4.15.2010

Life After the Bell: Mr. Belding

Saved by the Bell is one show that, for some reason, has maintained an iconic status and cult following. This is despite the fact that if you watch the show now as a non-teen it's pretty insulting dreck. Horrible laugh tracks, stale jokes, and an endless parade of ridiculous premises make it tough to suspend my disbelief the way I used to every weekday after school.

Some of the characters, though, were likable. And I always wondered how they fared once the freewheeling days at Bayside ended. I'll be profiling some of the more noteworthy characters.

Richard "Dick" Belding

Mr. Belding never seemed to be much of an administrator. His students regularly railroaded him, he would administer inappropriate hugs to faculty and kids alike, and he fell for impostors Zack hired to impersonate his parents on more than one occasion. He was, by all accounts, a functional retard, and the fact that the school segregated him in a tiny broomcloset-sized office away from the rest of the staff shows as much.

But deep down, ol' Dicky B was a good man. He loved his kids, he loved his school, and because of that he was able to put up with a lot more shit than most people. Also, he grew up named Dick with a brother named Rod. That will set the stage for an outlandish tolerance of abuse.

After the fabled class of 1993 left after roughly seven years in high school, Belding continued to dutifully administer to his responsibilities as principal, even taking on Screech Powers as some sort of assistant helping with the new class. 

Eventually, though, a brooding Zack Morris, upset at his own lot in life and pathologically unable to let go of high school, decided to get back at Mr. Belding with one last "scorched earth" prank. The results left Belding a registered Sex Offender and unable to continue his passion; managing teachers and giving out detentions.

Due to his undying affection for his students, he eventually forgave Zack. He now lives alone in the valley as his wife divorced him and his son (born in an elevator at the two-story high school during an earthquake) refuses to speak with him because of the allegations of child molestation. A brief attempt at writing his memoirs was undercut by his discovery of the blogosphere and a hollow sense of uselessness.

He works part-time at an Office Depot with a homemade badge that reads, "Educational Materials Expert." He hurriedly removes it every time his supervisor approaches. As his emails trying to catch up with former students garner fewer and fewer responses, he sinks into a deep depression. Finally, on a bright June day, he charters a small fishing boat for himself and heads off towards Catalina Island with an unusually heavy tackle box tied to his waist. 

The boat is recovered three days later, fully operational but with no one aboard.

1 comment:

Kurt Steinberg said...

I assumed that Belding would have married Screech when some states legalized gay marriage. It seemed like those two were gay lovers on The New Class. I remember seeing an episode where Screech oiled up Belding with sun tan lotion outside the pool at a country club during the 3rd or 4th season of the The New Class! In another episode, those two gay lovebirds rode around Paris on a tandem bike during an episode where the kids took a trip to France! Those scenes actually occurred in the episodes - look it up. They had to be gay!