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Welcome to Back to the Future, I'm your co-host, Daniel Driskell, and let's see who's in class today. I have an attendant sheep right here. There is one Goslar Mark Paul. Hi, Dashiell. Oh, you I see you return to class. I did. I did.
I returned to class, as you say, because that's what we're in we're in class in that class of sorts.
And did you do your homework? I did. And by homework you mean did I watch the first episode of Saved by the Bell entitled Dancing to the Max? I did. Now, I'm so excited that you did your homework. But I'm also so excited because we have a very special guest today. I see what you're doing there, Daniel. Don't think I don't see it. And you're right. OK, good. We have a special guest on this week.
It is none other than drumroll, please. I'm sure there'll be a drumroll here.
Elizabeth Berkley. And if you don't read the credits, by the way, Elizabeth Berkley plays Jessie Spano. If they don't know who Elizabeth Berkley is and who she played on the show, I don't think they should be listening to this podcast.
Just saying, yeah. I mean, you know, you keep it up, you might enjoy it, but you probably won't. You're probably once again in the wrong place. Although I shouldn't I shouldn't say that that that's very rude of me, because we may have some new fans who are here just to hear you.
I yeah, I sure. Hello to my mother, Roberta, who's never listen to a podcast before this, but is now is now our biggest fan.
So tell me this wasn't the pilot episode of this series. No, it wasn't.
So I have a little bit of backstory on this episode because I did homework for the homework. But before I do, just in case you, the listener, didn't do your homework. And that's OK. Nobody's perfect. I have a 60 second or less summary of the episode, A Cliff Notes, if you will. I'd love to hear it. There's going to be a dance contest at the max, you know, totally normal. Hosted by Casey Kasem.
Sure. There's a dance partner triangle between Kelly Slater and Zach Slater can dance very well. He shows it. And Zach lies very poorly about being able to dance at all. Jesse's ashamed of her height. She rejects a short dance partner. Lisa has no interest in Screech, who is very interested in Lisa. Jesse teaches Zach how to dance. And when it comes time to challenge Slater, Zach backs down and decide to team up with Jesse instead.
Meanwhile, Lisa sustained a nasty foot injury, gets dumped by her partner and Screech swoops in. Then, at the Kasem hosted dance contest, Kelly and Slater do great. Zach and Jesse do OK and Screech and Lisa Irwin with a dance called The Sprain, made to work specifically around Lisa's bum foot. And I think that was 60 seconds or less. I don't know. I looked at my watch at the beginning, but I, I, I instantly forgot what time it was supposed to be.
Now, before we get into the episode and we will get into the episode, Martha, all I have to ask, did you remember anything at all about making this episode? Well, I had a wave of anxiety and the self awareness that I experienced while filming those those dance scenes with Jesse. And I remember that tension that I had with Slater. And I'm not I would I can't wait for us to figure out what that was all about. And then there was this kind of weird tension between Jesse and I.
And I can't wait for us to go into that. But there's so many good things about this episode.
Wow. Look at that. You sound like a veritable saved by the Bell fan you're excited to talk about. Saved by the bell.
I mean, this is what this product does to people. Yet once once you try it, you get hooked.
Yeah. Once you try it, you get hooked and it takes over your life like Pringles or heroin. You get to pick somewhere in the middle. Maybe now you're correct. This was the first episode of Saved by the Bell. Again, not good morning, Miss Bliss, but the first episode of Saved by the Bell. However, it was not the original pilot. The original pilot was called King of the Hill, and we'll get to that later in the series.
But this was the episode NBC picked to introduce America to say by the bell, I'd like to add something. When you write a pilot, you don't have to adhere to a pilot formula. Just tell your story. I mean, this episode was somewhere in the middle of our run, right? I believe so. So NBC originally gave Peter Engle a seven episode order, and I believe this was one of the ones they shot in the initial seven before he finagled another thirteen.
But King of the Hill, what was supposed to be the pilot and was the first episode you shot was then became episode fifteen in the original run. And there's some kind of intro at the beginning where you kind of throw away. Yes, I remember my first day of high school and it's the episode that introduces Slater. And in retrospect, it's kind of odd. It comes later as the viewer watches. But I really don't think they thought we'd be talking about this thirty years later and.
Going into their decision, right, but my point is, as a writer, you are a writer. I think it's a good exercise to say I don't have to start with a pilot episode. I can start right in the middle of my story and the audience will follow along. Yeah, people get it. The people will get it. You know who Zach is. You know who Slater is. You know who the rest of the gang is.
And you just follow along. And did you did you need any explanation of these characters or the plot?
I certainly did not. You so the guy who actually controlled your fate, who you probably never heard of this guy or knew he existed there once was a man named Preston Beckman. Preston Beckman was a man at NBC whose entire job it was to speak Dhoom of the shows they were making, as far as I can tell from Peter Engle's book, which I'm reading, it's OK. And Preston Beckman was positive that you guys had a real flop on your hands.
He was not convinced that saved by the bell would be anything worth ordering after those seven episodes. And it was Brandon Tartikoff, the the president of NBC, who said, no, I believe in this product and I believe in it so much. We're going to put this show on Sunday night right after Family Ties primetime. So while Saved by the Bell is a was a Saturday morning show, you guys premiered Sunday night primetime in a family block of programming in an effort not dissimilar to the Pringles dealer, if you will, to try and hook families who would then hopefully tune in next Saturday.
How did that go? You guys beat Family Ties. It went really well. That's crazy. I'm so glad I get to be the one to break it to you that the premiere episode of Saved by the Bell on a Sunday night beat Family Ties. And you were instantly a hit, huh? So why didn't we remain a prime time show? The goal, as far as Peter Angle and as far as Brandon Tartikoff, what they had in mind was always a Saturday morning show competing with cartoons.
They just used the business model of if we give them a taste, they'll come back for more traditionally used by drug dealers. But they thought it would work with families and television and they were not wrong. Very interesting. I have one more interesting fact for you, but I'm going to preface this by saying it's not a fun fact. It's it's kind of the opposite of a fun fact. Hit Me Saved by the Bell premiered on August 20th, 1989, with this episode that just so happens to be the same night the Menendez brothers murder their parents.
