Welcome to the first edition of With Leather’s newest, least cool weekly feature ever: SPORTS ON TV, where we countdown the greatest sports-related moments from your favorite, mostly not sports-related television shows.
This week’s edition tackles ‘Saved By The Bell’, an UPROXX network favorite about early 90s southern California high school kids who get to do anything they want whenever they want and face zero consequences. The show ran from 1989-1993, but existed in one form or another before that and afterwards until 2000. I’m not too proud to admit that syndication eventually showed me every ‘Saved By The Bell’ episode five times over, so we’re starting there. Maybe we’ll get to those clips of Urkel playing basketball next week.
Anyway, pre-column notes:
1. I only included moments from the primary run of ‘Saved By The Bell’, so that means no ‘Good Morning Miss Bliss’, ‘Saved By The Bell: The College Years’ or ‘Saved By The Bell: The New Class’. The TV movies feature the most popular cast, so I included those.
2. I really wanted to include video of each moment, but you know how the Internet works. I don’t want you to read this in two weeks and not be able to see what I’m talking about. Besides, the entire run of the show is currently available on Netflix.
3. Big thanks to the special guests who contributed commentary on some of their favorite moments.
And now, in no particular order, the 20 greatest sports moments from ‘Saved By The Bell’. If you’ve got a favorite sports moment that didn’t make the list, be sure to drop in on our comments section and let us know.
More Sports On TV: Full House | King Of The Hill | The Wire | The Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air | Parks And Recreation | Married… With Children | 30 Rock | The Brady Bunch | The Three Stooges | The Simpsons | Glee
Episode: “Hold Me Tight” (Season 3, Episode 20)
What Happens: Misogynist wrestling coach Sonski won’t let new student Kristy try out for the wrestling team because she’s a girl. He changes his mind when she gets a tryout and firemans-carries Rodriguez, a 35-year old Mexican guy who is suddenly on the wrestling team. Zack tries to woo Kristy and gets bent out of shape about her being tough, but when she struggles to escape a Skipper Skulnick Valley High School full nelson special during The Big Meet, Zack yells out words of encouragement that allow her to snap his neck (!), flip him and win the match.
Key line: “Kristy! Use the hold you used at The Max!”
Seriously, she snaps his neck. The “hold she used at The Max” was a chinlock with some hair-pulling, but when she shoots a go-behind on the Skipper she straight up Batmans him, locking in a sleeper and jerking it to the side to knock him unconscious. This manages to overshadow the previous match, where we see A.C. Slater break out a belly-to-belly suplex, his second best grapple finisher during the run of the show.
It’s important to note that while Kristy hangs with the guys and earns her spot, it was Zack who kept her from tapping to Skipper’s Skull-Crushing Finale with his shouts of “KRISTY! DO THAT BASIC THING YOU DID AT A RESTAURANT WITH NO PROMPTING”. Kristy should’ve shouted back, “THANKS ZACK ESCAPING THIS HOLD BY JUST GETTING OUT OF IT NEVER CROSSED MY MIND”. Skulnick should’ve dragon suplexed her and done the Crazy Max “f**k it” taunt.
Episode: “Running Zack” (Season 2, Episode 14)
What Happens: Zack Morris doesn’t give a single shit about his Native American heritage until his history teacher makes him go hang out with an Indian. He gets an A on his assignment, but is crushed to learn that guy he just met is dead, so he quits the track team the day before The Big Meet. The dead Chief visits him in a dream and tells him he’s being ridiculous, because seriously. Zack returns and rejoins the team at the last minute, wandering off-screen to participate in a meet we never see. It is exactly like The Searchers. Nobody ever runs track again.
Key line: [looks up at the sky] “This one’s for you.” [fist pump]
Here’s the thing that always bothered me about this episode … in the first version of his project, Zack talks about how his tribe were fierce warriors, and he makes Screech wear warpaint and stand with his arms crossed like a cigar store Indian. The teacher makes them stop in the middle and makes Zack do it over. But in the second version, the one where Zack’s supposed to be all passionate and reverent about what he’s learned, Zack talks about how his tribe were fierce warriors, wears warpaint and stands with his arms crossed like a cigar store Indian. The only difference is that he replaces Screech with a costume headdress and knows that the chief of the tribe was named Joseph. He couldn’t have pulled “Joseph” out of his ass the first time? AND WHAT THE HELL DOES THIS HAVE TO DO WITH TRACK
As funny as “I’m not gonna run track because an Indian died” is, the best part of the episode is the B story, where Jessie finds out she’s the descendant of slave traders and spends the entire episode trying to make it up to her one black friend. “Lisa! Let me buy you a soda to make up for my ancestors!” Lisa should’ve found out her great great grandfather was a black guy who died and sworn off sports forever.
