Ever notice how television is just too good lately? Once upon a time though, the TV landscape was littered with lots of bad programming, like Saved by the Bell. Remember that show? If you grew up in the '90s, it would be damn hard not to. Let's hit the rewind button for a minute and revisit one of the guiltiest pleasure TV shows of the boom boom Clinton-era (no pun intended).
Zack Morris Was the Epitome of CoolHe got all the ladies, occasionally broke the fourth wall, and wore more product in his hair than an '80s rock star. For fans of the series, Zack Morris (Mark-Paul Gosselaar) was the quintessential cool dude slacker. He also dated Kelly Kapowski (Tiffani-Amber Thiessen), the G-rated fantasy of every teenage boy in America.
Sometimes You Learned an Important Life LessonThere was the occasional episode where the writers would pack heavy themes into the show, like when Jesse Spano (Elizabeth Berkley, later of Showgirls career-ending infamy) got hooked on caffeine pills and nearly had a breakdown. Zack eventually came to her rescue, however, and by the end of the episode we learned that drugs were dangerous and bad, and that apparently, caffeine pills were a thing that existed. (Who knew?)
The College Years SuckedWhen the show ended in 1993, Zack, Kelly, and the rest of the crew all signed on for a spin-off series called Saved By The Bell: The College Years. The show was doomed from the start. For one, it aired in primetime on Tuesday nights, the original having gained popularity on Saturday mornings, and the only promising attribute new cast member, and former NFL player, Bob Golic brought to the new show (aside from bad acting) was an impeccably maintained mullet. Bless him for that! The network eventually wised up and cancelled The College Years after its disappointing first season.
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The film and television nominations for the 18th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards have been released, recognizing achievements in both individual performances and the strengths of ensemble casts. This year's television award nominations are listed below, including many worthy recipients, but there are also a few surprising absences. Among the hard-hitters listed below are dramas like HBO's Mildred Pierce and Boardwalk Empire, AMC's Breaking Bad and comedies such as ABC's Modern Family (which swept the Emmys this year) and NBC's 30 Rock. However, some might be surprised not to find the new Showtime drama Homeland or NBC's secret weapon Parks and Recreation.
The 18th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards will air live at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT on Jan. 29, 2012 on TNT and TBS.
Click here to read the list of this year's film nominees.
18th ANNUAL SAG AWARDS NOMINATIONS: PRIMETIME TELEVISION
Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Television Movie or Miniseries
Laurence Fishburne - Thurgood (HBO)
Paul Giamatti - Too Big to Fail (HBO)
Greg Kinnear - The Kennedy (Reelz Channel)
Guy Pearce - Mildred Pierce (HBO)
James Woods - Too Big to Fail (HBO
Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Television Movie or Miniseries
Diane Lane - Cinema Verite (HBO)
Maggie Smith - Downton Abbey (PBS)
Emily Watson - Appropriate Adult (Sundance Channel)
Betty White - Hallmark Hall of Fame: The Lost Valentine (CBS)
Kate Winslet - Mildred Pierce (HBO)
Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Drama Series
Patrick J. Adams - Suits (USA)
Steve Buscemi - Boardwalk Empire (HBO)
Kyle Chandler - Friday Night Lights (DirecTV)
Bryan Cranston - Breaking Bad (AMC)
Michael C. Hall - Dexter (Showtime)
Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Drama Series
Kathy Bates - Harry's Law (NBC)
Glenn Close - Damages (DirecTV)
Jessica Lange - American Horror Story (FX)
Julianna Margulies - The Good Wife (CBS)
Kyra Sedgwick - The Closer (TNT)
Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Comedy Series
Alec Baldwin - 30 Rock (NBC)
Ty Burrell - Modern Family (ABC)
Steve Carell - The Office (NBC)
Jon Cryer - Two and a Half Men (CBS)
Eric Stonestreet - Modern Family (ABC)
Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Comedy Series
Julia Bowen - Modern Family (ABC)
Edie Falco - Nurse Jackie (Showtime)
Tina Fey - 30 Rock (NBC)
Sofia Vergara - Modern Family (ABC)
