It’s time to begin the tournament. You can find the entire bracket here. I admit this is my favorite region. The dissection of the girls who have been involved with Zack Morris may now be listed as my new favorite hobbies. As we open up the tournament please make only the most informed and thought-out votes going forward, there is a lot at stake here. I have included any picutres I could find to help jog your memory but remember this is not a beauty contest, not entirely. After the jump we present the region and each match-up. Voting for this first round will go through late Saturday so vote and tell your friends to vote!
1. Kelly Kapowski
What can be said about Kelly Kapwoski that has not already been said or thought in my head. She was the queen of queens of early 90s pre-teen sitcom television. While many (including myself) view her as a deity, a member of television royalty there are those that may think Kelly does not deserve to go deep into the tournament. It is an undeniable fact that while she and Zack ultimately ended up with each other (later noted by Zack’s appearance on Jimmy Fallon that they had split when she went to 90210) she spurned him twice for older men. Daddy issues? Maybe but it seemed her family was always tight knit. Maybe all those years living with her older brothers or some lingering subconscious issue with her Frank Kapowski (13 seed in the PTA region) eventually led to some spurning of Zack. First it was Jeff(4 seed in Special Guests), then it was Jeremiah Laskey (14 seed in PTA).
However, let none of this overshadow that Kelly is the most desirable woman in the SBTB universe (according to the committee). This does not guarantee her victory. Being an icon is only have of the story, she will have to prove it on the plains of internet battle. I would liken her to the 1991 UNLV team. Complete package, capable of domination, and driven by an old man who bites towels. We thought that Runnin’ Rebs team was unbeatable, only to see them fall against Duke in the Final Four. In a bracket that is loaded with tough match-ups, Kelly remains the class of this region.
16. Wendy Parks
We have a classic David going against the proverbial Goliath here in the first round. Wendy is a sweet girl, great personality which means…yeah. Wendy is on the student-council with the rest of the gang where she laughs over Zack’s quips. At the charity date auction she outbids the rest of the excited Bayside females to win a date to the dance with Zack himself. Zack, being a studly teenage heartthrob, is not excited about the prospect of going to the dance with Wendy. He is hung up on her looks, mainly her weight, and find excuses to back out. Wendy calls Zack out on this behavior and forces him to accept her looks as part of her rather rotund package. A great moral is found in this story, only I cannot remember it. I only know that there is no doubt Zack took that piece home after the dance and pounded her personality so bad she lost a few lbs.
The Match-up: This seems like a no-brainer. If the internet does not vote Kelly through here I will lose all faith in humanity. Just kidding, I lost all faith when after seeing all the money Transformers 2 made.
Ginger was a valley girl stuck in the Bayside community. She embodied every stereotype of a California girl: she’s ditzy, cognizant about lipstick getting on her teeth, tall, blonde, nice stems. Yet there was something endearing about her. In the episode where Bayside’s money for sports inheritance turns into a girl vs. guys winner-take-all, Ginger shows a fighting spirit even though she is no help to the girls team whatsoever. Zack had brief trysts with Ginger throughout their time at Bayside, primarily at the beginning of the Tori paradox (TM Kolsterman). I get the feeling Ginger was a booty call to Zack. I wonder how she felt about that. Things turned better for Ginger after she left Bayside. I hear she became a teacher and is now married to Pete Sampras.
9. Joanna Peterson
Joanna only had one brief stint on SBTB but her appearance made a lasting impression, one that will be here long after we are gone and the aliens have landed and sorted through the wreckage of our civilization. She fell into that gray area of actually being a girl of Zack Morris or not. There were other borderline girls as well. It comes down to what constitutes “being with” Zack Morris. There were girls like Heather Brooks who was impressed with Zack only for his SAT score. The hardest omission was Kimberly, Screech’s cousin whom Zack used to make Kelly jealous after she totally dumped him for Jeff. [I am completely in the pro-Zack side on that one, I mean you just dumped the dude for your college boss at The Max and you are pissed because he is dancing to A12? Check yourself girl.] However, the committee could only select 16 and Zack really wasn’t able to materialize anything with Kimberly because she saw what he was doing and threw a chocolate milkshake on him. Leslie Burke, the 14 seed in this region from the College Years (incredible rant on TCY coming later in our previews I promise), made it because they came very close to dating and they lived across from each other in college. There’s no there wasn’t some kind of action going on there.
