Saved By the Bell
August 25th, 2008
NC: Hello, I'm the Nostalgia Critic. I remember it so you don't have to.
The title sequence and footage from Saved By the Bell
NC (voiceover): When you're a kid, all you can think about is being in high school. When you're in high school, all you can think about is being in college. When you're in college, all you can think about is being an adult, and when you're an adult, all you can think about is being a kid again.
NC: Life fucking sucks.
NC (voiceover): But, for those few years of misled optimism, we had the Saturday morning hit Saved By the Bell. Before Hannah Montana, Lizzie McGuire or any of those other high school sitcoms, Saved By the Bell was the first to fork out beautiful teenagers with hideous clothes saying horrible lines to an entire crowd...of canned laughter.
NC: This is one of those shows that captured the essence of the 80s so well, that sometimes it seemed like we traveled back in time to that cherished decade to relive the fun and wonder that the 1980s had to give us. The only problem? IT WAS MADE IN THE 90s!
NC (voiceover): I mean, look at this, they were like a decade behind, were they just stuck in a time warp or something? But, oh, well, this is what we thought high school was gonna be like when we were younger. Before our dreams were shattered like Elizabeth Berkley's career. What many of you may not know is that Saved By the Bell was not always called Saved By the Bell. It was originally called Good Morning Miss Bliss, and the focus was not on the students so much as their teacher, Miss Bliss, played by Hayley Mills. It ran for about a year on the Disney Channel, and it had some of the same cast as the original show, but it never caught on, and it was taken off the air after only one season. After that, NBC picked up the show and changed the title to Saved By the Bell. And thus, we were given the high school character stereotypes that only unimaginative writing could bring us.
NC: For example, you got Zack.
NC (voiceover): You know, the kid always getting in trouble with his hair-brained schemes, but always manages to get out of trouble with his irresistible smile. That and a bucketload of hair gel. Seriously, that thing looks alive.
A graphic of an angry face is superimposed over Zack's hair
NC (voiceover): Next we got Slater, the good looking jock who's very similar to Zack in almost every way except for...um...their names. After that you got Kelly, the good looking cheerleader who has those insufferable on again-off again relationships with a main character. I know this is high school, but how many times can you break up with a person before they turn into a psycho and start stalking you?
NC: (he looks around then leans in and whispers) 3.
NC (voiceover): Next, you got Screech, the nerdy little geek and doofus dork who, judging by his voice, holds the record for the longest time anyone has ever gone through puberty.
Screech: (voice cracking) I thought I was. Do you think he was kidnapped by space creatures? Kelly, uh, hi!
NC: Oh for God's sake, will your testicles just drop already?
NC (voiceover): After that, you've got Lisa, the fashionable, self-centered mall brat who is the object of Screech's affection.
Kelly: You were great in the hundred yard dash.
Lisa: Oh thanks, but I owe my victory to Screech.
Screech: You do?
Lisa: Oh yeah, I pretended you were chasing me.
NC (voiceover): Finally, ya got Jessie, the self-righteous, vegetarian, politically correct, environmental, animal rights feminist in the group. ...she was the most unpopular character in the show.
Jessie: I can't believe my own boyfriend doesn't even support me. Well why do we need more oil? Auctioning off dates is just a glorified meat market. THAT'S WRONG, THAT'S IMMORAL, THAT'S DISHONEST!
NC: Well excuse me for living!
He holds his gun to his head and fires it, falling face down onto his desk
NC (voiceover): Now you might be asking yourself "Haven't I seen her before? And in something more degrading and publicly humiliating?" Yep. This is the exact same woman who starred in Showgirls, one of the biggest cult films to ever horrify audiences.
Jessie: Auctioning off dates is sexist flesh peddling and should be strictly forbidden.
Cut to a scene of Showgirls, of Elizabeth Berkley coming out on stage and dancing
NC (voiceover): They go to a school principalled by balding, educational pushover Mr. Belding.
Montage of Mr. Belding doing and saying stupid, whiny things
NC: Oh, good news Mr. Belding, good news!
He pulls out a package
NC: Your balls arrived!
Mr. Belding: Is that true?