I remember the Menendez brothers, but I didn't remember. It was on August 20th, 1989. That was the night. And, you know, it really makes you wonder what was on that TV. I can only hope probably not that they their alibi was they went saw Batman at Century City. So you're in the clear. You had nothing to do with that. But what we really should be talking about is the episode. I would love to I'm telling you, I'm I'm hooked.
Now, the episode opens at the max, a familiar location, I'm sure, to you and to all viewers of, say, by the Bell. And it is Hoppen. There is a like there's like a dance party at the max, which you don't I mean, I've never really been to a diner and seen everyone up there dancing, but that's how saved by the bell. That was their foot forward. They wanted to introduce this place. And right away you get a real feel as the characters are introduced for their dynamics.
And to your point, you really don't need all the exposition because you you instantly understand, OK, Zach is after Kelly and so Slater and screeches after Lisa and you kind of get a a feel very quickly for who all these people are. The wardrobe was definitely a character of the show. What was up with Slater wearing a Razorback tank with sweat pants and dance shoes in the max? Totally. So about two minutes into the very first episode, Slater, who is confident that he's a dancer and who's Zach, is lying very poorly about his dancing abilities.
Slater says the words hit it and he does this like truly insane dance routine that I feel like is one of the more iconic moments of Saved by the bell. And again, it happens two minutes into the very first episode. That's with theme song and it's nuts. He clears the diner to do an incredible routine just to prove to Zach that he can dance. Zach does something right before that, though. I mean, first of all, Zach, with his with his comebacks, how lame were his comebacks?
I really struggled, I think, as an actor to to try to to make the audience that the live audience, that we had their laugh because I was working uphill with those things.
Man, I'm telling you, you can really hear the the aging Hollywood writer shoving those jokes in your mouth as a child. They do sound very clunky and the references often feel dated. Even the fact that you're in a diner dancing to a jukebox, a pastime that certainly wasn't the norm in nineteen eighty nine, as far as I can tell from the history books, it's all a little bit of a weird kind of mismatch. Does anyone else get a little bit of a hint of Rodney Dangerfield with with Zack Morris specifically the line where he says Kelly pulls Slater and goes, wow, that dance was hot and.
Zach says, Are you kidding? I moved better last summer when a bee flew in my shorts. Totally, very, very Rodney Dangerfield there.
Yeah, there is there is definitely something there. And that that joke structure, which is, you know, tried and true across the board, is especially as you will watch every episode of Saved by the Bell, you will get walloped over the head with characters referencing things that happened in the distant or semi distant past, which are funny setups, but you will just never, ever see. So you picked one out right there and I will continue to point them out.
But they are there all over throughout the series.
Yeah, I was I was a little disturbed by my aggressive hold of Kelly's arm. I'm glad you noticed that. Yeah, I. I've evolved.
Thank you very much. Yeah. That was also a character. But yeah, I think like right out the gate, Zack has some very well problematic with the grabbing, but like a really weird possessiveness over Kelly, which we'll get into as the episode unfolds. But yeah, you're totally right. He does like a weird kind of like know this mind like grab on on Kelly, which is odd behavior. Yeah.
But then slaters sort of pushes her away in a very possessive way as well.
I it's true. Yeah. I wasn't comfortable watching that I must say.
Well you know, I'm sure you'll only get less comfortable as we go on. Oh Joy. And speaking of uncomfortable, Jesse, also in this scene, which really does a good job, I mean, I totally get why they made this the first episode, because you really do get a sense of everyone right away. Jesse has some kind of like outside the box thinking, saying, oh, like dancing should just be for fun and OK. We learn a little bit about Jesse's character then.
And then Jesse gets approached by Danny to join her for this Casey Kasem hosted dance contest that was just announced by Max, the magical waiter.
Hey, why does Max bring out a telegram? This is nineteen eighty nine and we have facts.
At that point I looked it up. So Telegram's were actually abolished in the 1970s. So this is technology which actually was like you were unable to use it at that point. So it again, one of those weird dated timeline things that I just I guess he thought it would be funnier than than air mail and it falls from the sky. But I'm going to go ahead and say air mail and it falls from the sky is funnier. Airmail was actually a thing that was being used in the 80s and 90s.
And now, you know, that's a quick punch up for free that they're never going to use because the show came out 30 years ago. So Jesse gets approached by Danny. And the reason she says no for Danny is her dance partner is it's not quite that Danny's too short, although it is, but it's that Jesse is too tall. The fact she somehow doesn't have access to until she stands up and is towering over Danny. Yeah, I mean, she knows his name and he knows her name.
So obviously they know each other. They've been in school together and then she stands up and makes her decision. It is odd. But Danny, you know, God bless that guy. He says, let's just skip the dance and make out nothing creepy about that.
Yet clearly the height thing is not a deal breaker for Danny. Danny is not in this thing. So he can wear the same size jersey as Jesse. He's just like, yeah, let's just make out he he is. The dance stuff was obviously a ruse. And Zach hears that and he delivers his first in series straight to camera message saying like, yeah, that makeup thing, pretty good idea. All of it was like you said in the previous episode, I don't think we'd be able to get away with a lot of this stuff now.
No, it's also just weird behavior for kids across the board. Like when you really look at what's going on, the idea of anyone in high school pushing everyone out of the way, yelling, hit it and just knowing what song will come on when they say the words hit it and then doing a intricate dance routine, I, I never saw that in high school. I would have loved to. That sounds really cool, but it's just cartoon like behavior, which again, makes sense for this show that was up against cartoons.
And should we discuss the physique of Mario Lopez at the age of 15? Sure. What was going on? Dude was ripped using honestly at the time, like peak physical shape. And I don't believe Mario Lopez has left peak physical shape. I think he's just been cruising on that wave since he said he is not he has not stopped now.
I mean, I was I was intimidated by him, by his physique and his stature. And I believe he was a state wrestling champ. So he could kick my ass, too. Yeah. And he could dance. I mean, he had the one, too. He could do it. Oh. Like Kelly should be in the contest with him. He he was being honest. He can really dance. And he showed everyone right away. And Zach is just like so clearly lying.
And for a pathological liar he is bad at it. It's he should really sharpen his skills. How dare you. How dare you that. My acting. Well, you were acting bad at that it. I mean, you interpret that sentence however you want. No, I think I was I, I see. Here's a thing, right? I told you, I don't like to watch myself because I think that I could have done that better.
