By launching its new Saturday morning sitcom, "Saved by the Bell," with three prime-time airings--Sunday at 8:30 p.m., Aug. 28 and Sept. 8--NBC hopes to build an audience for the show's regular run, which begins Sept. 9.
It would have been wiser to let this one tiptoe into its Saturday morning time slot unsung and unheralded.
Meet six, cutesy, cardboard teens at a fictional California high school. There's Screech the nerd (Dustin Diamond), Slater the jock (Mario Lopez), Kelly the class queen (Tiffani-Amber Thiessen), Lisa the airhead (Lark Voorhies) and Jessie the intellectual (Elizabeth Berkley).
Zack (Mark-Paul Gosselaar) is the star. He occasionally addresses the audience directly. This is not an inspired innovation.
The owner of the local teen hangout, "The Max," does magic tricks. The would-be-hip principal and the few teachers who are in evidence are fools.
It might work if it was all done with no-holds-barred campiness, a la Nickelodeon's "You Can't Do That on Television." But this is "message" TV.