If you asked us which television character we most resemble, many suggestions would rapidly come to mind. Zack Morris for his blonde hair good looks and cunning. Mike Seaver for his teenage heartthrob good looks and mischievous charm. Cousin Cody for his laid-back surfer dude good looks and martial arts skills. But while those are all great contenders, we have to admit that there’s another character in the television pantheon with whom we most identify: Arnold Horshack, played so brilliantly and honestly by Ron Palillo, who passed away yesterday at sixty-three.
We recall very clearly the summer in which we first fell in love with Welcome Back Kotter. No, it was not the Summer of ’77, but almost twenty years later when the show was in syndication on Nick at Nite, as that network began to shift its designation of “classic TV” from the black & white oldies like The Donna Reed Show and Mr. Ed to the grainy full color ’70s shows like Kotter and The Bob Newhart Show. Nick at Nite would run marathons of Kotter once a week, as part of their “Block Party Summer” programming gambit, and watching those episodes back-to-back-to-back was just about the best block party we ever went to. But we also remember the show airing nightly at 11pm, perhaps the following summer or the one after that. This sticks with us vividly because we recollect having to make a tough decision, a Sophie’s choice: Seinfeld, airing every night in syndication as still does to this day, the undisputed sitcom champ of its time and perhaps anytime, or Welcome Back Kotter, the over the hill has-been who was also the new kid on the block. Even though Kotter was about fifteen years older, and had achieved lunch box-level success, it felt very much like a wily up-and-comer taking on the unbeatable stalwart. But while our head told us that we should choose Seinfeld, that it was the superior show, the one that was not only plugged into the zeitgeist but was driving it, we felt this tug towards the Mr. Kotter and his Sweathogs. Did the latter show have hugs and heart while the former swore off that sort of sentimentality as its guiding principle? Certainly. But we weren’t quite the cynics we are now, not quite submerged in snark-infested waters. And despite the magnetic north of Nielsen ratings and cultural relevance pointing towards Jerry and the gang, and despite our unconditional love for that show then, now and forever, we followed our hearts further up the dial, further into the hinterlands of cable, towards Gabe and the gang.
More: And in Arnold Horshack we found a kindred spirit…
Before we get to tonight’s Idol, we’re going to continue with our Saved by the Bell themed Gratuitous Search Term Bait of the Day, this time working with the familiar search term “community anthony michael hall.” But, once again, we’re going to put a Bayside twist on this, and to do so, let’s play a little word, or concept, association. Where does Community take place? Well, at a community college, of course. And what’s a broader word for “college?” How about “school?” Sure, school. And when we think of Anthony Michael Hall and school what comes to mind? The Breakfast Club, of course! And where does that movie chronicle? A day of detention! And where have we also seen a day of detention? Why, in the Saved by the Bell season episode literally titled “Day of Detention.” Boom! Six degrees of Saved by the Bell.
So, now, as you might have guessed, here’s a brief but colorful clip from that memorable day:
And, remember, don’t confuse this episode with “Senior Cut Day.” It’s an easy mistake.
Season 4, as per the DVDs. Basically a lot of episodes that are square pegs in round holes, but arguably some of the show’s best. Certainly several of our favorites. Here we go, guys!
3:42pm, Season 4, Disc 1, Episode 1: “SAT’s”
01:41: The SAT’s episode!
01:55: Probably the most frequent nugget of Saved by the Bell trivia is “What was Zack’s SAT score?”
2:25: Kelly, no talking! That’s cheating!
02:35: I don’t think they had any trains traveling in opposite directions word problems on the SATs. This episode is just riddled with inaccuracies.
02:40: Ladies and gentleman, Mrs. Ben Stiller, Christine Taylor!
Still to come: Desert Springs, Johnny Dakota and Zack Attack!
Season 2, Disc 1, Episode 1: “The Prom” (!)
12:20am: PIZZA and Saved by the Bell. And the episode that’s the turning point for the series.
Season 2 begins, and with Zack and Kelly’s Prom we’ll never been the same.
Season 1, Disc 1, Episode 1: “Dancing to the Max.
1:03pm: And we’re off!!!
Here we go. No turning back now…
The snow is falling outside and we don’t have any plans til Friday night (maybe), so we’ve decided it’s finally time for the Saved by the Bell marathon, something we’ve been planning to do for years. The day has arrived.
For obvious reasons we’re excluding Good Morning, Miss Bliss, The College Years, and The New Class. But that still leaves us with 86 episodes, which works out to about 32 hours of Bayside. We’ve gotten our coffee, picked up some soda, have a couple of bags of Hot Buffalo Wing Pretzel Pieces at the ready, and a half-gallon of Trader Joe’s Coffee Bean Blast ice cream in the freezer. We’re not sure what will come of this, but check back here for some live blogging and keep an eye on our Twitter for random insights and observations. And then, hopefully, when all is done we’ll have some kind of thesis, the definitive Saved by the Bell dissertation.
Zack Morris, I’m coming for all your giant cell phones.