Square Pegs: A Cafeteria Line vs. Saved by the Bell: Snow White and the Seven Dorks

Welcome to our first matchup of the Show Within A Show Showdown! Today, Square Peg‘s original musical “A Cafeteria Line” faces off with Saved by the Bell‘s rap-operetta, fractured-fairy tale “Snow White and the Seven Dorks.”

Before we get into the nitty gritty of each production, I’m so fascinated by the fact that both of these shows put a lot of work into the show within a show aspect of this. There’s a ton of original lyrics (and, in the case of Square Pegs, music) and I’m like damn who wrote all of this?? I’m just dying to read an oral history of these two episodes, but I couldn’t find one on either.

Based on what I could dig up on IMDB, Paul Shaffer (yes, that Paul Shaffer) is credited for “special musical material” on “A Cafeteria Line” along with composer Jon Wolff (who based on an interview I was able to find with him was the credited composer for the show’s entire run).

“Well, Paul was in New York, and my job in L.A. was to wait for him to send the compositions, the songs for the dance number and one that Sarah [Jessica Parker] is singing, and there were a couple of other numbers in Janis Hirsch’s script. So my job was to receive the compositions, arrange them, orchestrate them if they needed to be, hire the musicians, book the studio, produce the music, deliver it to stage, music supervise the production of it, teach it to the actors, work with the choreographer… Everything but compose the music. And I was okay with that, because that fit squarely into my description as the utility guy, the chores guy. It was just another job for me.” — Jonathan Wolff interviewed by Will Harris

As for “Snow White and the Seven Dorks,” the only credited musicians on this episode are Richard Eames and Scott Gale, who are credits on most (if not all) of the show’s episodes. I’m assuming they also wrote for “Snow White and the Seven Dorks,” but I wasn’t able to find anything super specific so that’s just my best guess.

And now for the point breakdown: Let’s start with “A Cafeteria Line.” If this was truly a contest of musical numbers only — Square Pegs would win by a landslide. I knew Sarah Jessica Parker was a Broadway kid, but I so rarely get to hear her sing. It’s pretty much this episode and that one song in Hocus Pocus, but her voice is so lovely! I want to hear more of it! She totally nails it as the sweet nerd, Patty, who finally gets to be seen.

There’s also the splashy big group number, reminiscent of Fame‘s “Hot Lunch Jam,” about cafeteria food with such lines as “creamed corn, ketchup is a vegetable” or the more romantic, “You don’t know how I felt, when I shared your tuna melt.”

It’s cute, it moves, this show should win by a landslide, right? Well, I hadn’t seen this in so long that I forgot the actual plot of the musical. The show has a very creepy director who like clearly wrote this experimental piece and wants to be controversial — you know one of those self important drama types who doesn’t seem to recognize he’s working with children — and the plot of “A Cafeteria Line,” as it turns out, is Patty’s high school teenager character in a romantic relationship with her drama teacher (who is played by another high school student). There’s a scripted kiss and everything. It’s so creepy and unnecessary.

Both lead characters are played by students, so why make one a teenager and one an adult? Like wtf. I love Anne Beatts work on this show for the most part, but this totally shocked me. Unless this is like a super dark joke that I’m not getting? Anyway, points awarded for music and choreography, but by default I was going to award the plot points to Saved by the Bell…except…it turns out they didn’t win by default…the plot of “Snow White and the Seven Dorks” is…dare I say…good?

Saved by the Bell" Snow White and the Seven Dorks (TV Episode 1992) - IMDb

This starts off as a drama club production at Bayside High School. Their teacher encourages them to present a fresh take on an old classic, so bubbly Kelly Kapowski suggests they do a rap version which is oh so cringe. And it’s not just cringe because they’re a bunch of mostly white teens who seem to have known knowledge or no appreciation of rap’s cultural significance and a sociopolitical art form — it’s cringe on a physical level as well. My ears hurt. The Beastie Boys they are not. Also, all of the rapping is done over one repetitive beat that I think is just that pre-programmed setting that every keyboard had in the 90s.

The plot is the more interesting part, thankfully. Due to some 90’s stereotyping the dorks of Bayside are the techies, but this year they refuse to be board ops and insist on being on stage. This leads to the 7 dorks characters (but Slater plays a dork too so it isn’t full-on type casting). Zack is cast as the prince, but Kelly is cast against-type as the Evil Queen, whereas Jessie plays Snow White (which is cool because she makes her a more feminist, character with a surprising amount of agency for this fairy tale).

Zack tries to drop out of the show immediately because the only reason he auditioned was that he didn’t want anyone else to kiss Kelly (who he assumed would be cast as Snow White). At Kelly and Jessie’s urging, he decides to stay in the show. Throughout the rehearsal process, there appears too be maybe TOO much chemistry between Zack and Jessie. Slater and Kelly get super jealous and behave like jerks, so Jessie and Zack rewrite the whole ending of the musical (which works seamlessly because the music is just that one basic drum kit backing track on loop).

Zack and Jessie surprise everyone with the new ending of “Snow White” in which Snow White wakes herself up and decides that kissing the dork she wants to kiss (Slater) is what will fully revive her from the witch’s spell. And the Prince decides he really prefers the Evil Queen. The heart wants what it wants! (But I sure do hope these teens learn about healthy relationships because you shouldn’t have to rewrite a whole play because your partner doesn’t trust you.)

