For the last twenty years, not many days have gone by where I haven’t flipped through the channels and not seen a second or two of a Saved by the Bell rerun. I watched that show religiously when it was new in the early 90s, on through the end of its College Years and New Class runs. Saved by the Bell is definitely not a well-made show; the storylines are rarely plausible, there’s almost zero continuity from one episode to the next, and so many questions are left very unanswered.
The writers never explained to us where Kelly and Jessie were during those Tori episodes. The school only had an elevator that one time when Mrs. Belding got trapped in it. The school only had a store for that one episode when the gang ran it. The school only had a radio station that one episode when the gang became DJs. Zack and Slater were only members of the basketball team for one episode. Any fan can go on and on about these types of discrepancies.
My wife and my mother are two people I can think of who would agree that it is one of the worst shows ever broadcast on the airwaves. Mom came close to banning us from watching the show after her annoyance with Screech. Lauren is aware of the show and its uber-popularity among current 25-35 year olds, but never got swept up in the craze.
Yet for all the negative things that can be said about Saved by the Bell as a quality program, it sure as hell made a lot of people happy! Last night I went to the Shouthouse in downtown Minneapolis with friends Kayla and Steph for the Saved by the Bell costume contest hosted by Dennis Haskins, better known as Mr. Belding. Dennis took the stage, said a couple words about the show, and then spent the next two hours being MOBBED by the 500 people in attendance. It was utter pandemonium as he attempted to make his way from one side of the room to the other, shaking hands and taking photos with everyone in his path. I’m convinced Dennis Haskins would have been more popular than the Pope in that crowd.
And then there was Patrick O’Brien, the actor who played Mr. Dewey, who was on hand for the show and now lives in Minneapolis. We hung out with him much of the night and Kayla bought him a drink. He has a long list of minor film and TV roles, but he told me his claim to fame is still the few episodes where he played Mr. Dewey, the nerdy math teacher on SBTB. While he didn’t command the same whirlwind of attention that Dennis Haskins did, we still witnessed him autographing one girl’s butt cheek and another girl’s boob.
The costume contest was a bit of a letdown; Kayla, Steph, and I were certain we had the three best costumes of the night. But it was an audience-applause rating system and we were beaten out. Kayla dressed as a spot-on Violet Bickerstaff. Steph went as drugged-up Jessie Spano from the Hot Fudge Sundae episode. And I went as AC Slater with my custom “HUSBAND 2” shirt from the episode where the gang is arbitrarily paired together for the marriage class with Mr. Belding as the teacher. Dennis Haskins appreciated me dressing as Slater from such an obscure episode, but another Slater won.
So next time you flip on TBS at 7am on a Friday morning and see the third of four consecutive SBTB reruns, maybe you’ll appreciate the show for entertaining so many millions of kids born in the early 1980s. I’ll leave you with some photos from the evening.