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Saved By the Bell aired from November 1988 until February 1994 on the Disney Channel and NBC.
One of the most popular programs on television among young people during the early 1990s was this frothy teen sitcom. Saved By the bell first began as a pilot for NBC and the name of the show was Good Morning Miss Bliss. The pilot aired in 1987 ( in the Facts of Life timeslot) and didn't have any of the cast of Saved By the Bell. Instead the pilot starred Hayley Mills , Brian Austin Green ( of Beverly Hills 90210 fame) and Jaleel White( of Family Matters fame). NBC passed on the project and the Disney Channel picked it up and filmed 13 episodes for a winter 1988-spring 1989 run. The setting for the show was John F. Kennedy Junior High School in Indianapolis, Indiana and the focus of the show was Miss Bliss ( Hayley Mills), a widowed junior high school teacher and the series was mostly about her experiences as a teacher ( as well as her hapless love life). Their were 13 episodes of Good Morning Miss Bliss but Disney decided not to continue with the project and so NBC picked up the show again as its first live show for NBC's Saturday morning lineup.
Major changes were made. First the name of the show was changed to Saved By the Bell . The setting was changed to Bayside High School in Pacific Palisades Cal. which was southwest of Los Angeles and Santa Monica. The focus of the show changed to the kids perspectives. The leader of the group was Zack Morris ( played by Mark-Paul Gosselaar who was one of the few kids who was featured in the Miss Bliss episodes), a girl-crazy teenager who like TV's Dobie Gillis addressed the camera directly. He was also the leading prankster at Bayside. A.C. Slater ( Mario Lopez) was the class hunk and Zack's chief competitor for Kelly's ( Tiffani-Amber Thiessen) affections; Screech ( Dustin Diamond) was the class nerd; Jessie ( Elizabeth Berkley) the sensible smart student and Lisa ( Lark Vorhees) the black girl in the group whom Screech had a crush on. Mr. Belding ( Dennis Haskins) was Bayside's principal. Also featured on the show was Max ( Ed Alonzo) owner of The Max, the gang's favorite hangout, Stacey ( Lea Remini) who was Zack's love interest during one summer at the Malibu Sands Beach Club which was owned by her father Leon ( Ernie Sabella) and Tori (Leanna Creel) who joined the cast during the last season. She was added as a replacement for Kelly and Jessie who were only in half of the episodes that last year.
After four highly successful years on Saturday mornings, the gang graduated in the spring of 1993 ( The graduation episode aired in primetime) That fall the series moved to primetime under the title " Saved By the Bell: The College Years. It followed four of the original cast as they enrolled as freshmen at California University.
Continuing from the earlier series was Zack, the ringleader, Kelly his high school girlfriend, Slater who had enrolled on a wrestling scholarship and their buddy Screech who seemed to gain confidence in college. They shared a suite of rooms in a coed dormitory with Leslie ( Anne Tremko), a rich girl from San Francisco who was wise to Zack, and Alex (Kiersten Warren), a flighty theater arts major who wanted to become an actress. Limiting the gang's schemes were no-nonsense Resident Advisor Michael , a hulking former pro football player ( played by former Los Angeles Raiders defensive tackle Bob Golic); anthropology professor Lasky ( Patrick Fabian) and toward the end, imposing Dean McMann ( Holland Taylor). Faced with all that firepower, the gang ( or at least the series ) never made it to their sophomore year.
In the series one hour finale , which aired on February 8, 1994, Zack and Kelly were preparing to get married but the show was canceled before Zack and Kelly's marriage could be filmed. NBC tied up the loose ends by allowing the crew to film a two hour TV movie. In the 1994 TV Movie, Saved By the Bell: Wedding in Las Vegas which aired in primetime on Friday October 7, 1994 on NBC the gang went to Las Vegas to witness the marriage of Zack and Kelly. The movie also featured former cast members Jessie, Lisa and Mr. Belding. So ended the run of Saved By the Bell after six years on the air in one form or another.
Actress Tiffani-Amber Thiessen ( Kelly) did stay in school however. In the fall of 1994 she joined the cast of Beverly Hills 90210 as a student at a different California University.
Three days before the series moved to Primetime, a new group of students turned up at Bayside High School in Saved By the Bell: The New Class, the show that replaced the original Saved By the Bell on NBC's Saturday morning lineup. Screech even returned to his old high school as a teacher. Production of The New Class continued through fall 1998 with NBC airing the last original episodes during the 1999-2000 season.
A Review from Entertainment Weekly
Saved by the Bell
D By Ken Tucker
The ratings for Saturday-morning kids' shows have been leveling off or dropping during the past couple of seasons. In the hope of stopping that slide and apparently thinking that children have had enough of cartoon shows, NBC offers Saved by the Bell, a live-action sitcom about a group of California high school students. Now in its second season, Bell is a ratings success, but that doesn't mean that it's edifying programming.
Bell features stiff acting, cheap sets, and plots that seem lifted from Happy Days reruns. A recent episode found the show's central character, Kelly (Tiffani Amber Thiessen no, really: Tiffani-Amber!), in a tizzy over whom she should take to the prom. Should it be swarthy, muscular Slater (Mario Lopez) or blond, lean Zack (Mark-Paul Gosselaar)? This is the kind of quandary Bell can dither over for a full half hour, while sending out many dubious messages. At one point Kelly says, ''Gee, Slater, you're everything a girl could want you're great-looking, a great dancer, a great guy.'' Forget intelligence or any talent beyond hip-swiveling as worthy attributes; in the world depicted on this program, superficiality is everything.
