The 90s was full of awful American kid’s TV shows, and my sisters used to watch them all. Sister Sister, Clueless and anything on Trouble were all personal hates of mine which I was forced to endure, but Saved By The Bell was a saving grace.
It took me a while to get into the show having been scarred by similar programmes before, but after a few episodes of Zack, Screech and co’s crazy antics I was a fan for life and watched it religiously.
Saved By The Bell was set in the fictional school of Bayside in California with Zack being the leader of a gang which consisted of a geek, a jock, a cheerleader, a nerd and a rich girl and thus introducing me to the American stereotypes which would stand me in good stead for my two week stint in a school States-side years later.
Having experienced that culture first hand I can reveal that Bayside isn’t too far off the real thing, but how an idiot such as Mr Belding could reach headteacher status still confuses me. But there were plenty of Zack Morris wannabes, who used to skive off school and scheme his way to get what he wanted. For two weeks I was that guy and I loved it.
But the real appeal of the show for me was the over-dramatic performances of the actors when dealing with real teenage issues such as drugs, bullying and drinking. The hysterical acting by Elizabeth Berkley here definitely helped land her the lead role in Showgirls (a film all lads my age will be familiar with…) and the fight between Zack and Slater was something straight out of my Year 8 drama lessons:
There was also the beauty of Tiffani-Amber Thiessen as Kelly, and any chance to check her out in cheerleader uniform was a bonus for me. And looking back at the tragic fashions and the brilliant bubble perm perched on Slater head is still amusing now, classic 90s indeed.
After the gang graduated, there was a spin off called “The College Years” but it lacked the same appeal not being set in a school. Zack and Kelly would finally get married in a special episode and then a second spin-off called “The New Class” began, but the new characters were just a shadow of their predecessors.
Sadly the original episodes aren’t shown on British TV anymore (I think) but occasionally when I hear the catchy theme tune and see the crazy cartoon titles I know I’m in for an entertaining slice of American 90s television for half an hour. And apparently the show is being released on DVD soon! That’ll be going on my Christmas list…