Saved By the Bell - The New Class Season 2 (1993) Review

Saved By the Bell - The New Class Season 2 (1993)
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First of all, I'm an adult and don't really watch shows like this anymore but I did watch this show growing up and am reviewing it from the perspective of someone who can view this series with the nostalgia factor working for it. If you didn't grow up watching this show (and I admit, there can't be many people interested in this product who didn't), stop reading now and DON'T buy this set.
Saved By the Bell was a cheesy teen show with mediocre to bad acting, lazy (sometimes preachy) writing, and storylines that were seldom believable. That being said, as a kid, there was something about the original Saved By the Bell that hooked you in. There was just something about it that made even the preachy stories entertaining and as a kid you never noticed that the acting was subpar.
But all good things (and in this case, mediocre things) must come to an end and when the original series ended, the producers looked for a way to milk the Saved By the Bell franchise for all it was worth. Enter The New Class.
The concept was relatively simple. Mr. Belding remains at Bayside High and a brand new group of students emerges to seek adventure and fun. The first season began with a group of new kids....but somehow these kids didn't seem so new. Basically, all of the characters from season one of The New Class (sans Vicki, who doesn't seem too similar to any of the original characers) were clones of characters from the original. Scott was the new Zach. Tommy D was the new (dumber) Slater, etc. Right from the start, it was clear to all concerned that something wasn't working. No one wanted to see recycled storylines with clones in place of the originals. And I don't think I'm alone in thinking that Tommy D and Lindsay were terrible actors, even by teen show standards.
So, when season 2 rolled around, the powers that were decided to fix things up. Though in doing this, some of their "improvements" were certainly questionable. Scott, Weasel, and Vicki were all let go, never to be mentioned again. Strange choices, considering Weasel was probably the most tolerable of the clones, and Vicki was the only character who seemed original. Even Scott, while no Zack Morris, was at least adequate. Of the cast members who remained, only Megan Jones was halfway decent.
But some of the people brought in to improve season 2 actually proved to be quite good. Brian seems to be the closest thing to a central "Zack-like" character, but was less of a schemer. Bobby was the comic-relief of the new group, but wasn't a complete nerd like Screech. And Rachel was Brian's love-interest, sort of like the Zack and Kelly of season 2. And, to fans of the original series, the biggest pleasure was seeing Dustin Diamond returning to again play Samuel "Screech" Powers, who returned to Bayside High to work as Mr. Belding's assistant.
While still not as good as the original (which, of course, was also just a teen show and therefore far from perfect), season 2 did prove to be an improvement over the first year of The New Class and probably stands as the best season this series put out. In later seasons, Screech would get weirder and zanier until finally even people who loved him on the original series would have to be annoyed by him. But here we still have the somewhat human Screech we remember from the College Years.
By season 3, the cast would change again (and incredibly, the producers still chose to keep the terrible Tommy D and Lindsay over the semi-decent characters of Brian, Bobby, and Megan...all I can figure is that other kids responded much differently to these characters than I did), and it was clear that the producers had not learned their lesson from season one. They created a new Zach-clone in Ryan, and season 3 saw them again directing ripping off the original series. Screech also began to get more obnoxious at that point.
It was also around this point that it became obvious that the producers were never going to be happy with the cast. They seemed content to fire half the cast each season and just hope somehow lightning would strike twice and they'd find a new group with the appeal of Zack, Slater, Screech, Kelly, Jessie, and Lisa. Strangely enough though, they might have succeeded if they had just left well-enough alone after season 2. Sure, the somewhat different characters of season 2 might not have been an immediate success, but people might have grown to like them had the audience been given time to accept them. Instead, on The New Class, characters were gone as quickly as they came so each season has a different feeling.
And for that reason, I think this season wins the gold. The characters weren't the direct knock-offs we saw in season one, nor was Screech as obnoxious as he would become in season three and onward. This was as close to a winning-formula as The New Class would ever come, so if you are going to shell out money for a set, this is the one to get. But don't buy this if you are just looking for a 90's series about growing up. It boggles my mind that all seven seasons of The New Class have been given a DVD but yet The Wonder Years (a series that was actually GOOD) hasn't seen the light of day. Oh well, I guess we can't win 'em all!

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The magic is truly back in this second season of hilarity and friendship. Dustin Diamond returns as Screech, but this time he's on the other side - as administrative assistant and frequent annoyance to Principal Belding! Brian, Rachel and the hilarious Bobby join Tommy D., Lindsay and Megan in the always crazy halls of Bayside High. In these 26 fun-filled episodes, the gang swings into high-gear as they experience brand-new friendships, romances and adventures, including a fight to save the school! Starring Dustin Diamond, Dennis Haskins, Jonathan Angel, Isaac Lindsky, Bianca Lawson, Natalia Cigliuti, Christian Oliver, Sarah Lancaster and Spankee Rodgers.

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