5-star show gets imperfect DVD treatment...but IT'S ALRIGHT
ALF | Melmac | 09/05/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"What young person can't remember spending their Saturday mornings watching the adventures of Zack and company at Bayside High on NBC's "Saved By The Bell"? Those who cannot perhaps have fond memories of watching the show in its popular syndicated airings on TBS. It's tough to stumble across anyone between the ages of 15 and 30 who hasn't seen most episodes and many more than once. If you're reading this, chances are you too remember the fun adventures high school provided for Zack, Slater, Screech, Kelly, Jessie, Lisa and their principal Mr. Belding in this excellent late '80s/early '90s sitcom.With TV series as popular as they now are on DVD, and with this show relegated to early morning and lunch hour airings (inconvenient for most), what better time to release the first two seasons of "Saved By The Bell" to DVD?This 5-disc set from Lions Gate Entertainment contains the first 33 episodes of "Saved By The Bell." The season that preceded the years at Bayside - "Good Morning Miss Bliss" (sometimes referred to as "Saved By The Bell: The Junior High Years" on TBS) - is unfortunately NOT included here. That series, which made its debut on The Disney Channel in 1988 and ran for 13 episodes, will hopefully be released at some point in the future. In addition to star Hayley Mills in the title role, the series featured four "SBTB" regulars. Although it differed in tone from the series that became such a hit and revolutionized the Saturday morning lineup, it is quite enjoyable in its own right, and very much deserves to be released to DVD.The 33 episodes that are included are arranged by airdate, not production order, which essentially means you should watch the episode "King of the Hill" (which is on Disc 3) first - it's the pilot of this series and is about the first day of school when Zack meets Slater). Other than that, there aren't any noticeable continuity issues watching the episodes the way they are arranged.Some of my favorite episodes in this set:
"The Gift" (Screech is struck by lightning and can see the future),
"Rent-a-Pop" (Zack gets James the actor/waiter to impersonate his father so he can go on a ski trip),
"Aloha, Slater" (Zack convinces the gang that Slater is dying so he'll move to Hawaii),
"Save the Max" (The old Bayside radio station is rediscovered and put to use),
"Running Zack" (Zack actually does research for a school assignment)I do have a few minor quibbles. Even though there is space in the package for a booklet, there is none - so, there are no descriptions of the episodes, which might make it challenging for those who don't know all the episodes by title alone. Speaking of the package, be careful when peeling the sticker off the top. For some reason, it was placed right on top of the cardboard box instead of the plastic wrapping, so unless you're skillful (or some have suggested, have a hair dryer handy to heat the sticker), you're liable to take off some of the top of the front cover off when opening.Another minor annoyance is that there are no chapter stops within the episodes, so you'll have to scan to get to a specific scene. It would have been nice (and easy) for chapter stops to have been included where commercial breaks would be, a practice common with most other studios.Video quality is mostly fine, but a few of the earliest-produced episodes look worse than they probably should - lacking the sharpness of broadcast quality. The overwhelming majority looks okay, but they won't blow you away or anything. (It's probably unreasonable to expect they would.) Audio quality is also less-than-perfect (the volume level sometimes seems inconsistent), but listening at a reasonable volume, this is a non-issue.As for supplemental material, this set gets a zero. As others have stated in their comments, the show certainly has potential for some nice bonus features. Naturally, I don't expect a 2-hour making-of documentary, but there are little things that would have been nice to include. Like the cast's other NBC TV appearances, or even NBC's "The More You Know" sequences featuring the cast members that every major teen idol seems to have done at one point. There is the strong "E! True Hollywood Story" special that aired last December, which would be nice to include.And chances are, some of the cast would participate in DVD bonus features, had they been approached, which they were not according to Mario Lopez. (Dustin Diamond, Dennis Haskins, and Peter Engel partook in interviews for the E! special; surely, they would have been interested in contributing to the DVDs.)I look forward to DVD releases for the rest of the show, plus the one-season runs of "Good Morning, Miss Bliss" and "The College Years", and the two made-for-television movies. Hopefully, some improvements will be made, and we'll see more "Saved By The Bell" DVDs released shortly, and with bonus features.Still, in spite of these quibbles, I still give this box set 5 stars because of the show itself. Almost of the episodes are excellent, as the deal with real issues that affect high schoolers in a skewed-for-comedy fashion. The show never really took things too seriously and when it did (for instance, Jessie's now-famous struggle with caffeine pills or the Season 4 opener in which Zack and Slater went fisticuffs), it provided even more laughs. "Saved By The Bell" is a one-of-a-kind sitcom and remains extremely funny over a decade later. If only high school really was like Bayside."
