I Watched ‘The Unauthorized Saved by the Bell Story’

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It’s never been a secret that I have a strange obsession with “Saved By The Bell.” I once wrote a 50-inch long blog about my thoughts on the show. Remember, this show came out when I was 9 or 10 years old. I was the program’s demographic. Why I occasionally watch it still is because it’s a part of my childhood that brings back some positive memories. And it’s cheesy as well.

Well, this week unveiled the horrible, made for TV movie about the program and I loved it. Because it was so bad.

But going in, I knew it was not going to be good. I thought it was supposedly loosely based on Dustin “Screech” Diamond’s so-called tell-all memoir from his days on the show (he serves as a executive producer).  Why I watched was to see how much of the scandalous material the movie would use, which his book made sound like almost a modern day Sodom and Gomorrah, but with a TV show about high school. His book was not a hit among his former co-stars either. To be fair, Diamond has stated it was mostly ghost written and he didn’t read it before it came out. In other words, he put out a product that made his cast mates look horrible with his name on it, without even reading it. I later found out the contents of the book were tossed and this movie was based on fresh interviews. With, I’m guessing, Dustin Diamond.

Anyway, the made-for-TV movie did not use that material. It contains nothing you couldn’t have gotten from a “E! True Hollywood Story.” For all the hype up for this awful show that I thought was great, the scandalous stuff was pretty benign. The actors playing Zack and Lisa dated. They were all horrible actors going in. Critics hated it. They drank. Ect.

What was interesting was how the story is being told through Diamond’s eyes. They even bring back Zack freezing time with his “Time Out,” only to have Screech tell him this is his story. And they pretty much made Diamond look like a selfish brat throughout that everyone seemed to just put up with. 

For instance, they are rehearsing the infamous Zack-Jessie drug confession scene. And as the cast looks on amazed at how dramatic this scene is, Diamond makes some sort of joke. The cast gives him some evil glares to which he responds “It’s caffeine pills, not heroin!” To which further exposed just how unaware he was of those around him. He didn’t get it was the performance (which truthfully was just as bad as the original) that amazed these people. Because they are decent human beings and not Screech.

He even punches out a fan who makes fun of his fictional character. He tries to fight Mario Lopez (who played A.C. Slater) after Lopez does more push-ups than Diamond in one scene. He befriends an extra, who gets him into booze and drugs and then blackmails him into getting a bigger role on the show. He gets drunk at a meet-and-greet for fans. And at no point do you feel any sympathy for him. Watching it, whenever he fell on his face, it felt like he deserved it.  Again, Diamond was an executive producer on this. Why would he go out of his way to look even worse?

The movie did have a decent soundtrack, though inexplicably it was mostly hip-hop from the early 90s. The show was not known for hip-hop, so this really kind of threw me off.  I guess it was better than generic instrumental music or playing Zack Attack’s “Friends Forever” throughout the whole thing.

It is a bad movie, but very entertaining. Because, when you think about it, how could anyone make a good “Saved By The Bell” made-for-TV movie?

But it did have a moment when a young Dustin Diamond over hears NBC president Brandon Tartikoff thinking about giving a show called “Seinfeld” a shot. So, there’s that.

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