BUT I DIGRESS. Back to Joanna. She moved to Bayside from North Dakota which has to be a culture shock. I assume moving to any place from North Dakota is a culture shock. Once she entered the school both Zack and AC pounced. Now here is something to consider; Zack and Slater went at it for months, if not a whole year of high school trying to win the affection of Kelly, yet this one girl caused a fight in less than a week. Now, I don’t think this is because of the girl being fought over, I think it is because Zack and Slater had just become seniors and their egos were overtaking everything. Slater had solidified himself as the jock supreme of the school and Zack had been the big dog since middle school. It was a ticking time bomb that culminated in one of the most visceral confrontations in the history of television. You can see the fight here. One note about this fight before we move on, Zack was lucky as hell. Have you ever fought an all-state wrestler? Unless you are Bruce Lee I wouldn’t recommend it. You don’t want to try it. Zack opened with a right cross to Slater’s chin. Slater then throws Zack to the ground and easily could have twisted him like a pretzel, but perhaps the emotion got the better of him. it was a sloppy takedown and he throws a punch to Zack’s mouth. They get back up and tussle some more before Belding breaks it up. Zack escaped with a fat lip. Lucky sir, very lucky.
The Match-up: How will Ginger plan her attack in the match-up? Sheer physical prowess or will she use her dizzying intellect to confuse Joanna. On the flip side Joanna seems to be a grounded Midwest girl, that either works for her or against her.
5. Andrea Larson
You may not recognize the name right away but if I merely said “Saved By the Bell Hawaiian Style” you would know who she is. Andrea was the dutiful employee of the Royal Pacific and boyfriend of rich son Derek Worthington. Zack of course becomes smitten with her during the course of the plot which has him and the gang attempting to save Kelly’s Grandfather’s hotel. In an interesting twist it turns out Andrea has a daughter, making her Zack’s first MILF experience. To say Zach went crazy about this girl is an understatement. He takes to Jennifer, the daughter quite quickly and begins have insane delusions of moving to Hawaii or having Andrea move back to California. Andrea, obviously grounded by the experience of having a child rightfully puts Zack in his place and let’s him know he should move on. We don’t know if she gave Zack a little goodbye present though, I mean after all she does put out? Am I right??? (silence).
12. JB Slater
We never hear about JB before or after she appeared in the gang’s senior year during the Tori Paradox (TM Klosterman). She, like Joanna created friction between AC and Zack. As she appears on screen the characters outside of Tori act like they have seen her and hung out with her before. They all remark on how she has changed from a tomboy into a nice little piece. Of course, Zack notices most of all. He is smitten and begins a courtship in the manner only Zack can. Slater disapproves and let Zack know. This of course messes with Zack’s head. As he parks with JB at a nondescript location Zack beings seeing Slater’s face instead of JB’s. I can’t say I blame AC here. I mean here we have a whole bracket of girls Zack has been involved with, not to mention his braggadocio about his proficiency with the ladies that Slater has witnessed and taken part in over the years. Would YOU want Zack dating your sister in high school? However, Slater finally relents which leads to the big moment at the Bayside Sock Hop in which he gives his blessing and tells Zack to treat her right. After which the gang sings a clearly lip-synced doo wop song. [One thing you got to love about SBTB is the blatant indifference they had about lip-syncing. Jesse was decent and Violet had some classical chops but other than that it was right to the tape. That is one clear advantage California Dreams had over SBTB, one of the few.]
The Match-up: There is always a danger for the 5-12 upset. It’s MILF versus SILF and I have feeling this could go either way.
