It’s Alright: Back to the Bell


Our second bonus documentary from the season one and two DVDs is pretty much a bunch of people sitting around talking about Saved by the Bell. There’s no really coherent script and some of the anecdotes are contradictory. It features pretty much the same players as Saturday Morning: From Toons to Teens, so I won’t bother rehashing them.

We open with Peter Engel telling us that the original concept of Saved by the Bell was that each episode would be a “week in the life of,” following the gang from the first bell on Monday to the last bell on Friday, which is news to me. If this is what they were going for in the first season, they failed to convey it at all. In fact, this knowledge only makes things more confusing.

Dustin Diamond insults us all by telling us we either know a Screech or are a Screech. Good god, if that many Screeches are running around, I don’t know if I want to live any longer.

This time, we actually get mention of Good Morning, Miss Bliss as Peter Engel says that the show was Brandon Tartikoff’s idea based on the most significant person of his childhood, his sixth grade teacher, Miss Bliss. No mention is made of the original pilot or why that cast wasn’t carried over. Dustin Diamond tells us he auditioned many, many times with Mark-Paul Gosselaar to get the role of Screech. Dennis Haskins says he was the last person cast.

Peter Engel tells us he named all the characters after people he knew, even Screech. He also insults our intelligence by telling us Dustin Diamond was a comedy genius. Yes, there were the Marx Brothers, Mel Brooks, Robin Williams, and fucking Dustin Diamond. Give me a break.

They kind of gloss over the cancellation of Good Morning, Miss Bliss and don’t really tell why Disney Channel choose not to renew it. They also make no mention why Mikey and Nikki weren’t carried over to Saved by the Bell. In fact, Mikey and Nikki aren’t mentioned at all despite showing a photo with Mikey and Miss Bliss.

Peter Engel says after the cancellation, he had a meeting with Brandon Tartikoff and the decision was made to move the kids to California for a new show that would be a week in the life of. Peter Engel hated the name Saved by the Bell but it was chosen anyway. Dennis Haskins found out he would be carried over to Saved by the Bell because a wardrobe assistant was told to keep Haskin’s costumes. Also, Engel admits that Screech was his last ditch effort when a scene wasn’t working in an attempt to get cheap laughs. Makes sense.

There’s some mention that Elizabeth Berkley originally tried out for Kelly. Thank god she wasn’t cast as Kelly. She was also the oldest of the cast.

Peter Engel continues telling us about how clueless he in the development as he admits he did not want a bell or to hear “I was saved by the bell,” in the theme. Yeah, he was definitely the visionary on this show.

We get some admittance that the show was pretty unpopular in the beginning but eventually people came around. Dennis Haskins tells us that it was the TBS episodes that really made Saved by the Bell popular.

Don Barnhardt tells us there were eight to ten people writing each of these episodes. No wonder some of them seemed like such a mess.

Mention is made of Hawaiian Style and how most of it was filmed in Santa Monica, with only a few exterior shots in Hawaii because the producers were cheap asses despite having one of the most popular shows on television at the time.

Peter Engel once again shows how out of touch he is with what actually happened on the show when he says that Tiffani Amber-Thiessen wasn’t available for the last thirteen episodes of the show because she was on 90210. He apparently forgets that year in between Saved by the Bell and her stint on 90210 when she was on a little show called The College Years. Yeah, she just didn’t want to be on the fucking show anymore, dip wad.

We find out the reason Tori isn’t in the graduation episode is because it was shot before Tori joined the cast, which is a weak excuse. They talk about how Tori was a supposed replacement for Kelly. They also spend some time talking about famous people who were on the show.

They also try to pretend “Jessie’s Song” was some profound breakthrough in teen programming and about how the show is essentially all about something wrong being made right.

Eh, I guess it’s kind of cool hearing these people talk about Saved by the Bell but it’s kind of a soft documentary. Like Saturday Morning: From Toons to Teens, it really only glosses over anything that was wrong with the show while extolling it perfection from on high.

7 responses to “It’s Alright: Back to the Bell

  1. Yet it still seems so much more accurate than The Unauthorized SBTB story! The show took off in the second season before TBS…I guess TBS superexploded it. I started watching sometime in season 1 if I remember correctly. I remember watching all of the episodes I had missed in syndication.

    • It came to TBS during season 4 (1992) a year before that, the reruns came to Wpix-11 in NYC.

      Another thing the unauthorized movie got wrong (among a dozen other things) is that they made the graduation episode look like Elizabeth Berkley and Tiffany-Amber Thiessen came back to the series to film it, where in actuality it was shot BEFORE they left. If they really did come back for it, then where was Tori??

  2. Still better than Glee.

  3. I feel I have seen this before, I think E may have done a True Hollywood Story episode of SBTB.

  4. This is the first that I’ve heard of Hawaiian Style not being taped in Hawaii, but I guess I shouldn’t be surprised.

  5. 10 people to write an episode???? Mind is blown.

Leave a Reply