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“Save The Frogs”

The 1990s were a very interesting time for television, when the boundaries of content were tested and the role of the protagonist was redefined as never before. As part of a semi-regular feature here on Why Love the ’90s? (and because Frankie was away this weekend), T.J. Martinez once again assumes his role as the Internet’s foremost Saved by the Bell expert with the Zack Attack!

It’s episode number four of Good Morning Miss Bliss/Saved by the Bell entitled “Leaping to Conclusions.”

The show starts off with a cold opening. Miss Bliss brings up the next big topic, The Civil War. The class had been promised the chance to watch a film as Zack points out, but Miss Bliss says too bad. The film, which was actual movie film, is all tangled up in a box. What an age to be alive! So, Miss Bliss has a plan B, she goes over to the pull down map and as she opens it up it rips in half.

Tough times at John F. Kennedy Junior High School.

After the break we hear Miss Bliss talk about history being a mirror to the future and that it always repeats itself. Bliss and Miss Paladrino are complaining to Mr. Belding about needing new school supplies.

The answer, as it is every year, is no.

Budget has been gutted, Mr. Belding tells them. Miss Bliss asks Belding to read the list: A globe, a set of encyclopedias, a VCR and a field trip to the statehouse to see, “history come alive.” Belding says history is best left in the past and all he can do for her is give her yet another requisition form.

But those forms never go through! What about the children dammit?

As Miss Bliss walks away Mr. Belding sees a letter in her mailbox from Trump Hill Academy. Apparently they hired away two teachers from John F. Kennedy Junior High last year. Uh oh, Belding thinks, but says, “They are not going to get Miss Bliss!”

The following scene we cut to the science lab. Mr. Morton, the over the top science teacher, tells everyone that the next day is going to be dissection day! Class will be cutting up frogs! Everyone is so excited…well not everyone. Nicki is upset and asks if every student has to do the assignment. Paraphrasing Mr. Morton, his answer is basically hell yes!

On to lunch, Mr. Belding comes out with a globe for Miss Bliss. But I thought they were broke? Miss Bliss asks what the catch is, but he says there isn’t one but an old requisition form went through. Mr. Morton, seeing this, asks about a lightning rod that he wants. Not happening, Belding says. Miss Bliss figures that he’s up to something.

While the teachers are worried about supplies, Nicki is asking the gang to sign a “down with frogicide” petition. She wants to, “stop the senseless killing of frogs in science class.” Nicki is truly the original Jesse Spano. The group, headed by Zack and Mikey, laugh it off but tell Nicki they would lie to get Nicki out of class but she declines, wanting to stand up for what she believes in and says she will go talk to Miss Bliss.

On to the science lab and Mr. Morton is cooking up a cup of noodles. Miss Bliss comes in and tries to negotiate with Mr. Morton on coming up with a solution for young Nicki. He basically says she’ll get over it and continues to remind me of Charles Nelson Reilly.

Is it absolutely necessary for Nicki to participate?

If she wants to pass the class then it is. Miss Bliss couldn’t get her out of it. She tells Nicki to think long and hard about the situation but tells her to do what her heart and conscious says is right. I have a feeling that advice will backfire. What does she do?

She steals the box of frogs!

Back from the break, it looks like they’re taking a test. An announcement from Belding for Miss Bliss to go to the principal’s office. Class does the typical, “Ooooo” chant when someone is in trouble. She has to go and tells the kids that they’re on the honor system with Zack being in charge. Really? Mikey asks around what the answer to number one is. Screech is looking over a girl’s shoulder. Zack is against cheating in this situation for whatever reason. The bell rings and everyone leaves. But no one turns in the test? What? I have a feeling that will be completely ignored the rest of this episode.

Miss Bliss is called to the principal’s office because Nicki is there. Mr. Morton, who is clearly pissed, lets Bliss and Belding know that Nicki released the frogs near the football field. What’s the punishment from Belding? “That wasn’t nice,” he says. “Don’t do it again.” He is still trying to butter Miss Bliss up in an effort to keep her from the evil Trump Hill Academy. Mr. Morton wanted a harsher punishment and apparently so did Nicki. She was trying to make a statement dammit!

Back to Bliss’ classroom, Miss Paladrino talks about her class getting their ballet trip taken away. As they discuss this, Mylo wheels in…a brand new VCR! Paladrino asks Miss Bliss if she has revealing photos of Mr. Belding. I myself would be asking if there’s hanky panky going on, but Paladrino doesn’t go that route. Then Mylo brings in a set of encyclopedias. Okay, now i’m guessing there’s a scene that was edited out when Paladrino asks if Bliss and Belding are “doing it.”

In the hallways, Zack and Mikey give Nicki a hard time for getting rid of the frogs. She asks Screech if he still supports her but he sides with, “The feeling of a nice cold pancreas against your skin.” Possibly the creepiest line in the history of the show. Lisa isn’t mad at Nicki for letting the frogs go but when it comes down to it, since her grade would depend on it, she would still say, “Pass the scalpel.”

Nicki then goes over to Miss Bliss’ house for some much needed advice. She’s still very upset about it and is strongly against the dissection. Miss Bliss says there have been great advances in science because of animal dissection, a fact Nicki understands, but she can’t stand others like Mikey, who want to, “See how far he can dropkick a kidney.” (Great line)

Bliss says there are alternatives to dissection. She has a friend at a University who sends over a computer program that simulates dissection of a frog. Even though Mr. Morton got a new batch of frogs, this will be a great alternative for those like Nicki (Or really, just Nicki.)

Next day, Miss Bliss then asks Mr. Belding why she’s getting whatever she wants while other teachers suffer.

Belding says it’s because she’s special. Why did he not punish Nicki harsher? Just take the gifts and be happy Mr. Belding tells her. Belding then fesses up that she knows that Trump HIll is trying to woo Miss Bliss, after taking two teachers from the school last year. Miss Bliss is upset he looked through her mailbox. He was assuming it was a job offer, she breaks the news to him it was one of the teachers writing just to say hello.

Back to the science lab, Mr. Morton is hopping mad, Mylo tells Miss Bliss. Morton tells her that Nicki, once again, took the frogs. She did, but returns them to Mr. Morton. She apologizes to him and explains her beliefs. She has to learn to respect the rights and opinions of others. Nicki let one of the frogs go however. As Morton was about to fail Nicki, Miss Bliss shows him the computer program, thus saving her academic career. Mylo wheels in some of the stuff that Belding got for Miss Bliss. No more kiss up time. Miss Bliss says hands off the globe, threatening bodily harm on Mr. Morton and we end the program.

This episode didn’t really do anything for me.

Maybe it was the lack of Zack Morris?

Maybe it was Nicki being all preachy but not funny like Jesse would have been?

Maybe it was the seriousness of the topic of the lack of education funding in our nation’s schools?

Eh, probably not.

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