4. Lisa Turtle
Zack and Lisa have known each other forever, it was only natural that after awhile they would want to sample the goods. Lisa was the classic Cali rich girl. Both of her parents were doctors and that led to her having quite a bit of entitlement. Even in the middle school years she was portrayed as a priss who was more into fashion than anything else. This mainly pervaded into high school although Lisa had the occasional moments of tenderness. Mostly she was avoiding the advances of Screech or berating him in manners possibly considered cruel or unusual. Romantically Lisa has been a tough nut to crack, even outside of Screech. She always seemed to be one of those girls who was better at dishing gossip and dispensing advice to those in relationships than being in them herself. She had a few brothers in the picture; she pined over intellectual brother Bryan Watkins and even went as far as to drop her fashionista ways and take up art and philosophy (uttering the deep thought “What is art? Are art? Is art art?) and also dated athletic brother Darrell even though he was a freshman when she was a senior. It was later that year when Lisa had a tryout fashion show for a recruiter from the FIT fashion institute. Perhaps the stress of her life’s goals placed in front of her got to Lisa and she ended up making out with Zack in her room. Zack, of course never missing a chance to get a slice, reciprocated. There was just one problem, Screech. The news that Zack, the guy who was his “best friend” and had pretty much used him in every way imaginable over the course of their lives, had sidled in and taken his dream girl did not sit well. So he confronted Zack and taunted him to fight. Zack showed discretion this time and refuses. This leads to a hilarious sequence of Screech stomping on Zack’s feet and ripping a shirt he had no business wearing to a day of high school. Lisa jumps in and talks Screech down. In the end, Screech knows it is fruitless to resist and watches Zack strut off with Lisa (no doubt to an undisclosed make out location). We never see what materialized in another episode. They were a one and done.
13. Tori Scott
As we have noted, all allusions to the Tori Paradox come with a nod to Chuck Klosterman and his description of the situation in Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs. [on a side note I read this book last year and it was quite an interesting experience since the pop culture references were now much more dated, but found it no less fantastic] Tori came onto the scene and no one quite knew what to make of her. She was replacing not only Jesse but the goddess Kelly as well. Her task was downright impossible. She was introduced as a motorcycle riding tomboy who was a rebel, perhaps with a cause, but not sure what that cause was. At first Zack and her were at odds, which of course was a cover for the sexual tension. Maybe it was just the introduction of someone knew into his world that led to Zack’s interest. It was Tori that lobbed the first volley though which Zack rebuffed. It was only after Zack enters a bet with Slater about kissing Tori does he realize he would like to get inside that leather jacket.
Tori always had this awkward way about her which was interesting considering her moments of downright bravado. There always seemed something just a bit off. Zack and her dated for a few episodes and then like Kaiser Soze she was (makes puff motion) gone. Like Marty McFly’s siblings in the beginning of Back to the Future, erased from existence. She is never mentioned again. It eventually turns out that Tori prefers the company of the ladies, so Zack either damaged her for life or has so much game he got her to switch teams for awhile.
The Match-up: Lisa probably deserves this one no? She’s been there from the beginning, put in years of work but never quite been fully appreciated. She is like the Pitt of this tourney. Tori on the other hand came in late but nevertheless got to reap some benefits of being with Zack. I’d be surprised if the Paradox wins out.
6. Kristy Barnes
In case you don’t pay attention to high school sports, female wrestlers have been in the news recently. There was actually an attractive girl at my high school that joined the wrestling team. No I cannot fathom why a female would voluntarily have sweaty dudes pawing all over them for non-romantic purposes but to each their own. Enter Kristy Barnes who draws the attention of Zack (a common theme in this region) while desiring to join the team. It turns out that Kristy is pretty good as she proves her worth to Coach Sonski by pinning Rodriguez, the current Bayside Nerd Toss Champion. Zack begins dating Kristy but after Zack is about to get his ass kicked by Skulnick from Valley (this time Zack was about to pay for messing with a wrestler) Kristy is forced to come to his rescue. This emasculation at The Max creates some insecurity for Zack. He decides to call off the relationship but after realizing he was in the wrong and he was missing out on a prime piece of athlete booty, he reconciles the relationship.