Also the costumes are CUTE and the scenery is flashy but not distracting. Both “A Cafeteria Line” and “Snow White and the Seven Dorks” use a graffiti unit set, but “Snow White” uses more color and it is coordinated nicely with the color scheme of the costumes.

Sorry, “A Cafeteria Line,” I almost loved you but you were too creepy. Plus, Jessie and Zack did a really nice riff on the misogynistic plot of “Snow White.”

Very Special Winner: Saved by the Bell

Saved By the Bell: The College Years | A Thanksgiving Story

At the top of this episode, the gang’s resident advisor (Mike) who is about thirty-five years old announces that he will be hosting Thanksgiving dinner for a group of underprivileged kids. For this reason, he can’t use his NFL tickets.

Mike offers the tickets up to the group and only-child Zack pitches a whole sob story about how his “brother” Teddy has just returned from the Peace Corps and would love to attend an NFL game with him because Zack is a sociopath. He doesn’t even want to go to the game. As it turns out, his plan is to scalp the tickets.

Meanwhile, Slater coaches his girlfriend, Alex on how to make a good impression at his family’s Thanksgiving Dinner.

  • Don’t talk politics with Slater’s father
  • Laugh at his uncle’s jokes
  • Pretend to be Mexican when speaking to his grandma

Sounds like this relationship is destined for long-term success!

A college friend, Leslie, declines an invite to spend Thanksgiving with Kelly, opting instead to help Mike with his dinner. She says her family isn’t big on Thanksgiving, which Zack is surprised to hear because her ancestors were on the Mayflower.

Leslie asserts that some of her ancestors were at the First Thanksgiving, and invented the three bean salad. (No amount of facepalm emojis will suffice. Please go back and click that link if you skipped over it.)

Leslie spends most of her day making turkey place cards out of construction paper and school glue. They’re actually pretty cute. But Mike reprimands her, saying: “These are tough street kids, not the Olsen kids.” Because I guess only wealthy white kids enjoy crafts? What the actual fuck, Mike?

Saved by the Bell: The College Years" A Thanksgiving Story (TV Episode  1993) - IMDb

A lot of things happen in quick succession: Mike and Screech attempt to lift a pool table. Mike injures his back. Screech tries to help Mike by pushing his wheelchair, but Screech sucks so he rams the wheelchair into a wall at top speed. Mike ends up with a concussion. Screech decides to stay with Mike and “help” him even though Mike begs him to go back home to LA with everyone else.

Lucky for everyone else, Screech isn’t with them when they take a shortcut on the drive back to LA and breakdown in the middle of nowhere. I can only assume the one thing that would make that awful situation worse is Screech.

Zack is stressed because he wants to get back home and sell the NFL tickets. When they see a car, they all try to flag it down except for Alex who scares off the passing vehicle by pretending her flashlight is a gun because she believes them to be Pod People…because they drive a Chevy.

AC Slater and Alex Tabor trading card Saved by the Bell 1994 Pacific #24  Kiersten Warren Mario Lopez at Amazon's Entertainment Collectibles Store

Everyone thinks she’s stupid, and she is deeply heart by their reactions. She sounds delusional. Like maybe it’s just the stress of breaking down on the road in the middle of nowhere in the middle of the night, but like she may want to consider seeking professional help.

After spending the night by the broken down car, the gang gets towed back to college on Thanksgiving morning.

Zack announces that he’s trying to fly back to LA on standby. Kelly tells him he’s selfish. (He is.) He denies it. (Of course he does.) And Slater calls him out for not adding anyone else’s name to the standby list.

After talking things over with Mike, they all decide to spend Thanksgiving with the underprivileged kids. The only problem is that Screech switched out the order for cooked turkeys to an order for frozen turkeys in order to save a little money.

So the kids show up to eat while the turkeys are still frozen. Zack runs off to find an open store while Screech tries to thaw the turkeys with a hair dryer. (I am sure this is not a best practice for food safety.)

Before he leaves, we learn that Zack secured a spot on the standby list by pretending to be a doctor picking up an organ donation. (Just in case you thought he wasn’t a piece of shit. Wanted to set that record straight real quick.)

Zack returns from Seven Eleven (the only open store, which he tells us repeatedly in an offensive accent like he’s trying to be Apu or something.)

While Screech tries to thaw the turkeys in a sauna (yikes), the news interviews Mike. In the middle of the interview, Screech serves the kids a platter of turkey jerky…ugh. Zack also tries to co-opt the interview to request an extra plane ticket to LA. GEEZE.

Then Jonathan Brandis shows up with an actual cooked turkey and if you’re a millennial girl then you’re heart just broke in one thousand different ways. (If you’re not a millennial girl, Jonathan Brandis was like a baby River Pheonix whose life also ended tragically at a young age.)

Sweet Angel Jonathan Brandis saw the turkey jerky news report and decided to deliver an actual meal to the kids! It turns out a few celebrities had this same idea (and all evidently live in the San Francisco area) because Marsha Warfield from Night Court shows up next with another beautiful turkey. Jenna von Oy from Blossom arrives next (btw Kelly Kapowski is announcing all of these people as they enter.) Jenna brought pie btw.

