Saved By The Bell
I actually first saw Saved By The Bell when it was called Good Morning Miss Bliss on the Disney Channel back in 1987. I liked Haley Mills and knew her from The Parent Trap, That Darn Cat and Pollyanna. The original series featured Zack, Lisa and Screech in addition to Mikey and Nikki. Mikey and Nikki did not appear in the series when it went to NBC as Saved by the Bell. My favorite episode was probably the episode where he kissed the rock star Stevie. I took her to be a cross between Stevie Nicks and Debbie Gibson.
Saved by the Bell aired on NBC beginning the fall of 1989. They changed the location from Indiana to California and added Jessie Spano and AC Slater. I think this was a good move on NBC’s part since neither Mikey nor Nikki were strong characters. Anyway, the first season was kind of cheesy. Since it was up against cartoons on Saturday morning it didn’t take itself too seriously.
They reran episodes of both Good Morning Miss Bliss and Saved by the Bell that summer. August of 1990 was the month I had my fateful dream about Mark-Paul Gosselaar. So, when new episodes aired beginning in September of 1990, I was very much looking forward to finding out what the new season had in store. Unfortunately that season was cut short due to an injury that Mark-Paul Gosselaar sustained while training for circus of the stars. He broke his collar bone doing the Russian swing.
1991-1992 was their 11th Grade year. The doubled up on episodes to make up for the short season previously. They filmed a Saved by the Bell summer and aired it after the school episodes for their 3rd season. I liked the summer episodes. It was nice to get them out of the classroom and out on the beach. Still, I often wondered if these kids’ parent would really let them stay at the beach house unsupervised ALL summer. They mention Lisa’s parents, but no parents are ever seen.
I liked the chemistry between Leah Remini who played Stacey Carosi and Mark-Paul Gosselaar. His obsession with Kelly never felt mature or deep. I just didn’t buy that they were madly in love or meant for each other. Shortly after they got together they ended up splitting up due to her feelings for Jeff the college guy. And even after Jeff cheated on Kelly, she and Zack never did get back together. Zack continued to be a lady’s man and date around. One of my favorite girls that he dated was Rena Sofer who played Andrea Larson on Saved by the Bell Hawaiian Style.
Mark-Paul reported that he dated all three of his co-stars and so the producers played with his character dating the other three female characters. There seemed to be a little bit of chemistry between Zack and Jessie, but it never went anywhere. Zack and Lisa shared two passionate kisses during the last season, but that never went anywhere either.
I had no idea that Lark and Mark-Paul dated for like 3 years, but now that I know that, their chemistry makes sense. They often stand close to each other and she is often watching him during their scenes together. It would have been nice to see Lisa and Zack end up together. The writers didn’t make too big a deal out of the interracial kiss, but they seemed reluctant to actually have Lisa get into any sort of relationship.
One person Mark-Paul did NOT have chemistry with was Tori. Tori was only on the show for a few episodes at the end and didn’t fit his type. She was too much of a tomboy. Recently I read that the actress who played Tori is gay. This would explain the total lack of connection between the two characters.
One thing I did NOT like was how they treated Screech. He was just a goofy kid and sidekick to Zack in the first season. As the show progressed everyone just got aggravated by his stupid comments. Lisa in particular acted annoyed by him and often put him down. I am not sure why the writers felt that this funny. It wasn’t. It was mostly sad.
I didn’t like how they narrowed everything down to stereotypes. The school had nerds and jocks. Both groups were made fun of, but the anti-intellectual vibe was strong with the writers. Zack and Jessie were both smart, but they were also popular. All the rest of the unpopular smart kids were made out to be backward and socially awkward. As a smart person, I resented how they treated their intellectuals.
I DID like when the episodes took a bit more of a serious turn. They dealt with Jessie’s pill addiction, Zack driving drunk, homelessness and the SATs. I know that the scene where Zack confronts Jessie about the caffeine pills is a bit over the top—at least as far as Jessie’s reaction is concerned—but it made me sit up and take notice. Zack is particularly good in that scene as he shows both strength and affection during his friend’s breakdown.
They had a short season lined up for the last season, but the network gave them the go-ahead for more episodes. They filmed more episodes, but aired them out of sequence. This is why they had Kelly and Jessie in a handful of episodes and then they disappeared and Tori appeared and then disappeared.
I was excited to hear that Saved by the Bell would go onto do The College Years for the fall season of 1993-1994. More Mark-Paul! Yeah! I found it odd that they guys all went to the same college and the girls didn’t. In fact, Zack was supposed to have gone to Yale and Slater to Iowa University while Screech most likely ended up at Surf University. Instead the three of them end up at The University of California at Berkley. Then later Kelly joins them.
While I enjoyed the premise of the series, it didn’t make the leap it needed to in order to succeed in the prime time spot. It needed to allow the characters room to grow and change as they aged, but not much had changed from the original series, which is why they were canceled after one season.
Zack and Kelly elope to Las Vegas, which was a fun movie to watch. Still, I felt disappointed by the ending somehow. I still wasn’t feeling the Happily Ever After for Zack and Kelly. It almost would have been better if Zack would have met someone else and married them instead. It would have been art imitating life then! After all, Mark-Paul Gosselaar met his 1st wife Lisa Ann Russell on the set of Saved by the Bell the College Years. She played a sorority girl in the 3rd episode “Rush Week.”
I never got into the Saturday morning spin-off Saved by the Bell The New Class. I tried to watch it a few times, but I never connected with any of the new stars of The New Class.