Lionsgate // 1991 // 750 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Patrick Naugle // September 15th, 2003
Welcome to your worst Saturday morning nightmare.
As the second coming of Christ draws near, we've witnessed many signs of the apocalypse: Jessie Ventura going into politics, the Backstreets Boys garnering a career, and the most damning of all: Saved by the Bell's appearance on DVD. Not content with just a single season, Lions Gate has regurgitated Saved by the Bell: Seasons One and Two...and there ain't nothin' you can do about it! Let the madness begin...
They may be off the air, but that doesn't mean you can't relive all the thrilling adventures of Zach and gang in Saved by the Bell: Seasons One and Two. Set in the fictional city of Palisades, California, at Bayside High School, Saved by the Bell follows the misadventures of a group of high school students through love, laughter and the late '80s/early '90s. Let's go down the roster of students we'll be spending the next 750 excruciating minutes with:
Zack Morris (Paul Mark Gossalaar): Zack is the ringleader of the group. He's always trying to figure out a way to get out of various responsibilities, most notably school. Zach is also a ladies man -- he pines heavily for Kelly, one of the most popular cheerleaders in school. Zack is a trendy dresser, is best friends with super jock Slater, and forever torments the school's principal, Mr. Belding. Basically, Zack is the kind of kid that you wanted to see get his ass whooped when you were in high school.
A.C. Slater (Mario Lopez): Slater is the resident sports hero, a buff and tan stud who knows his way around women and the locker room. In 2014, Slater will most probably be the character on the reunion special who will win the "Most likely to be Convicted of Date Rape" award.
Screech (Dustin Diamond): Ah, the Screech factor. Now an official popular culture icon, Screech is the class clown who is also an electronic genius. Screech is the most annoying character on this show for two reasons: 1.) he's obnoxiously unfunny and 2.) Well, actually all the characters are annoying -- I just went with Screech because, frankly, his hair makes me nervous.
Kelly Kapowski (Tiffani-Amber Thiessen): Awww...Zack's main squeeze. Kelly is the prettiest girl at Bayside, and all the men want to date her. She's fashionable, bubbly, and popular. In other words, it's a ten to one shot she's gonna end up knocked up by the football captain by the end of her senior year.
Lisa Turtle (Lark Voorhies): Lisa is the token African American character. She's, like, totally into fashion, you know? And, like, she's so, like...um, that's it. Her character is based on superficiality. Welcome to '80s materialism at its finest.
Jessie Spano (Elizabeth Berkley): Jessie, Slater's love interest, is the most grounded of all the kids. She's a bright student and is really going places. That place is Showgirls, and it's a very lonely trip.
The final character is Bayside's principal Mr. Belding, played with doting befuddlement by Dennis Haskins. As the kids slide through class, they also encounter such earth shattering events as girls, clothes, and nerds. But don't worry -- everything will be all right 'cause these youngsters are Saved by the Bell.
Here's a list of the episodes included in this set:
* Dancing to the Max
* The Lisa Card
* The Gift
* Fatal Distraction
* Screech's Woman
* Aloha Slater
* The Substitute
* Cream for a Day
* King of the Hill
* The Babysitters
* Close Encounters of the Nerd Kind
* Slater's Friend
* Screech's Birthday
* Pinned to the Mat
* The Beauty and the Screech
* The Friendship Business
* The Mamas and the Papas
* Save the Tiger
* The Election
* The Zach Tapes
* The Prom
* Zack's War
* Save the Max
* Driver's Education
* House Party
* Model Students
* Blind Date
* Rent A Pop
* Miss Bayside
* Jessie's Song
* From Nurse to Worse
It's been a long time since I've reviewed anything as utterly inconsequential as the first two seasons of Saved by the Bell. Like many shows before it, Saved by the Bell started out as fluffy garbage and has, in the ensuing years, gone on to be something of a nostalgia trip for those in their late twenties. And so we must look at it from that vantage point -- to examine Saved by the Bell as anything else invites not only insanity, but also tastelessness the size of the Jupiter and two of its moons.
I will risk all credibility as a reviewer (and any possibility of getting a girlfriend) by saying that I watched Saved by the Bell as a child. Maybe it was because I wanted my school life to be like the kids at Bayside High. I wanted to be smarmy Zack Morris. I wanted to get the girl and score the touchdown. Instead, I became a big theater dork who leaned more towards Screech than A.C. Slater. And so I had no other choice but to live vicariously through these characters' shallow lives.
Viewing an episode of Saved by the Bell is the equivalent of eating stale candy. It's colorful, sweet, and oh so past its expatriation date. Watching two seasons worth of the show in just a few sittings is like overdosing on the most potent drug ever produced. Suddenly you find yourself laughing at Screech's jokes, swooning over Kelly's big hair, and reveling in Slater's machismo. Then maybe the phone rings, or the dog barks, and suddenly you're sucked back into reality. How did you let yourself get caught up in such inanities? Was it the late '80s fashions? The stiffly written and horribly recited dialogue? It's a secret we may all take to our graves.
After the first three episodes, everything seemed to meld together. I think there was a show about Screech falling in love with Kelly, or maybe it was Lisa. I think there was a plot line where Zack and Kelly break up, but maybe that was Slater and Jessie. I remember Mr. Belding wearing a funny hairdo in one episode, but it could just as well have been Zack or Screech. The point is these stories are void of almost any dramatic arc. In fact, what arc there is looks suspiciously like a straight line. How were the creators able to make such mind bogglingly bad show? Here's the secret formula: find the most banal and pointless sub-plot in the worst episode of Ally McBeal, strip it of any humor or dignity, and you've got an entire episode of Saved by the Bell. Hell, you've most likely got an entire season of the show.
I've officially run out of things to say about Saved by the Bell. At around 40 bucks, you could spend your money on wiser things, such as enemas or a root canal. Anything is better than sitting through a third season of this show. Even California Dreams.
Each episode on this five-disc set is presented in 1.33:1 full frame. Not surprisingly, the transfers all look just okay. There isn't a whole lot to say about these images -- it was a low budget TV show shot for Saturday mornings. The colors and black levels are all in decent shape with only a few imperfections. The pictures sometimes retain a fuzzy look that can be annoying. Overall, these episodes are in decent shape, which is more than I can say for the show's humor.
The soundtracks are presented in Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo in English. The dialogue, music, and effects are all crystal clear, and that's the best that can be said for these mixes. Not surprisingly, there aren't any directional effects to be found in any of the episodes. Also included on this disc are English and Spanish subtitles.
What, no retrospective documentary? No commentary track by Screech or Mr. Belding? Oh, the horror...the horror...
When all is said and done, Saved by the Bell is still a shitty show that deserves to be ridiculed until the end of time. Lions Gate is both commended and slapped hard in the face for unleashing this show on DVD. If you plan on buying this set...may God have mercy upon your pitiful soul.
Saved by the Bell is found guilty of almost every crime known to man, not the least which is bad fashion sense. Case dismissed!
Review content copyright © 2003 Patrick Naugle; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 750 Minutes
Release Year: 1991
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Jon's Saved By The Bell Page