Saved By The Bell -- DVD Review
Somewhere along the lines Saved By The Bell ended up rerunning on cable at the perfect time to fit into my daily routine, and I got in the habit of watching it regularly. I'm not positive that I have seen every last episode, but I know I'm pretty close. So, you could say I was a fan of the show. That, or I really should have popped for the more expensive cable plan all those years ago.
And that part plays into how you are going to see this DVD. Just after I finished watching it I was talking to a friend that was never a fan, and she asked how it was. My summation to her, and to you, is that if you aren't a fan already, it's not going to make you one. But if you have fond memories of the show, these movies capture the spirit of the show very well, and they hold up despite the 15 years that have passed. Sure, they're still corny, with their fair share of cheese, but that's part of the fun.
"Hawaiian Style" is the better of the two movies. It actually plays out like a Scooby Doo mystery, albeit one with a lot less ghosts and a lot more Tiffani Amber Thiessen in a bikini. The gang goes to visit Kelly's (Daphne) grandfather in Hawaii. There is a conspiracy by an evil developer to run Gramps off of his land, but Zach (Fred) hatches a plan to thwart the evil doers. Somewhere along the lines a group of native Hawaiians mistake Screech (Shaggy) for their reincarnated chief. Eventually Lisa (Velma) uncovers the clue that solves the mystery. Make Jessie Kelly's Hawaiian cousin and turn Slater into an animated dog and you've got yourself a movie. The only thing missing is the last line. I would have got away with it too, if not for these meddling kids and their damn principal.
Unfortunately, "Wedding in Las Vegas" came late in the game, so we only get brief appearances by Mr. Belding and Jessie at the wedding. The story isn't quite as good, but it serves the purpose. The whole thing centers around a trip to Vegas for Kelly and Zach to get married. Of course, being Saved By The Bell, hijinks ensue. You find Screech and Zach working as male escorts, the gang stumbling in the middle of a mob backed diamond heist, Lisa hitting it off with a hippie, and one or two too many touching montages reflecting back on Kelly and Zach over the years.
In addition, there is some great casting in the movies. "Hawaiian Style" features Rena Sofer (24, Heroes, The Chronicle), Dean Jones (A whole pile of great Disney stuff), and Dan Gauthier (Melrose Place). With "Wedding in Las Vegas" you'll find one of my favorite actresses, Liz Vassey (CSI, The Tick, Maximum Bob), along with Mark DeCarlo and Gilbert Gottfried. My favorite bit of casting though, comes in the form of a bit part. Playing Deputy Dano, one of the cops that busts the boys for speeding in a remote Nevada town, is none other than Richard Schiff (West Wing, pictured).
On the DVD features front, things are sorely lacking. And by sorely lacking, I mean non-existent. No commentaries, no bloopers, not even a behind the scenes featurette. Any or all of those would have been a welcome addition. The disc also suffers when compared to the other TV on DVD releases in the looks department. It just doesn't measure up to the picture quality you see in other recent offerings. That's partly understandable given the age of the material, but when you consider the lack of extras, I don't think there was a lot of attention paid to getting the best version they could.
Overall, it's a mini-set that I would recommend for Saved By The Bell fans, Richard Schiff completists, and anyone that likes the idea of a Kelly Kapowski bikini movie. If you're not one of those three, you'll probably want to move on down the DVD aisle and keep browsing. The DVD is available starting today.