For me, Saved By the Bell is neither among the best or worst of the Herman cartoons. That it's very entertaining with some amusing moments and that the conflict is convincing saves it from being among the weakest, but that it's also very predictable and that it has one or two moments of recycled material stops it from being among the best.
Starting with the good news, the animation is very good on the most part with some very vibrant colours and smooth drawings. The characters are drawn well, especially the cat who shows the widest range of expressions and emotions of any other character in the cartoon, and the backgrounds are anything but limited in detail. The music is bursting with energy and character and is orchestrated with a very mellow richness, the catchy opening credits theme is just infectious. Saving the Bell is funny at least with some inventive ways of Herman trying to bell the cat and the ending amuses despite you knowing exactly how it's going to end. There's also a neat little twist with Herman being a salesman instead of everybody's cousin and the cartoon moves at a brisk pace. The mice bring a poignancy to the story and the cat is a great character, dastardly and resourceful in a way that Katnip could only dream of being, plus the conflict between him and Herman is convincing and entertaining. Jack Mercer and especially Arnold Stang do sterling vocal work.
Herman has his heart in the right place and is fun mostly, but he also is not as smart as he has been known to be, in some of his cartoons he shows a very cunning side but here he seemed obtusely surprised by the attempts the cat made stopping Herman from belling him. His repeated song here also is nowhere near as catchy or appealing as Ding Dong Bell from Naughty But Mice, it's mildly annoying for my taste whereas Ding Dong Bell had a little childhood innocence about it. But what stops Saved By the Bell from being better than it was is that apart from that little twist the cartoon is very predictable at a point where the Herman series and Famous Studios were starting to get repetitive, including here the odd bit of borrowed animation(in the Herman in the mouth part which was lifted out of Naughty But Mice) and a very over-familiar story, by Herman and overall cartoon standards. All in all, a decent Herman cartoon and towards the middle, but falls short of being great. 7/10 Bethany Cox
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