Lifetime Television premiered it's most recent original movie, The Unauthorized Saved by the Bell Story, last night. For anyone steeped in the culture/lore of Saved by the Bell there was probably nothing of any interest learned here. Except for that Dustin Diamond (Screech) made friends with an actor who could only get extra work. This actor turned him onto alcohol and marijuana. This actor even helped to get Mr. Diamond "laid" on down time from a press junket in South Carolina. As it turned out, this actor was just using Mr. Diamond in hopes of getting a part on the show. Go figure.
I will openly admit that I consider myself a Saved by the Bell aficionado. I have even written about the series and it's affects on misguided relationships on this blog years ago. (Saved by the Bell: Anatomy of a relationship 7/7/08). I decided to watch this Lifetime movie and put myself through two hours of what can be best described as melting vanilla ice cream. With the network that brought us such titles as Killing Daddy and Crime of Passion: She Woke up Pregnant and with a script loosely based on the book Behind the Bell by Dustin Diamond, I was expecting a little bit of at least a PG-13 look into Saved by the Bell. Instead, we were given items that would have barely registered on an episode of the show itself. Die hard Saved by the Bell fans probably even noticed that episodes depicted in the movie actually never happened. I realize that copyright laws are in place and this is the most likely reason we saw allusions to episodes that occurred but no actual episodes.
Okay, not all the episodes depicted were lies. The graduation episode did occur and Slater (Mario Lopez) did have to dress up
as a swan in a leotard, but everyone knows Bayside's color was maroon. Yes, we do get a look at the infamous caffeine pill episode (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bflYjF90t7c). A very serious moment occurs during rehearsal. Everyone is in awe, except for Mr. Diamond, who breaks out in a long laugh. Now if the main reason of this movie is for us as an audience to feel any sort of sentimentality for Mr. Diamond, this moment did not help.
I digress. I'm not here to break down the entire movie. That could take days. I'm here to list eight things I wanted to learn more about that the movie did not go into.
1.) Saved by the Bell helped to provide an influx of teen centered shows in the early to mid-90's. One of these shows was another Saturday morning staple, California Dreams. Even if it was to dramatize it (to the nth degree), I would have liked to see how the Saved by the Bell cast responded to the new kids on the block. I like to think that there were all out brawls on the studio lot and a Romeo and Juliet type love story when one member of Saved by the Bell slept with a cast member of California Dreams. Now that's drama. At the very least, we could have seen a battle of the bands in which The Zack Attack dominated the California Dreams in competition.
2.) Speaking of The Zack Attack, why was Jessie (Elizabeth Berkley) not in the band. Had she already left the show at this time? Could she not pretend to play an instrument? Was the character of Jessie morally against music making? We knew she could sing. She was in the Glee Club and sang a song with Slater at the dance in which Zack (Mark-Paul Gosselaar) and Kelly (Tiffani Thiessen) broke up. Where was she?!
3.) Kelly and Zack broke up because of Jeff (Patrick Muldoon). Mr. Muldoon was in Starship Troopers, which was directed by Paul Verhoeven. Mr. Verhoeven directed Showgirls, which starred Elizabeth Berkley. Who, of course, was conspicuously missing from The Zach Attack. I really just wanted this entire Lifetime movie to be about the band, I guess.
4.) When Ms. Thiessen and Ms. Berkley left the show, a new character was brought in. Her name is Tori (Leanna Creel). The characters are all seniors in high school. Now, the Lifetime movie explains this, but simply glosses over the character of Tori. Just like the original series did. Here we have episodes with Jessie and Kelly. Then they leave and Tori appears. Then suddenly the class is graduating with Kelly and Jessie, but Tori is nowhere to be seen. Tori went through all the trouble of dating Zack, helping to write the school song, and fixing Lisa's (Lark Voorhies) car after the drunk driving accident. Yet, she gets no diploma. Was there drama because of this? At this point, did the writers even care? I need to know these things to sleep at night.
5.) As most fans know, Saved by the Bell helped launch the career of Tori Spelling. Well, her dad probably helped with that, but you know what I mean. Also appearing in an episode was Denise Richards. Appearing as an extra in many episodes, you'll find a young Scott Wolf. Hmm... Scott Wolf played characters that have drinking problems, most notably in Party of Five. Mr. Diamond had an actor friend who was an extra that liked drinking vodka from a flask. What does this all mean? Probably nothing. I just like to talk about Scott Wolf whenever I can.
6.) As a society, what were we thinking about in our fashion choices of the early 90's? Those outfits that Slater wore were... I don't even have a word to accurately describe them. Lots of neon was involved, especially on the night the boys lip sync to the Beach Boys "Barbara Ann". Now there's a scene I would have liked to see the "behind the scenes" look at. I can't really blame the costumer because she was probably just dressing them in what was hip at the time.
7.) More Mr. Belding (Dennis Haskins)! He pops in and out of scenes like nobody's business. I know the cast were all teenagers, but I bet he partied with them. Partied hard. I would have liked to seen his frustration when the kids started screwing around on the set. Or maybe he was the one that led them in their shenanigans and hi-jinks. We'll never know because apparently Lifetime didn't deem Mr. Belding that important. Shame on you, Lifetime Television. Shame on you.
8.) In the final moments of the show, the actor playing Dustin Diamond gives the audience a brief overview of what happened to the cast of six after the show. He briefly mentions something that actor did or continues did. He does not mention Franklin and Bash, but that's not important here. He does mention Saved by the Bell: The College Years, but he does not mention Saved by the Bell: Wedding in Las Vegas. He also does not mention that he would continue to play Screech for 7 more seasons in Saved by the Bell: The New Class. I think this was very vital to the telling of the story, especially for a man that despises the character of Screech so vehemently. Especially since the rest of the teenage cast tried desperately to shed their image and it worked. It will always be a part of their lives and yes, they will be remembered mainly for Saved by the Bell, but at least they have embraced their past and not continually tried to put it down.
There it is. Like I said, I knew what I was getting into when I decided to tune into a movie on Lifetime. I was expecting more of a behind the scenes look at one of my favorite t.v. shows while growing up. Instead, I was treated to what equated to a very badly re-enacted E! True Hollywood Story of Saved by the Bell. Now, if you excuse me, it's time go take down my Kelly Kapowski poster. It's time to grow up.