It's no different. I did I know was 30 years ago. But I'm like, oh, look at that acting. The mouth breathing. That was I call it mouth breathing, acting. Every time your mouth is open, you kind of make this noise that's mouth breathing, acting. And there's a lot of it. Oh, yes. Episode. And I would imagine there's a lot of it in the series.
Oh, it's going to be there's going to be more before there's less. I promise you that it's a good drinking game. Any time somebody goes on the series, we drink. Right?
Well, we don't want to send people to the hospital. But, you know, if you want to try it for about one commercial break, I encourage that. And right after right after this opening scene, we again, something you just would not see. We get just kind of like being vulnerable to Kelly and Lisa in the locker room and explaining why she's measuring herself on a scale which normally in a teen plot. Now, if a girl's on a scale having a crisis, it would probably be for weight, I would imagine.
But Jesse's convinced she keeps growing. And Kelly and Lisa, her her dearest friends in the world in a locker room setting, just relentlessly dunk on her. They just they just rip it apart for laughs at her lowest moment. Yeah. What better way? You know, when somebody's struggling to just make more fun of them. Yeah. When a teenage girl is struggling with her body image, you should definitely just take her down two more pegs back to back and laugh together.
And, you know, I get making light of a serious moment, but it doesn't I don't think that's what Jesse needed as a friend. Just my personal advice then. We have, I think for my money here in the episode. The biggest example of Saved by the Bell is a show doing what saved by the bell does best, which is this like truly zany cartoon energy to a scene which is the scene in music class. I didn't understand that scene.
Why did we need that scene, Dashiell? I mean, you're a writer. You tell me.
I'm going to say one of the reasons you needed that scene is because Mario Lopez is a really good drummer.
Oh, stop it. Stop it. We've already said that he had a great physique. And I'm not drums now. I'm not here to pick sides. I'm not here to pick sides. But saved by the bell in casting Mario Lopez, they said, holy shit, this guy is both a wrestler and a drummer. That should be part of Slater's character. So while they weren't before, if you watch that scene and if you listen to it, even everyone is just kind of doing their own thing on their instruments.
Everyone just kind of moving their hands back and forth. And whatever Mario Lopez is, is going for it. So that scene, I feel like is a is a little bit of that. But really what it does is it it advances the plot of Zack lying about dancing. He refuses to dance even after Jesse gets up and like, does a little dance where Danny creeps in. So it advances that also. But again, this scene really is about competing with cartoons.
And that's why Zach is blowing a bubble with bubble gum from his trombone. And that's why the teacher just gets progressively more flustered throughout the day, heightening chaos of this scene. I think that's kind of you know, it's for kids, it's fun. I think that was kind of the energy of that scene.
Yeah, I remember nothing of that scene. I remember I don't even have an ounce of memory about that. You do remember some master coming over with a pink balloon, shoving it in a trombone and saying, all right, after this, it's lunch? Nope. That would have stood out to me. Interesting.
I didn't even know that Zach played the trombone. It's it's like a trivia question. Yeah. I don't think that came with that. I don't think I don't think there were many trombone plotlines in later, say, by the Bell episodes. No. And you know what I was pissed about when I was watching it was there's like a little riff with the trombone that the guy sitting next to me gets to do. Why did I get to do that?
Oh, my God. There's like a little riff you. I'm jealous that well, I mean, now, being the actor that I am, I would have asked for that. I would have said, hey, let me do that little riff. Give me that riff. But watching it, I was little I was a little pissed that I didn't get to do that riff. Yeah. Wow. You know, you don't sound too bitter about it, but it doesn't sound like you're all the way over it.
I've moved on. OK, if you say so. Another fun fact. This one is a fun fact. I promise. Your music teacher in this scene who I looked up Martin Short, it's not Martin Short. This man's name was Hamilton Kemp and Hamilton Camp was a veteran voice actor. If you watched cartoons in the 80s or 90s, I promise you, you watched cartoons voiced by Hamilton Camp. The guy did over one hundred and sixty episodes of the Smurfs.
He did. Dashiell, here's a little trivia. My first commercial ever was a Smurf Clay Mouldings set commercial where you make Smurfs out of clay. So is there any connection between him and I? You guys were colleagues. I mean, you guys were making that blue money way before he's. Up on set, so, yeah, you guys were look at that, you guys were partners in Smurf sales. Yeah, he did Voices on Ninja Turtles and all kinds of stuff, darkling, duck, ducktails, you name it.
He was he was all over the 80s and 90s. Just kind of a fun fact that, again, in this show designed to compete with cartoons, they bring in a cartoon ringer to really, like amp up the scene and kind of give it that energy, which I thought was a neat little fact. Wow. Yeah. Yeah, that's right. About the energy. It was moving on. We are in in Jesse's room and Zach is talking to Jesse.
And again, you get this like weird possessive energy where Zach says he's not even OK with Kelly being next to Slater on a trophy. That feels like an adult man. I blame the writers on that one, I was listen, I was paid to say these lines. I said them. No, I'm not I'm not pointing a finger. I just mean, like, that's the kind of energy you bring to your second marriage after your last wife left you for someone on the bowling team who they shared a spot on a trophy like that's not a thought that a child just comes up with.
You've you've experienced some real blows in trauma, I would imagine, to land on like a you can't even be next to each other on a trophy status. Again, very just odd feelings for this young child to have. I think the audience, too. I mean, we had that live audience. I think they had to really can that laughter because I don't think they quite understood those jokes either. Yeah. I think I was really struggling in this episode to find the funny.
Yeah, well, you know, you found it, you carved it down in corners and that that pink exploding balloon certainly helped to illustrate that this is supposed to be comedy. And Zach confides in Jessie that that he's bad, he's bad at dancing. And this is a a real wonderful moment that I'd love to ask you about when you have to ask a teenage actor to dance poorly. Do you remember what they told you when they said, like, hey, dance bad?
Probably just be yourself. I mean, probably just just dance. Yeah, that's what I would do. Yeah, that's what I that's exactly what I would do.
I mean, it's shocking. I know, but I'm not a great dancer. I mean, in life I need to get lit to be able to dance or at least think that I'm dancing. Well, if you know what I mean. Sure. Wedding reception, dress, get it. That's where you need to be to really make a move. But yeah, it does seem like you have this pained smile on your face as if the director just said, hey, buddy, just go for it.
And that's what would happen.
I was so uncomfortable doing that, like just dancing and being in front of a live audience and dancing. There was it I wasn't a dancer.