Jonathan Brandis in Saved by the bell: The College Years - video dailymotion
Marsha & Jonathan sit down for dinner with no food.

Then Mr. Belding from the show’s original run show up to honestly as many fan cheers as Jonathan, Marsha, and Jenna got. And this sounds like a live studio audience but honestly idk I guess it could be a track. He’s in town to visit his mother and decided to bring by some mashed potatoes, which he promptly asks Jenna von Oy’s to sign her name. Considering that Jenna is approximately sixteen years old at the time of this filming, it’s more than a little weird.

Kelly makes a nice little speech about thankfulness just in time for Brian Austin Green to show up with cranberry sauce. OMG THIS WAS A LEGIT 90’S WHO’S WHO. I truly wasn’t into this episode at all but this ending was all very heartwarming to my millennial heart. (Fun fact: This episode was probably filmed shortly before Tiffani Thiessen became Brian’s castmate on 90210.)

Brian Austin Green & Tiffani-Amber Theissen | Brian austin green, Tiffani  thiessen, Beverly hills 90210

Zack pulls Kelly aside to do something truly nice for once. He’s gotten a ticket back to LA and he’s giving it to her. Zack tells Kelly her happiness is more important that money and she says, “I think that’s the nicest thing you’ve ever said to me,” which is really kind of a bummer when you think about it.

Very Special Thanksgiving Lesson: Do not outsource your supply chain management (unless you live in an area with a lot of very giving celebrities willing to pitch in at the eleventh hour.)

In other exciting news. The SBTB reboot is now streaming on Peacock! Have any of you watched it yet? Let me know in the comments!

This Week in TV: 'Saved by the Bell,' 'Flight Attendant,' Thanksgiving NFL  | Hollywood Reporter

Saved by the Bell: The Mamas and the Papas

Hello! Happy Saved by the Bell Day! I did a cursory Google search and I’m honestly not sure if this holiday is anything more than an attempt to sell sandwiches but hell, we need something to celebrate in 2020!

On that note, let’s talk about gender roles. This episode is from very early in the series, airing way way back in 1989. Zack’s voice hasn’t even changed! Like I think I just heard it crack.

Anyway, they’re all adorable babies. Who for some reason need to spend a class learning about what it’s like to be married? WHAT???

Anyway, curious to know if this was like a “real thing” that people did in school back in the days of home economics. Also curious to know if taking care of an egg in order to be a “good parent” was a real thing.

Okay, so the kids are paired off into “marriages” — this is as heteronormative as you would expect. The couples are (I’m sure you can guess) as follows:

True to form, Jessie and Slater’s relationship is immediately contentious. Jessie won’t take Slater’s last name and he says that one of the important parts of a relationship is “great legs.”

As per usual, Screech is creepy stalking Lisa throughout most of this episode. This causes her to have night terror in which she cannot escape him. Freddy Krueger take note. Incidentally, I have to imagine this is Lark Voorhies felt for much of her time on the show acting opposite Dustin Diamond.

Alright, so the true plot of this episode comes from the weird stuff they’re required to do during class for their “marriages.” This involves running through scenarios…while Principal Belding grades them on how they behave in their “marriages”…I’m sorry…what? This doesn’t feel like it should be legal.

Of course, this turns into Jessie and Slater fighting again. She’s trying to get him to help with the household chores. He’s trying to get her to call him “Tiger Man.” Jessie tells the principal that Slater, “doesn’t want a wife. He wants a maid.” So it seems like this is the point in time where Principal Belding should be “helping” them solve this issue, right? Nah, he just says, “that’s a problem you two will have to work out.”

Up next are Kelly and Zack. Kelly asks Principal Belding to refer to her as Mrs. Morris. Barf. The scenario is that she must tell Zach she has wrecked his car. HIS car? Are they married or not? Is this car a joint asset or NOT? Anyway, Zack pretty much just tries to seduce her the whole time. He’s trying to get her to make out in class. It’s A LOT.

Screech and Lisa are up next. Their scenario is that Screech has been fired and Lisa must comfort him. She responds by doing an offensive impression of a Spanish speaking maid and Screech mistakes this for German. The stress of all this causes Lisa to develop a literal allergy to Screech. Fearing the risk of anaphylaxis, Principal Belding annuls their “marriage.”

If you thought that everything up until this point was extremely strange and disturbing, I would have to agree with you. I’m also not sure how to warn you or prepare you for what comes next, so I’m just going to jump right into it.

Evidently, there are other kids in the class who are not assigned to “marriages.” These kids sit in desk and watch this whole mess unfold. Then Belding tells the “couples” tha tthey will now select children, played by their classmates,  Let’s Make a Deal-style. I’ll pause here until your head stops spinning.

Zack and Kelly end up selecting Screech while Slater and Jessie pick Lisa. Cut to: Screech writing Lisa’s name in toothpaste on the mirror in the boy’s bathroom. WHY WAS THERE NOT A GUIDANCE COUNSELOR AT THIS SCHOOL?

