I don’t watch late night talk shows very often. The hosts are typically unfunny hacks and I have very little interest in hearing about the personal lives of celebrities. Occasionally I’ll watch to see the performers — Flight of the Conchords and Jenny Lewis, recently — or watch a comedian or celebrity that I’m especially fond of. Recently I’ve been venturing over to the late night section of Hulu, clicking on clips from Late Night with Jimmy Fallon that intrigue me, like interviews with the magnificent Bill Hader. One such clip was this morning’s most recent upload, an interview with “Zack Morris.”
If you aren’t a Fallon fan or just haven’t been paying attention, several weeks ago Fallon began a quest to reunite the cast of “Saved by the Bell” to mark the 20th anniversary of the show’s first broadcast. The quest began with Dennis “Mr. Belding” Haskins agreeing to sign on for the reunion, and since then Lark “Lisa Turtle” Voorhies and Mario “A.C. Slater” Lopez have also agreed to be a part of the reunion.
Last night Mark-Paul “Zack Morris” Gosselaar appeared on Fallon’s show, in character, to promote his current acting project (a courtroom drama . . . snore) and to announce that he and Elizabeth “Jessie Spano” Berkley will also show for the reunion. It was quite enjoyable to see Gosselaar acting as Zack again. Except for slightly sunken eyes and a creased forehead, he looks exactly as he did 20 years ago. I don’t know if it’s from cosmetic treatments or if he just aged well, but the man looks good. My North American readers can see the clip on Hulu or on Fallon’s website.
I really like the idea of a “Saved by the Bell” reunion. I loved watching the show as a child, though I can’t recall exactly how old I was when I watched. The original air dates show that I was only 6 when the final season aired, so I was obviously watching reruns and just didn’t realize it. Even so, the show was a big part of my formative years, and I have no doubt that it will live on as my generation’s nostalgic heirloom.
I was fond of many other shows as a child — I watched much more television back then than I do now — but none left the same lasting impression as “Saved by the Bell.” Maybe because that show was so ubiquitous; it seemed like from my elementary school years to high school I could catch an episode on television somewhere. Other (non-animated) programs that I enjoyed when I was younger — “Boy Meets World,” “Sabrina the Teenage Witch,” “Salute Your Shorts,” and “Clarissa Explains it All,” among others — all had good runs, but none had the syndicated staying power that “Saved by the Bell” enjoyed. The only program that really comes close is “Full House,” but where “Saved by the Bell” had the occasional tender moment or moralistic message, “Full House” was nothing but eight years of very special episodes.
My own school experiences were very unlike those I saw on the show. I mean, did anyone go to a high school like Bayside? With date auctions, telethons, vicious rivalries with other schools, or an administration made up of a single principal who had enough time to socialize with a handful of kids on a regular basis? Did your high school have a wrestling team that more than five people cared about? A student pop band that performed at school events?
Yet, despite the unrealistic experiences depicted on the show, I felt a kinship with these unusual teenagers. My high school may have been drastically different from Bayside, but I still enjoyed the show, maybe because of how unrealistic it was. Zack and and the gang were special — students who had extra privileges, were especially popular and lucky, and who seemed to be at the center of all the school’s events. It made me think that I could be special when I got to high school. Of course, things didn’t quite turn out that way, but that’s an entirely unrelated matter . . .
Anyway, as I said before, I like the idea of a “Saved by the Bell” reunion, but ultimately the only exciting thing about the whole event will be the anticipation. Because, once they’re all reunited, what do we expect will happen? Time will turn back, we’ll all be children/teenagers again, the actors will get into character, and the show will continue as if it never went off the air? Sure, it’ll be cute to see everyone in the same room together, but what then? It’s more likely that it will be an awkward moment to witness. These people aren’t really the friendly gang that we came to know them as on the show, and though I’m sure Mario Lopez and Dennis Haskins will be very kind and generous to their fellow actors, some may be more awkward with each other than chummy.
Then there’s the cast members who haven’t been asked to be a part of the reunion, like the short-tempered Mr. Tuttle or Stacey Carosi, played by Leah Remini, as Zack’s love interest during the Malibu Sands summer arc. No call for them from Fallon? Or how about Tori, the brunette biker who had a short stint on the show in the final season? She only starred in episodes in which neither Kelly nor Jessie appeared — the actresses would not renew their contracts for more episodes — and was an alternative love interest for the two male leads. Tori may have only appeared in a handful of episodes, but I always thought she was a lot more interesting than Jessie or Kelly. Yet there’s evidently no interest in Leanna Creel, the actress who played Tori, appearing on a reunion episode, at least not from Fallon. There isn’t even a request for Hayley Mills, whose character Miss Bliss was the namesake for the show that eventually became “Saved by the Bell”!
Nevertheless, it’s rare to see the cast of your favorite show reunited. If you’re a fan of the gang and want to see them on stage together, head over to Fallon’s website and sign the petition. Only two cast members have yet to agree to participate, Tiffani “Kelly Kapowski” Thiessen and Dustin “Screech Powers” Diamond, so I guess the purpose of the petition is to convince the remaining actors that it’s worth coming on Fallon’s show. Ordinarily I’d think getting Thiessen on the show would be the toughest challenge, but with Diamond’s amateur porn career going so well, it may turn out that he is the more difficult actor to get a hold of.