Betty White - Hot in Cleveland (TV Land)
Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series
Boardwalk Empire (HBO) - Steve Buscemi, Dominic Chianese, Robert Clohessy, Dabney Coleman, Charlie Cox, Jose & Lucy Gallina, Stephen Graham, Jack Huston, Anthony Laciura, Heather Lind, Kelly Macdonald, Rory & Declan McTigue, Gretchen Mol, Brady & Connor Noon, Kevin O'Rourke, Aleksa Palladino, Jacqueline Pennewill, Vincent Piazza, Michael Pitt, Michael Shannon, Paul Sparks, Michael Stuhlbarg, Peter Van Wagner, Shea Whigham, Michael Kenneth Williams, Anatol Yusef
Breaking Bad (AMC) - Jonathan Banks, Betsy Brandt, Ray Campbell, Bryan Cranston, Giancarlo Esposito, Anna Gunn, RJ Mitte, Dean Norris, Bob Odenkirk, Aaron Paul
Dexter (Showtime) - Billy Brown, Jennifer Carpenter, Josh Cooke, Aimee Garcia, Michael C. Hall, Colin Hanks, Desmond Harrington, Maria Doyle Kennedy, Rya Kihlstedt, C.S. Lee, Edward James Olmos, James Remar, Lauren Velez, Peter Weller, David Zayas
Game of Thrones (HBO) - Amrita Acharia, Mark Addy, Alfie Allen, Josef Altin, Sean Bean, Susan Brown, Emilia Clarke, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Peter Dinklage, Ron Donachie, Michelle Farley, Jerome Flynn, Elyes Gabel, Aiden Gillen, Jack Gleeson Iain Glen, Julian Glover, Kit Harington, Lena Headey, Isaac Hempstead Wright, Conleth Hill, Richard Madden, Jason Mamoa, Rory McCann, Ian McElhinney, Luke McEwan, Roxanne McKee, Dar Salim, Mark Stanley, Donald Sumpter, Sophie Turner, Maisie Williams
The Good Wife (CBS) - Christine Baranski, Josh Charles, Alan Cumming, Matt Czuchry, Julianna Margulies, Chris Noth, Archie Panjabi, Graham Phillips, Makenzie Vega
Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series
30 Rock (NBC) - Scott Adsit, Alec Baldwin, Katrina Bowden, Kevin Brown, Grizz Chapman, Tina Fey, Judah Friedlander, Jane Krakowski, John Lutz, Jack McBrayer, Tracy Morgan, Maulik Pancholy, Keith Powell
The Big Bang Theory (CBS) - Mayim Bialik, Kaley Cuoco, Johnny Galecki, Simon Helberg, Kunal Nayyar, Jim Parsons, Melissa Rauch
Glee (Fox) - Dianna Agron, Chris Colfer, Darren Criss, Ashley Fink, Dot Marie Jones, Jane Lynch, Jayma Mays, Kevin McHale, Lea Michele, Cory Monteith, Heather Morris, Matthew Morrison, Mike O'Malley, Chord Overstreet, Lauren Potter, Amber Riley, Naya Rivera, Mark Salling, Harry Shum Jr., Iqbal Theba, Jenna Ushkowitz
Modern Family (ABC) - Aubrey Anderson-Emmons, Julia Bowen, Ty Burrell, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Nolan Gould, Sarah Hyland, Ed O'Neill, Rico Rodriguez, Eric Stonestreet, Sofia Vergara, Ariel Winter
The Office (NBC) - Leslie David Baker, Brian Baumgartner, Creed Bratton, Steve Carell, Jenna Fischer, Kate Flannery, Ed Helms, Mindy Kaling, Ellie Kemper, Angela Kinsey, John Krasinski, Paul Lieberstein, B.J. Novak, Oscar Nunez, Craig Robinson, James Spader, Phyllis Smith, Rainn Wilson, Zach Woods
Well, the February sweeps are finally over.
Once the remainder of NBC's "10th Kingdom" is flushed from the system, it will all be just a distant memory. Regis Philbin won, if you were scoring along at home. If the February sweeps were like network TV's playoffs, Regis was Michael Jordan -- only shorter and dressed like a bootlegger from the 1920s.
The good news? Now that the quarter-hour numbers don't mean as much to the bean counters, you might find a few higher-quality shows on the air -- not that Fox's "Robbie Knievel: Head On Train Jump" wasn't "high quality" as head on train jumps go. ... But, um ... Hey, everybody, let's get ready for those mid-season replacements!
-- Right after HBO's "The Sopranos" airs today at 8 p.m. (this is old news, but yes, the series really is as good as everybody says it is), stay tuned for "If These Walls Could Talk 2" (9 p.m. EST/PST). It's a long overdue look at changing lesbian lifestyles from the 1960s through 1990s. Vanessa Redgrave, Sharon Stone, Ellen DeGeneres, Michelle Williams ("Dawson's Creek") and Oscar-nominee Chloe Sevigny ("Boys Don't Cry") star in the kind of film that portrays lesbianism in a more positive light than we are used to seeing on TV -- you know, minus the laugh track and drooling men. It's sort of "lesbianism for women," if that makes any sense. Howard Stern spoke the truth when he said "lesbians equal ratings." But we're not sure this is what he had in mind.
