Boosted into primetime, Saturday ayem series about high school students beginning at California U. should charm young teenagers and their juniors with its broad humor, but others will probably stick with “Full House” or “Roc.” Program, set for 8-8:30 p.m. Tuesdays after this two-episode opener, will appeal to only the simplest tastes; the grade average’s pretty low.
Blond, self-centered Zack (Mark-Paul Gosselaar), his jock buddy Slater (Mario Lopez) and slightly comic relief Screech (Dustin Diamond) share rooms in the coed dorm. Next door are fair, wealthy Leslie (Anne Tremko), whom Zack’s taken with, and her acting-major roommate Alex (Kiersten Warren). His plans are seemingly thwarted when his high school girlfriend Kelly (Tiffani-Amber Thiessen) moves in with Leslie and Alex.
The first anemic episode involves Zack cheating on Leslie and on Kelly, who seems to think they might rekindle their puppy flame. Laugh track often erupts to indicate when watchers are supposed to giggle, though why a toaster tossing out a pastry is supposed to be funny isn’t clear.
Second episode picks up considerably because of Patrick Fabian, anthropology prof who has Zack’s number. Otherwise writers Steven Kreinberg, Andy Guerdat go for the obvious, and director Jeff Melman follows suit.
The performers run their flat lines without much conviction. Gosselaar, whose Zack often confides in the camera, wrings what he can out of the egocentric freshman. Warren shows some likable spunk as the comedienne of the outfit.