Slater discovers Screech as he begins his slow evolution on the path to becoming the next Green River Killer and offers to help him out by pressuring Lisa into dating him because she “has to listen to her Daddy” in order to get a good grade. Annnnndd I’m going vomit EVERYWHERE.

This transaction involves some kind of quid pro quo, but we cut away after Screech offers to teach Slater how to (literally) inhale a slurpy. I assume this wasn’t the offer Slater was looking for, so I’m not sure where they landed.

In a shock to absolutely no one, Zack is a terrible father. This upsets Kelly, so she and Zack split up. I assume this was how their actual marriage unraveled, unless their Vegas wedding ended in a quickie divorce before they even had kids.

Honestly, this episode could have been titled “Slater is Trash” because he’s trying to manipulate Kelly now by pretending to be a “good father” to Lisa. This is back in the early days of the show when Slater was trying to date Kelly. They must have seriously rewritten his character after she and Zack got together because Slater is truly awful in this episode. And I am UPSET about it.

Anyway, in his ploy to get an IRL date with Kelly, Slater has agreed to be a stay at home dad with Jessie and take the last name of Spano-Slater.

When Lisa still refuses to go out with Screech — because no grade is worth that — Screech announces to the class that he broke up his “parents” because Slater promised him that Lisa would go out with him.

All of the boys end up in the principal’s office and somehow a thirty second conversation turns into a genuine change of heart. They apologize and ask to continue the project. Belding says he will only allow this with the girl’s permission. They agree and they all go on a creepy family dinner date at The Max.

Slater orders for Jessie at dinner because he thinks that’s what’s men do. Jessie tells him a “real man wouldn’t be threatened by a woman who knows what she wants.” He responds by saying, “You’re really a great girl, but I think we should break up before I send you to the moon” — a callback to a 1950’s joke about spousal abuse.

Meanwhile, Zack and Kelly reconcile. Somehow Screech has ended up under the table with his head stuck “on a platter.” I don’t even want to know. Kelly closes the lid and decides that all marriages need some alone time. Wtf. This was so weird. I can’t. I cannot even comment.

I am truly so sorry for that visual. I simply didn’t know how to use words to describe this. Please know that I truly understand if you hate me forever because of it. 

Very Special Lesson: Uhhh. Maybe virtual learning isn’t so bad. At least you would probably be in the vicinity and could shut this toxic shit down if you kid was unfortunate enough to attend Bayside High.

**Also sorry for posting this so late. Hopefully it’s still Saved by the Day at least on the west coast by the time I post this!

OH and in other very important news, Mark-Paul Gosselaar started a podcast with Dashiell Driscoll of the excellent Funny or Die series Zack Morris is Trash, and my personal favorite, A Very Special Episode. Evidently Mark-Paul has never watched the series and will now be going through every single episode of Saved by the Bell for our listening pleasure.

Saved by the Bell: Fake IDs

Hello, thank you for reading my dissertation. 

To be honest, I was very confident that I had already covered this episode a long time ago. I mean, MY GOD, the title is SO very special. But it appears that any commentary on this one only happened in my head, so here ya go!


A beautiful woman walks into The Max. Zack rushes up to her and starts taking photos of her. Because this is a young male fever dream sitcom, she doesn’t find this incredibly creepy. She’s wearing a USC sweatshirt. Zack pretends he is also a freshman at USC. (I’m not sure of the timing of this episode but he’s probably about sixteen). She needs a phone. The payphone is occupied. Zack hands her his obscenely large first-generation 1984 cell-phone.

The woman calls roadside assistance but balks when they tell her she has to wait an hour. So Zack offers to change her tire for her. (Never in my life do I believe this boy has done manual labor of any kind. Zack Morris changing a tire would SHOCK me to my core, but sadly this happens off-screen so it’s kind of a let down.)

Anyway, Zack’s obviously not a USC student and this lady has clearly driven away. So you’re probably like seems like a dead end, what could possibly happen next??

idsWell, I’m so glad you asked. It turns out, Zack had that camera because he and the other kids are taking a photography class. They decide to use the class to make fake-IDs. (Seems like a bit of a stretch but whateverrr.) The plan is to then meet the USC woman at an “over eighteen club.”

Okay, so…now I have some questions. Who is going to an “over eighteen club” in college? Are you not trying to sneak into the real clubs when you’re in college but not yet twenty-one? I always felt like everyone in an over eighteen club was probably a minor and anyone who wasn’t a teenager at an over eighteen club was a creep. But seeing as how this USC freshman is still a teen, I’m actually just starting to think she’s kind of lame and doesn’t know where to hang out.

My other question is why is Zack bringing Screech with him to the club? Is it because he owed him for making the ID? Is this a quid-pro-quo kind of situation? Now Slater, I get. You need a wing man and Slater looks even older than Zack, so it lends credibility to the “old enough to be in this club” thing. (Oh and by the way, if you’re looking for hot tips to sneak into clubs you’re actually in the very much wrong place for that and please don’t let my Zack/Slater club theory influence any of your decisions in life. Now, that I’ve satisfied the assurance needs of my self-diagnosed Responsibility OCD, let’s move on.)

saved_by_the_bell_s3e9_sony_smc70Zack’s mom is suspicious that he is having a sleepover with Slater and Screech, so she brings them brownies and then checks the room for girls. (I mean I fucking love this woman. This is GOOD parenting.) Slater also addresses her at “mom” which I find simultaneously adorable and off-putting.

