Ridin’ Low in My Chair: “Cream for a Day”

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February 6, 2014 by billysparrow

“Cream for a Day”

Aired: October 7, 1989

In a haiku nutshell: Malfunctioning cream/Threatens Kelly’s reign as queen/But Zack has a plan

Trivia that will impress, well, no one: Q: What name does Screech give his zit? A: Murray

Of “Saved by the Bell”‘s first ten episodes, “Cream for a Day” might be the most memorable. For those of you with stupid memories, this is the episode where Kelly grows so desperate to remove the zit that casts great doubt on her ability to be Homecoming Queen that she puts her faith in Zit-Off, the cream that Screech creates by accident in lab and Zack markets to the masses after the cream removes Screech’s zit. Unfortunately, Zack is not aware of the side effects or, rather, the side effect: the cream turns the part of one’s face on which it is applied maroon for a day. And guess what part of her face Kelly puts Zit-Off on? If you guessed “all of it,” congratulations! You too might be able to write a Saturday-morning sitcom. Unfortunately, those don’t exist anymore, so a lot of good that skill does you. Maybe you can latch onto one of the Disney shows. Good luck, pal. I’m rooting for you.

Anyway, once Kelly finds out about this terrible side effect, she thinks she has no chance to be Homecoming Queen, which, as one of seven children (most of whom we never see or hear about again) who has never won anything in her life (which she says while standing almost directly in front of what would appear to be an impressive collection of ribbons on her wall), is almost too much to bear. But Zack saves the day by rebranding Zit-Off as Bayside War Paint and making Kelly’s maroon face seem to be the pinnacle of school spirit. What a genius!

I should also note that Bayside defeats hated rivals Valley at the homecoming game, 7-0, as seen in sped-up file footage at the end of the episode (apparently, there was not enough in the budget to cover actual-speed footage). And this episode marks the debut performance of the Bayside cheer, better known as “B-Buh-B-Buh-Buh-Buh-B-B-B-Buh-B-Buh-Buh-Buh-B-Go Bayside!” (if you could have seen me try to phonetically sound that out, it would have made your year) at the pregame rally at, where else, The Max (where, I would like to point out, Max drops something while juggling and no one deems that enough of a reason to reshoot the scene).

Two of the more memorably named characters in “Saved by the Bell” history are also introduced to the world in this episode. Charles “Crater Face” Coburn, blessed with both an inimitable laugh and enough acne to be considered the ideal face of Zit-Off, bursts forth on the Bayside scene and joins the two nameless girls at the slumber party in Episode 4 in earning the rare privilege of significant airtime and several lines. It might not seem like a big deal, but take note of all the same faces you see in the background of several episodes, faces that never get to utter an audible word. Crater Face has multiple scenes! Quite the accomplishment. I have gone scouring the Internet to discover whatever became of Scott Fults, the actor who brought Crater Face to life, and I think I have found him. It appears he is a drama teacher (and a Tommy Tune Award-winning one at that) at a high school in Pearland, Texas. I am seriously thinking of contacting him for an e-mail interview. I guess now is as good a time as any to start worrying about me.

Sadly (well, not that sadly), I have had less luck tracking down Becky Fernandez, the woman who played perhaps the most fantastically named character in “Saved by the Bell” history. I am speaking, of course, of one of the main challengers to Kelly’s reign as Homecoming Queen. No, not the decently named Suzie Van Fike. Rather, I am speaking of Muffin Sangria. Yes, that is correct. Muffin Sangria. It is nothing short of breathtaking. Dear member of the writing staff who came up with that, wherever you are, stand up and take a bow. Go ahead, take another one. You have reached a level of name-creating genius matched only by the writers of the movie “Dragnet,” who not only came up with Pep Streebeck, but also, the greatest movie name of all time, Emil Muzz. And Ms. Fernandez, please drop me a line so we can go over this historical appearance in mind-numbing detail.

Before I wrap up, I would like to continue my never-ending quest to get the world to give Screech some props by noting that he is wearing a Buddy Holly t-shirt for a significant portion of this episode. Now, I ask you, can a high schooler wearing a Buddy Holly t-shirt in 1989 really be all that bad? Do you think either Zack or Slater has any idea who Buddy Holly even is? (Zack seems more hung up on ALF, who he brings up for the second time in three episodes; I’m not saying Gordon Shumway isn’t cool–he’s just not as cool as Buddy Holly). Maybe if someone had just stopped Screech in the halls and said, “Hey, cool shirt, dude; you want to come over and watch ‘La Bamba’?” we would’ve been saved from the high-waisted Technicolor fashion mess he eventually became.

You made Screech the monster he became, young Baysiders. And I include Muffin Sangria in that. Mainly because I wanted to write “Muffin Sangria” again. Now I’ve done it twice. I think I can rest comfortably.

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