Top positive review
Innocence and nostalgia
on 30 July 2016
Season one of Saved by the Bell was first broadcast on Saturday mornings during 1989. The show was an instant hit on Saturday mornings, full of zany antics and light-hearted stories. One poll taken at the time showed that over 50% of teenage girls watched the show each week. This DVD collection contains all the episodes from Season one, each one is about 21 minutes in length. I’d say the demographic this is aimed at would be the 8-14 range, though the series has a bit of a cult following from adults who grew up watching it as children. The series has a 12 rating.
The themes in the series usually revolve around friendship, family identity & insecurities. The overall feel of the show is a group of friends who love one another and a world where the kids are in control.
The focus on the show is definitely the character Zack, an easy-going, good looking young guy with some very colourful friends. He is prone to breaking the 4th wall every so often, giving a little wink at the camera. He can also freeze time by calling for a “time out” while he delivers exposition to the audience. In one later episode he uses a time out to manipulate events implying this isn’t just artistic licence but that Zack has supernatural powers….crazy.
The cast are all age appropriate for their roles as teenagers in the late 80s, the main cast were all 15 years old at the time this was filmed, expect for one who was 12 and another who was 17. So many American films and TV programmes have actors in their mid to late 20s pretending to still be in high school, Saved by the Bell luckily doesn't suffer from this problem and I think that's one of the reasons it became so popular. I also thought the acting was pretty good, especially considering their age and they improve as they go along. I thought the most realistic two characters were probably Jessie and Slatter. The characters are all likeable in their own way and there's a strong bond between the gang. Like Friends and Seinfeld there’s no real character development in the series, Zack’s lies and crazy schemes always backfire on him and Lisa is forever rejecting Screech. As for the parents, they hardly exist in the show nor do siblings, the only adults really are the teachers (often special guest appearances) & Max the owner of the diner. The adults often impart a bit of wisdom to the kids and each episode has a little moral dilemma for the characters, like coming clean when you've done something wrong. Liked the fact to that the cast are racially diverse but they don’t make a big deal out of it either, they didn’t try and make Lisa all gangster, she was just one of the gang, a normal American girl like the rest.
The production values for the show are fairly basic, the boom microphone even makes an appearance in a couple of scenes. The school has only a few locations, the locker hall way, the classroom and the Principal’s office, the characters never go outdoors. The colours on the DVD are slightly pasty and the image is a bit soft, it's not the best transfer but at least looks authentic and not too digitally enhanced. The art department did a nice job though with the café, it’s very bright, welcoming and colourful. If you like fashion from the 1980s then you'll also enjoy what they come up with in the wardrobe compartment. The jokes are well done and aren't too reliant on outdated references thankfully.
The show has a strong air of innocence. Swearing was reportedly banned on the set, and there’s much less emphasis on drugs and sex than most TV shows aimed at kids these days. The producer who came up with the idea for the programme was a very committed Christian who wanted to make wholesome clean entertainment, the kind his children could enjoy. The cast have a squeaky clean feel and a hug is portrayed as edgy or risky judging by the audience reaction.