I did tap lessons when I was much younger because my mother forced me that, you know, we're not on a therapist couch right now, but I get it.
I went I went to one cotillion because I heard they had free cookies and then I was just not a fan of every other part besides the cookies.
But I didn't like to perform in front of people, especially something that I wasn't good at. And I wasn't good at dancing. I was, you know, no. Yeah. Shows. I mean, it's it's very awkward. I mean, it's it's like at the pained look on my face while I'm dancing, that's how I would describe it is pain. Yeah. I was real. That was real pain. Real pain. That is you doing your bad dance and Jessie goofing on you.
Which by the way, is another lesson. Jessie has now taken her pain of being goofed on by her peers and she's dumping it right on you. So if you get bullied, you're probably going to bully someone in the next 12 hours. That's as good bully math. Yeah, she had a disgusted look on her face. Yes. She just saw you do that thing you call dancing. And she was in it looked like it really upset her.
I think it was real. I don't think. No, no acting. We'll have to ask her. I can't wait.
We're going to go through this specific episode. Did you did you have a chance to watch the episode? Oh, of course.
Oh, yeah. Me. You think I'm going to show up here not having watched it twice. You are such a pro. So first, this episode was not our pilot.
Thank you for clarifying this. I want to tell you why when you said watch the first episode right in prep for this, I'm watching it. And I was racking my brain going, OK, wait a minute, I may not remember everything, but I don't remember this being the first one. Right. And I couldn't figure this out. So thank you for clarifying that. Do we know which one?
Was it somewhere it might be number seven. It might be number fifteen. But we go back in the middle of the season and we go, I remember my first day of school and then it it it's the pilot episode. But so in this and I've said, OK, this is the pilot.
I say the way in keeping like in keeping with the fact that certain big changes or introductions of either characters or plot lines, it was like we were in this alternate reality where I guess we just never needed to explain it.
But she lives. That's what I that's exactly my point. If you're a writer and you write a pilot, you think you have to put all this exposition in and all these character descriptions. And you don't I mean, you watch this episode, you know exactly who Zach is. You know exactly who Kelly is, Slater, Screech and Jessie. And the reason why I'm saying Jessie, because right away it's clear that there's an issue because of the height.
Right. Which, by the way, I think it's the only episode that the issue with the height is ever discussed ever. It was just like a function they needed to advance something in the story. Like I don't think Jessie ever mentioned feeling too tall again.
So the issue at the height, was that something? That you ever struggled with, I mean, because they always seem now, right, for like for instance, Mario, right? Mario was a wrestler. Slaters was a wrestler. Mario was a drummer. Slater was a drummer. Did you ever have any sort of issues or were you ever bullied or did you have any, you know, height based discrimination?
No, honestly, and it's funny, through the years, I've had a lot of girls come up to me and especially its funny girls that I work with, that I work with a self-esteem program I have where that will come up, whether it's body image stuff or height either way in either direction. Too tall, not tall enough, not developed enough, whatever feeling they feel that they're not enough. But I personally never had that issue. I was already modeling and so it was a benefit for me.
Did you have any Danis real life, Danny, in your life? I did not.
Now, I did not have a real Danny, did you feel those comments in the locker room? Were those appropriate? Oh, when Jesse's like, you don't know what it's like to feel like a freak or something like that, yeah, you say I feel like a giant and they're like, well, you know, you're beautiful and everyone looks up to you and, you know, you better learn how to slam dunk.
Yeah, I, I didn't connect to that, but I think. I didn't connect to her exact struggle with the height thing of her, but I feel like. I feel like it's a human experience and. Especially if you are anything in the realm of, OK, you know, like I do have or did have, hopefully I've worked those out by now, but professionally perfectionistic aspects that then were, you know, heightened to the max. Pardon the pun, in Jesse's character.
And so whether they observed that or Jesse was already that and I use that side of myself, I don't know what came first because like you said, our writers would kind of use things they maybe observed in us. And then as the seasons went on, they would kind of embedded in the character, like whether it was a gift or a talent or a. And ism, but, yeah, so that that was my thing, just wanting to be good at so many things, I could connect to that.
And now as ACTA opens, you've already had such a strong opening into this series, we know who everyone is, then we get Casey Kasem and Mr. Belding together in a scene you can't even say Casey Kasem without sounding like Casey Kasem.
As soon as Casey comes in, you get this like thunderous applause break. And I'm wondering if if you were around or remember that day on set, if you if you remember any of this at all.
No, because I was probably in the back changing in the makeshift dressing rooms with Mario and and Dustin at that time. We were we'd have to change together and, you know, get three boys in a room. You know what happens? They change wardrobe. Pretty much. Pretty much. Yeah. Well, they treat Casey Kasem like he's a damn Beatle, like he shows up and there's applause for I'm going to ballpark it at like 30 solid seconds.
He is wearing a truly insane sweater. Maybe that's what the applause were for. And Belding is just overjoyed to meet this man, which should kind of be a tip off that this close to 60 year old celebrity. It should not be true that he is both exciting for the principal and the students of this high school.
Hey, guys, here's a fun fact. I'm seven years older right now than Dennis Haskins was in that episode. Wow. Because looking back at that episode, he was really good. Really good. Yeah, he was great. And they and he's also one of the four who was able to keep his job from. Good morning. This bliss, like when they decided who stays, who goes. Oddly enough, the woman whose name is the title of the show, she's got to hit the bricks.
But we're going to keep Zack Morris, Lisa Turtle Screech and Mr. Belding. He was really good. I mean, I enjoyed watching him. His his comedic timing was right on on point. He looked like he was having fun.
Yeah, he was really I honestly I enjoyed watching Dennis in those scenes that he was with Casey.
He carries it. It's just a particularly odd scene to me because Casey Kasem is knocking on the principal's door to pick up a banner. He's there to pick up a banner for the dance contest. And yeah, like a P.A. Couldn't handle that for Mr. Kasem. You're telling me Casey Kasem, pushing sixty years old, is driving around town in traffic to go pick up a banner from the Palisades? I just in all the realism stretches of saved by the Bell, that one has been a sticking point for me for some time.
And I'm so glad to talk to you about it, because it's just. Are you over it now, though? Are you still.
