If you grew up in the late 80s or early 90s, you must have heard of a TV sitcom called Saved By The Bell. The show aired from 1989 to 1993 and was a retool of the original show Good Morning, Miss Bliss.
Good Morning, Miss Bliss takes place at John F. Kennedy Junior High in Indianapolis, Indiana. The show starred Hayley Mills, who played Miss Carrie Bliss, an 8th grade teacher. Her students included Zack Morris (Mark-Paul Gosselaar), Lisa Turtle (Lark Voorhies), and Samuel “Screech” Powers (Dustin Diamond), who were the main characters. Other characters included Mikey Gonzalez (Max Battimo), Nikki Coleman (Heather Hopper) and Mr. Belding (Dennis Haskins).
Good Morning, Miss Bliss was cancelled after 13 episodes. Executives at NBC decided to reformat the show and use many of the same characters. It was later decided that the characters of Lisa, Screech, Zack and Mr. Belding would be used for a new sitcom.
Producers of the new sitcom, which eventually became Saved By The Bell, decided to add a few new characters. They included Kelly Kapowski (Tiffani-Amber Thiessen), Jesse Spano (Elizabeth Berkley), and Albert Clifford Slater (Mario Lopez).
In the original show Good Morning, Miss Bliss, Zack attends middle school in a boring Indiana suburb. He's a troublemaker whose plans are always stopped by the his teacher, Miss Bliss. Zack has to constantly deal with being embarrassed in front of his classmates. Moreover, he has problems with meeting girls. His friends, Mikey and Nikki, won't hesitate to put him in his place. Zack's parents are divorced, and Zack has a brother.
Surprisingly, Saved By The Bell takes place on the same set as the previous show, Good Morning, Miss Bliss. The staircase and lockers are in the same place. Even Mr. Belding's office is in the same place. Virtually everything is in the exact same place. What is even more interesting is that Saved By The Bell does not take place in Indiana. It takes place in Pacific Palisades, California. Pacific Palisades is located in The Westside of Los Angeles County. Malibu is located to the west and Santa Monica is to the southeast. It is primarily a residential area, with large private homes, small houses, and condominiums.
In the sitcom, the fictional school, Bayside High is created (most likely a name originating from Westside). Zack Morris is the most popular kid in school, and excels in everything from sports to music. He instantly knows almost everybody in the school (including some jocks and nerds) which most are friendly to him. All of the teachers in Bayside are the complete opposite of what they were in the previous sitcom, Good Morning, Miss Bliss. The teachers are oblivious to what students do in and out of class and the principal, Mr. Belding, can barely control anything that goes on in the school.
Zack and his friends always go to lunch at the local hangout, The Max. It was where the Bayside Tigers would celebrate before and after games. The Max was owned by a magician named Max. Surpisingly, Zack and the crew never are seen in the Bayside cafeteria. It is a little hard to believe that a group of high school students would have enough money to buy lunch every day. On top of that, they typically go to The Max before and after classes as well. In some cases, the hangout also hosts radio shows and various contests, which Zack and the crew usually participate in.
There were many sitcoms throughout the 1990s, but this one was different in one way. If you watched the show enough, you will notice something strange about Zack. He tends to speak directly to the camera often. Furthermore, he uses the words “Time Out” and “Time In” whenever something bad is about to occur or if he is confused about a situation. This is one of the most fascinating features in the sitcom, which makes it stand out from the rest. So, what does it exactly mean?
The main theory that some believe is that Bayside High is simply a figment of Zack's imagination. Zack is not necessarily dreaming of this perfect California high school, but is just imagining it. His life is surrounded by beautiful women, beaches, and gadgets that no one else can afford. According to this theory, in reality, Zack is really just a regular student in an Indiana high school the entire time.
Zack is not just the most popular guy in school, but also manages to date every important female character in the show (including Tori Scott and Stacey Carosi) in a span of only four years. In Zack's mind it is easy to manipulate the principle, teachers, and even a Texas oil tycoon. Zack never once had a bad day at Bayside, and even if he did, it all turned out fine in the end. In addition, technology was also a major part of Zack's life, especially when he managed to get a hold of a mobile phone (an expensive gadget back then) and used it on a daily basis.
Upon graduation, Zack plans to attend Yale University because he scores a 1502 on the SAT (a score that Jesse didn't even receive). In the end, he attends Cal U with Slater, Screech, and Kelly.
There is no doubt that everybody loved this sitcom, but one must wonder if this was really how Zack's life really played out. The theory states that everything that occurred in the sitcom was just all in his mind. If you listen to the theme song, it makes even more sense (especially how all the teachers at Bayside are so incognizant) with lyrics such as “Riding low in my chair, she won't know that I'm there, if I can hand it in tomorrow it'll be alright!"
The show was so successful that it later spawned two spin-off series Saved By The Bell: The College Years and The New Class. It also spawned two TV movies. The sitcom was written before the 1990 Children's Television Act, which was enacted in 1990 by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). The sitcom dealt with issues such as death, women's rights, drug use, and environmental issues. Many of the sitcom's viewers praised the writers for being considered educational and informational programming. AOL TV later named the show one of the "20 Best School Shows of All Time".
Saved By The Bell will always be remembered as a fun show for the entire family, and it will most likely continue to play for decades to come. Some critics wanted the show to be more realistic, but even if it may have just been a fantasy that was created in Zack's mind, most people will agree that the sitcom will always be known as one of the best of the 90s.