Saturday, December 1, 2012

Yuletide TV Day 1: Saved By the Bell

Photo Courtesy of Wikipedia
Series: Saved by the Bell

Episode: "Home for Christmas (Parts 1 & 2)"

Original airdate: December 7 and 14, 1991

Santa? Mall Santa and Zack Morris Santa

Other holidays mentioned: None

Availabilty: Netflix

Unique Christmas Story:
To kick off the festivities I'd like to go back to simpler time. It was called the 90's, and it is where I spent about half of my life so far. It was a time of boundless, and no show encapsulated that better than Saved by the Bell.

But in it's two-part Christmas episode "Home for the Holidays" Saved by the Bell forgoes classic sitcom tropes, like trying to find the right gift for a loved one, and decides to take on a serious social issue, the homeless.

Christmas is a time of giving and charity and it is these principles of the season, not the over hyped commercial ones, that this episode tries to stress.

It begins innocently enough with the gang all hanging out at the mall over their Christmas break, either working to make a little extra cash, or shopping for gifts. Each character has their own minor problem they are dealing with. Slater is wrapping gifts, but he isn't very good at it. Jessie is working at the Santa photo booth and dealing with annoying kids. Kelly is working at a clothing store for a cranky boss, and Zack literally runs into a girl who then disappears into the mall. Oh, and Screech is Screech and Kelly is off helping kids at the hospital. (The biggest disappointment of this episode is that Mr. Belding does not appear, but Santa can't grant every Christmas wish.)

The episode takes a turn from trivial to serious when Zack and Screech encounter a homeless man shaving in the mall bathroom. There are a surprising number of off-color jokes about the homeless in this two-parter, but that's perhaps part of the genius of this episode.

Saved by the Bell is about six affluent teens whose biggest concerns are who to take to prom and how they can scrounge up enough money for a car. One of the points that keeps getting hammered in this episode is the fact that these kids have never met any homeless people before. "Home for Christmas" may make a lot of cheap jokes at the expense of the homeless, but its heart is always in the right place.

Most of the episode is focused on Zack, as it is later revealed that (spoiler) the girl he is looking for is actually the daughter of the homeless man he and Screech had met earlier. Zack and his friends then take it upon themselves to help the man and his daughter have a Merry Christmas.

Overall, the episode is a little trite and a good portion of the second part of the two-parter is devoted to one of the worst stagings of "A Christmas Carol" I have ever seen. Nevertheless, this is a great episode to start getting into the Christmas spirit. It has shopping, familiar Christmas stories and a good message of helping those in needs.

Unique Christmas message:
Now is good time to start changing misguided views about others by listening to what they have to say.

I take a look at another show about teenage kids hanging out at the mall and dealing with the homeless.

Watch this episode and hit the comments to share your thoughts.

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