Affectionately known as “Wheels” Melissa appears in the Tori teen line episode of SBTB. You may note SBTB already had a teen line episode earlier in the series. In this one Zack takes to Melissa’s sweet personality, and then discovers she is in a wheelchair. At first this alarms Zack but then takes it to the other extreme by coddling her and making her disability the focus of their relationship. Naturally this turns Melissa off and after a ridiculously played charity basketball game she decides she has had enough. She points out how Zack has been misguided in his direction toward their relationship. Zack of course sees how dumb he was being and they enjoy each other’s company at the charity dance. Melissa gets extra bonus points for not only being another notch no Zack’s belt, but also helping him learn and grow as a person. She also gave great advice as part of the teen call line and help center. She is definitely a sentimental favorite.
The Match-up: This is a tough call and perhaps the most heated match-up in the first round. Both teach Zack to better himself and both are strong women in their own way.
Has anyone ever made a cutoff USC sweatshirt look so good? Danielle stops into The Max to use the phone because her car has caught a flat. Zack does not hesitate to pounce on this opportunity. After offering his trademark, cancer-inducing, loaf of bread-sized phone to Danielle he then offers to change her flat. [Note to the dudes out there: learn how to change a flat] The romance begins to ignite as Zack operates under the guise of being a fellow USC undergrad like Danielle. This necessitates of the most compelling storylines of SBTB. The guys then create fake IDs so they can get into the now infamous 18 and up club The Attic. While there they see none other than Jeff from The Max dancing and kissing another girl. Drama Bomb! The news leads to Lisa and Jesse pandering for fake IDs and a plan to catch Jeff in the act. This was necessitated after Zack (for reasons I don’t understand) is chosen to tell Kelly of Jeff’s infidelity. Kelly of course does not believe Zack and even busts out with one of her harshest insults ever calling him a “maggot-mouth liar”(Burn!). Kelly of course manipulates Screech to make her an ID and she busts Jeff in the act. She lets him off pretty easy too as she just tells him goodbye. No slap or pouring of drink on Jeff’s ugly white V-neck sweater.
Back to Danielle. She was the hotness. I do not fault Zack at all for trying to carry on the charade of being at USC. Of course it comes crumbling down thanks to his Mom answering his cell phone. Zack is plucked from The Attic by Mom and told he will not be returning. Danielle, who was running late, probably showed up looking for Zack. Did Zack ever explain to her? Probably not, he most likely just didn’t answer the phone for awhile and let Danielle go on thinking he was just another douche bag USC guy who left her high and dry.
14. Leslie Burke
If there were any redeeming qualities about SBTB: The College Years, one of them was Leslie. If you watched the first episode of TCY it is actually not that bad. They made a point to establish that this is not high school and the three guys will have to find new identities. This is particularly tough for Zack because at Bayside he was king. In college, he’s just a freshman. Leslie rebuffs his advances and the two embark on a series of back and forth for the remainder of the series until Kelly came back into the picture. As the series went off a sharp cliff after episode 1 (which included the addition of Alex, perhaps the worst SBTB character of all time) the story got more convoluted. However, as I stated earlier I think Zack and Leslie ended up in some kind of situation together at least for awhile, if not for one night. The daughter of super rich parents, Leslie was always fighting against her status. It’s always admirable when kids from wealth rebel against having everything laid out for them on a silver platter.
The Match-up: It’s hard for me to be impartial because of my disdain for TCY, so I will simply sit back and let the votes decide it.
