Several original cast members return in new version
At a time when many classes are being taught remotely, school is back in session at Bayside High.
The original “Saved by the Bell” has had several spinoffs already, including TV-movies and “The College Years” and “The New Class” series, and it gets another as Peacock begins streaming a new version Wednesday, Nov. 25.
In the tradition of many revivals, familiar faces from the first show — including Mario Lopez, Elizabeth Berkley Lauren and (more as guest stars than cast regulars) Mark-Paul Gosselaar, Tiffani Thiessen and Lark Voorhies — merge with fresh ones, with John Michael Higgins (who also worked with “30 Rock”-alum executive producer Tracey Wigfield on “Great News”) as the current principal. Executive producers Peter Engel and Franco Bario also are back.
Berkeley Lauren maintains it was “just a done deal on the spot” when she was approached about being on “Saved by the Bell” again. “To just know this team that Tracey was putting together and her creativity, her angle on bringing this back but with a whole new reimagining, something really relevant for now but still maintaining and embedding the things that people loved … I was in immediately.”
In the update, Zack Morris (Gosselaar) is California’s budget-crunched governor. He tries to make up for having had to close many high schools by sending the impacted students to Bayside, where the well-to-do pupils get frequent culture shocks from their newly imported peers. Two of the new characters have direct ties to earlier ones, with Mitchell Hoog playing the son of Zack and Kelly (Thiessen), and Belmont Cameli as Jessie’s (Berkley Lauren) offspring.
“While the original show was basically a Saturday-morning show for kids, this is a single-camera, edgier comedy that I think will be exciting for people who love the original,” Wigfield notes. “But if you never saw the show, (this is) just a funny comedy about high school in 2020. I wanted the premise to be kids from this other school coming into this weird Bayside bubble and being like, “Hey, this place is really strange,” and responding to it as though they’re walking into the original show in the ‘90s.”
NBC aired “Saved by the Bell” from 1989 to 1993, though the show’s enduring popularity (helped by its catchy title song) might make it seem like it ran a lot longer. New co-star Cameli says that in playing Jessie’s son, he made it a point “to go back and watch and see the character of Jessie Spano in her element, in high school, and get a gauge on what she was like. It was important to note how it was then, and how that can translate to a more relevant landscape as well.”