Episode: “Operation Zack” (Season 3, Episode 5)
What Happens: In addition to being in charge of every other team and activity in the school, Zack Morris is Bayside’s basketball team captain and Star Player. Moments before The Big Game, he bumps into Mr. Belding (barely) and goes down in a heap. Zack will need knee surgery, and in the world of ‘Saved By The Bell’ that means HE COULD DIE and EVERYONE SHOULD FREAK THE F**K OUT. Oh, and at the beginning of the episode Zack tries to skip the pep rally by sending in Screech in a Zack Disguise. He looks more like Larry Bird than Zack Morris, but what the hell do I know about espionage.
Key line: “Call me Air Zack!” “Air Nerd is more like it.”
Hey guys, maybe the constant undermining of his self-confidence is why Screech went from being a normal, underdeveloped nerd to being a gangly, aroo-face-making Urkelmonster.
Anyway, the actual key line of the episode (and one of the best and most melodramatic lines in ‘Saved By The Bell’ history) goes to candy striper Lisa Turtle for, “Please God, take care of my friend”. It’s spoken in a softly-lit spotlight as she speaks to God like she’s goddamn Linus in A Charlie Brown Christmas. Zack just lies there pretending to be asleep, which is believable, because he’d started trying to go to sleep like five seconds ago.
My theory on this episode: Zack flopped before the big game to get out of taking his math test, and the story the Turtles give him about knee surgery is just to scare him so he won’t do it again. They probably didn’t operate on him at all, they just put the fear of God in him, gassed him and slapped a cast on his leg before he woke up.
Episode: “Teen-Line” (Season 4, Episode 7)
What Happened: Tori suggests a “teen-line and rap room” for a senior class community service project, because she wasn’t around the first time they had a teen-line. Zack uses Teen-Line 2 to pick up girls and meets Melissa, a girl in a wheelchair, a handicap Zack can absolutely not handle. The Gang organizes a wheelchair basketball fundraiser to keep the Teen-Line open, then forget about it completely and never work for it or mention it again.
Key line: ‘Whoa! You’re in a wheelchair!”
Three major things in this episode —
1. Zack Morris has got to be the biggest asshole on the planet. Learning nothing from his experience dating a fat girl, Zack gets overprotective and more or less stands up on Melissa’s lap to point down and shout EVERYONE LOOK HOW BRAVE MY WHEELCHAIR GIRLFRIEND IS FOR NOT KILLING HERSELF. He makes guys slump down in the movie theater so she can see (because I guess wheelchairs leave you sitting a lot lower than actual chairs), assures everyone that Melissa is handicapped “but really comfortable with it” and at gets super impressed because she gave someone good advice DESPITE BEING IN A WHEELCHAIR. This is probably the worst he ever is.
2. The Bayside High School gym is the saddest thing. They just put wood paneling down on the floor in history class and hang up a hoop at about Mr. Belding’s eye level. When they’re done playing wheelchair basketball, they take up the paneling and replace the gym with Auto Shop.
3. Screech gets a mischievous little black brother in this episode, because f**k you.
Episode: “Student Teacher Week” (Season 4, Episode 15)
What Happens: Bayside has a “Student-Teacher Week” where students and teachers switch places and Zack gets to be the principal because NOBODY ELSE IN THE SCHOOL GETS OPPORTUNITIES. Kelly wants to be a teacher when she grows up, so she sticks to her guns and makes the football team study when they should be practicing and learning plays for The Big Game. This leads to protests and walk-outs, but Zack learns an important lesson about Responsibility and Learning, ultimately allowing the team to cheat on a quick make-up test and “go out there and beat Valley”.
Key line: “Our tackling dummy is broken so all cute blondes are welcome to come in and fill out.”