No, I'm not. You know, I'm bitter and I'm holding onto it. Yeah, I'm not I'm not nearly as advanced as you. OK, but give me time. I'm sure I'll get there. OK, now we're back in the hallway and Zach just continued truly just lying his butt off about dancing. He's like, it's one of those things where his lies have lies and he's created this network of falsehoods in an effort to just account for like where he's been this summer.
He's been dancing and learning to dance, and he's been mastering dance. And we also get screeches misguided attempt to woo Lisa by just like waving around a giant doll to show her what she'd be missing. As much as I felt so good for Dennis, I felt really bad for Dustin in that vaccine.
Yeah, I mean, that's rough. And he did the best he could with it. But, my God, I mean, we really tee him up to be, you know, for lack of a better word, a real doofus. You know, I mean, I'm using a word that Lisa Turtle would use, but. Sure. Yeah, it's your word. It's not my word. I would never say that. I would never use the word.
I would never use the D word. No. Yeah, he has like like William H. Macy in a P.T. Anderson movie, Energy. He's just like got like good intentions. But you just know things are not going to turn out well for this guy.
By the time the credits, which just wanted to give him a hug, I felt so bad for the guy. Yeah.
You just kind of got to imagine that, you know, different people are into different things. But if you show up to school with a like giant, almost life sized doll and you kind of wave that rag doll around and you show a girl, hey, this could be you, that's not going to end in her saying, well, I want to do that. I signed me up. And if anybody's counting, that's not the only doll in this episode.
But we'll get to that.
I'm so glad you noticed, because that's the that's. Oh, yeah. That's the next thing I was going to get to. I did not understand that at all. I think I think we're talking about the same thing. It's I think we are, too. It's the very next scene in Jesse's bedroom. Yes. Why is she said who would put that doll there? Jesse very, very weirdly, has almost the same doll like to the face just dressed differently in her window sill, like very prominently.
If you were trying to sleep at night, this doll would be looking into your soul. Truly nightmare stuff and. It's like her and screech shop at the same weird doll store, when in reality it was probably just, you know, someone over and props was like I ordered six of these, like, put one in this kind of dress and put one in overalls. I don't know, whatever. We'll use one for scratch, one for Jessie.
We got to decorate these sets. But it was such a jarring. Yeah. Like jarring. If you go back and you did your homework and great congratulations. Do it again. And if you didn't notice that doll, once you see the doll, you won't be able to look away from it. It's the first thing I saw. Yeah. And I it's a true scene stealer in that it robbed my attention for the duration of the scene. Yeah, me too.
This is where just as Zach came clean to Jesse previously in her bedroom, now it is Jesse's turn to come clean. Does Zach that while she's been teaching him to dance, he says, well, gee whiz, you're pretty good at dancing. Why don't you enter this contest? And she explains, she says, I've been practicing with my weird doll. She doesn't say that. She explains that she is just too darn tall. And we get our first of say by the bell.
This episode has a lot of firsts. We get our first fantasy sequence with a fuzzy pink border. Do you remember these fuzzy pink fantasies? No, like they don't like I mean, how I'm sure what they weren't like fog in the set with, like, fuzzy pink bordered like you don't like that. Didn't like stand out to you is kind of like, oh I remember this visual thing.
No. Because that was all done in post. Right. I know. But I thought maybe you caught it somewhere along the way. No, just another day. Just another day in Hollywood, the original working title of this podcast. I'm so glad we didn't use that one. No, it's like it's a huge saved by the bell visual trope. And it it just does such a good job of one conveying fantasy. But also, like the color of bright neon pink was a great choice because it it really makes it pop in a way.
And did we always use pink? Yeah, it was always that same fuzzy pink and it's used throughout the series and it's a visual calling card that I think when people think about the color palette of, say, by the bell and the bright colors, which again competing with cartoons, that's kind of like the thing that stands out. And it was it's cool. It's right there in the first episode.
And it had sort of the jingle, right? The kind of like the chimes, like the chimes get rung and suddenly you're transported to fantasy land. You were trying to make that sound. Go ahead. Let me hear you. It's like that, you know, it's like. It's like that. It's pretty good. It's almost like you're watching the show. Were you just trying to talk to Dennis Quaid in Enemy Mine? We'll fix it in post.
We learn how deep Jesse's insecurities run, that even in her fantasies, she is so tall, she's breaking the barrier of this fuzzy pink wall. Her head is out of frame. She's like the the nanny in the Muppet Babies. You can't even see her head. And it is such a funny image that this is how she's conveying her like deepest, darkest fear about her body. I was fascinated by how they shot that. Like, did they have, like, this really long dress on her and they had her on a forklift?
Like, how do they do that? I want to know.
I think your intuition is on. She was on either some kind of forklift or like some some kind of platform. They were just slowly raising and had this, like, clown car of dress material that just keeps going. And she raises above the pink bar.
Yeah, it was actually a pretty good effect. You know, Don Barnard directed that episode. Got to give it to him. Don Barnhart, bulk of the series. And also the reason it's worth noting that similar to Mario being a good drummer, Elizabeth was a trained dancer. And they they leaned into that with her character, which is why she's so good. She's like inventing dance moves in her bedroom, which I thought was just like an adorable, fun kid thing to be doing.
Oh, gosh, I hate watching myself dance.
Stachel It's awful.
Well, I'm so glad you feel that way. You know who else felt that way? You. Well, I quite enjoyed it, to be honest, Marple none other than the Los Angeles Times. When the first episode of Saved by the Bell aired on Sunday night, the L.A. Times took note that your dancing in particular, they called it out as being very bad. And it was defended by Peter Ingold as saying, well, it's supposed to be bad, but I think they said no, even I think the subtext of the review was even for bad, it's really bad, you know, and they they wonder why child actors have complexes.
The L.A. Times, I know exactly why, but you know what? They wanted a follow up interview not too long later. So you guys had the last laugh pretty much almost immediately. It just goes to show that my self-awareness and those the feelings of anxiety were warranted. And it goes back to the reason why I haven't watched this series, because I wasn't comfortable I didn't feel confident in my abilities and I didn't want to relive it. And I had I had reason.
Oh, you had printed reason. Absolutely.
So you never had a dream sequence where the pink fuzzy things happened on the screen. And then you go into this sort of montage, this this alternate universe where you. Growing in your dress, do you remember what were you wearing, a like a like a skirt?