In order to not look like a thirteen year old, Screech wears a fake mustache. It does make him look older, but it’s so obviously fake that it just shouldn’t work. Also, I don’t think anyone at an over eighteen bar is really growing a lot of facial hair (see above). So this should automatically be a red flag.

Zack and the tire woman kiss almost immediately, so I guess he got what he was looking for. Slater agrees to dance with her friend, but he says he has a girlfriend and he won’t do anything more than dance. Further proving that he is the MORAL COMPASS of this show.

So here’s the big thing though. Everything, I just wrote is UNIMPORTANT compared to this. Zack, Screech, and Slater see Kelly’s new, older boyfriend making out with SOMEONE ELSE. But see, Jeff’s existence at this club further proves my point because I feel like Jeff is about seventy-five years old (ugh okay maybe it’s more like he’s a college sophomore). But Kelly is a BABY. All these kids are BABIES. They learned to drive in a GOLF CART. They’re not ready for any kind of interaction outside of the safe, safe walls of Bayside.

attic-1Screech lets this info slip to Jessie and Lisa. They convince Zack that he has to be the one to tell Kelly the truth. (Bad move.) She yells at him and calls him jealous, of course. So Jessie and Lisa decide to sneak into the club too, so they can take a photo and prove the truth to Kelly. But all of this is frankly unnecessary because Kelly speaks to Screech and asks him what happened. He cries and she believes he really did see Jeff kiss someone else.

No one has to take a photo because Kelly shows up at the club and sees him making out with someone else with her own two eyes. Oh and then Zack’s mom shows up to tell him she knows he’s been sneaking out! (He left that giant cell-phone in his room and his mom answered it when the college woman called to say she was running late to the club.)

Very Special Lesson: Ugh, girl I know you’re barely in college but can’t you spot a high school boy when you see one? Kelly, Jeff is trash. Zack is trash. Sorry, girl, you should probably talk to other people at your high school. Slater, Zack, and Screech CANNOT be the only dudes you know. Don’t do that to yourself.

Oh and happy Mean Girls Day by the way!

Big News from Bayside – DREAMS COME TRUE

It felt like a long-shot. But here we are. And dare I say it? The reboot craze has come for Saved by the Bell! (Oh please please please don’t let this be weird like BH90210.)


For those of you who weren’t already planning to follow The Office over to NBC’s new streaming platform, now that you’ll get new episodes of Saved by the Bell, what more reason could you need??? The plot sounds weird as hell and I am HERE FOR IT.

Basically, Zack Morris becomes Governor of California. I can totally buy him as a charming, sociopathic politician so def. good character development there. And then here’s where things get a little weird..we get to see Zack Morris handle school integration!! Yeahhhhh idk what we’re going to get, but I promise to report back to you on that.

We’ve had a lot of good times with Saved by the Bell here at The VSB and I’m excited for new adventures! This reboot has me all nostalgic for some of my favorite posts from years past:

But new episodes have also reminded me that maybeeee, just maybeeee, I haven’t given the original series quite enough attention. Stay tuned for new posts on:

  • The Malibu Sands Episodes
  • Zack and Kelly’s Wedding in Vegas!
  • All of the latent (and not so latent) misogyny

Okay, bye for now!!

Saved by the Bell: Save the Max

Today’s charitable donations will go to your local public radio station! Follow this link to find your local NPR station and make a one-time or recurring donation.

screen2bshot2b2014-09-012bat2b6-03-432bpmWhile trespassing in a closed off area of Bayside High School, Zack and Screech uncover a radio station, KKTY. The gang heads to The Max to plan out what each of their respective roles in the revived radio station will be. But when they get their order they find their burgers to be like 1/5 of the standard size. (Like if you order a quarter pounder and then someone brought you one single White Castle burger.)

Max explains that he’s had to make some cuts do to rising costs and everyone is extremely sympathetic, despite the fact that they’ve probably all paid 5 times too much for the amount of meat they’re getting. GUESS THERE’S NO STRESS WHEN YOU’RE USING MOMMY AND DADDY’S MONEY. But I digress.

Then they all talk about how no one has seen Max’s dog in a while and they wonder what could have happened to it, as they look suspiciously at their tiny burgers. Wait, SERIOUSLY, Saved by the Bell? A dog meat joke? This is TOO dark for your fare. I’m still having nightmares about that episode of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia and now you just had to go and stir up my PTSD.

The lone investigative journalist at the station (Jesse Spano, obviously) uncovers a hot story when she discovers that the Bayside School District is Max’s landlord. The district plans to turn The Max into a parking lot if Max doesn’t pay $10,000 in back rent by the end of the week. Woah, woah, woah. That place is ALWAYS full. I know. I’ve been there. How the heck did Max mismanage his finances so badly?

Also, this school district owns a restaurant and an oil field? WHAT IS UP WITH THIS TOWN??