This is one of two football highlights shown on ‘Saved By The Bell’ … the first was sped-up black and white footage of God knows what. The second made Bayside’s crummy basketball gym look even worse by revealing the football field as 100,000+ SEAT OHIO STADIUM. I guess the producers needed footage of a football team with burgundy uniforms to match Bayside’s color scheme, so they didn’t care that blue-ass Valley was suddenly orange and white or that the endzone had a big OHIO STATE written across it.
But fear not: Bayside won the big game, 28-21. I would not be surprised if we found out Zack ran onto the field in his principal clothes and scored all four touchdowns.
Episode: “My Boyfriend’s Back” (Season 3, Episode 8)
What Happens: Jessie enters the Malibu Sands Annual Charity ATV Race to prove that a woman can do anything a man can do. She drives her ATV into the ocean, and the race comes down to Zack and Stacy Carosi’s at-home boyfriend Craig over which guy is cool enough to win her heart. Thanks for that, Saved By The Bell.
Key line: “How do you race TVs? They don’t have wheels!”
The ATV race happens on the beach, so every rider wears a dark helmet and gloves and a full body suit, because I guess it’s easier to hire a stuntman than it is to teach Mario Lopez how to drive a four-wheeler without killing himself. All the race itself is missing is a scene where Screech accidentally drives up a ramp and flies through the air making googly-eyes.
Zack loses the race but Stacy chooses him anyway, proving that 1) Zack is the most important person in the world whether he wins or loses, 2) the ATV race was meaningless and 3) The Gang is not above using an annual charity event to further their personal arguments and vendettas.
(Guest contributor: Bill Hanstock)
Episode: “The Game” (Season 3, Episode 4)
What Happens: Zack convinces his boss at the beach resort to give him a deal on a 1966 Mustang — if Zack and the gang can win the annual volleyball game against a rival beach resort. While that doesn’t seem convoluted at first, it took me about five minutes to think about how to distill the plot of the episode down to one sentence.
Key Line: “Dear Losers: We hope you can breathe underground, because we’re going to bury you in the game tomorrow. You stink, Your friends at North Beach.”
Zack and the gang getting summer jobs at the beach resort was my first real exposure to the fireworks factory and the most excruciating journey to said factory ever. The season-within-a-season dragged on forever with Zack constantly trying to date the boss’s daughter, who I always assumed was some sort of Moira Kelly clone but it turns out was actually pre-crisis Leah Remini.
When it turns out that Screech is the weak link on the team (who could have guessed), Zack meets a supposedly 6’10 longhair with designs on Kelly. His height being listed at 6’10 is revealed as laughable in his second scene, standing side-by-side with Zack. It’s not quite Hogan and Andre doing a nose-to-nose staredown when Andre was supposed to be eight feet tall, but the longhair makes up for it by looking as legitimately uncomfortable in his own body as anyone I’ve ever seen. Zack recruits the longhair to the team and the doofus promptly breaks his foot (in two places) when Screech drops a water bottle on it. (In the greatest moment of comedy in this — or perhaps any — episode, Screech enters the room carrying a two-gallon jug of water and yelling, “OUTTA MY WAY, LADY WITH A BABY!” apropos of jack shit.)
To replace the guy, Screech recruits a preschooler, an old lady and another skinny nerd, because Screech is completely worthless in every situation. At the 11th hour, pre-crisis Leah Remini joins the team and the good guys, of course, win. The editing of the actual volleyball match is hilarious and makes you long for oiled-up Anthony Edwards grunting to “Playing with the Boys.” Not once in the episode does anyone complain that Zack roped them into this just to get a better deal on a used car. By the way, Zack supposedly bought a pristine 1966 Mustang for $1,500 at the end of the episode. And I wonder why I don’t have a keen grasp on my finances.
Also of note in this episode: the two guys on the rival team who are the most 90s guys of all time, Zack’s swank all-pink tank top-and-board shorts volleyball uniform, and Slater being stupidly ripped. Also Lisa has like two lines and spends the whole episode in the background either wearing a full-body leotard or dressed like a houserobe-wearing Blanche Devereuax.
