Friday, June 20, 2014

Saturtainment: Good Morning, Miss Bliss (1987) to Saved by the Bell (1989-2000)

With news that Lifetime is planning a TV-movie which apparently may have its basis in Dustin Diamond's tell-all tome about his experiences on Saved by the Bell, I thought we might go further back.

The series began with Good Morning, Miss Bliss, which was started as a pilot on NBC, but the network decided they didn't want to go with a series. Disney picked it up for Disney Channel, and the series ran for 2 years there before it wound up going back to NBC.

Following is the rarely seen original credits to Good Morning, Miss Bliss, followed by the syndicated version, which was packaged under the more familiar Saved by the Bell label to cash in on the series' sudden explosion in popularity on NBC.

Changes were made when Bell arrived at NBC. Hayley Mills chose not to return, and co-stars TK Carter (ex-Punky Brewster), Joan Ryan, Max Battino, & Heather Hopper left with her. Mark-Paul Gosselaar was then promoted to top billing, as the producers identified that he was, in fact, destined for stardom. He wasn't alone, of course. With Zack Morris (Gosselaar), Lisa Turtle (Lark Voorhies), & Sam "Screech" Powers (Diamond) now at Bayside, the rest of the "classic class" came together with the addition of Jessie Spano (Elizabeth Berkley), A. C. Slater (Mario Lopez), & Kelly Kapowski (Tiffani-Amber Thiessen).

Unfortunately, most of the 1989-93 era is unavailable on YouTube. We have the following, uploaded, it looks like, from a camera phone. The gang tries rapping in a parody of Snow White & The 7 Dwarfs:

As noted yesterday, the late Casey Kasem made two guest appearances on the show, which also served as a launch pad for the likes of Tori Spelling, who appeared in a few episodes as the girlfriend of----are you sitting down?---Screech.

NBC, though, was not willing to let Bell end, so they introduced The New Class. Only Dennis Haskins (Principal Richard Belding) carried over, but after the first year, he wouldn't be alone. Now, meet the New Class:

Of that group, only Bianca Lawson made the transition to primetime and movies. The rest? Forgotten. Zack, Screech, Slater, & Kelly moved on to The College Years, which was meant to lead off NBC's Tuesday primetime lineup. However, that laid an egg, and lasted just 1 season, culminating with the TV-movie, "Wedding in Las Vegas", in which Zack & Kelly got married.

As this episode proves, Screech is still dumber than a bag of hammers.

Former NFL player Bob Golic, in his acting debut, was part of the ensemble. Unfortunately, things, as noted, didn't work out. Reruns would resurface on TBS as a Saturday morning entry, hence its inclusion here.

After College Years ended, Screech returned to Bayside as Belding's assistant, largely because the New Class needed the help. In one memorable episode, Slater, Lisa, & Zack returned to save Bayside from a greedy developer, who was an old friend of Zack's aunt, as it turns out........

Yep, same old Screech. College didn't improve his IQ at all. Assuming he had one.

Currently, reruns with the "classic class" air 6 days a week on MTV2 after an eternity on TBS, which farmed it out to [adult swim] for a short stint a while back. The New Class? In limbo. Not sure if either NBC or CBS (CBS-Paramount bought Rysher, the original distributor in syndication) has the distribution rights today.


Good Morning, Miss Bliss/Saved by the Bell (1987-93): B+.

Saved by the Bell: The College Years: B-.

Saved by the Bell: The New Class: C.


magicdog said...

I remember "Miss Bliss" but it wasn't my cup of tea - although it's obvious Haley Mills was meant to be the star. Too bad her twin sister couldn't have made an appearance.

SBTB was OK, but it was heavily dependent on the cast in both talent, personality, and likeability. That's likely why such a paper thin premise managed to work as long as it did. It's about the same IQ level as the sitcoms with lesser casts on cable. They are often full of plot holes one could drive a truck through!

I've never bothered with the subsequent incarnations, although I was disappointed with Screech's character having been so dumb into adulthood. I would have preferred the character had been allowed to grow up and mature a bit. Sure he could still be a goofball, but not one with the IQ of a bench.

hobbyfan said...

The fact that College Years bombed sort of accelerated the need to move Screech back to Bayside and New Class. If the series was allowed to go the full four seasons, maybe he returns to Bayside later in the run.

In hindsight, Screech was meant to be the village idiot on the show, period.