There’s something very comforting about laugh-track induced, family friendly 90’s sitcoms. Even if they ‘ve grown weak with age. From Zack Attack, to Jessie Spano’s infamous caffeine freakout, to unanimous dislike of the “Tori Episodes”, Saved By The Bell is one of those shows that will always find a way to fit into a conversation. It’s my pleasure to be recapping some of the old episodes, so that everyone can relive the magic of Bayside High without having to flip on TBS at 8 in the morning. In this recap, we’ll be talking about Episode 4 of Season 1, “Fatal Distraction”. Also known as “That episode where Zack breaks into Jessie’s room to figure out who Kelly is taking to the dance.”
Bayside is celebrating the Girl’s Choice Dance this Friday night, and a colorful banner encourages Bayside’s women to “Ask Your Guy TODAY”. The hallways seem abuzz, as a Sheik, who looks like he got his wardrobe at a bargain bin the day after Halloween, walks down the stairs. “Isn’t this Zack Morris’s locker?” a tiny blonde girl asks the mystery man. “That is true,” the Sheik responds. “But while I’m living in your country, we are sharing it.” The girl asks where Zack is, and the Sheik points to a direction down the hall. “Things are not always what they seem,” the Sheik announces to nobody. “It’s me – Zack!” Whoa. Wait. Seriously? I was not expecting that one.
Zack is in disguise since he knows a lot of girls will ask him to the dance, but he doesn’t want to commit until he gets an answer from Kelly. Must be nice to be popular. Kelly, all bright-eyed and puffy-banged, tells Zack that she hasn’t decided who she’ll be asking yet. In walks Slater, who announces that Kelly could do a lot better than Zack. I bet he means himself! “Tough decision. So many boys, so little time,” Kelly contemplates. Ugh. I couldn’t even get within ten feet of a boy in high school. They probably all had restraining orders against me or something.
Meanwhile in class, Zack is handing over Seventeen, Glamour, and Cosmo magazines to the fashionable Lisa Turtle. Zack is looking to bribe Lisa to get some information. Obviously three magazines are worth more than trust and friendship. When Lisa fails to release all of her known information, Zack hands over two tickets for the Bon Jovi concert to sweeten the deal. Good thing Zack was carrying them in his front pants pocket throughout the whole day. Lisa divulges that Kelly is definitely taking Zack! … Or Slater. Zack steals his tickets back, and Lisa is in disbelief over the fact that not holding up her end of the bargain didn’t get her anywhere.
Meanwhile at the MAX, Zack and Slater are comparing numbers of how many girls they rejected. Zack turned down six, while Slater turned down seven – and a teacher! They realize that going to a dance together doesn’t equate to anything, right? I mean, I barely even hung out with my Junior Prom date. He punctured his lung in a bike accident days earlier, and just sat around the whole night. We’re not even friends on facebook.
Jessie, who is enjoying her MAX burger, says that both of them should have said yes to the first girl that asked them. Lisa walks up and mentions a slumber party that Jessie is having. “Isn’t a slumber party where you girls spill your guts about everybody?” Zack questions. He figures that Kelly will tell them who she’s taking and they could pass the information along. “That’d be invading someone’s privacy, Zack!” Jessie cautiously announces. Lisa agrees, probably because she knew she blew it with those Bon Jovi tickets when she tried to invade Kelly’s privacy earlier.
Max, the magician waiter, comes up to Zack with a gift. Some young lady left him a big yellow box with a moving plush heart inside and the heartwrenching note of “My heart jumps for you.” You’d think that if she spent so much time putting the heart in the box, she would have worked on her words a bit more. The box is from Rhonda, the one gigantic sports girl he’s been trying to avoid! Life is so rough.
Screech – Zack’s best friend when he needs something – seems nervous as Zack forces him to put a surveillance bug in Jessie’s room. “You can learn Lisa’s true feelings about you!” Zack bargains. What a shame. Screech will bug the room, and then learn that Lisa hates him. And everyone hates him.