Episode: “Wrestling With The Future” (Season 4, Episode 10)
What Happens: The Gang obsesses about where they’ll go to college, because they’d hate it if four of the six ended up at a low-rent local school with a phony sounding name. Air Conditioner Slater gets offered a full wrestling scholarship to the University of Iowa (full exchange: “Hey, take this scholarship.” “Okay.” “Great, bye.”), but his father (Major Slater) has always dreamed of sending him to West Point Military Academy. Zack’s solution to the problem: dress up as Slater and get them both arrested.
Key line: “Sometimes the truth hurts, but, in the long run, lies hurt more.”
My favorite part of this episode is Black Dynamite star Michael Jai White showing up as a military police officer. “Slater, shut the f**k up! I know that was you! I ain’t even gotta look! I should send you to Crenshaw Pete with his hot-ass coat hangers, bitch. Would you like that?”
“Wrestling With The Future” is one of the best ever examples of how easily problems can be solved when you give the people you love the benefit of the doubt and stop lying to them all the f**king time. How great is it that the collective brain of a southern California high school would choose “dress up as a fictional character and lie to everyone” over “talking to my friends and family” every single time? Screech is always being dressed up as women, Zack dresses up as a woman to go on dates with Screech … hell, you know Zack thought up “dress up like Slater” because he’d bought an permed mullet wig like two years ago and hadn’t gotten a chance to use it.
Episode: “Cream For A Day” (Season 1, Episode 8)
What Happens: Kelly Kapowski is a shoo-in for Homecoming Queen, but there’s a problem: she’s got a zit! Lucky enough, the zit pops up on the same day Screech f**ks up a science experiment and discovers an instant cure for acne! Only one catch: the cure clears you up, then leaves your face covered in a maroon rash. Whoops! But then immediately after that it clears up again. So … Screech DID cure acne? Anyway, Bayside has a pep rally before The Big Game, announces a rash-faced Kelly as Homecoming Queen and everyone raps and beatboxes. 1989, everybody.
Key line: “Bee buh-bee buh-buh-buh-bee, bee, go Bayside bee buh-bee buh-buh-buh-bee, bee, bee buh-bee buh-buh-buh-bee GO BAYSIDE”
The Gang was always finding an excuse to suddenly rap in front of everyone (see also, “Snow White And The Seven Dorks”), something that never once happened in my high school. There was no cool clique of white kids who just started beatboxing and forming conga lines at Hardee’s.
The selling point of this moment is the black guy in the red and white sweatshirt on the left. He gets into this, man. He pumps his fist with anger and screams GO BAYSIDE like he MEANS IT. Also, who the hell are they yelling at? They’re facing us, but a second before Kelly and Jessie and Lisa had walked around in a semi-circle to get everyone into a pile. Are they “go baysiding” at the wall of The Max? Are we seeing the show from Max’s point of view? Have we always seen the show from Max’s point of view?
Oh my God, that suddenly explains all the magic.
Episode: “Pinned To The Mat” (Season 1, Episode 9)
What Happens: Slater realizes that the world of professional wrestling is a dark place (best case scenario you end up washed-up and dressing like Hulk Hogan to get 20 people to cheer for you … that’s pretty accurate, actually), so he gives up amateur wrestling for cooking. Zack’s already bet his dirt bike against Valley High School bruiser Marvin Nedick in The Big Match, so Screech ends up getting shoe-horned into a wrestling match and Slater gets pressured back into the game a la The Score.
Key line: “… and that’s how I became the Flo-Jo of principals.”
First of all, when the hell did Zack get a dirt bike?
Second of all, Nedick is one of the best characters in ‘Saved By The Bell’ history. He’s a true Billy Zabka-style high school dickface and sorta looks like Bayside tough Ox had a baby with Wayne Arnold from ‘The Wonder Years’. He’s a true threat to The Gang’s ecosystem (he really wanted that dirt bike, I guess) and even gets an airplane spin in on Screech until Slater shows up and goes FULL FORCE on him with a German suplex that knocks him out cold. Even Valley’s best can’t withstand A.C.’s limit break, and the day is saved.
So remember, if you’re making an A.C. Slater create-a-wrestler in any of the video games, his moveset should read “shitty full nelson, belly-to-belly throw [S], German suplex [F]”.
