So one of my favourite blogs that hasn't been updated in years is Saved by the Bell Quote of the Day. If you've never read it but have seen Saved by the Bell, clear an hour or so off your schedule and read through the archives. It's screamingly funny commentary about how absolutely ridiculous Saved by the Bell was.
I don't think I watched SBTB when it originally aired (not the Zack Morris version anyway - The New Class aired on NBC Saturday mornings along with Hang Time, City Guys, and Malibu CA which I watched every week in the late nineties) but over the past 10 years or so I've caught enough reruns that I have probably seen every episode at least once or twice. I think it's one of those shows that a lot of people used to watch when they were younger and remember fondly but can now watch critically and realize how absolutely insanely terrible and poorly-produced it was.
Today I watched the episode called The Teachers' Strike. The funny thing about SBTB is that every episode sort of seems like bad fanfiction of a better show - like seriously, how were SO MANY nonsensical and prejudiced episodes of a show like this PROFESSIONALLY produced and okayed to air on a non-cable network? Oh wait, it was aired on NBC... So anyway in this episode the plot was as follows (as far as I can remember): there is this academic bowl quiz tournament happening against Valley (the rival school), but Zack and Slater want to go skiing and ditch school, but Zack doesn't know how to get out of school without being caught, but there are teacher contract negotiations going on and if the teachers can't get the deal they want they might go on strike, so Zack and Slater frame Mr. Belding and make it sound like he hates the teachers so they go on strike, the teachers hate Mr. Belding and go on strike, Zack and Slater go skiing and come back the next day or something, they find out the quiz bowl has been cancelled and Jessie and Screech and Lisa are sad about it because they are the quiz bowl team (of course they are), Zack and Slater barge into the negotiation/strike meeting and tell the teachers that Mr. Belding is going to give up his parking spot and turn his office into the teachers' lounge and buy them stuff with his Christmas bonus so the teachers like Mr. Belding again and go off strike, the quiz bowl is back on but Screech is sick so now what? he has to drop off the quiz team, nerds from Valley come to the Max and taunt Lisa and Jessie about how they can't win without Screech and challenge Zack to be on the quiz bowl team, Zack joins the quiz bowl team, everyone visits Screech in the hospital and he teaches them about astrophysics and the order of the planets (ummmm aren't you in HIGH SCHOOL shouldn't you know the order of the planets???), Slater tricks the Valley nerds into studying only football before the quiz bowl, it's the quiz bowl and the Valley nerds are tote winning, Zack suddenly turns the tables on the nerds and selects BASKETBALL as the final topic so the nerds don't know any of the answers but obvi Zack does, it's a tie game but the final question is "what is the order of the planets?" and Bayside wins the quiz bowl because Screech taught them the order of the planets and Mr. Belding is happy and loves Zack.
Congratulations if you read that, but more congratulations to ME for actually watching it and paying attention (sort of anyway). Because I think you can tell by now how incredibly bizarre an episode it was.
I have about a million problems with the episode but my biggest ones are:
1. Zack and Slater were HUGE JERKS to Mr. Belding and instead of owning up to what they did, they solved their problem (the teachers on strike and hating Belding) by once again being huge jerks to Mr. Belding. Why does he have to use his Christmas bonus to pay for your screw-up? Zack Morris, you are a despicable human being. I know you're not real but I actually hate you so much. What is this episode (and most other episodes of SBTB) teaching kids? I know there are other episodes where the characters do show respect for Mr. Belding but come on. This one was a 25 on the 1-10 meter of disrespect, and not just for Mr. Belding but for other groups of people as well...
2. Fat jokes. SBTB LOVES making fun of fat people... and nerds... and feminists... but seriously ANY plus-sized character on the show was cast for a reason - to be the butt of fat jokes. I think there was one episode where Zack made fun of a fat girl and she got mad at him and he felt bad but other than that one isolated incident, SBTB hates fat people.
3. The quiz bowl finale. A series of coincidences like those WOULD NEVER HAPPEN in real life. Oh, how convenient for you Zack, you just KNEW that you'd be able to pick a sport other than football for the final category and you KNEW that the nerds wouldn't be ahead so much that you couldn't catch up with your infinite knowledge of sports. The cocky way Zack said "Uh, I believe that's Michael 'Air' Jordan" was actually one of the most annoying things I've seen on TV ever. I feel like some douchebag on the set during filming was like "Uhhh maybe instead of saying Michael Jordan you should say Michael Air Jordan to show how much you REALLY know about basketball" I don't know maybe it was even Mark-Paul Gosselaar (Zack Morris himself) because the way he delivered that line, the cockiness almost didn't seem like acting. It totally seemed like he "wrote" the line himself and was soooo proud of it.
So the nerds lose to the cool kids again. The moral of the story is, don't be a nerd, don't be fat, and you can always use your principal as a scapegoat even if it means he loses his office, his parking spot, and his Christmas bonus to pay for you being a huge idiot. Thanks Saved by the Bell. Thanks for all of those valuable life lessons. Zack Morris, you're the worst.