NC (voiceover): So what can you say about the show as a whole? Well, it's hard to sum up the entire thing in general, so let's look at some individual episodes. Like how 'bout the episode with the fake IDs. This episode starts off at the kids' favorite hotspot, The Mack. Look at this place, it's like the 80s' interpretation of the 50s. Zack helps out a girl with her flat tire, but it turns out she's over 18, and wants to meet him at a club. So Screech comes up with some fake IDs to get everybody in.
NC: Can someone tell me the point of making a fake ID to say you're 18 when you're so obviously 24!
Woman: You know, we never did discuss your fee.
Zack: Well I really don't need-
She kisses him, the audience "OOOHs" excitedly
NC: Oh yes, I forgot to mention, this show has the most obnoxious audience in the entire world. I mean they go nuts about everything.
Montage of audience reactions to things
NC (voiceover): What if something happened that they DIDN'T know how to react to?
Kelly: You're wrong, last night Jeff went bowling with his roommate! Why don't you just mind your own business and stay out of my life?!
Audience reaction noises go back and forth between happy and shocked, sad and suspicious
NC (voiceover): Or how about the episode where Zack has to find his family roots. It turns out that Zack finishes a track meet, not working out anything close to a sweat, but then he has to research his family tree for a school project. All he can find though is a picture of a Native American chief. So, like any high schooler, he bullshits his way through the report.
Teacher: Zack Morris, let's hear from you next.
Zack: Alright. Screech is going to assist me, ready Screech?
Screech: Ready, Kemosabe.
NC: Oh God...
Zack and Screech move to the front of the classroom; while Zack speaks, Screech acts like a Native American...badly
Zack: While looking through old family papers and pictures, I learned that I'm part American Indian.
He marks Screech's face with a marker, to resemble war paint.
Zack: I come from a long line of fierce warriors and great hunters.
He hands Screech a toy tomahawk
Screech: Me mean.
Zack: They roamed the Great Plains in search of their daily food.
Screech: Me hungry. Mmmm!
He attacks the teacher with the tomahawk
NC: (dressed in a tux) And the award, for most awkward, racially insensitive moment in Saturday morning history goes to...Saved By the Bell!
Screech: I'd like to thank my dad for giving me electric trains when I was three.
NC (voiceover): Okay, so obviously Zack has to do the report again, but this time to help him out, his teacher sends him to a Native American named Chief Henry, who knows a little something about Zack's tribe.
Zack: Why couldn't the white man and the Indians get along?
Chief Henry: Why can't the Arabs get along with Israelis? And why can't I get along with my ex-wife?
NC: ...did he just compare the battle of Arabs and Israelis to his ex-wife? (sigh) Okay...
NC (voiceover): Zack returns to give his presentation, dressing up as one of the Village People, and gives a much more detailed speech. He never did explain why his people painted vaginas on their chins, but then again it is just a three minute speech. Wanting to tell his mentor the good news, Zack suffers a heart breaking blow.
Teacher: A friend of ours passed away tonight.
Zack: Chief Henry died this morning.
NC: ...well of course! How dramatically convenient. What do you think his Indian name was, Dies-with-poetic-plot-points?
NC (voiceover): Fortunately, he appears to Zack in a dream and tells him that it's okay to stop grieving and move on with his life.
Chief Henry: Oh, I gotta go! I'm being fitted for wings!
NC: Wings? You mean like angel wings? So he's a Christian, Pagan Native American. Huh, go figure.
NC (voiceover): But most people's favorite episodes are the ones that have a message to convey. Like the OIL episode, ah yes, you all remember this one. This is the one where oil is found under a football field and a rich Texan oil tycoon comes to drill. The kids somehow all dream up the exact same fantasy and imagine what it would be like to be the richest school in the county.
Screech: Come my darling! Let's go to the beach, the camels are ready.
The words "Apologies to EVERY nationality known to man" appear on screen after this
NC (voiceover): Meanwhile, Zack comes across a duck named Becky and forms a powerful friendship with the innocent creature.
Zack: I wish I didn't have to take you to the pond tomorrow. I'll come visit you all the time.
NC: When did this turn into an E.B. White's kids book?
