There are times when I stumble across an entertainment news story where the mere existence of said story all but boggles my already pretty jaded mind. Just when I think I’ve seen everything, something inexplicable, something new, something inarguably weird will drop down from the Pop Culture Gods and land at the foot of my laptop and proceed to do a Busby Berkeley line dance across my psyche, leaving me in dire need of a couple of aspirin and electroshock therapy. And so it was this morning as I perused the latest news stories, my trusty mug of coffee loyally at my side, and came upon an item so kooky and off the wall that I did the proverbial spit-take that even John Ritter, master of the spit-take, would have been proud of.
Fresh off of the success of BH90210 and other recent revivals of 80s and 90s television shows such as The Conners (AKA Roseanne Redux), The X-Files, Fuller House and Murphy Brown comes the announcement today from NBCUniversal’s new streaming service, Peacock (hey, give me a break, I didn’t name it) that those irascible scamps from Bayside High will be returning in an all new ongoing Saved by the Bell sequel series.
Reprising their roles of A.C Slater and Jessie Spano will be the actors who originated the parts in the classic late 80s, early 90s sitcom, Mario Lopez and Elizabeth Berkley, with the very real possibility that other cast members such as Mark-Paul Gosselaar (you can call him Zack “Preppy” Morris, thank you very much) may reprise their iconic roles, too; NBC is currently in talks with some of the other cast about returning.
The brief plot synopsis of the new Saved by the Bell certainly harkens back to some of the more memorably cheesy episodes of the original series: As the new Bell rings, we find Zack Morris as California’s newest governor facing a real existential crisis upon landing in hot water for shuttering up a number of low-income high schools. In typical Zack fashion, a solution is devised by suggesting that all of the school-less students be parceled out to the highest performing high schools in California. Naturally, this includes his old alma mater, Bayside High. According to the Hollywood Reporter this new crop of students at Bayside “gives the over-privileged Bayside kids a much-needed and hilarious dose of reality.” Obviously, you don’t need to be a top prognosticator of television staples to see what the setup for the show is, but then again Saved by the Bell famously plied its trade in some of the better known television tropes.
Mario Lopez and Elizabeth Berkley reprise their original roles, this time according to sources as parents. The most famous duo since Sylvester Stallone and Brigitte Nielsen will also serve as producers for the new show.
This continuation – think of it as a Palisades low-rent version of the new Star Wars films – is courtesy of former 30 Rock scribe Tracey Wigfield and Universal Television. Wigfield will be wearing a lot of hats on this new Saved by the Bell as not only showrunner but also as executive producer. To keep that original Bell magic in check, series creator Peter Engel and Franco Bario will also be returning to live out their midlife crisis as producers on the show.
Peacock will officially set sail in the choppy streaming waters in April of 2020 with original programming slated to begin that summer.
Full disclosure time: My existence was and probably in some odd meta way still is rooted in the pop cultural landscape of the 1980s and 1990s. I lived and breathed that world and have a closet full of discarded Bugle Boys and dog-eared copies of Movieline Magazine to prove it. That being said, I never quite got onboard the Saved by the Bell rocket ship in the same way as I did such popular shows as Beverly Hills 90210 or – going classy here – The Wonder Years. Why? I don’t know, except perhaps because their favorite goofball nerd punching bag in the series, Samuel “Screech” Powers (brought to life by Wonder Years alum Dustin Diamond) actually was slightly even more cool than I was at the time, which is basically saying that Zack, A.C., Jessie, Lisa and Kelly would have shaken me down routinely for my lunch money while Screech gleefully got in a few well-timed kicks to my ribs; My way of saying that this group of kids just seemed too cool for my off-kilter sensibilities. And they dressed better…And they had perfectly coifed hair…And…Well, you get the idea.
Nevertheless, I’ll put aside the old nagging ghosts of my adolescence and give this revival a shot next year. After all, in a world that brought us the unforeseen brilliance of a Beverly Hills 90210 continuation, anything might just be possible.