You may have heard that Saved By The Bell is one of my favorite shows ever. I think I have seen every episode -- from Good Morning Miss Bliss to Bayside to the College Years -- multiple times, and I will hopefully see all of them again multiple times.
Last Tuesday marked the 25th anniversary of the airing of "Jessie's Song" (thanks to Tron for the link) -- perhaps the most enduring of the Saved By The Bell episodes. In the ninth episode of the show's second season, Kelly, Lisa, and Jessie form the fitness-centric pop singing group Hot Sundae. The group began to gain some traction, thanks to their poignant cover of The Pointer Sisters' "I'm So Excited" and their original composition, "Put Your Mind To It (Go For It (Get Down and Break a Sweat))," an unabashed ode to anorexia athletica. The record industry took notice, and a producer scheduled a recording session for the group (probably more of a "meet my little friend, Mr. Noodle" kind of thing, but a step in the right direction for Hot Sundae nonetheless). But there was something they hadn't counted on: Jessie Spano's inability to handle midterms and a potential singing career without the help of uppers. Hopped up on caffeine pills, Jessie became overly excited about everything, but with dizzying highs come plunging lows. While studying for her geometry midterm -- a test that, if she did not ace, would doom any chance she had of getting into Stanford -- she fell asleep. Zack came to get Jessie for Hot Sundae's session with the producer to find her mid-slumber. When he woke her up and explained that she didn't have enough time to get ready because they had to go to see the producer right now, she freaked out. "There's never enough time!" she shouted, before claiming that she's "never going to get into Stanford." That's when she turned to the drugs. Caffeine pills could help her do anything. Zack got pissed, smacked the pills out of her hands and told her she couldn't sing in this condition. That's when we got one of the most important moments in television history:
Presumably in honor of the 25th anniversary of this episode, Vulture.com decided to rank every Saved By The Bell episode from worst to first. "Jessie's Song" came in at #1, predictably. It's a great list, and certainly brought back wonderful memories of Saturday mornings between 1989 and 1993, and then weekday mornings on TBS pretty much since then.
My ten favorite SBTB episodes (not including the Good Morning Miss Bliss year) are as follows (in chronological order with the episode number after), with a brief description. For a longer description of the episodes, see the Vulture.com article
1. "Pinned to the Mat" (#9)
I can't believe Slater quit the wrestling team and Screech had to wrestle Niedick!
2. "Jessie's Song" (#29)
I'm still so excited.
3. "The Fabulous Belding Boys" (#31)
Mr. Belding's younger, hipper brother -- who could be a Michael Bolton stunt double -- appears to do some substitute teaching. He woos the kids with his blond locks, only to ditch out on taking them white water rafting to hook up with some flight attendants. You can't really blame him, but Mr. Belding sure does.
4. "Fake IDs" (#43)
The best part of this episode is that they got fake IDs that said they were 18, so that they could go dancing at The Attic. Of course, they exposed Jeff Hunter as the two-timing bastard he was.
5. "Pipe Dreams" (#45)
Oil is discovered underneath Bayside, obviously. But will the school choose riches or righteousness?
6. "SATs" (#46)
Zack turns out to be smarter than Jessie when it comes to standardized tests. But he's still lazier than everyone else!
7. "No Hope With Dope" (#55)
Johnny Dakota talked a big game when it came to saying no to drugs, but it turns out, he was just another Hollywood reefer addict.
8. "Rockumentary" (#56)
Zack Attack. "Friends Forver." Enough said.
9. "Mystery Weekend" (#60)
The gang's parents for some reason let them all stay in a murder mystery hotel together for a weekend. But when the game ends, did it really end?
10. "Teen Line" (#66)
The gang starts a teen help line, which Zack predictably exploits to try to hook up with a girl, who ends up being in a wheelchair, who he ends up humiliating by pointing out that she is the "only one who has to be in a wheelchair" during a charity wheelchair basketball game.