Saved by the Bell: will the revival be 2020's most depressing show?

The Guardian Lifestyle 2 months ago

First there was Saved by the Bell. Then there was Saved by the Bell: The New Class. Then there was Saved by the Bell: The College Years. And now, according to the wishes of absolutely nobody, comes Saved by the Bell: The Sad-Eyed Middle-Aged Financial Obligation.

That’s right, they’re making a new Saved by the Bell. Next April, NBCUniversal will launch its new streaming service Peacock, and one of its tentpole projects is the unnecessary revival of a 30-year-old children’s series starring several members of the original cast. Here’s the logline:

When California governor Zack Morris gets into hot water for closing too many low-income high schools, he proposes they send the affected students to the highest performing schools in the state – including Bayside High. The influx of new students gives the over privileged Bayside kids a much needed and hilarious dose of reality.

Which, actually, doesn’t sound that bad. It’s certainly the logical endpoint for a character like Zack Morris, a sneering, smirking, smug little rich boy who skated through life on his own privileged secretions. Zack Morris was easily the worst child who ever lived, so it only makes sense that he’d grow up to be Donald Trump. There is plenty to work with here. Maybe the Saved by the Bell reboot won’t be so bad after all.

And the other confirmed returning characters are AC Slater and Jessie Spano, with also lines up a wealth of potential story. It hasn’t been confirmed, but here’s how I see things panning out. Slater and Jessie are high school sweethearts who married too early, had children and have now grown to resent each other for stymieing all their potential. Slater, a former school athlete, is fat and depressed and desperate to relive the glory days of high school, because that was the last time that anybody showed him any respect. Meanwhile Jessie succumbed to her addiction to caffeine pills and went hard off the rails, squandering her natural intellect by debasing herself for her next fix. They live in poverty with their miserable children, and all looks lost until Governor Morris arbitrarily moves the kids back into Bayside. You’d watch that, right? I’d watch that.

It might be too much to expect the other Saved by the Bell characters to return. Lisa Turtle has become an enigma, existing only in abstract forms in the minds of her truest believers. Mr Belding is too busy with his booming celebrity voicemail business and Kelly Kapowski is probably still cooking Nathan Fillion’s lunch. And that just leaves Screech.

Obviously it’s vastly unlikely that Screech will make an appearance on the new Saved by the Bell, given that Dustin Diamond has spent much of the last 15 years making and self-releasing sex tapes, writing an autobiography that accused Mario Lopez of rape and referred to Tiffani Amber-Thiessen as “SBTB’s set whore”, and going to jail for stabbing a man. But we can hope. After all, an embittered and destitute Screech would clearly fit in with the miserable Trumpian wasteland of Saved by the Bell in 2019.

Even better, the new Saved by the Bell is being written by Tracey Wigfield, last seen showrunning the gone-too-soon wonder that was Great News. This should at least guarantee that the thing will be funny. If it can also be as flat-out depressing as the logline makes it sound, Peacock might just have its first runaway hit on its hands.

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