Television Info

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Saved by the Bell

Saved by the Bell was a popular teen sitcom which ran from 1989 to 1993 and built a large, loyal fanbase. Its original incarnation, Good Morning, Miss Bliss (1987), starred Hayley Mills as the goodnatured Miss Carrie Bliss who oversaw later Saved by the Bell cast Lark Voorhies, Mark-Paul Gosselaar, and Dustin Diamond as well as other students. Good Morning, Miss Bliss would later be retitled Saved By The Bell.

Saved by the Bell brought fame to Gosselaar, Voorhies, Diamond, and fellow cast members Tiffani-Amber Thiessen, Elizabeth Berkley, Mario Lopez and Dennis Haskins. Gosselaar became a teen idol, making the cover of Tiger Beat and a number of other teen publications. While there were many different actors and seasons, and there was even a different cast once the characters of these actors graduated Bayside High, these actors were the stars of the show during its heyday.

Saved by the Bell may be most remarkable among its genre for having two actors, Tiffani-Amber Thiessen and Elizabeth Berkley, go on to enjoy greater success as older actors, though Berkley's career in particular declined, never recovering from Showgirls. Mark-Paul Gosselaar and Mario Lopez have also enjoyed marginal success after Saved by the Bell.

Characters

* Zachary "Zack" Morris, played by Gosselaar, the charming con artist with a golden heart, Zack always managed to end up in the principal's office.

* Kelly Kapowski, played by Thiessen, the cheerleader of the group who was always Zack's romantic interest. She demonstrated a strong family ethic, which depicts her home-based morality quite well. She was a good girl who rarely used profanity. When someone wronged her, she would call them "Un-nice girl!" or "You're something really really bad!" Kelly loved Zack but many times felt cheated by him so she'd pay attention to other guys every once in a while too. She worked at "The Max" as a waitress.

* Albert Clifford "A.C." Slater, played by Lopez, the muscular "jock" type who became one of Zack's best friends (whom he called "preppy". He was a football player and a wrestler. He originally had a crush on Kelly, but settled for Jessie instead (with particular attention to 'settled', as Jessie was clearly no Kelly). His father was a major in the army who wanted to send him to Military school in Hawaii. He also had a caveman mentality, and did not approve of Jessie's feminist ways (this would usually draw ire from the studio audience). In an episode of Saved By The Bell The College Years, A.C. Slater finally finds out his actual family name is Sanchez and that he is a Chicano, to which Zack replies, "I always thought he was Italian."

* Jessica "Jessie" Myrtle Spano, played by Berkley, the girl who had to study hard all the time to keep her high grades. She was very smart, but also felt her parents' pressure to keep up the good grades. Her main interest was beef boy Slater, but was also a moderate feminist, which shone through when Slater called her "babe" or "mama."

* Samuel "Screech" Powers, played by Diamond, Zack's other best friend, an aspiring scientist and all around geek who was in love with Lisa. Considered the "coolest nerd" at Bayside, his popularity was nevertheless limited to the geek girls in school and members of the chess club. This is not to say he didn't enjoy a good deal of attention from Zach and the gang, likely the most popular group at Bayside.

* Lisa Marie Turtle, played by Voorhies, a beautiful African American girl who was the fashion expert and wanted nothing to do with the guy who wanted to go out with her, Screech. Lisa wanted to be a fashion designer. Superficial and vain, her main interests included clothing, boys, and money.

* DJ Farbsie was played by Bryan Farberman for two seasons, the crazy and often inappropriately-dressed disc jockey friend of Screech.

* Mr. Richard Belding, played by Dennis Haskins, was known for being part nerd part cool guy, who was notoriously out-of-touch with his students. He was often frustrated by Zack's antics, yet was occasionally a friend of the gang. In high school, he was known as "The Big Bopper."

In season three, Saved by the Bell had the characters work at a resort by the beach. Characters specific to these episodes were:

* Leon Carosi, played by Ernie Sabella
* Stacey Carosi, played by Leah Remini

In 1992, Saved by the Bell's first made for TV movie Saved by the Bell: Hawaiian Style aired. Kelly's grandfather invites the kids to stay at his little hotel in Hawaii. However, someone else is out to buy his land and build an apartment complex. Zack and gang end up saving the hotel. Zach also falls for a divorced woman with a child, but realizes he "just ain't ready fo that father thang".

Season four was an interesting season, as after the shooting was finished, NBC requested additional episodes, necessitating an abbreviated fifth season. However, Tiffany Amber Thiessen and Elizabeth Berkley were unavailable for additional shooting, so NBC hired Leanna Creel to portray Tori Scott. No mention as to why she was in the show, or what happened to her was ever offered by scriptwriters.