-- No longer afraid of losing good shows in the crush of all those February network "specials," cable's USA network premieres two pretty good "based on actual events" originals this week. Producer Shaun Cassidy, a former teen "heartthrob" who will never live down his past if we have anything to say about it and the creator of the intensely spooky but short-lived "American Gothic," is the scribe behind the first episode of "Cover Me" (8 p.m. EST/PST today). It's an hour-long drama about an FBI agent who feels that the best way to keep his family safe from the bad guys is to put the wife and kiddies to work on his cases -- so, um, they can be more directly in the line of fire. You know, that doesn't sound like the greatest plan in the world, but it might make a good TV show. ... Hey wait a minute! Oh, nevermind.
-- And Tuesday at 9 p.m. EST/PST, USA offers the made-for-cable movie "The Huntress." If the title alone hasn't sold you, it also stars Annette O'Toole! And if, like us, you're not sure who that is (actually she's very famous and was in "Nash Bridges"), it's also based on the true story of Dottie Thorson! And if, again, you're not sure who that is, either, you'll just have to take our word that this movie is pretty cool. When a (based-on-a-real-person) professional bounty hunter (Craig T. Nelson) explodes in his driveway, his (based-on-real-people) wife (O'Toole) and daughter (Aleksa Palladino) decide to press on with the family business. It's smart and funny in a seedy Quentin Tarantino kind of way ... the good Tarantino, before "Destiny Turns on the Radio" and that vampire movie.
-- Kevin Spacey takes the chair on Bravo's always interesting interview show "Inside the Actor's Studio" (8 p.m. EST/5 p.m. PST today). Count on the intrepidly probing host, James Lipton, to get a lot out of the Best Actor Oscar nominee (for "American Beauty") in this hour.
-- And an hour later (at 9 p.m. EST/PST), E! premieres another installment of its stately "True Hollywood Story" doc series. This time the subject is Burt Reynolds. From his days as a No. 1 box-office attraction (long before "Stroker Ace," and "Cop and a Half," if you're trying to remember) to Loni Anderson to Dinah Shore to ... You know, if Burt Reynolds hasn't actually done it all, he's certainly done most of it. This should be pretty good.
-- Fox reanimates "Family Guy" for another run Tuesday at 8:30 p.m. EST/PST. It's a funny toon and certainly deserves a regular spot in its struggling line-up (not that worth ever stopped a network from canceling anything before). Meanwhile, NBC finally moves into the 1990s (in the year 2000, no less) and joins the animation revolution by giving a prime spot (right behind "Friends") to the mid-season replacement "God, the Devil and Bob" (8:30 p.m. EST/PST Thursday). When all creation seems to have lost its luster, God (voiced by James Garner) gambles with the devil (Tony-winner Alan Cumming) that a guy named Bob ("3rd Rock from the Sun" co-star French Stewart) can restore his faith in humanity. If Bob isn't up to the task, then basically the universe becomes a "do-over." Don't knock "Bob," yet. It's got to be better than "Jesse."
-- Hoping to capitalize on the ratings success CBS had with the Grammys last month, VH-1 will televise the "Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony" (9 p.m. EST/PST Wednesday). Inductees include Eric Clapton, the Lovin' Spoonful, and Earth, Wind and Fire. Unfortunately, Jennifer Lopez is busy (picking up boyfriend Puff Daddy at court is like a full-time job now), so Clapton has volunteered to "take one for the team" and wear the thin-strips-of-delicate-fabric-taped-to-the-breasts outfit.
-- And finally, the Sci-Fi Channel will be running the entire "Indiana Jones" trilogy on consecutive nights this week. If you don't know what we're talking about, the "Indiana Jones" movies are about an archeologist who travels around and digs for ancient artifacts. (They're a lot better than they sound). Anyway, "Raiders of the Lost Ark" airs Tuesday at 8 p.m. (EST/PST), followed by "Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom" (8 p.m. EST/PST Wednesday) and "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade" (8 p.m. EST/PST Thursday). As an extra-special treat, Sci-Fi is presenting the flicks in extra-special widescreen format. Sounds like hunkering down time in front of the television.