It was a Bohème. It was the ugliest tie dye bohemian dress on the planet. Like, I don't understand. Like, I think Live Bass, who was our costume designer, must have chosen that because it just kind of hung there. And it was the most impressive thing. Besides, the week average is the most unflattering thing maybe that I wore on the show.
But I digress. I was standing on a platform just to kind of let anyone in on the technical aspect of how we pulled this off. It was a platform that just, you know, with each short guy that asked Jesse to the dance, it would just rise after each line. So that's what we did. It was not too high tech, but I was on a platform.
Thank you for clearing that up, because I did ask that question to Daniel. I wondered how they did that. Did you? I would have been happy to answer that. So we did. It was like I was kind of I don't even think it was brought in, especially for this. I think it was something that the grips had already. And it's just, oh, let's stand her on that. And so there you go.
OK, so moving on the episode, Zach comes to you for help to dance and. Yes, OK, I want you to be completely honest here, OK? I don't I, I don't want you to have any feelings for my feelings. I don't want you to hold back. OK? You're scaring me. You are a trained dancer. What was your impression of me as a dancer?
OK, first of all, the sweetest question. All right, let me explain. So for people just to know, like, so dance for me is like, I don't know, like for you, I guess, would it have been required is religion it's religion or dance for you.
Is religion its water. Yeah. It's essential. It's you. It's your being. It's your soul. It's everything.
How do you know that. The soul. Because it is. It is. I mean you. I've been next to you. You was when. Yeah I do. When I watch this episode I told Daniel I said a wave of anxiety and just self doubt and just my low self esteem and confidence just came rushing through because I remember standing next to you and how graceful you were and how fluid you were when you dance. And there I was and I felt I was not I couldn't dance to save my life.
And I hated not being good at something. And then to have to do it in front of you and then to have to do it in front of you who I, i it was it was really hard. I had a really tough time. No. And then do you know that Daniel found out that L.A. Times when they watched this episode, this is in the L.A. Times, I was skewered for my dancing. They literally they said that my that I was a horrible dancer.
And then Peter Àngel actually stood up for me and said, well, he was supposed to be horrible. And the subtext was, yeah, but even for being horrible, he was horrible.
For me personally. You're asking. So I'm going to be transparent for me personally. This goes back to the fact that our experience in scene. Was a reflection of so much happening, kind of. Behind the scenes, so it's hard, they're like interwoven, but it's kind of hard to separate, like, let's say whatever's playing out in the script is its own storyline. But in order to do those things, there were backstage things like you, me and Maria Henley, who is like one of our.
Stage managers and she also, in a lot of them caught in the episodes, choreograph them. I do have a clear memory. I have more of a vivid memory of you and I learning it together and giggling a lot then the actual doing of it. So to me, it's funny what we all take from certain things, I just remember those fun, sweet, kind of giddy feelings. It wasn't about the technical dancing, it was more about like, oh, my God, we got pulled out from school, you know, we had three hours of school each day or more.
Some days it depended, but it was more like, oh, my God, we're going to do this dance together on our own. And it was more of the giddiness of that than anything about me thinking about technical. It was all the feelings that rushed through. That are around that with that experience then. Like, it's not like we were rehearsing for a Broadway show, right? By the way, how about when she says, Oh, I made up this new step like it was some revelation?
Did you see this stuff?
Did you make that up, though? Because I think so. You made up these steps on your own.
I really. No, no, Maria Hennelly made that up. I got to give credit where credit's due. I don't think I made that up. And if I did, I, I don't know that those moves, I mean, I'm not trying to be like I mean, no offense Maria, they're good and cute but I don't think like oh wait, watch this. Like there was such a buildup to look what I just made up. It made me laugh out loud.
Did you have anything to do with that doll sitting next to you on the couch? You mean no. Do you know what I'm talking about? I don't remember that before Zac comes through the window this time he came through the door. Yeah, the flowers. You were sitting on the couch reading a magazine and there was a life sized doll next to, you know, I have nothing to do with that.
That had to have been just a set deck thing. It wasn't a you mean was it a personal piece of mine from home?
Was it a request? Why was it there? It it took you know, it's a little scary. Wouldn't that be the first thing that night that, you know? Oh, it's nightmare inducing. It's the first thing you see, though, is when the scene opens up, you're sitting there reading a magazine and you're like, oh, my God at all. Well, why is it so? And by the way, it looks like the same doll that Screech had in the hallway that he was using.
Except yours is, you know. No. So we're trying to figure out is why why was this doll there, what what what was the purpose of her daughter in the same episode? Wait.
Yeah, I don't know the symbolism of it, but here's the thing. I now, going forward, as I watch some of these with you, I'm going to see if the doll makes another another, you know, like Brady Bunch there with Kitty Carryl. OK, does this doll get any airplay? I don't think so. I think she might just be there in the wings. We're going to check this out together. And now we can talk about part three, the big finish of dancing to the max, and when the third act begins, we are in the locker room with Slater and Screech, and they have kind of a heart to heart where Slater gives the good advice.
Hey, buddy, she's not into you. Maybe you should move on advice. Screech really sort of taken, by the way. I mean, he no spoilers here, my pal. But here's his high school life may have been happier if he would have just listened to it in this moment.
And kudos to Dustin Diamond for that head. Knock on the bench. What a wallop.
He gets head walloped a lot. And that's a rare example of Zack not being the one who does it, that that moment is also kind of an odd button on the scene, like, oh, men can be vulnerable and touching in a locker room kind of thing. Take that for what you will, but suffice to say, not great. And then we are back in Jesse's room, and this is the culmination of Zach's dance training. He's good now.
He's good at dancing with Jesse. No thanks to that weird doll. And there seems to be kind of like a like a teenage sexual tension thing they're setting up with this scene. I see it. I see also a very scared boy dancing with a woman. And I see that woman driving that tension and that boy is just hanging on and doesn't know what to do. But, yeah, I would love to see how Elizabeth how she remembers that because she was a woman to me.
I was born in nineteen seventy four. She was born in nineteen seventy two and she is exactly one year and two hundred and sixteen days older than me. And that is light years when you're that age. Yeah. That's a big gap at that age. It's a big gap. And I was this innocent kid who if you remember, if you're a fan of, of Saved by the Bell and you watched it from the beginning of Miss Bliss, I had my first kiss on screen with none other than Stevie.
