Why didn’t Screech drive and other questions about ‘Saved By The Bell’

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My tastes in pop culture may at times seem a bit strange. Like everyone, I too have guilty pleasures, and one of them is the late 80s, early 90s teen comedy, “Saved By The Bell.”

I’ve recently been re-watching a show I enjoyed two decades ago through the mighty power of Netflix. And some questions started popping up in my brain about some aspects of the hijinks at Bayside High School.

The show follows a gang of friends: Zack, Slater, Kelly, Jessie, Lisa and the ever annoying Screech.

But the questions I have go from the abstract to the logical and so on. I mean, what these kids get away with boggles the mind.

Question 1: From Indiana to California?

The first season of “Saved By The Bell” was actually a show called “Good Morning, Miss Bliss,” that took place in Indiana at John F. Kennedy Middle School.

This is a weird season to watch because while the principal is still Mr. Belding, and Zack, Screech and Lisa attend said school, suddenly in the second season these characters are living in California and Mr. Belding is the principal at the high school.

Now, it is never explained in the show what just happened. Did Mr. Belding get a promotion and these kids followed him out there? What happened to Miss Bliss? And the other kids left behind in Indiana? We’re suddenly faced with these new people who seem to have been friends their whole lives and Belding has always been that school’s principal.

Watching this on Netflix also raised a weird question. Why is it episode 16 is the whole first days of high school for these people? I mean, this far in, we don’t need to be introduced to characters we’ve been following for 15 episodes already.

Question 2: Zack’s ability to freeze time

Of all the characters on this show, Zack Morris seems to be the craziest. Not in the “haha” crazy, but in the Patrick Bateman from “American Psycho” crazy.

I mean, he will say “time out” and the world around him stops so he can address the viewers. A nice trick, but with all his wacky plans, wouldn’t he use a “time out” to cheat on tests (which he tries to do many a time)?

Also, he talks to the camera and people are just walking by him. Do they think he is insane? Do they not wonder who this kid is talking to? As a viewer, I’m wondering this. As a viewer, I find this to be totally insane, the behavior of someone I would not want anywhere near me. As he is narrating on the show, it reminds me of Bateman in the film version of “American Psycho” narrating the goings on in his life.

Question 3: Screech gets hit by lightning

During one episode, the character Screech is on his parents’ roof and is suddenly struck by lightning. Zack, the only one to witness this, does not call 911 (once again, the act of a sociopath) but finds his friends ability to see into the future as a way to win back his radio and get Slater’s (the jock of the group) bomber jacket.

If a friend of mine got struck by lightning, the first thing I would do would be to call the authorities, not figure a way to exploit someone who more than likely is suffering from being struck by lightning!

Of course, Zack’s plans backfire. But at no point after people find out about Screech getting struck by lightning do they even suggest he go and see a doctor. What’s wrong with these people? Are they all insane?

Question 4: The ‘Tori’ effect

Like those other kids from Indiana, there are many characters who we get introduced to who somehow disappear into the void without any explanation as to where or why.

There are a couple examples. The first that comes to mind is Jessie’s (the overachieving smart girl) brother-in-law, Eric. Eric comes to the picture toward the end of a season with a two-part episode.

Eric is an unlikable character, but the gang finally warms up to him after his whole blackmailing Zack and stealing Mr. Belding’s car infractions. The final scene they all accept him as one of the gang.

Then suddenly, without word, the next episode and for the rest of the show he is mysteriously gone. Never mentioned again.

As to why I call this the “Tori effect” is that in the middle of the final season, Kelly (popular cheerleader) and Jessie mysteriously disappear and are replaced by Tori Scott.

For about 10 episodes we have this new character to deal with, only to get to the graduation episode, where Kelly and Jessie (for some reason) are back, and Tori is gone, not mentioned and forgotten in the void.

What happened to this girl? A new character we finally sort of gotten around to just vanishes, without mention and why Kelly and Jessie suddenly show up again?

Question 5: Mr. Belding is a horrible principal

How did Mr. Belding ever become a man in charge of anything? Here is a guy who lets his students get away with anything they want.

For instance, in one episode Belding lets Zack be principal for a week. Who would allow the school’s most irresponsible student run the place? A terrible principal, that’s who.

Of course, Zack abuses his authority and starts all kinds of problems we do not need to delve into here. But when Zack is in charge, Belding goes insane and acts like a hyped up teenager.

Another troubling aspect about this guy is during one episode when his wife kicks him out; he goes not to any of his adult friends or his cool brother, Rod Belding, but to Zack. He sleeps in Zack’s room! Not only is that creepy, but incredibly wrong. In the real world, that would be a huge scandal.

And mentioning his brother, why does Belding think allowing his brother, who is a pilot, to be a substitute teacher? He’s not qualified and causes more trouble than it’s worth.

His inattention to the world around him is troubling. The gang throw parties in his office, rig up lockers to open randomly and he lets Zack graduate when he is one credit short by letting him dance in a school production.

Question 6: Why didn’t Screech drive

This is actually the first question to come up when I mentioned the show to the Daily Globe’s Sports Editor Chris Murphy.

The scenario is the gang gets drunk at some party for the first time, except Screech. Instead of letting the sober guy drive or calling the elusive “Tori” Zack decides to drive everyone home.

Of course, they wreck a car. And they try to cover it up, but they get caught. But Screech offered to drive and he was completely sober!

And Zack’s punishment is having his cell phone taken away (why he has one is another question considering how expensive those were in the early 90s). Baffles the mind.

There are other questions, but I’ll end on this note. It’s enough for people to ponder about for a while.

3 Comments

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  2. Screech I truly believe was a felon – he was unable to acquire his license until the ripe age of 21. He was an addict to the rules, therefore he snuck images of models from department store ads into his [now classic] pants. He was permanently guilty.

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