Set in the fictional town of Palisades, California, the series follow six teenagers through their fun-filled days at Bayside School and their antic-filled nights at their favorite hang-out, The Max. Heartthrobs Zack and A.C. are forever vying for the attention of Kelly, the prettiest and most popular girl in school. Screech is the class clown and electronic genius, and fashion conscience Lis a is mostly occupied with expanding her wardrobe. Jessie is the neutralizing force, often trying to convince the gang to do the rig ht thing all while school principal Mr. Belding is continuously trying to connect with the younger generation.
As high school comedies for young viewers go, Saved by the Bell is as light as they come, yet there is something unusually addictive about it. No doubt that's because the series, set at Bayside High School in Pacific Palisades, California, balances fluffy stories with evolving relationships. It's no chore to watch every episode in this Saved by the Bell: Seasons 1 & 2 boxed set and feel satisfied with the touching, admirable growth and affection between key characters.
The show concerns teenager Zack Morris (Mark Paul Gosselaar) and his eclectic group of friends. Zack himself is a complicated fellow: he's a vain hound for the girls and a screw-up who sets attendance records for detention. But as the series progresses, he also demonstrates that he's a thoughtful kid, underneath it all, with insight and loyalty to others. Tiffani-Amber Thiessen plays Kelly Kapowski, a cheerleader and mall rat who gains seriousness of purpose and dignity over time, and who ends a rivalry between Zack and good-natured sexist jock A.C. Slater (Mario Lopez) by choosing the former--after he cleans up his act a bit. Jessie Murtle Spano (Elizabeth Berkley) may be the most interesting character: smart and given to alternative-lifestyle values, an unabashed feminist yet self-conscious about her height. (She towers over most boys interested in her). Samuel "Screech" Powers (Dustin Diamond) is the show's token nerd, but he defies the stereotype in many ways: In "Dancing to the Max," Kelly develops a crush on Screech after he tutors her in science, while in other episodes he wins a beauty contest and comes to the heroic aid of a chum more than once. What's nice about Saved by the Bell is the way these sundry friends all get to know and accept each other, creating unexpected bonds and encouraging honest support when the chips are down. Highlights include "The Election," in which Zack, typically, runs for class president against Jessie on a lark, then has to face real responsibility when he wins. In "The Prom," Kelly gives up her dream of attending the school prom after her dad loses his job; she's rewarded with Zack's own sacrifice to make sure she's not alone. --Tom Keogh