NC (voiceover): So let me see if I got this straight. One story involves a Texas tycoon drilling for oil, and another story involves a cute little ducky who lives in the school pond. Oil plus ducky equals-
The equation he's talking about appears on screen, with the "equals" being a gravestone
NC: I mean, what could possibly go wrong? After all, we all know that oil is the safest and most nonhazardous of all God's natural-
A shot of Zack, Screech and a science teacher pulling Becky, covered in oil, out of a box
NC (voiceover): OH MY GOD BECKY! BECKY NO!
Science teacher: She's not moving Zack.
Zack: I know, she's probably in shock, just please help us sir!
NC: Yes, yes Becky must be in shock! Surely she'll pull through, right? Right?!
Science teacher: Zack, Becky's dead.
Montage of all the scenes with Becky so far, and some made up still shots of her with the cast, as a mock memorial, with NC venting his frustration throughout
NC: Goodbye Becky...
Placecard with a picture of a duck, saying "Becky H. Quakers* 1991-1992 Services will be held Monday 11-9."
(*Misspelling is in the video)
Screech: Don't worry about Becky, Zack. She's where the oil can't hurt her now.
NC (voiceover): Faster than you can say Texas tea, the gang bonds together to put that evil oil tycoon back in his place.
Tycoon: Calstar and the school board will be partners in building a beautiful new Bayside. It will cost you nothing.
NC: Yes, but will it bring back Becky? WILL IT BRING BACK BECKY?!
Zack: That's not true.
Tycoon: What do you mean young man?
NC: Yes, you, the lone hero in the back.
Zack: Where are the oak trees behind the library?
Tycoon: Well I'm afraid we'll have to replace them.
Zack: You mean cut 'em down and put up an oil derrick? (he reaches over to the model parts the man brought) Like this?
Zack: Yes, but what happens if there's a bigger accident, and oil gets over everything...like this.
He pulls out an oil can and squirts it all over the model town
NC: This is most unorthodox!
Zack: I don't wanna go to school in an oilfield.
Mr. Belding: We already have a better Bayside, we just didn't know it until now.
NC: You duck killing mother FUCKER! That's right kids, just remember: OIL. IS. EVIL. I mean, what the hell do we need oil for anyway? ...oh yeah to run our cars. But there's tons of other natural energy resources to run our cars! Like solar! ...which is practically nonexistant. So there's hybrid! ...which is far too expensive for anyone to afford. But there's electric! ...which is still in the developing stages. So for the time being I guess we're stuck with...oil. EVIL, NASTY OIL! It kills ducks.
NC (voiceover): Another episode I'm sure you all remember is the drug episode, where Jessie gets addicted to caffeine pills because she wants to pass Geometry and do well in her new girl rock group.
NC: Wait wait wait wait wait wait. A girl rock group? How the hell did that come along?
NC (voiceover): Well it turns out Zack REALLY thought the three girls had potential, so Screech dresses up as a female Irish janitor and records the girls singing in the locker room.
NC: Finally, something realistic! I remember when I dressed up like a female Irish janitor and recorded things in the girls' locker room. ...why don't you just forget I said that?
Slater: Next time bring me!
NC (voiceover): So the recording is given to a record producer who of course loves it, and the three girls decide to put together a music video for them.
The music video starts playing
NC: Oh God help me.
NC (voiceover): This is back when music videos didn't know they were insulting our intelligence. And also when they were, you know, popular. Say what you will about this song, but these special effects are just INCREDIBLE. Like watch this unbelievable stunt.
The girls bounce off trampolines, the video cuts (badly) and they appear on the ground in different outfits, and different positions
NC: OH MY GOD HOW'D THEY DO THAT? There was one person there, and then suddenly there's another! Is this that mystical voodoo they talk about called...a jump cut?
NC (voiceover): Also, get a load of this.
A translucent face is superimposed over the video
NC (voiceover): (gasp) Their faces are dissolving over the picture!
NC (voiceover): Feeling the pressure, Jessie continues to take her caffeine pills and becomes...mildly annoying.
She goes crazy just before a commercial break, accompanied by a musical cue
NC: Oh yes, I forgot the popular music sting, which is played just before every commercial break.
NC (voiceover): The weird thing is, the music is so bland that you never know if it's positive or negative until you hear the subject matter.
