Belz on Bell

Saved By The Bell: S4E06 ‘Teen-Line'

While eating a nerd’s hot dog and making googly eyes at a girl in the hallway, Zack strolls into Principal Belding’s office. Screech, Tori (yes, this is a Tori episode!) Slater and Lisa have already been waiting to start a Senior Class Community Service meeting. Tori’s idea is to create a “teen line and rap room”. Teen lines let students anonymous call other teens about their problems, while the rap room allows for face-to-face interaction. Zack thinks this is a fine idea, as do the rest of the gang.

Later that day, Tori gives the students a grocery list of Teen-Line Don’ts. Looks like with very minimal prep time, this plan is off and running!

  1.   Never ask a caller for their last name.
  2.   Never ask for home numbers.
  3.   Never, EVER ask to meet them.

Lisa takes the first real call – it’s a student named Shelly, who feels overweight. Lisa says it’s all in her mind but then asks for her weight. With a tone of disgust, it’s obvious to Lisa that Shelly is a Fatty McGoo. “Never wear white – you’ll look like Shamu at a wedding.”

Meanwhile, Tori is counseling another student and giving advice about joining a school club.

A random kid comes in to “rap” and Screech holds him hostage to talk out his problems. The student hates his bratty little brother. “Hate your brother? You should be lucky you have a brother!” Screech counsels. Supposedly Screech had to play hide and seek with his hamster as a child. Also known as, “Screech’s hamster ran away for good reason.” Even worse, Screech later admits to the kid that his parents bought him a blow-up doll to act as a brother.

Zack picks up his first phone call. On a split-screen, we see a girl, “Melissa” from the waist up. Melissa’s parents are too overprotective. Her parents treat her like a baby and won’t let her out past 10PM.

Zack wisely says that the key to her problem will be setting all the clocks back two hours. That way, when she’s home at midnight, her parents will assume she’s coming home at a normal time. Zack asks Melissa where she lives and tries to schedule a hot date with the troubled girl that he’s only known for a solid minute and a half. Obviously, Zack didn’t listen to Tori and thinks this is a Date-Line club.

Screech, on the other hand, is handed his counselee’s little brother Tommy. “You want a brother? Take Tommy!” Tommy greets Screech with a frightening handshake. I can’t imagine how I’d explain that to my parents – “Mom? Dad? I left Tommy with some stranger wearing terrible clothes. He has a blow up doll at home and I think he killed a hamster. Tommy should be fine.”

Back in the hallway, Zack, Slater, Lisa and Tori are analyzing their first successful day of Teen Line. Zack brags about his date with Melissa, which shocks Tori. “Zack, you broke the rules!”

Callers were supposed to be anonymous and even though Zack tried to explain that she was the one who wanted to meet him, both Tori and Lisa are a little disgusted. How dare Zack get one sentence about how Teen Line works and ten minutes of prep from idea to execution and still find a way to screw it up!

Screech walks in with Tommy, his “temporary little brother. Isn’t he cute?” “Cute? Cute is for girls!” Tommy shrieks, before stomping on Screech’s foot and running away.

Over at the MAX, Zack is waiting to meet up with Melissa. Seated conveniently behind a table, Zack pulls up a seat next to her and tells her she’s prettier than he imagined. Melissa took Zack’s horrible clock advice and set them all back three hours. But then she forgot to set them back and her Dad ended up being three hours late for work. This is, I must remind you, about a decade before cell phone alarms were big.

Zack asks Melissa if she wants to check out the juke box and then realizes – Melissa is in a WHEELCHAIR! He looks at her as if he’s seen a ghost, while Melissa makes quips.

“Why didn’t you tell me you were in a wheelchair?” Zack asks. “Um, since I forgot?” Melissa admits. Yeah, Zack. You talked to her for like, 2 minutes about dating and clocks. She’s not Amy Poehler’s “I got one leg” character from SNL, who announces her disability in the form of every introduction. (Editor’s note: “Yeah, I got one leg. JEALOUS?”)

Melissa gives Zack permission to leave and thankfully Zack stays put. Good, since if he didn’t, he’d be the most gigantic jerk at Bayside.

Zack asks her how it happens and Melissa says that she was “born this way”. Great – now I have Lady Gaga stuck in my head. Zack apologizes to her but Melissa says that she’s doing fine. Lay off her, Zack! She called the Teen Line since she wanted to party all night, not because she was in a wheelchair!

In walk Screech, Slater, Tori and Lisa and Zack introduces them to Melissa, “Now look. Melissa’s handicapped but she’s really comfortable with it, so just get over it!” Zack disclaims. They’re over it.

In walks Tommy, holding a motorcycle helmet. He shows his find to the crowd before a burly Harley Davidson dude comes in, barking about the helmet theft. Screech is going to get punched for this incident, I’m sure.