Who is Stevie Dashiell? I remember who Stevie was. Stevie was Miss Bliss's, I want to say niece, some kind of family relation. But Stevie was the pop star that Zac lied about, having a terminal illness to kiss, to win a bit. That was my first kiss, Stachel. And it was on screen. And you got it the way every kid does lying about. I want to say it was cancer, but if it wasn't cancer, it was cancer adjacent.
That fun thing that that kids do all the time to get their first kiss. Stevie was my first heartbreak. I, I got a kiss from Stevie. I'm sorry. I don't remember her real name, but she was an employee at the souvenir shop on the NBC lot. And after that kiss, I was smitten. And I remember thinking a lot about this woman.
Did you find yourself buying like all kinds of mugs and hats and stuff just to, like, talk to her? I spent a lot of time around that souvenir shop after that kiss, and I spent a lot of time thinking of her and the feelings that I was having. I could attest to those being the first time my my heart ached. I'm sure she appreciated you haunting her place of business over some stuff she had to do because it was in a script.
I'm sure she really appreciated that. I don't know. I was adorable. Then you saw me. Yeah, sure. Maybe we can track down Stevie, whatever her real name may be, to have that conversation at a later date.
And speaking of feelings, what was going on between Zach and Jessie? In those scenes. Well, there was a lot of teenage tension in those scenes. There was and, well, it's it's funny when you say that because. What's funny is I was so innocent, so it's funny to hear like that I was driving anything or you have that had that perception because I mean, I was so innocent. I hadn't had a boyfriend, I hadn't, like, kissed someone yet, so the things that were playing out in the scenes were really new to me.
And in in those all those new feelings, even just like off screen, on screen, it was like literally someone experiencing that for the first time, like. But I feel like it's like we were trying something new on together through the dancing that was just so cute. If you think about it. Right.
Oh, it was it was innocent when you look back on it now. But I remember then thinking you were light years ahead of me immaturity and I didn't know what you had experienced, you know, because we were we were all it was our first season. I had no you know, I thought you had just someone and I thought you had a boyfriend or boyfriends or, you know, that you had experience out more than I had because I had experienced nothing.
And I think you remember, like we've talked about this as well, that I was pretty innocent. Like I didn't have girlfriends. And I don't I think my first kiss was actually on screen like the year before.
So we we both were really innocent. And you think of like with moments we were thrown into in the script. And also, by the way, what was interesting much, you know, again, in keeping with Saved by the Bell, like suddenly we have a script where Jesse and Zach have these moments. Right. Best friends with feelings or but then it just it it doesn't get addressed again until maybe Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs where we kissed like once in a while, they would touch on it.
After the culmination of Zach's dance training with Jesse, we are now in the hall where Lisa announces that she kicked a TV and now has a bum foot. As soon as Lisa announces that her foot is sprained, her dance partner Byron overhears this and instantly dumps or does right away drops her to the curb because he knows he cannot win with Lisa and her bad foot. And look at that mouth breathing in the background that your friend Zack Morris is doing a lot of open mouth breathing right there.
He must be angry.
Yeah, he's definitely doing something.
He must have been trained in that as well in between the dance lessons. I think Kelly is doing a little bit, too.
If you if you see her in the background, I think Kelly's doing a bit of the the mouth as well. Can you believe this, Byron?
Yeah. This was supposed to be Kelly's big moment where two young men dance, fight over her and now Byron shows up to take all her thunder. And who is this? Byron, I'd love to shine a light on Byron because he is by far the most interesting person we've met so far at this high school. As soon as Lisa says her foot is injured, Byron does not say, hey, can I get you some Advil or. Well, let's I look forward to spending the evening with you watching movies or something while you rest your your leg.
Here's some ice, Lisa. No, no, no, not Byron. Byron dumps her and announces he has a stable of backup dance partners ready to go. In the event that Lisa injured herself, which she did, Byron was ready for this contingency and he just leaves her in her misery to go chat with his many other options. Does anyone else notice that Byron has the hair that Zack Morris wants? It's not dyed. That's his natural hair color just to throw it out there.
I don't know if you know this, but that's not my real hair color. That is actually hair dye, you know, highlights put into my otherwise brown hair. But Byron has natural highlights and his hair is perfectly quaffed and he's wearing jewelry. He has a bigger watch than Zach. He's wearing a ring on his ring finger. What is this all about? What does this say about Biram? What are they trying to say about Byron?
Yeah, Byron married. I just wish there was more Byron in Saved by the Bell. I wish they gave him his own show. Good morning, Mr. Byron. And we could just kind of learn more about what this very, very interesting young man's life is like. Sadly, that's not the case. He disappears, never to be seen again, thank God. Because you see, there is a real issue of job security between all three of us, all three boys, Zak, Screech and Slater.
When Byron comes on screen, we don't want this guy around. And you could see it immediately when he comes on screen, how we sort of expand our chest and then we get a little, you know, that hole. Who's this guy? Get him out of here. Yeah. You know, Mario is lifting lockers and doing push ups on the stairs just to get that extra pump right before he shoots with Byron. It is it is clear it's like a peacock.
That's so after Byron go softly into this. Good afternoon. Zack decides to do the right thing here after wasting everyone's time. He says, Look, Kelly, I know you'd love me to dance for your affection, but you should go with Slater, which again, by the way, Kelly should. He's the better dancer. And Zack decides to accompany Jesse to the dance contest and be her partner. And then we're at the max for the big finish, big finale dance contest.
And we have Max in a lot of interesting wardrobe choices. Maybe his neon green leopard print tuxedo might be the one you'd pick. Now I'm going to go with the hat with the foam hands tied to his applause meter. You're not going to talk about the the the sweater choices for both Kasim and the Big Bopper. That probably is the best wardrobe pick. I guess the the runner that building was so infatuated with, Casey Kasem, sweater choice. He ran out and picked up his own for the party at the max.
Everyone's really swinging for the fences here with their threat. Which brings me, I guess, to the wardrobe choices for the actual contest. Kelly and Slater show up for their routine, which, by the way, Mark Paul, could you ever have suspected that the final three contestants would just so happen to be the gang? Never. Yeah, who could have seen that one coming and by the way, stabbed to death in the parking lot by all 17 of his backups.
They fought for him and then they killed him. They couldn't live with their jealousy. But so Kelly and Slater hit the dance floor as the spandex twins. And they're really good. They're wearing kind of Vegas show style outfits. And they they score a ninety five on Max is totally arbitrary. Applause Meter. Yeah.
