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Saved by the Bell: The New Class

Saved by the Bell: The New Class is the long-running spin-off of the popular Saved by the Bell series which ran from September 11, 1993 to January 8, 2000. The series lasted for seven seasons on NBC as a part of the network's TNBC Saturday morning line-up. It was the fourth incarnation of the popular franchise (the first being Good Morning, Miss Bliss).

The show had the same concept as the original series but featured a new group of students now roaming the halls of the fictional Bayside High School. Mr. Belding played by Dennis Haskins remained as the school's principal. Many of the stories were recycled plots of its parent series. The first season cast included Robert Sutherland Telfer, Jonathan Angel, Isaac Lidsky, Natalia Cigliuti, Bianca Lawson, and Bonnie Russavage. Unlike the original series, which featured very few major cast changes throughout its run, The New Class regularly changed its core cast with Mr. Belding being the only constant factor.

Cast

Scott Erickson, played by Robert Sutherland Telfer, is the school's schemer in the mold of his predecessor, Zack Morris. He is also a transfer student from rival Valley High School. As Zack had done in the original series, Scott broke the "fourth wall" by addressing the audience. Early episodes featured Scott vying for the affection of Lindsay, the girlfriend of the school's jock, "Tommy D" in a manner very similar to the original series early rivalry between Zach and Slater for the affections of Kelly.

Thomas "Tommy D" De Luca, played by Jonathan Angel, is the jock of the gang, and was similar to A.C. Slater. He is the star quarterback for Bayside High's football team. He and Lindsay are a stable couple despite Lindsay being involved in every school organization and Tommy's macho behavior towards Scott.

Barton "Weasel" Wyzell, played by Isaac Lidsky, is the nerdiest kid in school. Weasel befriends Scott from the start and even tags along when Scott devises many of his schemes. He tends to be the successor of the original series' Screech. He and Lindsay have been best friends since pre-school and he has a huge crush on Megan, which much like Screech's crush on Lisa, was not reciprocated.

Lindsay Warner, played by Natalia Cigliuti, is the most popular girl at Bayside High. She is essentially a succesor to Kelly Kapowski. She is involved in every school organization. She is also the love interest for Tommy D. She's bubbly and cheery, and usually hangs with her best friends Megan and Vicki.

Megan Jones, played by Bianca Lawson, is the show's "brain" or over-achiever. She is one of the smartest students in school and doesn't let anyone forget it either. Like Weasel and Lindsay, Megan is Vicki's best friend and is usually the voice of reason to the neurotic Vicki. A reoccurring gag in the series is her many attempts to avoid Weasel's unrequited love for her. Her character is a combination of the original series Lisa Turtle and Jessie Spano.

Vicki Needleman, played by Bonnie Russavage, is the neurotic best friend of Megan. She is a cheerleader and develops a crush on Scott. The character was supposed to be a successor to the original series' "Jessie" but has no precedent in the original series.

During an NBC repeat of Saved by the Bell: Hawaiian Style [August 7-September 11], the commercial breaks featured original segments, set in Bayside High School and The Max, where the cast of the original series and the cast of the first season of The New Class met and talked with each other. These segments were a "passing of the torch" type of story. Also present were Dennis Haskins as Principal Richard Belding and Bob Golic as the resident advisor from Cal-U. One segment involved Zack and Scott in the school hallway, where Zack gives Scott a list pertaining to Mr. Belding to cause trouble for him. Mr. Belding overhears this and takes the list away, joyfully triumphant at outsmarting Zack. After he walks away, Zack hands Scott "the real list."

Major cast changes

The show was notorious for its cast changes. Each season featured one to three cast changes. The constant changes made it confusing for new viewers who were not watching the show from the start as cast members would come and go without any real explanation.

After the initial criticism of the first season of The New Class as essentially being a poor copy of the original series, the producers changed a number of elements of the show for the second season. Robert Sutherland Telfer, Isaac Lidsky, and Bonnie Russavage were all fired. Three new characters were introduced for the 1994-95 season. Brian Keller (Christian Oliver) became the new transfer student from Switzerland, Bobby Wilson (Spankee Rodgers) was the newest cool kid, and Rachel Meyers (Sarah Lancaster) was the school's fashion expert and shop-a-holic. Lancaster also appeared in a single episode as Rachel in the first season.