My favorite TV show ever, but...
Ham Sammich | Columbus, OH United States | 09/03/2003
(3 out of 5 stars)
"I need to start out by saying that there are few people in the universe more qualified than I am to write this review. This has been my favorite show since it was broadcast on Saturday mornings. When I saw that the DVD was available, I almost had a heart attack and bought it right up. I don't mean to sound like a DVD nerd, this series is very important to me and I have to say I was disappointed.First, the positives. It's Saved By the Bell, which makes the collection more priceless than gold and I thought it was very considerate of them to pack two seasons on to one boxed set. As a grizzled veteran of the Simpsons DVDs, I found this very nice. The price is also pretty amazing. It comes on 5 discs and has (almost) all of the episodes from seasons 1 and 2.Unfortunately, I find several things dissatisfying about the collection. While I don't regret buying it, I wish the distributors would have spent a little more time putting the collection together. The packaging is very cheap and flimsy. When you try to remove the security label on the top of the box, the box tears off with it. Also the spine is very fragile in the fold-out and will tear easily. I am very careful with my DVD boxes and had a few close calls from handling it the first time.Related is the fact that there are NO SPECIAL FEATURES!!!! I find this absurd. What would be better than a grown-up Dustin Diamond providing voice-over commentary?! They totally missed the boat on this one. There are myriad tidbits they could have included, but didn't. TV spots? None. The True Hollywood Story? Sorry. A cast photo gallery? No way. Not even the cheap stuff! This was the most disappointing absent feature on the DVDs.Finally, and this isn't really disappointing, more confusing than anything, but they didn't include the pilot episode on the first season discs. Why? I understand that it isn't technically part of the first season, but in spirit it is. Additionally, the Good Morning, Miss Bliss episodes aren't included either. Logic seems to dictate that they won't release it or it will come out later...which means we'll have to buy another season on its own.So I suggest that any die-hard fan like myself take the plunge and invest in the collection, if only to reliably have the "entire" series in case they take the show out of syndication. I also want to stress that the 3-star rating has nothing to do with the quality of the show. That would be six stars out of five. But don't expect anything too fancy, or else you'll be sourly disappointed like I am."
Strictly for the Fans
S. R. | USA | 09/03/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This DVD collection features 33 episodes packed onto 5 discs. The episodes are in order by air date and not production order, so some of the episodes don't make sense continuity wise. For instance, the actual first episode filmed called "King of the Hill" (where Zack first meets Slater) appears as episode 15 on the third disc. The picture quality is not quite as sharp as some other TV shows on DVD, but this is understandable as it was shot in the early 90s and for a Saturday morning crowd no less. The sound is Dolby 2.0 stereo, which is also what one would expect from such a set. Unfortunately, there are no bonus features on any of the discs. Any hopes of at least seeing some Saturday morning promos for the show or interviews are lost. There aren't even any chapter stops to allow for direct access to certain scenes in an episode. Instead, the only option is to simply skip to the next episode. The experience of watching this DVD set is not unlike that of playing VHS tapes; just pop in a DVD and the episodes play one after another. People who have come to expect extras on DVDs will be sorely disappointed, but hardcore fans of the show will undoubtedly savor every minute of this campy series that's always in session."
Missing the "real" season 1
Lori Kaminsky | AZ | 01/18/2004
(3 out of 5 stars)
"I expected, that season 1 & 2 would be this season with Miss Bliss and the following season. Sadly, this set skips what I think of as the first season.
I realize from other reviews that what I thought was season 1, was actually another show. I'm not surprised, as this season was different, but in the re-runs of Saved By the Bell, it is included, referred to as Saved By the Bell, and has an opening theme song to the show and everything.
To whomever is releasing this series, please release the season preceding these."
I Feel Puzzled.....
Ryan Bonnar | 11/24/2004
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Well, being a fan of the Saved by the Bell High School television series, I couldn't wait to get my hands on all of the episodes from the first and second seasons of the show... I'm a little disappointed! The first season was great, all the episodes were there, and they played well. But, when it comes to the second season.... there are some problems! EVERYTHING IS OUT OF ORDER! Only about 10 or so episodes from the second season are there! and one of the second season episodes is found in the first season! I also purchased the 3 & 4 season DVD, which is where the rest of the second season episodes are located! So, that means that most of the third season isn't there either! But that's another complaint for the other set! So, obviously the people over at NBC didn't know what the heck they were doing, and just slapped everything together..... On the back of the 1 & 2 box set, it says that enclosed is the COMPLETE FIRST and SECOND SEASON! So, I feel ripped-off......"