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DVD Review: ‘Saved by the Bell: The Complete Collection’

Shout! Factory recently released Saved by the Bell: The Complete Collection. The 16-disc collection covers all the iterations of the series that starred Mark-Paul Gosselaar and Dustin Diamond (along with various other actors at different points), as well as quite a few bonus features. It is available now.

Legacy

As a child, this was one of my favorite shows, watching re-runs whenever I could, and it still evokes very warm feelings. So the release of the series on DVD makes me extremely happy. I’m sure plenty of others in my generation will feel the same way.

To some, Saved by the Bell was an iconic series in its day. It was very popular, and it tackled serious issues. Sure, it could also be pretty cheesy and fell into the trap of obvious tropes, including its love triangle elements.

The Collection

This is not the first DVD release for this classic, ’90s, Saturday morning comedy series, but it is the most comprehensive, best. Past DVD releases featured out-of-order and missing episodes. The Complete Collection includes all four seasons. The episode order, though not the original broadcast order, makes more sense for the show’s narrative. The DVD set also includes all of Good Morning, Miss Bliss starring Hayley Mills, which was packaged with SBTB in syndication (basically everything except the original pilot); the full season of Saved by the Bell: The College Years, and the two television movies Hawaiian Style and Wedding in Las Vegas.

It’s very satisfying to have all of these combined into a single collection. If you were a fan of Mr. Belding (Dennis Haskins), Zack (Gosselaar), and Screech (Diamond), it’s nice to see them, along with Lisa (Lark Voorhies) and some other kids, in Junior High in the Good Morning, Miss Bliss season. Granted, there is no explanation as to how and why the four characters suddenly relocated from Indianapolis, Indiana to Bayside, California for high school. But Zack, Screech, Lisa, and Mr. Belding are the same people in a new setting for the next four seasons, titled Saved by the Bell

After that, continuity stays pretty consistent through the main show and beyond. The trio of students are joined by others, most notably Slater (Mario Lopez), Jessie (Elizabeth Berkley), and Kelly (Tiffany-Amber Thiessen). Their story continues into college (The College Years) and the post-high school TV movies. For this set, episodes have been re-ordered to make sense, as they sometimes aired out-of-order, and that also helps viewers follow the story.

Extras

This Saved by the Bell  DVD Collection includes a ton of bonus features. There’s a ‘making of’ and a retrospective documentary. A couple of featurettes tackle the music of the show. Some shorts focus on the legacy of the program and Saturday morning television in general. There are a few (less valuable) photo galleries. Plus, audio commentaries. As if often the case, the longer featurettes are a better perk than the photos, and the commentaries are nice, but leave me wanting more. Which is typical for such releases. Best of all, and more of a rarity with similar DVD collection is a booklet to guide viewers through the huge amount of material in the set. The booklet provides explanations for choices made, appreciated transparency to the process of putting this together.

What’s Missing

What the collection does not include is the seven-season spin-off, Saved by the Bell: The New Class, which combined Screech and Mr. Belding with a rotating group of new students. But The New Class was never as well-regarded as the original. And unlike everything mentioned above, did not really go together with what came before it. The missing pilot for Good Morning, Miss Bliss is more disappointing, but the same rights that left it out of the syndication deal likely made it too complicated to get for this, too. And really, that being the only notable exclusion, The Complete Collection feels pretty… well, complete.

Conclusion

Saved by the Bell: The Complete Series is a terrific way to remember the show. The collection is reasonably priced. Which makes sense, given its lack of high-def update and the cheap selling-off of other shows of the same era. I appreciate this much effort was made to preserve a piece of TV history, and look forward to reliving all the best moments, from Bayside and beyond.

Saved by the Bell: The Complete Series is available now.

About JeromeWetzelTV

Jerome is the creator and writer of It's All Been Done Radio Hour, a modern scripted live comedy show and podcast in the style of old-timey radio serials, and the founder of the Columbus-based entertainment network, IABDPresents. He is also the Chief Television Critic for Seat42F.com and a long-time contributor for Blogcritics. Plus, he works fiction into his space time. Visit http://iabdpresents.com for more of his work.

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