Parts 1 & 2
William Mortensen Vaughan
As of:  3:40 p.m. E.D.T., Thursday, April 18, 2019

Title:  "Saved by the Bell":  "Home for Christmas, Part 1" and "Part 2"

My Rating:  *****

Dove Foundation Rating:  [NOT RATED]

M.P.A.A. Rating:  TV-G

Adaptation:  Starring Dustin Diamond as Ebenezer Scrooge

Date Released:  Saturday, December 7, 1991 (Part 1); Saturday, December 14, 1991 (Part 2)

Format Reviewed:  live-action, television episodes, on DVD

Is this adaptation reverent?:  

Yes, this adaptation is reverent, including a reverent rendition of "Silent Night" for the grand finale.

Does it include the phrase, "God bless us..."?  No.

What does my wife think of it?  She enjoyed it, and recommended it to me.

How closely does this adaptation follow the original novel, by Charles Dickens?  

This adaptation contains an abbreviated, theatrical adaptation, within a loose, modernized adaptation of A Christmas Carol, framed in two episodes of "Saved by the Bell," titled "Home for Christmas, Part 1" and "Part 2."

"Part 1" opens with shots of the fireplace mantel, Christmas cards, and Zack's Christmas stocking. Then Zack (Mark-Paul Gosselaar) and his friends enter the room, and they discuss their plans for their two-week, Christmas vacation from school, which has apparently just begun.

Slater (Mario Lopez) has a new job, at the Bayside Mall, wrapping gifts, for $4 per hour. Jessie (Elizabeth Berkley) has a new, $8-per-hour job at the mall, as an assistant at Santa's photo booth. Kelly (Tiffani-Amber Thiessen) works as a saleswoman at Moody's Clothing Store for Men. Her wages are unspecified, but she seems to have tenure, because she Mr. Moody gives her time off to participate in a production of A Christmas Carol.

The proprietor, Mr. Moody (Lew Horn), is a modern "Scrooge," as shown later, when he refuses to give one of his employees, a 17-year-old girl named Laura (Jennifer McComb), time off to participate in the production of A Christmas Carol. In "Part 2," he also refuses to give her an advance on her wages so she can buy a jacket for her father. He only relents and let's Laura participate in the play when Zack promises to increase his store's sales by promoting it throughout the play. Zack's mother, Mrs. Morris (Melody Rogers), is the director, and reluctantly approves Zack's new script.

Lisa (Lark Voorhies) works as a Candy Striper.

Zack and Screech don't have jobs, so they hang out at the mall, where Zack literally bumps into Laura and becomes infatuated.

Lisa expects her friends to help her throw a Christmas party for the children at her hospital, so Screech obtains a doll which wets his pants as well as his own. In the Men's Room, a homeless man named Frank (Stephen Mendel) suggests to Screech that he use the blow dryer for hands to dry his pants. Later, after bumming wrapping paper from Slater, Frank passes out in the Food Court. Slater, having received Life Guard training, tells Zack how to help the man while Screech dials 9-1-1.

Then Zack and his friends attend Lisa's Christmas party, and, since Frank is also at the hospital, they stop by his room, where they discover that Laura is already there, because Frank is her father. Thus ends "Part 1."

"Part 2" begins with Zack recapping "Part 1." Then he invites Frank and Laura to his home for dinner. Three slices of pie, four potatoes, and five lamb chops later, Frank and Laura return to wherever they're staying.

Finally, Kelly bids farewell to Mr. Moody as she leaves his store to participate in the play. Zack appears in period costume, dressed for the role of Bob Cratchit, and talks Mr. Moody into letting Laura go as well, even though she only has twenty minutes to learn her lines as the Ghost of Christmas Present.

Screech plays Scrooge; Slater, Tiny Tim and Old Joe; Kelly, a Cratchit girl and Mrs. Dilber; Lisa, another Cratchit girl and the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come; and Mrs. Morris, Mrs. Cratchit. The roles of Jacob Marley, Fred, the Ghost of Christmas Past et al are left out.

Throughout the play, Bob, Scrooge, and the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come continually plug Mr. Moody's Clothing Store for Men, which offers clothes for boys as tiny as Tim, to men as large as Gigantic George.

More drama ensues after the play, when Mr. Moody discovers that the jacket Laura wanted is missing, and there is no receipt for its purchase. Mr. Moody accuses Laura, who denies the theft, but he calls Security, so she flees. Then Kelly arrives and explains that she had asked Marlene (uncredited) to set the jacket aside, and she intended to pay for it after the play.

After a "woman hunt," Mrs. Morris, with the telephonic blessing of her husband, who is out of town, invites Frank and Laura to move in with her and Zack, and they accept.

Mrs. Morris and Zack host another Christmas party, at which Mr. Moody appears with a present for Frank, the jacket Laura had attempted to buy for him. Then Laura gives Zack a kiss, and Frank gives everyone the gift of music by playing "Silent Night" on a piano, which the party guests join him in singing, for the grand finale.

What dialect is used?  Various forms of English.

When and where does this adaptation take place?  Pacific Palisades, California, circa 1990.

Is this adaptation a prequel or a sequel?  

No, but "Part 1" serves as a prequel to "Part 2," during which the theatrical adaptation takes place. The modernized adaptation, in which Mr. Moody is "the Scrooge" who has a change of heart at the end of the story, spans both episodes.

Is this adaptation supernatural?  No.

Is this adaptation "framed"?  

Yes, the theatrical adaptation is framed within the modernized adaptation.

How attractive is the visual art?  The set and wardrobe are good, including a variety of Christmas costumes, as well as modern clothing, including multi-colored houndstooth and a multi-patterned sweater, as well as blue jeans, slacks, and skirts of various lengths. Costumes include four Santa Claus costumes (for the mall Santa and his helper, Jessie; and two more, which Zack and Kelly wear to the hospital, in the guise of Mr. and Mrs. Claus, to entertain the children), a Rudolph costume, and two elf costumes, as well as Lisa's Candy Striper uniform, which resembles a candy cane. Also seen are various period costumes, during the theatrical adaptation of A Christmas Carol. Lisa portrays one of the most fashionable and talkative Ghosts of Christmas Yet to Come, looking more like a young widow dressed in black than a Grim Reaper. Laura dresses more like the classic Ghost of Christmas Present, although she is an unusual choice for this role, being a slender, young woman instead of a fat, old man.

How creative and instense are the transitions, especially when "the Scrooge" is taken from one time and/or place to another?  

The transitions are effective, but not spectacular. They are achieved mostly by screen cuts, or quickly fading out and in.

What is the most remarkable thing about this adaptation?  

The most remarkable thing about this adaptation is, perhaps, the innocence with which the coming of age of Zack and Laura (and their romance) is portrayed.

Speaking of age, it is also remarkable how little Mario Lopez seems to have aged in the three decades since "Saved by the Bell" premiered. He still looks more like Tiny Tim than Old Joe, as he continues to host "Extra" and MTV's "America's Best Dance Crew."

What extras are included on the DVD?

Optional subtitles are available in English and Spanish. There is an option to "Play All" the episodes on the disc, or select a certain episode.

Unfortunately, the "Main" screen indicates that the episodes on the disc are from Season Four, although they are from Season Three.

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