And, it’s all for nothing. This doesn’t figure into the series at all following this episode and the girl is a one episode love interest; Slater gets together with Alex a few episodes later. It also foreshadows Slater’s transformation into an asshole for The College Years. Way to take a character and transform him without any real explanation.

Number 8: Saved by the Bell Season 2, Episode 3: “The Aftermath”

vlcsnap-2014-09-17-19h18m24s93

I’ve never met a Saved by the Bell fan who thinks Zack Morris and Kelly’s break-up was handled well. Kelly is supposed to be the perfect girl but she becomes jail bait for her boss at The Max, a relationship that won’t figure into the series beyond one more episode. She’s the perfect girl, but she kind of acted like an asshole to Zack Morris.

On top of this, everyone in this episode except Zack Morris acts like a jack ass. I mean, how dare Zack Morris have emotions about his girlfriend cheating on and then breaking up with him. Kelly’s hurt by Zack Morris dating another girl in front of her? Fuck off with that shit. The moral of this episode seems to be that all of Zack Morris’s friends are judgmental pricks and need to fuck off. The “it’ll ruin Lisa’s birthday” bull shit is a thin excuse for the whole thing.

I wonder if the mishandling of the breakup is why The College Years were so desperate to get them back together?

Number 7: Saved by the Bell Season 2, Episode 6: “Blind Dates”

vlcsnap-2014-05-30-22h48m30s184

I have a strong hatred of episodes that make Mr. Belding look like an asshole. Sometimes it seems like, for every “The Fabulous Belding Boys,” there are five episodes like this where Mr. Belding does stuff that would get him fired in real life. The plot is basic: Mr. Belding blackmails Zack Morris into dating his visiting niece, leading to Kelly jumping to lots of justifiable conclusions.

Of course, this is a plot that could have been resolved very simply with Zack Morris telling Kelly and his parents that a school administrator was blackmailing him. This will lead to the predictable conclusion of Mr. Belding being fired for abusing his authority. Instead, we get Zack Morris trying his best to flow along with the script for the sake of a really bad episode.

Number 6: Saved by the Bell Season 2, Episode 12: “Close Encounters of the Nerd Kind”

vlcsnap-2014-07-10-12h02m52s18

All the season one out of season episodes were terrible, but this one holds a special place in my hatred for managing to make a plot about Screech becoming psychic from a bolt of lightning look realistic by comparison. God, how I loathe every minute of this episode and completely understand why they held it over and didn’t air it in the first season.

The plot is simple: the government thinks Screech is an alien after he dons the most unrealistic looking alien costume ever. I mean, fucking hell, this makes the special effects on some episodes of the original Outer Limits look quite realistic by comparison. This episode is the epitome of one of Saved by the Bell‘s favorite plot devices: adults are fucking morons unless the plot calls for them not to be.

Number 5: Good Morning, Miss Bliss Episode 12: “Clubs and Cliques”

Zack shirtless

I was surprised when I looked back at my Good Morning Miss Bliss recap and found that this one didn’t make the list of episodes I hated. I guess it’s not aged well in my mind. Zack Morris wants to join a group of teenagers way too old to be hanging out with. They make him do stupid shit like jumping jacks on the stage, throw shit at Not-Jessie, and coming to class in nothing but a swimsuit. And, yes, the adults think nothing of one of their students attending class nearly naked.

The subplot about Miss Bliss and Mr. Belding trading jobs doesn’t help. It’s a stupid episode with a stupid plot and cements in my mind the idea that fraternity-like groups are idiotic, no matter how old you are. And I still find myself asking, nearly two years after I reviewed this episode: “What the fuck is a Rigma?”

Number 4: Saved by the Bell Season 3, Episode 22: “Rockumentaryvlcsnap-2015-01-22-22h05m24s205

The entire episode is  Zack Morris’s dream. And you don’t find out until the last minute. That’s about all you need to know about this episode and how important it is to the series. Basically, Zack Morris imagines what it would be like if Zack Attack made it big. The result is a list of cliches that happen to famous bands, including Zack Attack’s own version of Yoko Ono.

Zack Morris’s Vanilla Ice-on -crack-like costume scores the episode a couple points, but they waste the second guest appearance by Casey Kasem, forget that Kelly can’t sing, and create a piece of shit filler episode that’s not needed at all for anything else in this series. I’ve never met anyone who believed this episode was good.

Number 3: Saved by the Bell Season 3, Episode 21: “No Hope With Dope”

vlcsnap-2015-01-16-17h49m18s37

If there’s one thing this franchise proves time and time again, it’s that it has no fucking clue when it comes to drug abuse. They actually equate caffeine pills and marijuana with heroin. It’s like it was written by the same people who did the “this is your brain on drugs” commercials. They even throw in a short anti-tobacco message while they’re at it.

The shaming in this episode is just unbearable and Johnny Dakota’s hypocrisy doesn’t compare to the gang’s judgmental attitude and readiness to buy the “just say no” message hook, line, and sinker. I doubt any kid out there decided to not do drugs based on this episode. Unlike other ridiculous anti-drug episodes like “Jessie’s Song,” it’s not even unintentionally hilarious. It’s just preachy and annoying.

Number 2: Saved by the Bell Season 2, Episode 17: “Breaking Up is Hard to Undo”

vlcsnap-2014-08-17-12h47m58s205

A couple episodes after one that did a really good job at developing character for Mr. Belding, they throw it all away for a series of fights that lead Mr. Belding into Zack Morris’s bed, quite literally. Did Derek and Melanie not think it odd that their son’s principal was hanging out in his bedroom, or is this Mayberry, where no adult ever does anything negative?

As I said, I hate any episode that makes Mr. Belding look like a jack ass. This one utterly wastes any character development that came from “The Fabulous Belding Boys.” On top of that, Kelly and Jessie take back Zack Morris and Slater just to bring back the status quo, once again proving that girls are nothing without the men they’re defined by.

Number 1: Saved by the Bell Season 2, Episode 13: “Running Zack”

vlcsnap-2014-07-14-16h59m04s71

I loathe this episode. I hate this episode with a passion for making light of Native American issues. A blonde hair boy is very unlikely to be a Native American, but they pull out every fucking stereotype in the book to keep pushing the whole “Zack Morris is a racist jack ass” motif. And we’re supposed to care about a guy we just met in this episode who dies and believe he made this much of a difference in Zack Morris’s life simply by spending a few hours together. This episode is the reason we can’t have nice things.

On top of that, the subplot about Jessie trying to make up slavery to Lisa is just idiotic. Yes, slavery was horrible, and there are debates about the legacy of this practice to this day. But no high school student today believes they’re personally responsible for their ancestors’ actions. Lisa should have slapped the shit out of Jessie and told her to go save a fucking tree or advocate t-shirts as being sexist or some shit and leave her the hell alone.

I find this episode personally painful to watch and I cringe just looking at that screenshot.


So those are my picks for the ten worst episodes of the original cast. Feel free to comment, agreeing or disagreeing with me. And tomorrow, we’ll take a look at the ten best.