Screech: Guys, we struck oil!
Lisa: You guys, there's been an oil spill, there's oil everywhere!
NC: This music's so vague you can put it to anything. Hey everbody, Kelly's top just fell off!
Music, NC pulls an appropriate, exaggerated facial expression
NC: Oh no, Lisa is pregnant with Screech's baby!
Music, facial expression
NC: Wow, Zack just saved a puppy right after his mother died!
Music, NC isn't sure what facial expression to make
NC: Ya see?
NC (voiceover): The big scene everyone remembers is right near the end when she has her big breakdown in front of Zack.
Jessie: I just need one of these.
Zack: Pills? You mean you really are taking drugs?
Jessie: I need them!
Zack: Jessie give me those.
Jessie: I NEED THEM! Zack I have to sing!
Jessie: I'm so excited! I'm so excited! I'm so...scared...
NC: Wow. I mean...wow. I had no idea that caffeine pills could turn you into such a...horrible actor. Well, I'm getting rid of these babies right now!
He pulls a bottle of pills out of his jacket and tosses them away
NC: It's good old-fashioned mescaline for me.
He takes some
NC: Oh...God that soothes.
NC (voiceover): Finally I wanna talk about one more episode. This is my personal favorite, it's called Rockumentary, and it's this strange kind of Behind the Music style look at the kids after they make it big as a rock band. You heard right, they make it big as a rock band. Just look at some of the clothes they wear. It's like the 80s keep trying to die, but someone keeps trying to resuscitate them! Just let the decade die in peace! Look at this, when the hell did anyone wear bows on their jeans, are you a fucking birthday present? But I digress. This odd little music documentary is hosted by Casey Kasem of all people, as he apparently has mastered the power of time travel to show you how their story began. Apparently the group practiced in their garage, playing their instruments and lip-synching rather horribly. Just look at Slater's drum work, he plays so well that the beats come out before he even taps them.
Short example of how bad it is
Casey Kasem: Little did they know that fate was running by their door.
NC: Pfft, yeah, was there a record producer named Brian Fate who happened to be running past their garage?
Brian Fate: Hello, I'm Brian Fate!
NC: (looking despondent) ...alright, that's a little funny.
NC (voiceover): He of course turns them into rock legends, as they do concerts, sign autographs, get awards from...bad impersonators, it's a dream come true. Now one thing you might be asking yourself is "Where's Jessie in all of this?" Well they saw how she did with the last rock group she signed up with and...
Jessie: I'm so excited!
NC (voiceover): ...yeah, they're not doing that again. So of course, as their popularity builds, a seductive PR woman steps in and seduces Zack to leave the group and go solo. Letting the fame go to his head, Zack agrees with Yoko Ono and leaves the group to go do his own thing, as she controls everything about him, even the way he looks.
NC: Alright now, I have to warn you...this next scene, where Zack shows himself in his brand new look, is...(sigh) is one of the funniest things ever put on television. It will cause laughter beyond your control. Just remember to breathe, inhale...and exhale. This has been known to kill people. People have actually died from laughter. Just want you to keep that in mind before you watch this. Take a deep breath (breathes in, then out)...alright, let's watch this scene.
Zack walks into scene, dressed like Vanilla Ice ; NC laughs uncontrollably for an extended period of time
NC: (still laughing) Look, he looks like Vanilla Ice's bitch! Oh...ohohoho...oh...I think I just orgasmed. So um, if you survived that, Zack eventually gets back together with his group and goes on to make music history. And then of course wakes up because it was all obviously a dream. Thank God because if I looked like MC Hammer and Prince's white love child, I would want it to be a dream too.
Zack: You know, next year I'm asking for weekdays off.
NC: So that's Saved By the Bell. How does it hold up? It doesn't.
NC (voiceover): It's stupid, silly, and loaded with idiotic clichés. But I will say that looking back on it, it IS pretty harmless. I mean, I don't think it makes kids any dumber, like some of the other shows I've reviewed on here.
NC: But if I was to sum up this show in one word, I would say that it's...
NC: And then some. I'm the Nostalgia Critic, I remember it so you don't have to.
The video ends with a picture of Screech holding a duck in clothing, with the words "In Memory of Becky"