Anyway, the kids report this news on the radio without getting Principal Belding’s approval first (thus violating the terms of their radio station agreement). Zack senses something behind the principal’s outrage about potentially losing his job because he let a bunch of kids trash talk the school board on the radio, so Jesse starts investigating Belding. Eventually, she finds something. And just in case you forgot that it was “okay” to make rape-y jokes on television in the early 90’s:

Screen Shot 2017-05-10 at 7.59.28 PMScreen Shot 2017-05-10 at 7.59.47 PM

As it turns out, Belding got in trouble in high school for mooning the school board. Seems like he and Zack had a lot more in common than we thought! Belding, the original DJ of KKTY, protested the school board’s ban on long hair and jeans (hence the mooning), which lead to the station’s demise.

Screen Shot 2017-05-10 at 8.24.56 PMScreen Shot 2017-05-10 at 8.29.22 PMScreen Shot 2017-05-10 at 8.29.28 PM

Hey, hey, hey slow down here. First of all, there are REAL things to protest other than not getting to wear jeans and saving some unsustainable business. I mean really, Belding? You went to high school in the 60’s and your biggest concern was that your school board didn’t want you to have long hair? Sounds like a selfish jackass to me. I guess he and Zack really are the same. So Belding agrees to help with the radiothon. (RADIOTHON! Now this post makes sense, right???)

Screen Shot 2017-05-10 at 8.33.02 PMOn a side note, I dig this sweater that one of the extras is wearing at the radiothon. Can any Etsy friends hook me up with a similar look?

So pretty much the radiothon is just their regular radio show but in person and at The Max. I’d say that’s pretty weak in terms of a fundraiser. Lisa starts auctioning of gossip, Screech does a bad Al Bundy impersonation, and Slater pledge’s his life savings of $100.

Oh yeah, Slater’s at home instead of at the radiothon because he sucked at being on the radio. It’s a whole B-plot that I just didn’t go into.

When Zack loses his voices and everyone else falls asleep, Slater shows up and takes over the radiothon hosting. He makes a motivational speech (see below) and the phones start ringing off the hook.

Screen Shot 2017-05-10 at 8.38.02 PMScreen Shot 2017-05-10 at 8.38.14 PMScreen Shot 2017-05-10 at 8.38.20 PMScreen Shot 2017-05-10 at 8.38.23 PMScreen Shot 2017-05-10 at 8.38.26 PMScreen Shot 2017-05-10 at 8.38.53 PMScreen Shot 2017-05-10 at 8.39.02 PM

Sounds like it’s time for a group high-five!

Boozey Bayside: Leaping to Conclusions

good-morning-miss-blissA few weeks ago, very special reader Shani requested an episode of Good Morning, Miss Bliss. The show originally aired on the Disney Channel in the late 80’s and is basically a very sad version of Saved by the Bell. (Sorry, Shani not even Zack Morris could save this one.) GMMB stars Haley Mills as the titular character.
I have a lot of love for Haley Mills. Her version of The Parent Trap is far and away better than the Lindsay Lohan version IMHO and the original That Darn Cat is one of the most underrated Disney movies of all time. But Miss Bliss does her no service and the whole “teacher guides class of middle schoolers through life” seems like such a snooze-fest that I would hate the whole premise if Boy Meets World hadn’t done it successfully a few years later. You’ll recognize Zack, Screech, and Lisa from Saved by the Bell. But the rest of the crew is made up of Nikki (who is kind of like a young Jesse Spano) and Mikey (who is kind of like a young AC Slater).

But we’re very “ask and ye shall receive” over here at The VSB, so my compromise is to drink while covering “Leaping to Conclusions” a.k.a. the frog dissection episode. It’s the end of summer, so I figured why not make the middle-aged mom’s drink of choice: Red Wine Spritzer (the cheap kind). Feel free to follow along and make one of your own:


  • 1/3 can of San Pellegrino (I used blood orange)
  • 2/3 red wine (no, not the whole bottle, just fill the rest of your glass)
  • strawberry to garnish

Today in Miss Bliss’s class, the kids are learning about The Civil War. But they’re teenagers so they don’t give a crap. Wait, hold on. They don’t care about The Civil War? What kind of monster children is Miss Bliss teaching? But we don’t linger on that. Apparently, their callous feelings toward racial equality in the US was nothing but a cold open. The real issue here is that Mr. Belding won’t let the teachers buy supplies!

Screen Shot 2016-08-27 at 2.51.57 PM
This AC Slater wannabe has NEVER heard of The Civil War. 

Following a very heated discussion over a slide projector, Mr. Belding receives a piece of mail addressed to Miss Bliss. It’s from another school in the area and one can only presume that Miss Bliss thinks the supply situation will be better if she seeks employment there. Miss Bliss, why are you using your employer as your job-hunting address? Have you no home? These pressing questions and others, as we continue.

Meanwhile in science class, the kids of Miss Bliss’s class learn that they have to cut open frogs. This was one of the darkest days of my sixth grade experience, so I can relate. However, my issue was more due to an intense hatred of the smell of formaldehyde than any particular fuzzy feelings for amphibians, but apparently Nikki is a young frog-activist. To be fair, they’re straight up killing live frogs and then dissecting them in this class, which is pretty depressing. This could be interesting but we NEVER see anything. All we get to do is hear about how Nikki loves frogs. Why didn’t they just rip off E.T. and make it more interesting???

