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Case Number 04490

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Saved By The Bell: Seasons Three And Four

Lionsgate // 1991 // 660 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // May 26th, 2004

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All Rise...

Obscure television trivia: Judge David Johnson was cast to play Mr. Belding's illegitimate son, but held out for more money and the character was nixed.

Editor's Note

Our reviews of Saved By The Bell: Hawaiian Style / Wedding In Las Vegas (published August 15th, 2007) and Saved By The Bell: Seasons One And Two (published September 15th, 2003) are also available.

The Charge

Kelly: Can we still be friends?
Zack: Forever.

Opening Statement

In the early nineties a television show came along that offered groundbreaking insight into the day-to-day lives of teenagers, from the heartache of fractured relationships to the pressures of narcotics to the unending quest for identity. Enough about My So-Called Life.

What about the real hard-hitting issues that so many high school students have to face? Like solving a murder mystery? Dating the princess of an Eastern European country? Dealing with the petty jealousy and bickering that threatened your superstar rock band?

For this, my friends, turn away from the documentaries and the after-school specials, and gaze deep into the halls of Bayside, where spun were tales of the trials and triumphs and tragedies of the six kids from Saved by the Bell.

Facts of the Case

Bayside is a seemingly sprawling high school on the West Coast, but surprisingly, once one enters the building, it's pretty damn tiny. Comprised of only one hallway, a small gym, one multi-purpose classroom (that rotates between English, Art, Science, and Driver's Ed), a stairway that leads to nowhere, an oft-rumored but never shown pool, and a principal's office with no secretary, BHS is a miracle of educational engineering.

Despite its obvious cramped conditions, Bayside boasts the most activities of any institution, anywhere, ever. With either a BIG DANCE or a BIG GAME or a veritable smorgasbord of extracurricular activities (date auctions, radio telethons, wheelchair basketball games, ROTC obstacle courses, sock hops, girls-versus-boys competitions) happening every week, Bayside sports more social events than all the Six Flags theme parks combined. Which is good, because its student body is insatiable. And by "student body," I of course mean "the six friends that are involved in everything." So let us now meet our cast of characters, shall we?

Zack AKA "Token Cool-Dude-Who-Learns-a-Valuable-Lesson-Each-Episode
The Tiger-Beat cover-boy, the central figure of the gang, the all-around smart-ass who can inexplicably stop time and, more inexplicably, is allowed to carry a gigantic cellular phone around with him. Has been known to barge in uninvited into the principal's office and insult him.

Slater AKA "Token Jock"
The muscle-bound "sports aficionado" with the permo-mullet, the smooth operator, prone to wearing too-tight spandex and wrestling get-ups, has a penchant for misogyny, nurtures a hidden animosity towards Zack, who he lost the delicious Kelly to. Has been known to wear some crazy-ass pants.

Screech AKA "Token Nerd"
The scrawny, gangly, fro-boastin' dork, hopelessly in love with the girl who hates his guts, the liaison between the popular crowd and the outcast-goons, the kid with the fashion-sense of a color-blind cadaver, he who has not quite emerged fully from puberty. Has been known to date Tori Spelling.

Kelly AKA "The Token Cheerleader"
The bodacious babe, the ever-perky, ever-tan, ever-friggin'-cheerful main squeeze of Zack, the pom-pom wielding mistress of kittens and sunshine, the object of unbridled lust for many a Bayside guy (and some creepy restaurant owner.) Has been known to substantially augment her breasts as soon as she graduated from high school.

Jesse AKA "The Token Feminist/Sophisticate"
The long-legged, sarcastic queen of female empowerment, obsessed with grades and performance and extra-curricular involvement (however, unknowing of the strip-pole fate that awaits her in the future.) Has been known to suck down caffeine pills like Reese's Pieces.

Lisa AKA "The Token Minority"
The fashion-aware quasi-airhead, defender of dignity against the ruthless advances of a nerd who can't take a hint, the sassy little number who earned more and more spitfire points as the seasons progressed. Has been known to pioneer the popular dance move, "The Sprain."

Here we have our six chums, ready to embark on two more years of high school hilarity, their adventures chronicled on this four disc-set, covering seasons three and four of Saved by the Bell.

The Evidence

Out of Saved by the Bell's storied run, the seasons contained on these discs hold the, shall we say, "experimental" episodes. Here, the writers deviated a bit from the bubblegum and romance formula they rode to the bank in previous years and mixed things up a bit. For some of you SBTB fans, the diversionary trips to the mall, Palm Springs, and the surreal Zack Attack rockumentary may offer a refreshing change of pace to the one-set locales of Bayside; or they may strike you as utterly contrived and pointless. Oh, and for all you who are apathetic or flat-out loathe Zack and the gang, I'd guess you would just as soon solder your toes together than watch any of this. As for me—I love them all.

You see, folks, I'm what is called a "Saved by the Bell Connoisseur." This can also be translated as a "humongous moron." Fair enough. Whether it was the fact the show was (and still is) ubiquitous—always on a cable station all the time—or maybe I was just a bored young man, I have absorbed hours and hours and hours of the show. I know there are others out there just like me. (You may just have the dignity not to admit this to your friends and loved ones; it's like a depraved cult you were involved with when you were a teen and now you don't want anyone to know about it—I understand.)