Like TCY the “Good Morning Miss Bliss” aka the middle school years characters will be few and far between in the tourney. That is not to say there were not some excellent characters. Karen appeared on the first ever episode of the SBTB universe. She is a girl Zack met at summer camp before beginning the 8th grade. Like Danielle, Karen is lied to by Zack about his age. Zack pretends he is in the 9th grade so he can continue his romance with Karen. This of course leads to Zack weaving a tangled web of lies he eventually gets caught in. The sour part for him is that is appears Karen would not have minded if he had just come clean. Miss Bliss makes this pretty apparent to a bummed out Zack. Just like that Karen is gone, free to pursue a life of religious fulfillment. Zack picks up the pieces and clearly does not learn his lesson, but when your in 8th grade, you hardly take anything to heart. [side note outside the SBTB universe: the amazing Carla Gugino in her first role ever]
10. Laura Benton
Zack gets all hot and heavy for Laura over a 2-part Christmas episode. As per usual Zack gets tunnel vision for a girl without seeing the big picture. He ultimately learns that Laura is homeless. This makes Zack undeterred as he helps Laura get a part in the mall Christmas play and buys he lots of food. It’s a noble undertaking by Zack until you realize he just wants in those underpants. Eventually Zack’s mom informs Laura and her father that Zack’s father Derrick is okay with them moving in. Now, Derrick is in this tourney in the PTA region so I don’t want to pre-slant the voting BUT how can you let two strangers you never met live in your house while you’re out on business. I’m all for the season of giving but that is a little too trusting. And who thinks it is a good idea to have a girl Zack is interested in stay in their home? Teenagers alone have raging hormones but Zack is a top-level predator. It’s no wonder you never hear from them again, I’m guessing somebody got caught in flagrante delicto in the Morris household.
The Match-up: The spirit of this tournament is to view the match-ups as they exist in the SBTB universe, but voters might be swayed to see what became of Karen when she grew up and got over Zack….
2. Stacey Carosi
One magical summer at the Malibu Sands Zack fell in love with Stacey Carosi. The daughter of Leon, the owner of the beach club where the gang worked over the summer, Stacey was an East Coast, no-nonsense girl. As is the case for most teen romances, Zack and Stacey despised each other at first. Zack thought Stacey was a stuck-up bitch and Stacey viewed him as nothing more than a burn-out surfer boy. In time they came to learn each other had redeeming qualities outside of their preconceived notions. As the summer moves along they become more infatuated with each other. Even when her boyfriend from Yale came, she chose Zack over him. Of course even the brightest of flames becomes an ember and when the summer ended, they had an emotional farewell. Just to show how hard Zack was taking the end of the summer they showed him on the beach while a wistful guitar solo played. [I always thought it is humorous now to hear Zack tell Stacey “Let’s write, everyday.”] Now thanks to texting, instant messaging, Facebook, Skype, etc. it is much easier to operate a bi-coastal long distance relationship.
Stacey is the only one that can rival Kelly in terms of the length of relationship and attachment Zack had to a girl. Obviously once the two got back into high school their plans to stay together fell apart. There is a huge contingent of Carosi fans out there and it will be interesting to see how they turn out. I think she is definitely a viable threat to Kelly. The one thing that may work against her is the fact that she is a Scientologist.
15. Rhonda Robistelli
Rhonda was viewed as a scary girl at Bayside. She could hang with the boys physically and intimidate just about anyone. She had an obsession for Zack, even referring to him as “Zacky”. She also briefly tried out for Bayside’s cheerleading team but did not make the cut. In the episode where Zack bugs Jessie’s room on the night of a sleepover, he is found out. The girls, with the help of Slater, fool Zack into thinking Kelly is insane and capable of hurting him violently. As Kelly has Zack cornered he reveals that he cannot go to the dance with Kelly because he has a date in order to keep Kelly from hurting him. When Kelly asks who Zack can only come up with Rhonda’s name. At the dance Rhonda tosses Zack around like a rag doll and then reveals to him that her mother is visiting her father in prison so the house will be all theirs. Zack says he must get home for his curfew and Rhonda then sneaks a kiss. The episode ends but perhaps Rhonda was able to coerce Zack back to her folks house for a little game of prison guard-inmate. I imagine as Zack completed puberty Rhonda was no longer able to intimidate him, but the final joke may be on Zack because look at how Rhonda filled out!
The Match-up: Rhonda is my favorite 15 seed. I liken her to Robert Morris from a year ago. Completely able to pull off the big upset, but in the end it’s hard to go against Stacey Carosi.
Last Four Out of this region: Jennifer Wade (Slater’s old girlfriend from Berlin), Shana (the girl Zack and Mikey fight over in middle school), Jennifer Williams (Chancellor’s daughter from TCY), Mindy (Zack Attack’s publicist[definitely would have made it if it hadn’t been only a Dream])