Nikki frees all of the frogs on the school’s football field, which of course happens off screen. Zack’s pissed off because he was actually looking forward to dissecting the frogs. He taunts Nikki and tell her to free all of the vegetables from the cafeteria because vegetables are living things too.

Luckily, Miss Bliss finds an alternative to frog dissection and suggests a computer program that simulates dissection. Obviously, this never took off because I was dissecting frogs years after this episode aired. Anyway, Nikki learns her lesson and spells it out PAINFULLY for everyone.

Also, I know you were all really concerned about the school supply issue from earlier: After Mr. Belding found that letter, he started showering Miss Bliss with tons of supplies. But it turns out that she had NO idea she would receive mail on another school’s letterhead. She’s not looking to leave at all! It was probably an old colleague writing to say hi! This causes Mr. Belding to offer her supplies to the science teacher. Then Miss Bliss threatens to fight him for them. Roll Credits.

Very Special Lesson: Ugh. See above screenshots, I guess. I will say though, I personally learned no more from frog dissection that I did from an anatomy text book. I was shocked and disgusted the whole time and therefore retained absolutely NONE of the information we were supposed to learn. Furthermore, I’m really really sad for everyone involved in this production. Even as a kids’ show, it’s boring AF. On the plus side, it makes Saved by the Bell look like cutting edge drama, so that must have felt like a major step up for any of the cast members who made it onto the new show.


Saved by the Bell: No Hope with Dope

nohope049This post is a little bittersweet for me. As you may know, I’ve already vowed not to cover the oft lampooned caffeine pill episode, which leaves this episode as the last technical “very special episode” of Saved by the Bell. However, if you’re a regular reader you may also be aware that I have a very broad definition of very special episode. I also flew across the country to go to Saved by the Max, so rest assured that I’ll find a way to keep Bayside around The VSB. (I mean hello, there is an entire wedding in Las Vegas that we have yet to cover! But I digress.)

When I first decided to start The Very Special Blog two years ago, there were a few quintessential very special episodes that sprang to mind. This was one of them. The simple reason for that is that it feels like someone looked at a manual on how to write a very special episode, checked off all of the boxes, and left us with this utterly formulaic masterpiece. We’ve got an ingenue who is so sweet and naive it’s basically like she walked off the set of Nell but with better English language skills (better known as Kelly Kapowski).

There’s the charming, respected authority figure whose poor choices with substances break down the idles of our protagonist. And then there’s this glorious, PSA, in which I’m 99.9% certain based upon no actual evidence that Elizabeth Berkley worked tirelessly with her acting coach to nail her one word line:

Let’s start at the beginning: Johnny Dakota, teen idol, has stopped by Bayside High School to scout it for an anti-drug commercial. It’s the first of many schools that Johnny plans to check out, but the students of Bayside decide they absolutely can’t miss out on the opportunity to have a PSA filmed at their school.

So they decide to win over Johnny Dakota with an anti-drug rap.vlcsnap-2015-01-16-17h29m26s165
The lyrics of which are as follows:
We’re Bayside students
And we’re no fools
We don’t use drugs
Cause it’s just not cool 
So if you get the offer
Make sure you refuse
When it comes to drugs
Just don’t use.


dope_kellyKelly Kapowski (who did not participate in said rap) runs in looking for Johnny Dakota, who has just departed on a tour of the school with Class President/Editor of the School Newspaper, Jessie Spano. Kelly is wearing, I kid you not, an orange unitard with a floral jacket, popped collar. This is weird even for 1991. Anyway, Johnny Dakota is smitten with orange unitard clad Kelly and therefore decides that he should film his commercial at Bayside.

Screen Shot 2016-07-08 at 6.49.20 PMEverything is great until one day, Zack and Slater smell pot in the boys’ room. (Hmmmm how do you innocent Bayside students know what pot smells like.) Soon after Zack has identified the mystery smell, Slater spots the culprit lying on the floor near the sink. They decide they need to hide it because if Johnny Dakota sees it, then he won’t film at Bayside. Unfortunately, Johnny walks in while they’re holding the joint. But he believes that it isn’t theirs, flushes it down the toilet, and offers them parts in the commercial.

Speaking of the commercial, another one of the featured students appears to be moonlighting as a thirty-five year old stripper. I’m not sure what they wardrobe department was going for with this look. Anyway, she tells a heart-wrenching story about her brother getting high and driving to the beach and ending up in a wheelchair. I know this is a very real situation and actually not even a “scare ’em straight” per se but all I can think about is how the way she tells this story reminds me of this poster from my high school chemistry class (which I’m pretty sure is in every American high school chemistry class) about Carol not wearing her goggles. But yeah actually, don’t get high and drive because that makes you such an asshole. Also, don’t drive and text. And don’t drive and text while also holding a cigarette like the idiot behind me in traffic the other day.

It’s good that we have very special episodes. They’re such good conversation starters for hot-button issues. I bet the next time you text while driving and smoking a cigarette, you will think twice about it, won’t you?

