Binge or Purge? Good Morning, Miss Bliss (1988)

Good Morning, Miss Bliss (Screen: Disney / YouTube)
Good Morning, Miss Bliss (Screen: Disney / YouTube)

Good Morning, Miss Bliss, also known as Saved by the Bell: The Junior High Years was the genesis for the SbtB phenomenon. Does the show still pass the class?

Show

Good Morning, Miss Bliss, originally aired on the Disney Channel from 1988-89. It became part of the syndicated package for Saved by the Bell (most likely to get the series closer to 100 episodes), which means you can still catch the reruns on TBS, MTV2, and streaming on Netflix.

Premise

Carrie Bliss (Hayley Mills) is an eighth grade U.S. History teacher at John F. Kennedy High School in Indianapolis. Though the school is underfunded and mismanaged by bumbling principal Mr. Belding (Dennis Haskins), Miss Bliss goes the extra mile to make sure her students get the best education possible. The students she interacts with most are troublemaker Zack Morris (Mark-Paul Gosselaar), fashion plate Lisa Turtle (Lark Voorhies), supergeek Samuel Powers (Dustin Diamond), generic guy Mikey Gonzalez (Max Battimo), and tomboy/activist Nicky Coleman (Heather Hopper).

Legacy

Since Good Morning, Miss Bliss aired on the Disney Channel back when it was a premium network, it didn’t have the exposure Saved by the Bell received when it aired on NBC. When it aired in syndication, there was this sense of these adventures being “lost episodes” and in many ways inferior to what followed. Part of the problem was how much retrofitting took place to get this first season in line with the other 80-some episodes. Music cues were replaced, 1992 Zack Morris would sometimes give an introduction to create the sense of a flashback, and the style of the comedy was much different. Still, without this show we would not have had the cultural phenomenon of SbtB, so thanks!

What’s to Love Now

Despite being a 1980s family sitcom, the show is not that bad. The tone of the series was significantly lighter than the original Good Morning, Miss Bliss pilot. There aren’t many genuine laugh out loud moments, but the cast for the most part feels natural in their roles. Unlike today where Disney stars are insipid automatons, the kids on this show come across as humans and make good acting choices. There are also little nuggets of late ’80s pop culture that cause you to release a nostalgic “awww.”

What Makes Us Groan

Even by 1988 standards the stories were not particularly daring. One episode involves confusion over a love note delivered to the wrong person and the Three’s Company misunderstandings that ensued. Also, since the show is called Good Morning, Miss Bliss, the A-plots tend to focus on the adults while the B-plots are relegated to the kids, which seems odd for a show on the Disney Channel. The most common source of conflict on the show involved the budgetary constraints faced by the teachers, which isn’t a barrel of laughs.

Verdict

I’m glad this time capsule exists, but if you are doing a Saved by the Bell rewatch you should not start with these episodes.

Navigational Tips

You can pick any single episode and get a sense of what the entire Good Morning, Miss Bliss run was like. Personally, I recommend the episode “Stevie” because of this magical moment:

http://youtu.be/DqtJj4jUfSo

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About Mike McComb 656 Articles
Mike has been writing about TV online since 2008, when he started the blog WTF Little House on the Prairie? The blog was a project to practice writing about television analytically prior to getting an MA in Television-Radio-Film from Syracuse University, or as he likes to call it "TV Camp." After a lengthy stint at TVLatest, Mike wanted to launch a site that brought in classic TV, diamonds in the rough, and the shows everybody watches. E-mail: mike@whatelseison.tv