This being Saturday-morning TV, however, Bell does attempt to teach viewers a few lessons. For instance, in that same episode, Kelly's father comes home with bad news: ''World peace has broken out,'' he says. ''Isn't that good?'' asks Kelly. ''Well, yes,'' says Dad, ''but not if you work in a defense plant. I've lost my job, honey.'' Bummed to the max, Kelly selflessly decides not to go to the prom and gives her father the money she was going to spend on her prom dress. High-minded and low-quality at the same time, Bell is depressing. Kids' TV should provide intelligent escapism, not dumb sanctimony.
A Review of The College Years from Entertainment Weekly
WITH ITS INSIPID MIX OF BUFF BODS AND MAUDLIN SOCIAL MESSAGES, 'SAVED BY THE BELL: THE COLLEGE YEARS' WEARS PRIME-TIME'S DUNCE CAP.
--By Ken Tucker
Given the always stunning amount of idiocy on television, this is probably going out on a limb, but saved by the bell: the college years (NBC, Tuesdays, 8-8:30 p.m.) has certainly come to seem like the hands-down stupidest, least worthwhile series on prime-time TV. When it debuted in 1989 as part of NBC's Saturday-morning children's-programming schedule, Saved by the Bell followed the silly high jinks of a group of high school students-blond hunk Zack (Mark- Paul Gosselaar); dark-haired hunk Slater (Mario Lopez); nerdy, goofy Screech (Dustin Diamond); and perky, sexy Kelly (Tiffani-Amber Thiessen). Last fall's graduation of the series to a university setting hasn't affected its quality one bit. Saved by the Bell has always been the sort of situation comedy in which punch lines are recognizable as such only because the enraptured studio audience begins laughing raucously. The humor in the series is primarily on the level of blunt or semi-risque jokes. ''When it comes to women, you don't know jack, Zack'' gets a hearty studio reaction, for example. Encouraging kid viewers to figure out that ''jack'' in this context is to be understood as the first half of a more vulgar phrase-and implicitly condoning this usage-isn't exactly educational. A sort of dumbed-down, live-action version of Archie comic books, the original Saved by the Bell devoted many episodes to teen flirting and dating. There were also endlessly cute ways in which the protagonists outsmarted their teachers, but from the beginning Saved made a point of stuffing what academic hacks term ''pro-social'' messages into its plot lines-cheating is wrong, people shouldn't be judged by their looks, that sort of thing. This ostensible redeeming value kept Saved from being exposed for what it really was: tripe that defined adolescence almost entirely by its raging hormones. The one character supposedly interested in books, who knows something about the world beyond himself, is Screech, yet in both the high school Saved and The College Years he is depicted as a ridiculous, asexual fool. Saved by the Bell's real lesson? Being smart is stupid, man. The College Years continuation of Saved cranks up the sex and stupidity quotients. Zack, Slater, Screech, and Kelly now attend California University, where Kelly's roommates are rich, hubba-hubba Leslie (Anne Tremko) and ditsy, cute Alex (Kiersten Warren). When Zack wants to impress Leslie, he tells her, ''I've got a brand-new pair of 501s (jeans) that you are gonna loooove tonight!'' and the studio crowd erupts in catcalls, shrieks, and cries of ''Woo- ooo-ooo!'' How gratifying it was to hear Drew Carey, costar of The Good Life, the NBC sitcom that now airs immediately after Saved, say recently that he ''hates'' Saved, that having to ''follow a show like Saved by the Bell, that's like having to go to the prom with your ugly cousin.'' Since the characters are in college, there are more sophisticated references: Professor-''Who is Margaret Mead?'' Zack-''The cafeteria worker with a hair net?'' Slater, who is also taking this scintillating class, cultural anthropology, turns to the student sitting next to him and says, ''What's anthropology?'' Of course, all is not work for our studious crew; a recent edition found the boys letting off steam at a sports bar where they ogled waitresses whose bust sizes-the figure ''38 inches'' was tossed around a lot- were the topic of much erudite palaver, you may be sure. As far as the luckless cast goes, only Thiessen possesses what passes for range in this series-that is to say, she can deliver a laugh line with a sense of timing, yet is also capable of uttering a supposedly serious declaration like ''Once again, you were right, Zack'' without bursting into giggles over the banality of it all. The rest of the actors are glib in the manner of most TV performers who are used primarily to posture attractively. The exception to this is Diamond. During Saved's original run, his Screech became a fan favorite for his wobbly, register-shifting voice. These days, the grown-up Diamond must force his voice to break in order to pull off Screech's trademark sound, and his face is required to maintain a moronic rictus at all times. Diamond could be as good an actor as Dustin Hoffman, for all we know, but rarely has anyone been so utterly trapped by his role. The one good thing that could possibly be said about this show's seepage into prime time is that some parents seeing Saved by the Bell for the first time may now realize just how bad Saturday-morning TV programming has become and take steps to shield their children from such dreck. At least, that's my dream, and as Zack recently instructed Kelly, ''If you have a dream, you should go for it.'' F
To watch clips of Saved by the Bell go to https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=saved+by+the+bell+full+episodes
For more on Saved By the Bell: The College Years go to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saved_by_the_Bell:_The_College_Years
For a Webpage dedicated to SBTB go to https://web.archive.org/web/20100204102749/http://homepage.mac.com:80/ijball/SbtB/Home.html
For a review of Saved By the Bell go to http://www.commonsensemedia.org/tv-reviews/Saved-by-Bell.html?show=kid
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Keywords: Saved by Bell Cast