Slater tells the heartbreaking story of Len Bias. Then Zack hits us with John Belushi. It’s a powerful one-two punch to my pop culture soul. I’m so sad for literally 30 seconds because then Jesse has a line:

Omg stfu, Jessie. People have REAL problems. Also, you more than anyone need to stay away from cocaine. Seriously, girl. And maybe take up so yoga or meditation because your stress levels are scary high.

Screen Shot 2016-07-08 at 7.14.31 PMAll of this anti-drug talk leads Zack and Slater to enact some vigilante justice on a random guy they saw leaving the bathroom around the time they found “the roach.” But there turns out to be no reason to worry because it’s JUST a cigarette. After this Zack and Slater kind of let the whole Starsky & Hutch thing go for a little while. They’re also distracted by a party that Johnny has invited all of them to–even Screech, who somehow throws his back out. Slater’s going to take him home because none of the girls at the party will talk to him, which is weird because Mario Lopez is easily the most charasamtic person on the planet. This is played for laughs, of course, but it mostly just removes any shred of plausibility this show actually had.

johnny-dakota-20071107020515897-000While all of her friends are loading Screech into the car, Kelly is left alone with Johnny, who starts smoking and offers to share with Kelly. She’s totally destroyed that her anti-drug teen idol hero is just another casual drug user. Zack comes back in just as the entire room of party guests laughs at Kelly for “just saying no.” This was always my worst fear as a child. The crowd-mocking drug pushers masquerading as friendly people at a social gathering. And while the kids at my high school were most certainly no strangers to heavily mocking others, this never actually happened to me.

This is most likely due tot he fact that no one ever offered me drugs in high school since I’m pretty sure most of them thought of me as a female version of Anthony Michael Hall’s character in The Breakfast Club. And then when I got to college no one really cared who did drugs or not. I also went to like a weird hippie college where people did a lot of drugs but would also like just want to hang out. And if I went to a college where conforming was important and people hazed you and/or made you do weird things to be part of a club, I’m pretty sure I would have cried in my dorm room. But my college experience was seriously more like doing jello shots and then crying for no reason when all of the sugar and cheap vodka hit my system in the middle of a board game. Speaking of board games, I once invented a really great drinking version of Clue. 

The next day at school, Zack tells Johnny to call off the commercial because it’s wrong to smoke pot yourself and then tell a bunch of other people not to do it. Now, that’s something I can get behind. Nobody likes a hypocrite. So they all refuse to work with Johnny but then everyone is sad that they can’t make the commercial. Yet it just so happens that Mr. Belding knows the chairman of NBC. So they make the commercial anyway. Things always work out for the Bayside Gang. (Like seriously they are the live-action version of the Scooby-Doo Gang for real ya’ll.)

Very Special Lesson: Okay, I know this was all about drugs. But actually, I think the important lesson here is that people are shady. That Johnny dude was a two-faced creep and not worthy of the Bayside crew #friendsforever

Also, I just found this and I think it’s possibly my favorite graphical depiction of anything ever, so I’m going to leave this here for you:


Inside The Max

Dear Very Special Readers, I have good news and bad news. The good news is I took a crap ton of photos of “Saved By the Max” for you. The bad news is my camera flash wasn’t on. All night, I couldn’t figure out why the photos sucked. I even blamed The Max for having poor lighting, shame on me! It’s not you, The Max, it’s me.

Since they’ve extended their run through December, I’ll post new photos if I ever visit again. And I do promise to double check that my flash is on if I make it to the Rue La Rue Cafe. But for now, this is all I have to give:

I tried to document everything, but there was one section that I failed to snap a photo of entirely. It was a little random “nook” that was setup to look like Mr. Belding’s office. It wasn’t big enough to be a set in and of itself, so it just seemed kind of random. I would have taken a picture, but I felt like the three people sitting at the table there wouldn’t have appreciated that.

The food was top notch, but our reservation was so late that I mostly just nibbled on a little bit of each of my 3 courses. This was all while shifting around in my seat and snapping pictures. (They ask you not to stand up and take photos until you’re done with your meal.) But the best part was the waitstaff. They were super friendly even though they were probably listening to the same 90 minute loop of early 90’s hits and songs by Zack Attack all night long.

On a more critical note, the aesthetic was a little confusing. The level of detail in Kelly’s locker, for example, was wonderful (anachronisms aside). However, the juke box was so thinly painted that you could see the wood beneath it. I know it’s a set (I remembered that the hard way when I shut the bathroom stall door too hard and the whole stall rattled). However, it would have been easier to dive into the fantasy if everything had been on the same level. Take for example that shiny, inviting vinyl on the booth. It was so comfy to sit in. But then there’s the juke box without even a gloss coat of paint and a bunch of blank song cards. I must admit that I built props in college so I probably care more than the average person, but it was distracting nonetheless.

And ordinarily, I don’t get political over here, but this is a pop up diner in which they literally built the rooms from scratch–yet there was no gender neutral bathroom. There was the girls room with a pink door and a group photo of the female members of the cast on the outside and the corresponding blue/group photo for the boys room. With everything happening in the world and the fact that this was built by design, recently, I couldn’t help but notice that choice.