I was always a fan of Saved by the Bell. I have the entirety of the show’s episodes on DVD and even a poster of AC Slater on my wall. I once met Dustin Diamond and had him sign my t-shirt of Screech, and I even started the little-known Belding’s Bulletin Board, a message board for fans to interact. The show about several rambunctious youths getting into all kinds of mischievous pranks really hits my funny bone even though I’m almost 40.
When I say I’m a fan, I mean that I go out of my way to collect everything saved by the bell related. When I heard there was a lost missing episode of the much-touted retro TV series, I knew I had to get my hands on it, whatever the cost. I muddled around Ebay digging for episodes of the show. I pawned some of my paraphernalia regarding the show including a mug with a picture of a bell on it and various jackets with Lisa Turtle’s head embroidered on them.
I began to get a little concerned when I noticed one item kept appearing on ebay for 0.01 cent and being removed with FREE SHIPPING attached to the title. “LOST EPISODE OF SAVED BY THE BELL” in all caps would show up, I’d click the link and it would be removed. I spent a good 45 minutes diligently refreshing until I finally was able to nab the link and place the bid. The reserve had been set at two cents and I had won the bid immediately. The buyer instantly sent me an email requesting payment and sent me a smiley emoticon.
Concerned, I thought nothing of it, thinking it was probably a 4channer playing a prank on a dedicated fan by using tracking cookies to watch my activity. A week later, a VHS shaped box came in the mail. It turned out it was a lost VHS episode of Saved by the Bell. So I had won the bid. The words “asinus asinum fricat” were written in marker on the front of the VHS slipcase, which means “To the buyer beware” in Latin. It appeared to be a real VHS created by the show’s producers.
My hands began to tremble as I saw what looked like a shadowy skull embedded in the background of the slipcase. I read the synopsis. “It’s a hullaballoo of fun as Lisa Turtle and Kelly Kapowski get into more than a barrel of monkey of fun during their clown presentation at Bayside High!” There was a grainy picture of Dustin Diamond in a monkey suit crying with a black eye.
I put the VHS into the VHS player, and pressed play, but the VHS wouldn’t start. It was just a black screen. I fumbled around with the cables in the back, struggling to connect the red and white wires when I realized it was playing- a faint outline of someone was smiling in the dark.
For a full five minutes, I stared at the image, trying to figure out what I was looking at. And then light poured in to show that Mr. Belding had been smiling alone in his office. He was the principal of the school. He had a beard and looked slightly unkempt and dirty. Maybe even a little tussled. Well, I assumed this was just some weird outtake and the high school shenanigans I knew and loved would soon begin. He had a picture of Kelly Kapowski in a picture frame which he quickly shoved in his desk and then went over to the door slamming it shut.
The film clip cut off and then I heard the outro music play as we cut to the hallway where the kids usually did their shenanigans. Zack Morris opens his locker and a plastic skeleton falls out. Lisa Turtle screams! “The prank was a huge success!” he laughs. Mr. Belding walks in very angry. “Stop stealing the school skeletons!” He yells. He picks up the skeleton and carries it off into the janitor’s closet and locks the door tightly.
I assumed this wasn’t a typical Saved by the Bell episode. Perhaps a Halloween episode that never aired. The audience wasn’t laughing, but they were there. You could hear them breathing, sighing and coughing. Zack looks at the camera, breaking the fourth wall. “Mr. Belding thinks he can stop my little skeleton prank, but I’ll show him.” He smiled. He opens his locker and takes out a Smith and Wesson .45 with loaded bullets in the chamber. The audio plays that “dilemma” sounding music before cutting to the next scene. Was that it? That scene was only sixty seconds. And never in the history of the Saved by the Bell program has gun violence in high schools been addressed. I assumed this must have been an episode about proper gun control. I mean it had to be, otherwise something strange was going on…
There’s a shot of Mr. Belding in “The Max”, the café where the kids often ate. He looks rather sinister, and he’s doing something in the kitchen area before he runs off mischievously. The shot just sits still and the camera seems more steady as the students enter. They all order milkshakes. As they drink their milkshakes, Screech enters wearing a monkey suit. “Well this is no barrel of monkeys or barrel of fun!” He says, but the audience doesn’t laugh even though that’s supposed to be funny. AC Slater, the school tough guy, seems enraged. “That’s not funny you little prick.” He says, rather bluntly. He starts to flex his muscles.