Back at home, Zack and Screech have their tapes rolling. “Boys can be so dumb sometimes!” “Yeah, but they can be so cute, too!” “Pass the pepperoni.”
That last one was from Lisa, whose need for pepperoni starts up a dream sequence from Screech. In Screech’s world, pepperoni means “I dig you.” His daydream ends and his harsh reality comes back into the picture. Lisa mentions how she might cut her hair because some dude named Jason told her she should. Later, she says how Michael Jackson is her dream guy. And without fail, the subject turns to boys.
Kelly’s dream guy is Dennis Quaid. “Dennis Quaid isn’t taking you to the dance,” an unnamed girl with hair curlers says. OR WILL HE?
No. He won’t.
“So who are you going with? Slater or Zack?” Zack is psyched. His plan is working out perfectly! Kelly chooses Zack, and Zack howls with happiness. Oh, here’s an important piece of information: Zack lives across the street from Jessie, and both of them like to keep their windows open.
When the girls find out what happen, Kelly plans on getting even. The ladies decide to tell their deepest, darkest secrets to each other. While one girl stealing a tube of lipstick is “boring”, Kelly decides to let the boys know that every time she ends up liking a guy, she ends up physically hurting them. She says the episodes start when she gets a headache, and then she just snaps. After a blackout, she wakes up to police. Kelly then decides to cut off the feed, leaving Zack and Screech paranoid.
Back at school – wait. There’s someone skateboarding in the hallway! That can’t be allowed. We were barely allowed to have gum in school back in my day, and they took away our virtual pets! Ahem. Back at school, Screech saunters in dressed like Michael Jackson. Lisa calls him a dork, and tells him to “beat it”. (I sadly didn’t get this play-on-words until about fifteen minutes later.)
Mr. Belding finds Screech and sends him to his office. Apparently, wearing sequins is a huge offense over at Bayside.
Down the stairs comes Zack, who finds Jessie. Jessie warns Zack in so little words that something is wrong with Kelly, and she worries about his safety. As Jessie leaves, Slater rolls in. He’s in a wheelchair with a broken leg, and he begs Zack not to let anyone know that Kelly beat him up.
Hanging out in Mr. Belding’s office, Zack looks through Kelly’s file. Planted in her folder is a reference about Kelly’s stay at the home for the criminally insane. Zack asks Belding for help, but Belding pretty much just laughs in his face. Oh, I love how Belding doesn’t take a semi-valid student concern seriously.
After Nutrition Class/Anatomy Class/Classroom Skeleton Appreciation Class, Kelly traps Zack in the classroom with a baseball bat. “I want you, Zack,” she says, with a non-intimidating voice. “Not just for the dance, but FOREVER. Kiss me Zack, and change both of our lives forever!” With fear, Zack clamors he already has a date, and nervously leaves the classroom.
His date is Rhonda! Remember that crafty, manly woman? And the dance is… at the MAX? Seriously? The school couldn’t even have had it in the auditorium or the lunch room, like they did with their 9 proms? Nobody is even dressed up! This dance could have been the equivalent to “Hey, let’s get everyone to hang out at the MAX after school.”
In walks Slater and Kelly – looks like Kelly made up her mind! Kelly confesses that they all knew the entire time, and Slater hands over his fake leg cast. How can one acquire one of those? I might want to keep one around, for similar pranks.
Zack tells Rhonda he needs to go, and unfortunately for Rhonda, he doesn’t kiss on first dates. “Oh. Lucky for us, I do!” Rhonda announces, as she tackles Zack in a freeze framed kiss.
Lessons Learned: If you put a surveillance bug in someone’s house, they’ll most likely plan a huge, costly, time-consuming prank against you. But it’s okay. You’ll probably forgive them by tomorrow. Or, forget it all ever happened, like one big Kapowski-style blackout.