As such I'd consider myself a "purist," meaning I dig only the show as it ran during the NBC Saturday lineup and with the original cast. The previous incarnation, originally titled Good Morning Miss Bliss was a yawn-inducer. The "College Years," NBC's misguided stab at bringing Zack and company to prime-time, suffered from similar, sophomoric writing and a blatantly over-exuberant audience. The oft-retooled Saved by the Bell: The New Class sucked many, many times over, no matter how many casting shuffles were made.

Yes, I know the show was cheesy. Yes, I know the show has not aged well. Yes, I know Screech needs to be placekicked through the Bayside gridiron. For whatever reason—perhaps too much mercury in the water—Saved by the Bell was compulsively watchable. It's a phenomenon that can't be described in any kind of empirical attempt. In fact, on paper, SBTB holds all the draw of a canker sore, but draw me it did.

Now seasons three and four are here, and contained within are some of the most memorable episodes ever. Let's take a look at some highlights:

"The Fabulous Belding Boys"
Principal Belding's younger, cooler, hornier brother substitute teaches. Zack immediately develops a fondness for the hip dude, and writes off Mr. B. as the jackass he is. Note the size of the "class" going on the class trip. No wonder the same six kids were involved in everything. There was nobody else!

"Breaking Up is Hard to Undo"
Tension arises between Bayside's two power couples: Zack and Kelly, and Jesse and Slater. The foursome resolves their differences through communication and a night of creativity at The Max. Memo to Slater: do we need to see all that bulges?! Accchh.

"The Last Dance"
Kelly and Zack break up! Oh, the humanity!!! The earth quakes and the skies darken! Patrick Muldoon guest stars as Kelly's boss-turned-beau.

"The Game"
A "Summer Job" episode where the gang lounges around the Malibu Sands beach club. This episode finds Zack romancing the spicy Stacey Carosi (Leah Remini, King of Queens) while trying to lead his team to victory in the most unathletic volleyball match ever played.

"The Wicked Stepbrother, Parts 1 and 2"
The first of three two-parters included in the set. Zack and Slater meet their match when Jesse's dingleberry of a stepbrother moves from New York. Despite his rampant sleaziness, Lisa falls for him, and the gang fund themselves embroiled in blackmail and violence. Sort of.

"Fake I.D.'s"
The infamous episode where Kelly discovers the true nature of her new boyfriend. While out dancing Zack, Slater, and Screech discover Jeff (Muldoon) grinding with another girl. This episode contains an excellent trivia nugget. What's the name of the club? The Attic. Use it. You'll impress people. I guarantee it.

"Pipe Dreams"
Here's a 'Excuse me, come again?' episode. Oil is discovered on the Bayside campus. That's right, oil. Motivated by the death of some pond creatures, the gang then bands together to fight off an evil developer. An ecological powerhouse, this one.

"Date Auction"
The simple message in this episode: Girls who are overweight need to pay for boyfriends.

"Palm Springs, Parts 1 and 2"
Another change of venue. Jesse must learn to accept her creepy old father's new bride-to-be, a nubile, young aerobics instructor.

"No Hope With Dope"
The gang gets involved in drugs and has a great time getting stoned and having casual sex with strangers. What do you think? It's called frickin' "No Hope With Dope!!!!"

"Rockumentary"
Zack Attack, the band, hits it big and viewers cringe at the sight of Zack and Screech lip-syncing.

"A Home for Christmas, Parts 1 and 2"
Tired of dating all the girls with roofs over their heads, Zack opts for the homeless chick.

A bounty of delights in this set, and a must certainly for any fan. Lions Gate delivers an okay presentation. The packaging is bright and catchy, but there is no handy-dandy informative inset. The picture quality leaves a bit to be desired. The reruns on television actually look brighter to me. The stereo mix is typical TV-show transfer stuff, functional and that's it.

What the set really lacks is substantial bonus materials. There are commentaries strewn about, and those are interesting enough, but they're all done by cast members who are obviously hard-up for work. Dustin Diamond (Screech), Lark Voorhies (Lisa), and Dennis Haskins (Mr. Belding) supply the tracks. They are joined by producer Peter Engel once in a while. Mainly the commentaries consist of Voorhies falling silent, Diamond doing his best to illuminate and entertain, and Haskins basically creeping the heck out of everybody. At one point, during the Fake I.D.'s commentary, he notes how the girls have started to develop cleavage. The awkward silence that follows is worth the price of the set itself. Unfortunately, these commentaries are it. No featurettes or documentaries. Bolstered with the fairly bare-bones packaging, it's obvious the studio felt the three or four extra buyers drawn to lots of special features didn't validate the effort to drum some up.

Closing Statement

Over a decade old, but Saved by the Bell certainly retains that Saturday morning cheese-ball vibe. This set has all the must-haves, but with the lack of bonus materials, Lions Gate has made it clear this is for fans only.

The Verdict

Hey, I dig it…but I might be deranged. Class dismissed.

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Scales of Justice

Video: 85
Audio: 90
Extras: 80
Acting: 85
Story: 95
Judgment: 87

Perp Profile

Studio: Lionsgate
Video Formats:
• Full Frame
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Subtitles:
• None
Running Time: 660 Minutes
Release Year: 1991
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Genres:
• Comedy
• Television

Distinguishing Marks

• None

Accomplices

• IMDb
• Review of Seasons One and Two








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