Continuing on with our mission to better understand those quirky characters of Saved By The Bell, it's now time to take a look at Bayside's principal, Mr. Belding.
At a glance, Mr. Belding seemed like your typical sitcom television school principal. He was the obstacle in the way of Zack's plans. But when you delve deeper into the pit of madness that was Saved By The Bell, you'll realize that Mr. Belding wasn't the principal of the entire school. No, Mr. Belding seemed to only be the principal of the main characters. If he talked to any of the other students, it was usually to tell them to fuck off since he was busy telling Slater that he needed a father figure. Mr. Belding had no loyalty to anyone that didn't have a spot in the opening credits.
Think about it. How many times did any other student in Bayside get remotely involved in anything having to do with the school on the show? Maybe twice? I don't understand why they bothered casting all those extras - cardboard stand-ups would've been just as sufficient.
Mr. Belding's job wasn't an easy one. Not only did he govern over six kids, he had probably the worst assortment of teachers ever assembled. Really, try to catch a SBTB rerun. All these teachers did was make really awful jokes or break into a song number. I'm not kidding. Remember Slater's cooking teacher? You're watching the kids baking cakes, when then out of nowhere the teachers starts belting out a song about baking cakes. Bayside knew no tradition, my friends.
It's also important to note that, despite his every waking moment seemingly spent with Zack and friends, Mr. Belding had time to find and impregnate a wife. In true SBTB fashion, nothing ever occurs without Zack being the focal point of attention...so since it was impossible for Belding to impregnate Zack, it seemed only fitting that Zack deliver the baby when he, Tori, and Belding's wife got stuck in Bayside's elevator. Yes, they managed to get stuck in an elevator that had only two floors to go between. I love Bayside.
Rich Belding had a special relationship with each of the characters...let's take a look...
Belding-Zack: From the amount of time these two spent with each other either fighting or arguing about the effects of mutant zit creme, they'd either appear to be siamese twins or lovers. But in reality, Zack was the son Belding never had. And even though Zack had a father, we only saw him for about 3 seconds of the entire duration of the show, so Belding was also Zack's father figure.
Belding-Kelly: Belding saw right through Kelly. Everyone thought she was the prettiest, most popular girl in school. Belding was the first to realize she only had three friends and a hairdo outdated by 12 years. Their relationship didn't go much further than Belding offering words of encouragement to Kelly's career choice du jour.
Belding-Slater: It seems like any time Slater showed his emotional side - Belding was right there to exploit it. Whether it be some fight with his dictating father or the grief suffered over the loss of his pet lizard, Belding was always ready to put his hand on Slater's shoulder and call him 'son'.
Belding-Jessie: Belding was in a tough position. He hated Jessie, much like everyone else. Unfortunately, Jessie was the top student and apparently the only person in school who was capable of coordinating events, so he had to be really nice to her. But we can tell how condescending it was. Little known fact - Belding switched some numbers around to insure that Screech became valedictorian. That's what Jessie gets for wearing those ridiculous blouses all the time.
Belding-Screech: These two might as well get married now to avoid the rush. They're the only two who still star on Saved the the Bell, Belding as principal and Screech as assistant principal. Belding looks the same. Screech looks twelve times uglier. And despite being the sibling of a Beastie Boy, Screech can't seem to win over Belding's affection completely. Who can blame him? Screech is the guy you drop eggs on from hotel balconies...not long to share an office with.
Belding-Lisa: Belding understood Lisa. And so did I. Lisa was the only one on the cast truly destined for success. She wasn't hanging out with these kids because she liked them...it was a power play. Lisa realized that they were the only ones in school allowed to actually participate in anything, so she knew she had to be a part of the group. Belding saw this, and he and Lisa shared many a'casual winks to each other, quietly laughing over the absurdity of his 'friends'.
My personal feeling on Belding? Well, I'm torn...either Belding was the glue that held this show together....or he was really lucky to be employed. Either way, he's been on the show as long as anyone else...so I guess he's cool.
Course, Belding's biggest failed mission was in getting the Bayside kids to wear anything that could be construed as remotely fashionable. Look at those fucking outfits!
On a final note - remember the Saved the Bell theme song? Possibly the jazziest song of all time? No? Well, refresh your memory by clicking here to hear the 1.0 MB MP3 file.
Check the archives for more Saved By the Bell character profiles!