Yeah. So Mario can wrestle and he can play the drums and he can dance.
Whoop de do. Yeah.
And The L.A. Times had nothing bad to say about their dancing. To be clear, when they were critiquing dancing, they skipped right over the spandex twins because as we say in this town, sometimes every now and then no notes. Then we go right to Zach and Jesse, who are the powerhouse preppies. Now, what did you think about that wardrobe choice, Martha? I don't know how that happened. I understand the preppy of it all. But Zac never dress like that.
And I don't think that Jesse ever dressed like that either. So I'm a little baffled by the choice of swearing that maybe maybe Elizabeth remembers something. In the very final scene in the max, why we're trying to figure out why puppies, powerhouse puppies, but why does Zach just stand there? What happened? Did did did Maria just give up on me and say, you know what, I've I've thrown everything at this kid. He's not getting it.
And I just fizzled. And I just because I literally just stand there and I think I tie my shoe and then you kick me and I do a twirl and that's it for me.
You do all the heavy lifting, by the way, not sure about the leap that I did across the place where you stand and I leap in front of you. Not that was not good. And I want to point out for, like, die hard saved by the bell. Then if you notice that I limp. When we finished the routine, it's because I slammed down on my knee in the split, which, by the way, why was I doing the splits?
But anyway, I think strangely, the choreography turned into like Ballroom Dancing with the Stars ESC, because you see, like Mario, we were doing a theme. Suddenly we were doing like a schoolgirl meets and you know what they had? They had the spandex and the sparkles. Right. I was a little confused by, like, why was that our choice? But your choreography was simplified, but I don't think it was a personal thing. I think it was went into partnering because if you noticed, Mario's choreography is he's not doing all the jumps in the air and all of that by this point as well.
I have a question. Were you upset that his powerhouse Papis like I'm still upset, actually, and I forgot how upset I was. That we came in, did we come in last? I think I held you back, was I? We got to 90 the.
Yeah, I'm not OK with that. I know, but I hope I'm not a little. No, you didn't. I blame I blame me, it's OK. I just stood there. I don't know why I didn't gyrate with you and move my hips and swivel them like you did I.
But no, I'm not sure. I think you gyrated a little. But, you know, it was cute. Did you not notice a little bit of the forehead touch?
I notice I think I could feel your breath when when it happened, when it was little things like that, like just getting up in the bedroom in the in Jesse's bedroom, even even when we were dancing in the max, it's just these little moments where you might catch a breath or you might catch a O'Haire wisp across your face. And it's things like that as a kid. It's so innocent. But it was so big and it was so meaningful and it was.
Yeah. Things that you you went back with and and put in your little memory bank. Definitely. Definitely. Can you believe that we are talking about that little show we did 30 years later.
No, I mean it. And also the thing is, it has never stopped. There's never been a lull in. In people like just every generation it has met, every generation since we shot it. I don't know about you, but I think we're in the same boat here. It's safe to say that there's not a year that has gone by where people have not come up to me and said, I'm so excited or I love the show and what it means to them.
And and it's it's it's amazing just how it has transcended time and everything. Now, the powerhouse perhaps is not quite the powerhouse their namesake would have you believe they scored a 90 a OK, this is an attack job on you and your dancing. You get it by this point. And then Screech and Lisa come out and Screech has engineered a dance called The Spring to work around Lisa's injury. And they win. They win with the help of their classmates who cheer them on.
Everyone takes kind of a selfless non birhan. This should just be for fun moment. And they cheer on Lisa and Screech and they win with the spring. Take that, Byron. Then Casey Kasem announces everyone in this restaurant is going to do the spring and everyone hops around on one foot in what is like a clear and massive liability, both for a restaurant trying to operate a business and also a film set with a nearly 60 year old man. Wait a minute.
I miss it. Casey, does this frame. Casey does this. Yeah, Casey is hopping up and down on one foot. He is doing it. I guess this is Casey. I'm going to go pick up my own banner. Kasem, he can't be told what to do.
This man will not be star, that poor man with the career that he had. And he's doing a one legged dance with a bunch of teenagers. Talk about a team player and yeah, that's all, folks. That is the episode. That is the first episode of Saved by the Bell Dancing to the Max. This episode was jam packed, Dashiell. Yeah, no, they they really threw a lot in there for what they decided would be their pilot episode.
This is how you make a pilot? Totally. I think they did a great job. I mean, clearly they did people you guys won that Sunday night and then people tuned in the following Saturday. Hell, yeah, we did. We beat Family Ties. Yeah. Now, seeing as how this was the first episode, are you at all surprised that it continued airing?
No, I enjoyed it. And I'm not just saying that because I was actually in it and because my dancing was so horrible. I thought that's what I was referring to.
I was asking, are you are you surprised they let you back on TV after that? No, I'm I'm of course. Just kidding. I know you are. I know you are. You just because you love me. I know I'm not surprised. I think that this was the first of its kind. It was a live action show for an audience that was watching cartoons up until this time. So this was fresh. And I think the characters were well explained and I think they were relatable and nothing else was fun.
I would come back to another episode and I am I'm going to come back. You will. And I will. And I look forward to doing more homework for the next episode.
I'm so glad you feel that way, because the homework for next episode is the Lisa Card. Do you have any guesses what might happen in this episode, Lisa? And a card. It's like you've already got it. You seem to have a firm grasp on the plot, but I hope you still do the homework. And if you're listening, I hope you do the homework, too. So you know what the heck we're talking about next week when we cover, say, by the Bell season one episode to the Lisa card.
And again, it might be a little confusing if you're watching on streaming. Just know that. Good morning. Miss Bliss on streaming platforms is kind of labeled as season one, but you'll figure it out. You seem like a smart person if you're listening to this. So find it. The Lisa Card, thanks so much for listening. If you enjoyed the pod, be sure to subscribe and leave a review. Zach to the Future is a production of Caden's Thirteen.
It's executive produced by Mark Paul Goslar, myself and Chris Corcoran, Production and direction led by Terence Malinga. Editing and Mastering by Andy Jesuit's. Engineering and Production Coordination by Sean Cherry. Artwork by Kurt Courtney with illustrations by Jeff MacCarthy. Marketing is led by Josephine Francis with PR by Hilary Suf. Thanks to the whole team Acadians Thirteen and to you, the listener. See you next week.