Back at Teen Line headquarters, Zack walks in wheeling Melissa. Melissa appreciates the “help” but says she can move places on her own. After all, she did get to the MAX, Zack. Remember that?

Lisa gets a call on the line from someone who’s having trouble with their unruly brother. Looks like Tommy roped Screech to a chair. Again – this is definitely days later and nobody in Tommy’s family is questioning where he is. Kid is like, ten. And the actor playing him is like, probably seven. Or maybe eighteen. You know how casting goes.

In the rap room, Slater and Zack are talking to a girl named Kathy, who’s shy around boys based on her height. Slater’s advice is to “wait a few years”, which is obviously terrible. Melissa asks if she can say a few words about the issue and the guys grant her permission.

“Guys will start liking you more if you like yourself more. For starters, stop seeing being tall as a problem. See it as beautiful. The rest will fall into place.” Aww, Melissa. She earns herself a hug and Zack is majorly impressed. And why is Zack impressed?

“Even though she’s handicapped, she gave Kathy perfect advice!” Zack proclaims. “Zack, my mind’s not handicapped,” Melissa corrects, but Zack is so chair-focused to listen to her at all.

Zack decides to take Melissa to the movies and is outraged over the fact that someone parked in the handicap spot. How dare they! Everyone knows by now that Melissa is in a wheelchair, right? Zack keeps screaming about it, so I’m guessing certain people are still out of the loop.

Zack summons a manager and explains to him that Melissa happens to be handicapped and someone has illegally parked in the space! Zack also notices that they have no wheelchair access to the restrooms and Melissa shouldn’t have to pay full price since she doesn’t even use one of the theater seats. “Sir, everyone pays to see the movie,” the manager explains.

Wait, I’m confused. I thought I paid about ten bucks to sit in an uncomfortable plastic chair for about 2 hours while seeing people try to text in the dark.

Melissa is obviously annoyed by Zack’s wheelchair rant and wants to watch the sole Saved By The Bell watching-a-movie-in-a-theater movie. (Clarification for casual, normal fans: The staff at Saved By The Bell rarely varied their sound bites.)

At Teen Line headquarters, Screech – paranoid and mostly unclothed – is searching for Tommy. Tommy managed to steal his clothes (…how?) and put them on the flag pole. In walks Belding, giving a toweled-Screech a confused glance before giving the gang some bad news. The school board just cut the budget and all non-essential programs have to go. No more Teen Line after tomorrow! I wonder if it truly had to do with the fact that everyone but Melissa gave the worst advice to everyone.

Back at the MAX, Kathy walks in and runs to Melissa. She has a date! Melissa made a difference, you guys. I bet Kathy and her date ended up getting married.

Everyone tries to think of a way to solve the financial problem. The Teen Line obviously works, and everyone really believes in it. I wonder what Kelly and Jessie think. Wait – where are they?

Slater runs in and says his basketball practice ran late. Melissa asks him about it and mentions that she plays basketball every day in her driveway. “Can you dunk?” Screech asks. The audience awkwardly laughs, since Melissa is in a wheelchair.

Zack says that the perfect Teen Line fundraiser would be wheelchair basketball. And within a day, Bayside’s first Wheelchair Basketball game is underway! So, is putting on this fundraiser more or less expensive than a few phone lines?

Screech mentions to Zack that Tommy put some extra boosters on his chair – so he can go at super speeds! I want to pull Screech aside and be like, “Dude. Do you really think this kid has the capability of helping you out?” He seriously should just know by now.

About three minutes into the dull montage of hoops, Tommy manages to rocket Screech backward, outside of the auditorium.

After the game, Tori announces that they’ve raised enough money to keep the Teen Line open. Until next episode, at least. Zack hogs the mic and announces that the real All-Star of the game was Melissa, since she has to be in a wheelchair all the time. Classy maneuver, Zack.

Post-game and Pre-Wheelchair-Basketball-Dance, Tori, Zack, Lisa and Slater discuss how the game was a success and pretty soon Melissa decides to wheel down the hallway, avoiding her new friends. Zack asks what’s up and Melissa tells him straight-up that he doesn’t have to keep reminding the world that she’s handicapped.

“Maybe she’d rather be your friend than your cause,” Tori summarizes after Zack asks what “that was all about”.

At the dance, Tommy’s big brother comes back to claim him. After a full week, his Mom decided he was missed. Zack tries to make things right with Melissa, apologizing for the embarrassment. Melissa gives him a closing monologue about how she’s just an ordinary girl and capable of doing most things. She asks him to dance and before Zack can utter out “HOW CAN YOU DANCE?” Melissa shows him that it’s completely possible.

Lessons Learned: Just because someone is handicapped, it doesn’t mean they are incapable of everything, ZACK.

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