Saved by the Bell: The College Years

When the actors got too old to be playing high school students, a new series was created, entitled Saved by the Bell: The College Years which showed the cast dealing with college life (needless to say, they all shared a dorm). College Years only lasted one season before the actors moved on to other projects. Unlike the original series which aired on Saturday mornings, College Years was shown in Primetime.

Additional actors for The College Years

* Anne Tremko as Leslie Burke (bookworm)
* Kiersten Warren as Alex Taber (obnoxious actress)
* Bob Golic as Mike Rogers (ex-football player/grad student)
* Holland Taylor as Dean Susan McMann (uptight)
* Patrick Fabian as Professor Jeremiah Lasky (hip liberal professor)

Originally, the six main characters on the College Years were Zack Morris, A.C. Slater, Screech Powers, Leslie Burke, Alex Taber and Danielle Marks (Essence Atkins). After the pilot, Tiffani Thiessen decided to return to play the role of Kelly Kapowski. Atkins' character was written out of the plotline as having transferred to another college.

The show ended with a two hour movie Saved by the Bell: Wedding in Las Vegas in which Zack and Kelly got married, the movie included cast members from both the original show and the college years show. Jessie made a last minute arrival, having difficulty getting time off from filming 'Showgirls'.


Trivia

* In 1993 a spinoff series was created entitled Saved by the Bell: The New Class which although set at Bayside High, featured an entirely different cast of teens. Mr. Belding remained the principal, and an adult Screech joined him as administrative assistant. Belding later worked as a mall security guard. The New Class ran from 1993 until 2000.


* The Miss Bliss episodes are sometimes shown in reruns as Saved by the Bell: The Junior High Years.

* The Miss Bliss episodes took place at John F. Kennedy Junior High School in Lafayette, Indiana. The Saved by the Bell setting for Bayside High was in Palisades, California.

* The reason for the change in setting is because Good Morning, Miss Bliss was originally on The Disney Channel. When the show was cancelled by Disney, NBC got it and the show was reborn as Saved by the Bell. Because of this, the only Miss Bliss cast members to appear on Saved by the Bell were Mark-Paul Gosselaar, Lark Voorhies, Dustin Diamond, & Dennis Haskins.

* The show dealt with "real teen social issues" such as drug use, drinking and driving, homelessness, financial issues, divorce, first love and love lost, graduating, college, sibling rivalry, taking responsibilites for one's actions, being bullied, death, and environmental issues. Sometimes in the pursuit of such social significance, the show lapsed into periods of unintentional comedy. For example, in one episode, Zack takes a sip of beer and then immediately afterwards crashes a car into a telephone pole.

* In another startlingly true-to-life episode, a stressed-out Jessie resorts to caffeine pill abuse in order to manage her school work and committment to the singing trio with Kelly and Lisa. Ever the concerned boyfriend, Slater tries to convince her to stop. The thrill of the pill proves too strong, however, and it is only after an emotional breakdown ("I'm so excited, I'm so excited, I'm so... scared!") that Jessie recognizes she has a problem.

* At every possible opportunity, Slater would spontaneously break into dance. This can be evidenced during an episode where Zack and Slater were both pursuing the new girl in school, and later got into an altercation at The Max over a bowl of punch. When Zack pours punch down Slater's shirt, Slater shows his surprise by pop-locking as the punch runs down his back.

* Despite his character being known for his blond hair, Mark-Paul Gosselaar is actually brunette. Although born with fair hair, like most kids his hair transitioned to darker roots. Throughout his years as Zack, his hair was painfully bleached to achieve the infamous blonde hair. Mark-Paul Gosselaar's hair color on NYPD Blue is in fact closer to his real hair color.

* The character of Lisa Turtle was originally written as a Jewish-American, but producers loved Lark's audition that the character was re-written as an Africa American.

* The addition of Tori and the unexplained disappearances of Kelly and Jesse are known to fans as the 'Tori Years'


* Elizabeth and Tiffani both auditioned for the role of Kelly Kapowski, the execs behind the show adored both girls so wrote the role of Jessica Spano just for Elizabeth.


* Zack would often break the fourth wall, ostensibly freezing time by proclaiming, "Time out!" and making a "T" gesture with his hands. The other characters on screen would "freeze" while Zack directly addressed the audience on whatever was happening and even occasionally manipulated the scene. One instance involved him using his cell phone to order flowers, seemingly suggesting that time only froze for those present in the room.

External links

* Saved by the Bell at the Internet Movie Database
* Mr. Belding (Dannis Haskins) Interview
* The Saved by the Bell FAQ

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