Episode: “Save That Tiger” (Season 1, Episode 16)
What Happens: Zack and Slater (the only two important male students at Bayside) get into the Annual Prank War with Valley (the only other school in Bayside’s district, apparently… shouldn’t a school in Los Angeles have like 60 other high schools nearby? I know they mentioned St. Murray’s a couple of times, but the only thing they ever did was play chess). Valley’s big plan: kidnap Screech and replace him as Bayside mascot with a Valley phony. Zack counters this by pouring ants into the fake mascot’s ass, which causes him to do perfect gymnastics and win it all for Bayside.
Sometimes Jessie thinks cheerleading is degrading to women. Sometimes Jessie is a cheerleader, and is only doing it because it’ll look good on college applications. Sometimes Jessie is a cheerleader and loving it. Also, in this one episode, Bayside has more than three cheerleaders.
The major issue with the Prank War is that Valley f**king KIDNAPS A BAYSIDE STUDENT and holds him against his will, which goes beyond “prank” and straight into “authorities should step in and stop these local hijinx”. I guess when your fake Screech gets ants up his ass you call it even, but whatever, if I was Mr. Belding I’d have those kids run up the flagpole so fast they’d lose their inexplicable Brooklyn accents.
I apologize in advance if you get “Tee-i-g-Eeee-r-s!” stuck in your head for the rest of the day.
(Guest contributor Destiny Dawn)
Episode: “Model Students”, (Season 3, Episode 10)
What Happens: Bayside’s bookstore profits are suffering because of poor management, but not because of the items it sells, including 1-million-piece puzzles in already-opened boxes and seashell clocks. Selling quirky items is not enough; the bookstore needs a better manager, someone like Zack, who once dressed up a skeleton from science class as him to get out of detention. Zack’s scheme of producing an exclusive “Girls of Bayside” calendar (featuring Belding as Mr. December) gets a lot of male customers in the door and almost sends Kelly to Paris to start a modeling career.
Key line: “Slater: “Hey Jessie, if you wore your bathing suit here in the store believe me you’d attract attention.” “Why don’t you pack yourself in ice?” “That’s cool.”
Jessie: “You didn’t have the right.”
Kelly: “You didn’t get my permission.”
Lisa: “You didn’t get my good side.”
Look at the pictures Zack used for their cardboard cut-outs: Lisa salutes, Kelly crosses her legs and Jessie throws a towel over her shoulder. They obviously posed for these pictures, so why are they so enraged when the pictures are developed? At least they didn’t videotape the girls and plaster their phone numbers across the screen to make money of a dating video. Oh, wait. How are any of these people still friends?
The only way this could get any better is if the manager was That Slimeball Jeff from the max. This would make a lot of sense actually, and would explain why Zack is so willing to put in the extra work to take it over and turn it into a success. Also, I’m sure that replacing the seashell clocks with backpacks that had giant analog clocks in them (not making this up) helped a lot. I can imagine Bayside’s pervies coming in to buy the calendar and getting sold a bookbag that tells time by. SUGGESTIVE SELLING.
We can only assume that the bookstore is alive and well, even though it was never mentioned again.
Episode: “Save The Max” (Season 2, Episode 3)
What Happens: Max is a goddman magician so he doesn’t know how to run a restaurant (“Mr. Do”? Seriously, Max?) so he needs a bail-out to keep The Max open. Thankfully for him, The Gang has just discovered a secret underground radio station at Bayside and put themselves in charge of it. This episode’s #firstworldproblem: Slater wants to do the sports report but he’s terrible at it, and none of his friends are capable of telling the truth.
Key line: “First things first … let’s … check out the old scoreboard! I mean, hey, gimme a break, it’s not that old right?” *honking noises*
The Gang’s idea of running a high school radio station in 1990 is as follows:
1. Spooky ghost stories
2. Gossip without any payoff
3. Stories about pooping
4. Getting guys to masturbate to Kelly’s voice
5. Music you’d hear when you hit the “demo” button on your keyboard (on vinyl!)
6. Jokey sports news
Kinda sounds like reddit, doesn’t it? Anyway, here’s how you actually run a school radio station in 1990:
1. Play Bauhaus records
Episode: “Zack’s War” (Season 2, Episode 2)
What Happens: Mr. Belding thinks he can make Zack a better man by MAKING HIM JOIN THE ARMY. Zack signs up for the not-ROTC “Army Cadet Corps” and gets the whole Gang to join him, but bails when it gets too hard because he has a problem with authority and usually just gets what he wants. He eventually feels bad about abandoning his squad before The Big Competition, but returns in time to compete in all the important events — tug of war, playing American Gladiators against Mr. Belding (seriously) and dragging Screech’s worthless ass through an in-the-school-hallway obstacle course.