Screech primes himself for a comedic rebuttle. "Slater, you’ve got an appointment with fate, and fate’s got curly hair.” He lifts his little spaghetti arm and Slater punches him in the face. Screech bursts into tears and falls over crying and screaming as the severe trauma to the head seems to have caused a slight concussion. He rolls over to his side and you can see blood pouring from his nose. Using one arm, he lifts up Screech and slams him into the table. Slater dances around the room and the crowd cheers him on. He slams Screech’s head onto the elevated part of the floor where the show’s set would end. “Time to clean the floor you little fucking brillo sponge!” Slater laughs, and curb stomps him. Screech’s neck is clearly broken, he’s just laying there in a pile of his own blood unconscious while the audience continues to cheer. It’s odd how well the effects were done, you could see not only blood but pieces of his brain and cartilage flowing out of his nose.
“Someone call a paramedic!” Jessie Spano yelled. But it was too late. Screech was dead. “I bet he’ll come back as a zombie.” Slater laughed. “You know what they say about nerds. They’re obsessed with calculators and the only protection they need is a pocket protector if you catch my drift.” Slater laughs. Slater dances around the room while party music plays. “Alright you lame ass niggas I’m out of here.” He picks up a chair and smashes it through the window and leaves.
All of a sudden, Zack Morris walks in. He grabs the milkshakes they’re drinking and throws them on the floor. “Don’t drink them!” Zack yells. “Mr. Belding poisoned them!” Mr. Belding walks in. He’s clean, tidy and not at all disheveled looking. He walks over to screech’s dead body which is surrounded by flies. “Well, we’ve had our fun and games today, kids. But I want to talk to you about a serious issue. School bullying is no laughing matter. Every year, millions of people are bullied. They’re bullied by time, by fate, by oppression. The things that we cling to for comfort can become shackles that hold us down. Years fly by decades at a time, and one day you look in the mirror and you’re looking back at some old, toothless balding face you don’t even recognize.” He leans back as a panel in the roof breaks and a skeleton falls out. “Zack Morris!”
He yells angrily. He runs over but trips on the puddle of Screech’s blood and falls over.
He clings to the skeleton as Zack runs in carrying the loaded gun. Zack looks at the camera and talks to it. “Don’t listen to him! Gun violence is necessary when you’re dealing with…THE DEVIL!” Mr. Belding’s eyes became blood red due to color changing contact lenses in all likelihood and the set caught on fire as something in the kitchen exploded. Mr. Belding hissed and hissed and the set began to crackle and pop. You could hear the studio audience trying to flee as there’s obviously real smoke from the fire pouring in. As the set burned away, Zack pulled the trigger on his gun and shot mister Belding several times, creating bloody hole marks that bullets passed through.
Screech gets up, his monkey costume frayed, still bleeding with a cracked jaw. “Well, I may be bananas, but at least I didn’t come to the party dressed as swiss cheese!” The first funny joke. The audience laughed rather loudly but they were still trying to escape the fire. They all fell on the floor as smoke from the fire filled their lungs and presumably they all died. You could still hear screaming, but it seemed the set was locked from the inside, and they all burned to death.
I thought it was over. I was certain it was. The episode wasn’t about bullying, or teenage pregnancy, or rape, or even gun control. It was about fire safety. The last shot was just of a more empty hallway with just a few students. Some memorial with flowers had been set up around the back wall near Mr. Belding’s office. Ac Slater walked into the hallway with glee. He talks to the camera. “You know, kids. It’s always important to know not to mix sugar alcohol in milkshakes with oxidizing agents such as Ammonium peroxydisulfate, which is found in common household cleaners. The combination could be dangerous, or even fatal, especially when the insular asbestos lining of a kitchen café is highly flammable.” He smiles. “And it’s especially important not to do so in a café that’s embedded deep within a portion of an old school that doesn’t have properly installed fire exits. Or fire alarms. But it’s alright.” He smiled. “Because I’m saved by the bell.”
“Now if you excuse me.” He smiled wider. “I’m gonna show these ladies how to practice some real gun control.” He flexes his muscles and dances next to several skeletons that have been propped up in the hallway. He starts to dance, sway and gyrate on the memorial gravesite as the outro music plays.