By Kevin Wilson: Freedom Newspapers
It was a late Tuesday night, and I was winding down with a little bit of television. There was nothing good on HBO, so I decided to see what was happening on Cartoon Network.
I was able to catch the last few minutes of a “Family Guy” episode from the pre-cancellation era, when they didn’t throw together shows by taking old episodes of “The Simpsons” and adding interchangeable pop culture jokes that have nothing to do with the show, so that was good.
After the “Family Guy” episode ended, it was time for another cartoon, right? Right?? Right???
No, no and no. The next show was “Saved by the Bell.”
For those of you who don’t know, “Saved by the Bell” was a work in progress by NBC. Its history began in 1987 as a heartwarming show about the good that a junior high teacher could do called, “Good Morning, Miss Bliss.”
Two years in, the actress playing Miss Bliss left the show and it was refocused as a story of Bayside High School students Zach Morris (played by Mark Paul Gosselar) and his nerdy friend Screech (Dustin Diamond). Other characters added for eye candy purposes were Tiffani Amber-Thiessen (as prom queen Kelly Kapowski) and Mario Lopez (as jock A.C. Slater).
(It was also a chance to get a first glimpse at the gorgeous Leah Remini, who played Stacey Carosi, a summer love interest of Zach. Eventually, Remini ended up on CBS, playing the wife of a moderately employed, reasonably funny stocky guy named Kevin. Speaking from that position myself, I’d have to say that I’ll need a miracle to have Leah Remini as my wife.)
“Saved by the Bell” had some humor here and there, and it had the “very special episode” incidents, which would usually include a character dying of drunken driving or drug abuse (even though the character was introduced in the same episode).
Did I watch Saved by the Bell as a kid? Yes. Do I like it being on Cartoon Network? No.
It doesn’t belong there for the simple reason that it’s not a cartoon.
When a network names itself after cartoons, that’s what it should deliver. What next, Country Music Television giving a day-long tribute to Earth, Wind and Fire? How about the Game Show Network showing Days of Our Lives? Or ESPN putting out a fictional series about poker players … sorry, bad example.
Maybe some will justify Cartoon Network’s decision by saying the show has a certain cartoon logic, like the rules of real life didn’t apply to “Saved by the Bell.” Best friends never broke it off for good despite the fact that everybody dated everybody else (except Screech, who got turned down just about every time). A. C. Slater was somehow able to be a part of Bayside’s football, wrestling, track, baseball, swim and soccer teams and still go to the local diner every afternoon.
I say a cartoon requires more than just odd logic, and a live action show like “Saved by the Bell” should not be on a network that claims to be dedicated to animation. Maybe we can save Cartoon Network from becoming to cartoons what MTV is to music or KFC is to chicken.
I can take a night of boring television, but I’m not sure I want it to lie to me as well.
Kevin Wilson writes for Freedom Newspapers of New Mexico. He can be reached at 461-1952 or by e-mail: