Our generation of nerds had the misfortune of being witnesses to the dismantling of Saturday morning kids programming. While there has been a renaissance of sorts in recent years with the networks rebroadcasting animated shows from their various cable channels, those blocks of shows are nothing compared to what we enjoyed. When our parents first had the TV take over babysitting duties, Saturday mornings were wall to wall cartoons. And while a lot of those cartoons were awful (It's Punky Brewster or Snorks, anyone?), there were also things like Spiderman and His Amazing Friends or Dungeons & Dragons that would get me to wake up early to watch.
In the late 80s TV executives thought live action shows would offer something distinctive amongst the sea of cartoons. A Disney and NBC partnership conceived Good Morning, Miss Bliss which after one season was retooled into the Charles Manson of cartoon killers, Saved by the Bell.
I hadn't seen an episode of SBTB since it was in heavy rotation on WGN and TBS several years ago. However, I was laid up sick a couple of Saturdays back and discovered that one of our local UHF stations was keeping the early 90s tradition alive.
The first thing that struck me was how dated the show seemed. Almost everything about the show from the big hair to the neon clothing to the Ronald Reagan references screamed late 80s/early 90s. I suppose that part of any teen/tween show's appeal is speaking directly to their experience and perhaps Hannah Montana will look the same in 15 years, but it certainly does not produce a timeless quality.
Aside from seeming dated, the other most prominent features of the episodes I watched were the terrible puns and the breaking of the 4th wall. I happen to enjoy Zack's winking at the camera, but I can see how it could be as annoying as the bad jokes. While I enjoyed the hour spent, objectively speaking, Saved by the Bell doesn't stand the test of time.