The Electric Commentary

Thursday, January 19, 2006

The Worst Moment Ever In "Saved By The Bell"

Inspired by this post, I must mention the worst moment ever in the history of Saved By The Bell. It takes place while the kids are working at Malibu Sands, during a big volleyball match.

The crew is taking on their rivals from North Beach, and every year, Mr. Carosi makes a wager on the game with the owner of North Beach even though he always loses. Zach guarantees victory is Mr. Carosi will cut Zach a sweet deal on his car. The staff will be fired if they lose, but they are confident because Kelly is implausibly the captain of the Bayside High Volleyball Team.

At some point, two guys from North Beach wander over to talk a little trash and to play some 2 on 6 with the crew. To start the game, one of the North-Beachers serves a sky ball--he hits the ball as high as he can, underhanded. For comical effect, the ball lands directly on Screech's head.

When we finally get to the big game, the gang has gone through your prototypical 80s training montage so that they're all studs (except Screech, who just gets lucky a few times).

The match is close throughout, as the teams trade points. Finally, in the last game of the match with Malibu Sands up 14-13 (I think, I could be wrong about this), an utterly implausible piece of video editing occurs that not even my vastly increased "Saved By The Bell" level of "willing suspension of disbelief" could tolerate.

Zach hits a fairly strong overhand serve to the back row of the North Beach side. At this point, the creators of the show decided to splice in the earlier scene of the North Beach guy's sky-ball serve. In other words, they imply that the highly skilled North Beach player chose to return Zach's decent-but-not-overpowering serve not with a traditional bump (on game point, mind you), but by hitting it with one arm, underhanded, as hard as he can, straight up.

This edit doesn't even look good. It's very, very obvious that they were just recycling footage, and if you look closely, you can see that the North Beach player is standing out of bounds when he hits the ball, implying that had he simply let the ball go, they would have won a side-out.

But it doesn't stop there. Oh no. The sky-ball ends up dropping just barely over the net on the Malibu Sands side, where Zach has run all the way from the back row, in front of Slater, to hit the winning spike. That Zach is a ball hog and a glory hog isn't that surprising, it's just that Slater doesn't even try, like he expects Zach to come up from the back row. I expect more from Mario Lopez.

Just an awful sequence of events. It completely destroyed my SBTB filter.

I realize that its tough to pull off sports in cheap sit-coms. The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air set TV basketball back 50 years. But why was this necessary? Was it that hard to script out a dramatic final point? Could the actors just not put three hits together? How about finishing with a block instead? It's easy to film a block.

The Malibu Sands episodes are legendary for going over the top even by SBTB standards. From the big ATV race (we couldn't just settle for a big volleyball match, we had to have this too), to Slater rescuing a princess from drowning, to the hilarious ceremony (which included candles and a gong) organized by Mr. Carosi for Stacey's pompous East Coast boyfriend to give her his frat pin, the plots at Malibu Sands are more over the top than the worst soap opera, and less plausible than Gabrielle Carteris as a high school student.

Saved By The Bell reached its apex with Jesse's drug addiction, but this is where it hit rock bottom.


  • Wow. Slow day at work huh?

    By Anonymous Scott H, at 5:51 PM  

  • I haven't seen the episode in question, but your description is gripping. I nominate this for Best Posts of 2006. (But when are we going to see Best Posts of 2005?)

    I'm always amazed at how bad the sports scenes are in popular entertainment. Why don't they just have the actors play the sport and then choose the best scenes? The Basketball Diaries is unwatchable because it's just a bunch of people standing around letting Leonardo DiCaprio shoot baskets.

    So here's to Hoosiers, which looks exactly like what I envision 1950s high school basketball looked like.

    By Blogger MDS, at 6:42 PM  

  • While I don't remember much from SBTB as a young 'un, I did recently figure out the proper tinfoil + antenna positioning to get TBS over the air at my place. Since I always keep my living room TV on, for the past week I have risen to the exploits of Zach and the gang. The Miss Bayside episode aired yesterday morning.

    Along with an episode where Zach totally gives Kelley the boot for this really cute nurse. What a player. Too bad the chicks in the group (yes Slater is a chick too) front on him and she sets him up. Ahhh, the life lessons within...

    By Anonymous Rashid Muhammad, at 8:54 AM  

  • Paul, of all the ridiculousness of SBTB, you pick out this moment?!

    While you are right, I'd go so far to say that NONE of the sports and entertainment aspects of this show makes any sense. None of it.

    They can all play instruments well and sing? They get Casey Casem to the school and Lisa breaks her ankle, forcing her to win with The Sprain? Zach and Slater are on the basketball team for one episode and Zach gets hurt, requiring surgery? Dude, the football team only has like four players. Screech is a world-class chess player for one or two episodes, and that's it.

    And that's not to mention all the other ludicrous stuff that goes on in the history of the show. How bout when the find fucking OIL on the football field?! C'mon, that episode is much crazier than the moonball shot!

    I'm with you duder, this VB episode and that part are about as implausible as can be, but I think the whole series needs to be taken for what it is -- a cheesy sitcom on Saturday mornings to entertain teenagers.

    Nice write-up, though, you dropped it like a water thing on Gary's foot.

    By Blogger Ace Cowboy, at 11:39 AM  

  • Man, those guys were injury-prone.

    Don't forget that Screech also landed Tori Spelling.

    The most ridiculous part of "The Sprain" episode, isn't Casem or Lisa's ankle. It's Slater's unitard. Bar none.

    By Blogger PaulNoonan, at 12:12 PM  

  • Whenever I mention this show to my students, I also qualify my remarks by insisting that it was a "terrible show," and without exception, the students as a group always insist I am wrong.

    By Blogger Jonathan, at 12:59 PM  

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