Last night, my sister Megan and I watched the classic 1990 Saved By The Bell caffeine pill episode, Jessie’s Song.
Why Were We Watching It?
I was visiting Megan and her family for the holidays, she has every episode of Saved By The Bell on DVD — seriously, how could we not end up watching it?
What Was It About?
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times and things at Bayside High were pretty messed up. Self-declared genius Jessie Spano (Elizabeth Berkley) was failing Geometry so she started taking caffeine pills. Then, her sociopathic friend Zack (Mark-Paul Gosselaar) decided that Jessie should also launch a musical career as a member of the disturbingly generic girl group Hot Sundae. And who can blame him with all of this talent of display?
And so, Jessie started taking more and more pills. And then, this happened…
Fear not! Jessie recovered from her drug addiction in time to be featured in Johnny Dakota’s No Hope With Dope ad campaign.
Jessie’s Song is like The Room of Saved By The Bell episodes, 22 minutes of television that is just so wrong and oddly executed that it becomes oddly fascinating. For that reason, it’s impossible to judge this episode by standard definitions of quality.
The idea that Kelly, Lisa, and Jessie (a.k.a. Hot Sundae) could get a recording contract, the fact that Jessie ends up getting hooked on the equivalent of can of Red Bull, the fantasy sequence where Jessie imagines having to go to Surf U. because she failed Geometry, the fact that a few pills transform Jessie overnight, and the overly optimistic ending; none of it works. And, for that reason, the entire episode works.
Consider this — before I had even seen this episode, I knew that Jessie Spano ended up getting hooked on caffeine pills and singing, “I’m so excited! I’m so excited! I’m so …. SCARED!” For better or worse, this episode is a part of our culture.
On a personal note, I loved the extremely earnest way Mario Lopez delivered the line, “Hold on, Jessie — it says right here that these may be habit-forming…”
What Did Not Work?
As Megan pointed out to me, there’s a huge continuity error in this episode. Back in the glee club episode, it had been established that Kelly couldn’t sing. Now, suddenly, she’s on the verge of getting a recording contract. Was there no such thing as a consistency at Bayside? No wonder Jessie ended up addicted to drugs.
“Oh my God! Just like me!” Moments
Much like Jessie Spano, I have a tendency to push myself. Whereas Jessie pushed herself to attend an Ivy League college and to try to destroy the patriarchy, I push myself to post a certain amount of film reviews each month.
For instance, earlier this year, I decided that I would post at least 120 reviews in October. And so, much like Jessie, I pushed myself and pushed myself and, when I felt like I couldn’t go on, I took every pill that I had in the medicine cabinet and then I danced around my bedroom going, “I’m so excited! I’m so excited! I’m so … scared!”
And some people though that was silly on my part but you know what? This October, the TSL posted 137 new reviews so, obviously, I was doing something right. And I’ve already decided that next year, we’re going to break all previous records. That’s right — 200 posts in October of 2014! You read it here first.
And, to think, I owe it all to caffeine.
There’s no hope with dope! Wait … no, actually, that was a different episode. In this one, I guess I learned not to abuse caffeine but I really didn’t learn that because I’ve seen this episode a few dozen times and I’m still addicted to caffeine and, for that matter, I’m still pushing myself and having trouble accepting that I can’t always be the best at everything so maybe I didn’t learn anything from this episode…
Oh wait! I did learn something. Geometry leads to drug addiction and causes you to let all of your friends down.
Seriously, geometry sucks.
(For another look at drug abuse in the 1990s, please be sure to check out my review of the California Dreams steroid episode, Tiffani’s Gold.)