The writers also invited back original cast member Dustin Diamond as Screech for the show's second season, as he became available after the cancellation of Saved by the Bell: The College Years. Providing continuity, Screech returned to Bayside High to work as Mr. Belding's assistant as part of a work/study program and also help build a bridge between the two series. Screech ended up remaining for the rest of the show's run. Further, the show's sets were redesigned to change the appearance of Bayside from that of the original series and Mr. Belding was given a new office.

Prior to Season 3 cast members Bianca Lawson, Christian Oliver and Spankee Rogers left the show, and three new characters were brought on. Schemer Ryan Parker (Richard Lee Jackson), lively and outspoken cheerleader Maria Lopez (Samantha Becker), and fashion-conscious R.J. "Hollywood" Collins (Salim Grant) were transfers from Valley High School.

At the end of the third season, original cast members Natalia Cigliuti and Jonathan Angel had decided to move on to other projects. Salim Grant was also let go and did not return for the new season, beginning in September 1996. New cast members Ben Gould (Nicky Farina), Lindsey McKeon (Katie Peterson), and Anthony Harrell (Eric Little) joined the show for its fourth season. Gould played Ryan's step-brother from New York and was the love interest for Katie and later Maria. Katie was the newest "goody-goody" and Eric was the school's star football player.

Season 4 was Sarah Lancaster's final season and she was replaced in Season 5 by Ashley Lyn Cafagna as Liz Miller, a sheltered star of the school's swim team and is initially pursued by both step-brothers, Ryan and Nicky. Also, the gang's original hangout, The Max, was renovated for the new season after the original burnt down in the fourth season finale.

Season 6 followed and new cast member Tom Wade Huntington replaced Richard Lee Jackson as Tony Dillon, another Valley High transfer student and love interest for Maria. It was widely reported that Season 6 was in fact the final season for the series. In addition, NBC decided to prolong the series by splitting the number of episodes in half into another season (Season 7). These episodes had already been filmed at the same time as the sixth season and the cast remained the same. The gang were finally seniors and preparing for graduation while Mr. Belding received a job offer from University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. Mr. Belding was the only cast member to stay for the show's entire run.

Notable episodes

  • Katie gets a job at a gym and her boss starts sexually harassing her.
  • Rachel dates a college guy and becomes the victim of abuse.
  • Lindsay decides to stop eating to look good for a dance contest.
  • Maria hangs out with some new friends and they convince her to smoke pot.
  • Tony tries to quit smoking cigars.
  • The Max burns down when Ryan forgets to turn off the Christmas lights.
  • Lindsay and Tommy D develop a smoking habit which results in Lindsay losing her job and Tommy D getting cut from the football team.
  • A land developer buys Bayside so he can tear it down and build condos. This episode also acted as a pseudo reunion episode, as Mario Lopez (A.C. Slater), Lark Voorhies (Lisa Turtle) and Mark-Paul Gosselaar (Zack Morris) all made cameo appearances to reunite with Dustin Diamond (Screech) & Dennis Haskins (Mr. Belding). Reference is also made to Kelly Kapowski-Morris, Zack's wife.
  • Katie develops an over-dependence to painkillers so she can compete in a swim meet despite a shoulder injury.
  • On a school sponsored ski trip, the gang go to a fraternity party, where Lindsay and Tommy D have a bit too much to drink. Then Tommy D takes off on a snowmobile and is later injured in an accident. (1994)
  • Katie fabricates a story for the school newspaper about the football team not doing their schoolwork. Mr. Belding finds out that the information is false and takes away her editorship of the paper. (1998)
  • In Tony's first episode, Maria thinks he has stood her up twice; she refuses to even hear any of his explanations for what happened. Instead, she spreads vicious rumors and lies about Tony; this results in him being fired from his new job (the interview for which ran overtime, making him miss his date with Maria) and getting seriously injured by his own angry football-teammates.

Episode list

Notable Guest Stars

DVD releases

Image Entertainment has released all seven seasons of Saved by the Bell: The New Class on DVD in Region 1.

DVD Name Ep # Release Date
Season 1 13 January 25 2005
Season 2 26 March 8 2005
Season 3 26 June 14 2005
Season 4 26 August 16 2005
Season 5 26 October 18 2005
Seasons 6 & 7 26 December 6 2005

External links

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