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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Saved By the Bell - Season Five
Saved By the Bell - Season Five
Lionsgate Home Entertainment // Unrated // July 19, 2005
List Price: $29.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Jeffrey Robinson | posted August 5, 2005 | E-mail the Author
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The Fifth Season

Saved By the Bell is an icon amongst teen sitcoms. The series sprouted from another sitcom that aired for one season on the Disney Channel, Good Morning, Miss Bliss. It is also responsible for two spin-off series, Saved By the Bell: The College Years and Saved By the Bell: The New Class. The DVD releases of Saved By the Bell have been a joint effort by NBC Video and Lions Gate Home Entertainment and they haven't been the most astounding box sets to ever hit the shelves. Prior to this season five box set, there were two other releases, with the first having seasons one and two and the second having seasons three and four. I have some personal issues with how these box sets were handled, which is mostly about the episode presentation order. The issue is fully discussed in a couple of paragraphs. Additionally, the first release had no extras, the second several audio commentaries, and this final release a dull featurette that they call a documentary. Overall, this final Saved By the Bell box set has some issues that might turn off all but the most hardcore fans of the series.

For those who are unfamiliar with the show, it is a teen sitcom about several students at Bayside High School. They include Zack, the preppie pretty boy, Screech, the geeky friend who is oblivious to the obvious, A. C. Slater, the jock with a heart, Kelly, the prissy beauty you can't help but love, Jessie, the smart and beautiful feminist, and Lisa, the rich gossip hound. In several thirty minute episodes, the group gets into one crazy situation after the other, all of which end with a lovely moral lesson. Most of the stories follow Zack coming up with some scheme that he or his friends will profit from and on the way, someone else gets hurt. Of course, he/they always realizes what their transgressions and try to correct it. On more than one occasion, their principal Mr. Belding gets sucked into it. For more details about this series please refer to my season 3 & 4 review.

Like many, I grew up watching Saved By the Bell. While the episodes are a bit out there and the characters are a little corny, I still used to really enjoy them. I regarded the series as a great blend of comedy and drama. Sometimes there was even romance, mystery, and action! Saved By the Bell was always on my favorite's list. It was the perfect teen sitcom. Unfortunately, I have found the show lacks the same strong appeal. Besides filling an occasional moment of nostalgia, I don't really see anything special about Saved By the Bell. The characters and their corny actions and the way some of the stories develop are so surreal and unrealistic it's hard to stomach. Saved By the Bell just doesn't have the same appeal for me. The characters and the stories are both a bit too much for me to handle.

Another annoyance I have with this series is the way the episodes are supplied. I prefer my TV on DVD episodes to be presented in a chronological order. This way, if anything happens in one episode, it will make sense to me when there are future references to it. Generally TV on DVD releases are presented in their production date or air date. In most cases, this preserves the chronological order, at least to some extent. However, in the case of Saved By the Bell, it does not. The episodes are presented by their original air date, which was out of production order. The majority of the episodes (22/24) in this box set occur during the cast's senior year of high school. Except the episodes "The Video Yearbook" and "Snow White and the Seven Dorks" occur when the characters were in their sophomore year.

Furthermore, episodes are out of chronological order because they were produced that way. For instance, near the end of the series' production an episode "The Best Summer of My Life" was made. It is basically a recap episode of how Zack, Slater, Screech, Kelly, Jessie, and Lisa spent their summer (before senior year) at the Malibu Sands resort. Because of the nature of the episode, it would have made a good precursor to the senior year episodes, especially since it happens during the first day of senior year. Of course, in this box set, it is the fourth to last episode and it feels really out of place.

Following the issue of consistency and continuity, there are a number of episodes where both Kelly and Jessie are not present. In their place is a new girl Tori. It is slightly annoying because the episodes with Kelly and Jessie are mixed with the episodes with Tori. In one Tori episode, Zack and Tori are dating. In the next, he's chasing after some random girl, or in a later episode Zack and Tori aren't dating and then in another episode they are dating, etc. Small issues like these bothered me quite a bit.

Of course, if you can get by the episodes feeling out of place and aren't put off by the series' overly corny tone, then Saved By the Bell can be a little fun. The episodes aren't horrible, but they aren't great either. Overall, I think this box set is best reserved for the die hard fans. And if you are looking to fight bouts of nostalgia, renting this set wouldn't be a bad idea.

Episode Guide
1. The Fight
2. Student Teacher Week
3. Screech's Spaghetti Sauce
4. The New Girl
5. The Bayside Triangle
6. Teen Line
7. Masquerade Ball
8. Day of Detention
9. Wresting with the Future
10. Drinking and Driving
11. Class Rings
12. Love Machine
13. Isn't It Romantic?
14. The Will
15. The Teacher's Strike
16. Slater's Sister
17. The Senior Prom
18. The Video Yearbook
19. Snow White and the Seven Dorks
20. Earthquake
21. The Best Summer of My Life
22. School Song
23. Graduation
24. Time Capsule

The DVD

Video:
This release is given in its original television aspect ratio of 1.33:1 full frame color. Like the past two DVD releases for this series, the video quality is not great. The picture tends to be fairly rough and there are noticeable compression artifacts, which leaves the picture looking very grainy. Colors look okay, but skin tones and darks look off.

Audio:
The audio in this box set release is presented in English 2.0 Dolby digital stereo sound. The audio track is fairly flat, but this is due to the track being dialogue driven, although music does come off fairly rich. The track does not really take advantage of the stereo setup, as there is very little distinction with channel separation. Overall it sounds adequate for the needs of this release. This release also supports closed captioning.

Extras:
The only extra included with this box set is a short featurette called The First of Its Class: From Sit-Com to Icon, which runs for almost fifteen minutes. In it, we hear from individuals like Peter Engel (producer of Saved By the Bell), Carl Kurlander (writer/producer of Saved By the Bell: The New Class), Ellen Seiter (SC Professor, School of Cinema), and even a few fans. They express opinions and thoughts about the beginnings of the show, why it was a success, etc. I found the featurette was pretty dry and had very little entertainment value.

Final Thoughts:
Saved By the Bell is one of many television shows I grew up watching. I have many fond memories of watching Zack, Screech, Slater, Kelly, Jessie, and Lisa get into hot water. However, the show's goofy characters, corny and unrealistic tone provide very little in terms of entertainment. I am also put off by how the episodes are presented out chronological order. In the end, I think this box set is best reserved for the die hard fans. Everyone else should consider renting this box set. It has very little to offer over past season releases.

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