Saved by the Bell, like Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure, barely snuck into the 80’s. The first season began in 1989, and followed the antics of a bunch of wacky high-schoolers as they did their best to get expelled from Bayside High. Despite committing many heinous acts on a weekly basis, the inseparable friends avoided the law for a whopping five seasons (including The College Years, of course).
The high-school drama was driven by the experiences of Zack Morris, an innovative thinker and entrepreneur who became the most famous graduate in Bayside history. Other characters included the mentally challenged Screech, negative nancy Jessie, muscle-bound A.C., fashionista Lisa, and that other girl…Katie, or Keisha, or whatever her name was. The show was a hit, entertaining audiences with thrilling action, over-the-top comedy, and intense drama. Choosing only ten superior episodes was tough – near impossible, in fact – but here it is. My top ten moments in Saved by the Bell History: Part I.
10. Zack embraces his American Indian roots (episode: “Running Zack”, imdb.com)
If his bleach-blonde hair and silky smooth skin didn’t clue you in, this episode certainly made it clear – Zack Morris is part Native American Indian. In this tear-jerker of an episode, Zack must embrace the past for the sake of the future…of the track team. In his effort to defeat longtime high-school rival Valley, Zack summons the tutelage of Chief Henry to help him in his quest to complete his project. Nowadays, if a teacher asks you to complete a project on your heritage, you can probably opt out, but not so in the early 90s. Things take a turn for the tragic, however, when Chief Henry dies suddenly, leaving Zack to weigh his options…in regard to the track meet. Simple solution? Have a vision! The spirit of Chief Henry consoles Zack and ultimately convinces him to run in the track meet. Zack’s race is not presented in the episode, but I think we all know that Valley has the superior athletic program.
9. The Zack Attack is nothing without Zack, duh. (episode: Rockumentary, imdb.com)
In this season 3 episode, Casey Kasem chronicles the rise to fame of the band The Zack Attack. Zack, Slater, Screech, Lisa, and Kelly form a band, and Zack is clearly the only one qualified to lead. From garage band to the big time, The Zack Attack’s rise to stardom is exceptional. Things go awry, however, when the other members, i.e. not Zack, decide that their sub-par material is better than Zack’s amazing song choices. This schism destroys the band, sending its members on varying career arcs. Lisa becomes an American Gladiator, Screech goes on a journey to see the high geek, Kelly takes on acting, and Slater decides to become a race car driver. Ironically, the group ends up destroying Zack’s career anyways when Slater gets into a wreck, which forces everyone to put their dreams on hold and go to the hospital. Long story short, the band gets back together, throws one last concert, and then decides to go back to high school.
“Nothin’ like a good ol’ fashion street fight. Somebody hit G7!”
8. Zack and Slater’s epic fistfight (episode: “The Fight,” imdb.com)
When Bayside’s newest student Joanna arrives on the scene, Zack and Slater both fall head over heels. When Zack tried to put the moves on, Slater quickly flexes his muscles in a vain attempt at stealing the girl’s heart. As the episode progresses, the feud between Zack and Slater begins to spin out of control, until the two finally exchange fisticuffs in the Bayside hallway. The exchange ends in a draw, and despite Belding’s attempts to reconcile the two, their resentment lingers. Meanwhile, Lisa falls for Darren, a freshman! Can you believe that!? He might as well have been an 8th grader. Seriously. Anyways, the episode concludes on the night of the Senior Kick-Off Party, during which Lisa realizes she really does like Darren, despite the fact that he is, like, 14 years old. Elsewhere at The Max, which is party central for Bayside students, Slater and Zack work out their differences by dousing each other with ladles of fruit punch. On the verge of blows again, all feelings of hatred are quickly forgotten when Belding’s wig falls into the punch bowl. Laughter ensues, concluding one of the more violent episodes in Saved by the Bell history.
“You got me out of bed for THIS!”
7. The gang drinks, drives, and crashes Lisa’s mom’s car (episode: “Drinking and Driving,” imdb.com)
This season four episode was one of the most dramatic of the entire series. It is Homecoming of their senior year, and Zack and friends decide to attend an innocent toga party at Ox’s house. When the kegs arrive, Tori splits and Screech refuses to take part, but that doesn’t stop Slater from cracking open a cold one. Next thing they know, they are wasted without a ride (thanks Tori). Zack takes the keys and proceeds to crash the car. Tori comes through after all by getting the car towed, but how will they 1. Cover the cost of the damaged car (Lisa’s mom’s car, by the way), and 2. Come up with a story convincing enough to fool their parents? On top of that, Slater separates his shoulder and is looking doubtful for the big football match. I won’t spoil it for you, but one thing is certain – the crew get what they deserve, if what they deserve is a good scolding from their parents.
6. Zack’s school song performance ruined (episode: “School Song,” imdb.com)
The Bayside crew needs to come up with an idea for the annual Senior Gift. Zack and the rest of the gang meet up in Belding’s office to discuss the possibilities, but instead of sharing their ideas, the group decides to verbally abuse Zack Morris. “You graduating will be a gift in itself,” they joke to one another. This is more than a jest, however, and Zack realizes that despite his many great deeds, he can still do more. The musical genius that he is, Zack decides that they should produce a new school song.
The senior class members put their heads together, but creative tension that may or may not have been directly caused by Zack, causes schisms to form. Now, many school songs come into play, written and performed by the newly divided senior class. Some of their songs are good, some are terrible, but one song is the clear choice. Zack’s song “Cool School,” is a masterpiece of form and function.
There are some, however, that believe Screech’s less impressive school song should be the winner. The vote is on for the new school song, and the school auditorium is the venue for the epic showdown. It is all for naught, however, when Zack’s “friends” slip lemon juice into his water before his performance. With his vocal chords ravaged by the citric acid, Zack is unable to perform with his usual verve. Screech’s boring song ends up winning and “Cool School” is lost to the annals of history. How unfortunate.
Stay tuned for part 2!