Monday, October 23, 2006

Ridin' Low in My Chair, She Won't Know That I'm There

The Bayside High Saved by the Bell Graduation episode was on a couple mornings ago. And, rare for most television shows, this season/series finale is one of the best episodes of the Saved by the Bell catalogue. Zack is a credit short of graduation, so the gang combines for a production of a fake ballet called Swan Pond to get Zack that one more credit. (In the performance AC Slater gives his 3rd or 4th legitimate ballet performance of the series. Does Lopez ask for these scenes?)

In the other crucial story line, Screech nudges Jesse for Valedictorian by a tenth of a point. Screech, then, surrenders the title because of how much he knew it would hurt Jesse not to have it. THEN, Lisa gives Screech a kiss on the cheek the night before graduation. Jesse then starts making fun of Lisa saying how she can't believe Lisa kissed "such a dorky guy." Lisa then lets it slip about what Screech did for her, and I think gives the best acting performance in the history of the Saved by the Bell, saying "The world might be a lot better if there were more little dorky guys." Just a heartless, steely-eyed delivery from the teriffic Lark Voorhies, that drops Jesse Spano in her tracks. Powerful stuff.

So, then, Jesse lets Screech deliver the Valedictorian speech. Screech, then, graciously accepts and turns the mic over to Zack because "you're better with words than I am."

Touching. Touching.

Yet, there is a pretty major flaw in one of the earlier "final season" episodes, which make this final one a bit bothersome. That is, the episode where Zack and Lisa date.

This is a Tori episode, so Kapowski was out of the picture (along with Spano which was NEVER. . . EVER explained. And, gyad, what kind of replacement was Tory. Even for Saved by the Bell her acting was horribly painful to watch. And she wasn't good looking.) Zack is helping Lisa get a fashion show ready for some New York Art Institute. This leads to a kiss, because, if you know Zack Morris, anytime he is alone with a girl, he kisses her. All the time. It's what he does. He had to have the highest batting average of any man in the world. So, he bags the lucious Lisa Turtle, which eventually leads to the The Confrontation.

Screech confronts Zack in the hall, and knocks Zack's books out of his hand and EVEN tears Zack's silk button down shirt. But, Zack refuses to fight. Honestly, never have two people tried harder to act dramatically than Dustin Diamond and Mark Paul-Gosselar than in this scene. It's television magic. Honestly, for my money, both of them pull it off. This was maybe the most hard-hitting scene in the history of Saved by the Bell. Even much more so, than when AC Slater and Zack got into a real schoolyard brawl, over Zack and AC going after the same girl.

However, Screech, cause he's fucking Screech, eventually backs down when Lisa, who still has him by the balls, comes over and finishes the heart extraction, and tells him she has feelings for Zack. Shortly, there after, they are hugging and Screech refers to them as "his best gal" and "his best pal." It's really sickening. Of all the things Zack does which are essentially selfish (like taking the class presidency from Jesse Spano), he almost always ends the show by rectifying the situation and realizing he was wrong. Hell, he even told AC, he would stop dating his hot little sister for him.

However, this greatly influenced the way I thought about Zack Morris. Sure, he used Screech a lot, but I always figured he had a special place for Screech in his heart. And if that was the case, Lisa should have ABSOLUTELY been off limits. This was no simple high school crush that Screech had. Screech Powers loved this girl ever since their Junior High days in Indiana. (Yeah, the Miss Bliss shows, took place at an Indiana Junior High - also never explained. There's nothing Peter Engel loved more than a healthy dose of loose ends.) Screech went through hell, he taped ears onto worms, risked getting beat up by a bully, wears a heart outfit on Halloween. Jesus, Screech turned down Kelly "f-ing" Kapowski in an earlier episode for shit's sake (more on this in a later blog). Kelly Kapowski!!! He only wanted Lisa Turtle. For Zack, she is the one girl, that should have been off-limits.

Also, it would have been very different if Zack was struggling with the ladies. Zack made out with every single hot girl at that school, and everyone he ever met on any of their vacations. And, all he had to do, was not kiss Lisa. Or, at least even AFTER scoring the make out with Turtle, he could have backed off and apologized. And promised Screech it would never happen again. But he didn't, he said he had feelings for her and continued daing her, for ONE episode. This was obviously a purely physical attraction between Zack and Lisa; a quick one-show story line. And he was willing to throw away his whole friendship with Screech for this. That show forever changed the way I felt about Zack Morris. He did do some genuinely nice things for Screech in the series, this one was nearly unforgivable. I always thought Zack owed Screech big time from that point forward.

And, finally, think of all the turmoil Zack has caused with his relationships. You would think a guy with that sort of illuminating sexual aura and prowess would maybe avoid some of the stickier situations. But, no, he got into extremely complicated SERIOUS heartrending relationships with everyone that include:

Slater's little sister
The single mom in Hawaii
Leon Kerosi's (his boss's) daughter (the smokin Stacy Kerosi)
Jesse Spano (that was just briefly, but ruined the Kapowski/Slater relationship for a bit)
The female wrestler who emasculated him.
Lisa Turtle
The exchange student, Slater was hitting on
The girl in a wheelchair, who called his dating hotline
And once he got to The College Years, at Cal, on a campus full of hot girls, he goes on a full-court press for his roommate, Leslie.
Tori (that awful new girl, who sucked, and was a pain-in-the-ass biker chick)
The hot school nurse (who he ruined his 'going steady' relationship with Kapowski for)
The girl from UCLA while he was still in high school, which involved him making FAKE ID's THAT SAID THEY WERE 18 YEARS OLD, SO THEY COULD GET INTO A UCLA NIGHTCLUB CALLED "THE ATTIC".

And, ya know, I'm sure there are more. The only two normal relationships he had were with Kelly Kapowski who was always the girl for him, and who only got hotter and hotter as the series went on, and those few episodes where he was on again, off again dating Pete Sampras' old girlfriend; who played a hot, stereotypical bimbo.

[Chubbs' editor's note: I claim that Zack's relationship with Stacy Kerosi (aka the Queen of Queens)was a legitimate, serious relationship. Remember the drama caused by the return of Stacy's ex-boyfriend from college? How could we so quickly forget the importance that surrounds an ex-boyfriend's gift of a pledge pin? I know I didn't. Also, the ATV race. Remember that? Yeah, that was awesome.]

Zack's committment towards getting in awkward, weird, difficult, yet SERIOUS relationships very quickly is the driving impetus of the show; AND the reason why he and Kelly just were not together all that long.

That being said, he should have left Lisa Turtle alone.

- Anthony

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