Key line: “Hey, lighten up, Lieutenant! There’s no war. Haven’t you heard? Peace broke out all over the world!”
In today’s episode, Zack ends up pretty clearly dressed like a Nazi.
The two highlights of the
Sinestro Army Cadet Corps showdown are 1) Mr. Belding wearing a spandex singlet, swinging around a pugil stick as Gladiator “Beldor”, which is basically the greatest thing that ever happened on the show, and 2) Zack being on a team with Louise, the queen nerd girl Zack ABSOLUTELY should’ve hooked up with at some point during the show. He pretends to get “Cool School” over, but he doesn’t go all the way. Come on dude, you hooked up with a fat girl, a homeless girl and a lady in a wheelchair and you’re too good for the too-nerdy-to-be-popular too-hot-to-be-nerdy girl in cat eye glasses who (if I know anything from having spent four years in high school) is the straight up sex queen of Bayside? Your loss.
Note: Zack uses the lessons he learned in this episode to … haha just kidding, he never f**king learns anything.
Episode: “The Fight” (Season 4, Episode 2)
What Happens: FIGHT FIGHT FIGHT FIGHT FIGHT FIGHT FIGHT FIGHT FIGHT
Key line: “And what if I don’t, PUNK?” “Then I’ll just have to make you, PUNK.” /shoves
The first what, two years of ‘Saved By The Bell’ was built around Zack and Slater competing for Kelly’s love, so it’s a little shocking to see them come to EXAGGERATED TV BLOWS over a girl they’ve just met. Idaho’s Joanna Pearson shows a small amount of cleavage, which is the most cleavage anybody at Bayside has ever seen (sorry, Malibu Sands Kelly) and it creates rage in these boys. Eventually she tells them both to go screw, and they settle things with one of those passive-aggressive sitcom food fights where one guy’s all “OH GEE WHAT WOULD HAPPEN IF I DO THIS” and pours punch down your pants, so you say “WELL WHAT WOULD HAPPEN IF I DID THIS” and smash an egg in the pocket of his shirt. That act is better than therapy.
From an MMA perspective, Zack smartly tries to stay on his feet and strike, because the only time we’ve seen Slater kick was that Earthquake episode where he needs everyone to stand back and takes 10 seconds to square up. Slater gets in close and throws Zack with his belly-to-belly [S] and uses his superior sprawl and ground game to take the advantage. Mr. Belding stops the fight as soon as it gets interesting, like every MMA ref.
Episode: “The Wicked Stepbrother” (Season 3, Episode 14)
What Happens: Jessie’s stepbrother Eric from New York is literally The Devil, so when Zack lies to get out of school for a Jewish holiday and gets caught on TV at a Dodger’s game, the wicked stepbrother tapes it and uses it as blackmail. He also blackmails everyone else in the cast and at one point Jessie’s brother tapes her and Slater having sex. It turns out he’s a nice guy who just misses his home, which we find out when Zack accidentally causes Lisa to drive into a brick wall with Eric in the car.
Key line: “That’s blackmail!” “Bingo, that’s my specialty!”
Blackmail, sex tapes and almost dying. A ‘Saved By The Bell’ two-parter!
Your sports moment comes when Zack catches a foul ball at the LA Dodgers game and gets on television. Eric uses this as leverage to steal Zack’s locker, because I guess at Bayside lockers are given out based on popularity and new kids have to share the “downstairs” lockers “with the nerds”. Also, I guess the locker right across from the principal’s office is the cool one?
TV.com user Canogaparkcindy sums up the rest:
This was a really good episode because Jessie had no main plots for Season 3 until this episode. It was so awesome how they had the (To be continued thing) And also it was so sad when Lisa was crying at the Max because the step brother dumped her. That was so sad. It was also really awesome how he fixed the car in no time & Mr. Belding was really proud. My favorite part is when Jessie punches her stepbrother & he gets a black eye. Hilarious! Also it’s weird cause he said he was going to stick around but in the later episodes, he doesn’t appear.
