Zack Attack is Still Rockin' 20 Years Later
Despite what People Magazine led you to believe, the 20th anniversary of Saved by the Bell is today, August 20. Why they chose July is a mystery.
A bigger mystery is why this show is still popular. This show has never been off the air in 20 years. TBS, for years, has been airing it four times a day. And channels like The N (to be re-branded TEENick in September) also air it. Yet what is the appeal? Why have more than one generation enjoyed the show? What makes it so timeless?
Well, let's just say the show makes no sense. It's a puzzle that you've been trying to put together for 20 years. And won't stop till you finally do.
Saved by the Bell began as an NBC pilot in 1987 titled Good Morning, Miss Bliss. It starred former child star, Hayley Mills, as a junior high History teacher. NBC passed on the pilot and a year later it was picked up by Disney Channel and ran for a season. The show featured Zack Morris, Screech, and Lisa as students who learned Miss Bliss' lessons on school and life every week. It was like Barney, but without the purple dinosaur. So, it flopped. No kid wants to learn stuff from a British lady who isn't Mary Poppins. Luckily for the cast and crew, NBC had a change of heart and bought back the show, realizing they could create a Saturday morning franchise around it. But changes would be made. Miss Bliss was dropped. The focus would now be on the students. Junior high was changed to high school. And the setting was changed from Indiana to California. That's fine and all, but after the first season someone realized that they could get the show quicker into syndication if they combined the Miss Bliss episodes with the new show. This caused so much continuity problems that the heads of every child in America almost exploded.
Sadly, the head scratching wouldn't stop there. As mentioned above, Miss Bliss featured three students (as well as two others who were dropped) and three more were added. And these six characters made as little sense as the show itself. Let's start with our star, Zack Morris. Zack apparently has super powers since he can freeze time and address the audience whenever he wants. You'd think he would use this more often, but he doesn't. What a waste! Then, there's Screech whose a nerd, dork, and geek. Very few characters kill three birds with one stone. He's also the most fascinating character since he went through the biggest transformation. During the show's first two seasons, as well as on Miss Bliss, he was Zack's partner in crime. His purpose was to do Zack's homework and assist him in his schemes. In return, Zack let him hang with the cool kids. It was a good business deal. Then, during the show's last two seasons, as well as on College Years and New Class, he turned into one of the biggest idiots in TV history. As well as the most annoying. How someone didn't shoot him is a mystery. Although I'm sure Lisa asked herself the same question every day since she was the girl that Screech had a crush on. Unfortunately, she couldn't do it herself...even if she wanted to. See, if Screech was the most fascinating character then Lisa was the least. Her entire purpose was to stand there and be the only Black person on the show. If it wasn't for Screech she wouldn't do anything every week. Now, let's move on to the three new characters. First up is A.C. Slater. The A.C. stands for Albert Clifford. Yet you wouldn't know it by looking at him. He is clearly Mexican, but no one acknowledges it (including him) till 5 years later during the College Years. He must have been too busy being the school's champion in every single sport to notice. Slater's other claim to fame is that he's the oldest looking Freshmen in the history of television. Next up is Jessica Spano. If Slater is the oldest looking freshmen then she's number two. People who spend too much time on YouTube know her as the chick who got addicted to caffeine pills. While perverts know her as the star of Showgirls. Finally, we have the show's hot girl and the love interest for the main character, Kelly KaPOWski. Kelly lives one of the most amazing double lives in TV history. By day she's the girl next door. By night she's one of the biggest whores you'll ever see. Her speciality was being grade A jailbait. In 5 years she hooked up with a college student, a lawyer in his `30s, and one of her college professors. And those are the ones we know about. She claimed to be poor, but somehow managed to have a closet full of expensive cloths.
Oh, and there's also Mr. Belding, the school principal. He was also on Miss Bliss. His whole purpose was to be clueless most of the time. When he wasn't he would talk the entire student body into teaching one student a lesson.
While the characters caused a fair share of confusion, the show itself didn't help things. For starters, Bayside, the school, is one of the smallest ever. There's literally ten students (sixteen if you count the main cast), five teachers, one hallway with lockers, a classroom, and stairs that don't lead anywhere. No wonder California is broke. They funded schools like these. These people could have been home-schooled and it wouldn't have made a difference.
So, you see, the show is like a good mystery book. It keeps you guessing. Even 20 years later. One day we'll finally unlock its mysteries.