Love it or Leave it! Saved by the Bell: The College Years

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Welcome back! We all have that show. The show that you adore and can quote at the drop of a hat. You love it, but you are the only one.  Everyone has one of those shows that just didn’t take off with the masses. We are left with a very limited series that you watch over and over again as they write an analysis on the internet. Probably on a blog.

Ahem…moving on.

This is what this Saturday series is about.  Taking those shows that had a very limited run and deciding if the show deserved better. After all, you may love a show, but after you analyze it, you can understand why it didn’t take off.

What are we looking at this week?

The ABC show Saved by the Bell: The College Years

Background

In 1993, the successful teen sitcom Saved by the Bell ended after four years with the main characters graduating high school and moving onto college. Executives at NBC wanting to keep the gravy train going decided to follow Zack Morris, A.C. Slater and Screech to Cal U. The first episode aired right after the last Saved by the Bell and then moved to its normal spot on Tuesday nights.

The show introduced new characters such as the Mike Rodgers (the dorm advisor), Leslie Burke (roommate), Alex Tabor (roommate) and Danielle Marks (another roommate). Danielle was written out after the pilot and replaced with Kelly Kapowski, a Saved by the Bell alum.  The primary focus started out with Zack trying to get Leslie to like him while falling back in love with Kelly. That died out after three episodes and followed the group seeking to navigate that time between being a kid and adulthood.

The show was canceled after one season and wrapped up in a television movie where Zack and Kelly get married in Vegas. Everyone attended except for Alex (who’s actress refused to appear).

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Pop Culture History

The series wasn’t well received. It ranked 88th and averaged a 7.8 household rating. The show was canceled and forgotten.

In the fall of 1993, the Saved by the Bell series went on with a whole new group of kids (Mr. Belding/Screech sticking around) at Bayside High.  The series had guest appearances from some of the old cast and lasted seven years.

Did it Deserve Better?

I was a big Saved by the Bell fan. I didn’t watch live. I was part of the TBS rerun generation. I think I’ve seen every episode of that series (not the new class series though) more times that I can count. That includes the movies. This show was a big part of my childhood.

That said, it got better than deserved. Saved by the Bell wasn’t designed to last as long as it did. It was being used to talk about issues in a way kids and teens could understand, which works great in high school. A universal experience.  Once you reach college, all bets are off. Being taught ‘lessons’ in a college setting is tough. You can still learn but not the same way.  Cheating in college isn’t a lesson you should be learning in college. You learn that in elementary school. The show lost that crutch of lesson learning in college because everyone’s experiences are different in a college setting. It lost its edge. Also, if I remember correctly, Zack couldn’t stop time anymore. It had to be more realistic.

Not that I don’t enjoy the show. I loved it, and I still do. I look at it as a bridge to that final movie where Zack and Kelly finally get married. It’s like a miniseries leading us to these characters’ final conclusions. I enjoyed the dorm manager backstory and trying to get an education himself.  I liked the two new roommates that kept the guys on their toes. Yeah, they were copies of Lisa and Jessie, but it worked.

A show that once started as filler on Saturdays to fulfill an education requirement had a great run. Fans of the show (myself included) should be very happy with what we got in the end. A nice filled out story with a happy ending.

What is amusing to me is the show was getting a 7.8 in the ratings. Today that would be considered gold and the show would have gotten another season. Amazing to see how things have changed since 1993 on broadcast television.

The show and movies are streaming on Hulu. Go check it out if you want to see how the original Saved by the Bell show ends. It isn’t a required but still fun to watch.

Enjoy the show, and tell me below if you like it or feel like we should leave this show in the past. Until next time, enjoy the pop culture!

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