Episode: “Pipe Dreams” (Season 3, Episode 11)
What Happens: While playing baseball, Zack hits one over the fence. When he goes to retrieve it, because that’s what you do when you hit a home run I guess, he finds the ball next to a duck. Shocked, he rushes the duck to his next period class.
Key line: “Dr. Phelps … Dr. Phelps I’m sorry I’m late, but I think this duck is hurt.”
Whenever I’m late, I like to excuse myself by saying “I think this duck is hurt”. Anyway, this is less directly sports-related than a lot of the list, but hitting a duck with a monster home run is pretty hilarious (of course Zack had to be the BEST at hurting ducks, he couldn’t have nailed Becky the Duck with a foul ball). Plus, “Pipe Dreams”, aka “the oil spill episode”, is an all-time classic that deserves a spot on any ‘Saved By The Bell’ list.
Long story short, Bayside puts up new goal posts on its football field and strikes oil, which eventually spills everywhere, kills a bunch of animals (spoiler alert: baseball duck, too) and Zack single-handedly prevents an oil baron from remodeling his school with an extremely confrontational diorama. All for the want of a baseball hitting a duck.
Episode: “Check Your Mate” (Season 3, Episode 7)
What Happens: Screech is a favorite to win The Big Chess Match, so Valley conspires to crush his spirit by ruining his relationship with Violet and stealing his lucky beret. They’ve brought in a ringer: Russian chess warlord Peter Breschnev, a guy who looks exactly like Zack Morris in a curly wig and glasses. Thankfully for Zack, HE looks like Zack Morris too, so they kidnap the Russian guy, steal his clothes and pretend to be him long enough for Screech to learn a lesson and get his chess groove back.
Key line: “Call it a hunch, but I think Screech is gonna kick that commie’s butt!”
As concerning as World Traveled AC Slater’s use of “commie” is (and the kidnapping, MY GOD the kidnapping), the thing that bothers me the most about this episode is how Breschnev gets stripped to his underwear and tossed in a closet, but when he demands pants at the end he magically gets a pair despite Zack still having his original pair on. Those randomly occurring pants have bothered me for a while. Does Mr. Belding just keep a Zack-sized pair of trousers in the lecturn for quick access because crap like this happens all the time?
Also, shut up, chess is a sport. I can include the time the football team had a toga party and everybody drunk and drove if that’s more sports related.
(Guest contributor: Danger Guerrero)
Episode: “Saved by the Bell: Hawaiian Style” (Part 4)
What Happens: While on vacation in Hawaii, the gang heads to a park near the beach to play one of the most disorganized games of touch football the world has ever seen
Key line: None. There is no dialogue leading up to, during, or after this scene because it is a part of a montage set to an unbelievably terrible song about surfing. Like, imagine the cheesiest, Dollar Store, “Kokomo” era Beach Boys song you can, then liberally apply the word “dude” and a some “oo-WEE-oo’s.” Then you’ll be close.
Because it is a pretty short scene in the montage, we only get to see two plays from this game, both of them resulting in scores. In the first, Screech drops back to pass, reaches back like he is about to huck the ball way downfield, and then has it stolen by Jessie, his teammate, who proceed to scamper down the field. In the second, Lisa takes the snap and hands the ball off to Kelly, then Kelly pitches it to Zack’s 23-year-old single mother Hawaiian girlfriend Andrea, who runs down the field for the score. I will address both of these in turn.
PLAY 1: Who the hell let Screech play quarterback? No way. I like to think that the reason Jessie stole the ball out of his hand as he was trying to throw was because he was 0-for-vacation and she just got fed up and took matters into her own hands. Jessie seems like the kind of person who would get way, way too serious during an otherwise fun game, so I don’t think this is a stretch at all.
PLAY 2: What do you think this play was called? I bet it was called the People Who Zack Boned Reverse. Anyway, I was going to make fun of the fact that Screech and Lisa were the two quarterbacks in this game even though they were the least athletic characters on the show, but apparently Lisa was in the huddle drawing up trickeration, so they all must have known something we didn’t. Oh, and during this scene you can see Belding (who was in Hawaii as part of a prinpicals’ convention) blocking for the offense, which means these high school kids were on vacation — during the summer — and still invited their principal to play touch football with them. Dork alert.