Monthly Archives: February 2017

The Jimmy Fallon Sketch

Jimmy Fallon had been hinting for years that he wanted to be the talk show host to bring the cast of Saved by the Bell back together for a reunion. He eventually got five of the seven cast members to agree, but, because two were holding out, it looked like he was giving up. When he aired a California Dreams reunion instead, it really looked like he was settling for another Peter Engel show over his dream of bringing our gang back together.

I have no doubt that part of this was due to the continued fallout following Behind the Bell as Dustin Diamond managed to piss off his former cast mates royally, to the point he was even excluded from a reunion photo shoot with People magazine. It definitely looked like Diamond was going to be the weakest link in preventing any sort of Saved by the Bell reunion.

Then, in 2015, just as Jimmy Fallon was settling into his new role on The Tonight Show, we were treated to  special Saved by the Bell sketch, starring the original cast. Okay, so it was actually starring only five of the seven original cast members, and Max and Tori are nowhere to be seen either, but it was a joyous event for Saved by the Bell fans who, once again, got to watch their favorite characters in action.

Screech and Lisa were nowhere to be seen, though. In Lark Voorhies’s case, I have no idea why she wasn’t invited to the reunion. Dustin Diamond, though, is obvious: it was the only way to get the other original cast members, who didn’t want to be in the same room as him. Diamond initially claimed he had been invited but declined. He later admitted he’d been snubbed, though, proving without a doubt that he’s willing to lie as much as needed to make Dustin Diamond look better.

The actual sketch is pretty simple. Jimmy Fallon remembers the days when he was a student at Bayside. With the Valentine’s Day dance coming up, Slater plans to take Jessie while Zack Morris is taking a very pregnant Kelly. But all is not well: Jimmy tells the gang he’s moving to New York to pursue his dream of being on Saturday Night Live and dating Nicole Kidman. The gang are dejected by this news and sing Zack Attack’s hit song “Friends Forever” to wish him goodbye and good luck.

What’s more impressive is the production of the entire thing. The hallway from Bayside looks perfect, nearly identical to the show. The clothes are spot on what were used in the show, and the props, down to the brick phones, are very believable as relics of the early nineties. Someone put a lot of love and care into making this sketch feel as close to the atmosphere of the original Saved by the Bell as possible, and it shows. This was something they easily could have skimped on and been forgiven, but they didn’t and it shows a level of professionalism I have to appreciate.

Even more than this, the little things they got right are just amazing. The scene opening music, use of the time out, and Zack Morris’s monologue are perfect. The inside jokes in the background like referencing the rafting trip from “The Fabulous Belding Boys” showed they actually knew what they were doing in recreating Saved by the Bell. And even the references to various episodes didn’t feel terribly forced. Okay, I have to admit, Jessie’s recreation of the freak out from “Jessie’s Song” felt a bit forced, but, other than that, it was great.

I have to admit, the cast looks great. Only Mark-Paul Gosselaar and Dennis Haskins look like they’ve aged at all since the original show. Seriously if Slater, Jessie, and Kelly were to film new episodes today in the costumes Jimmy Fallon provided, I could believe they were leftover episodes from the original series. They were that good. Either they haven’t aged a day or the make-up on The Tonight Show is able to perform minor miracles because it was such an amazing job making them all believable that I can’t praise it enough.

Reviews and buzz on the internet following the skit were overwhelmingly positive. Jimmy Fallon managed to create a tribute to a childhood favorite of many of his viewers without seeming patronizing or overly critical. That’s not an easy task, and this could have been horrible but I think it shows the depth of love that Fallon himself has for the show that it went so well. I have a feeling this is the closest we’ll ever get to an actual Saved by the Bell reunion unless Dustin Diamond manages to kiss ass enough to be invited. As such, I thoroughly enjoyed seeing at least part of the original cast in action again in the midst of doing this blog.

Breaking Belding & Better Reach Screech

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Breaking Belding is something I normally wouldn’t touch on this blog: basically an eight minute tribute to both Saved by the Bell and Breaking Bad, a mash up of the two series in an attempt to make you laugh. I didn’t laugh once during it, and I normally wouldn’t hold that against it being that it’s a well-intentioned fan film. After all, I’m not a huge fan of Breaking Bad, so maybe there’s something here that I’m not seeing.

But then I realized who was playing Screech in it:

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Yes, Dustin Diamond appears in this strange little film, meaning that it qualifies for the odds and ends of the post-The New Class era. I’m becoming convinced that Dustin Diamond will appear in just about anything that’s thrown at him to keep himself in the spotlight. If this was Dennis Haskins, I would say he was just being a nice guy. But, after having endured the horror that was Behind the Bell, I’m convinced that this is just Dustin Diamond keeping his ego alive that someone gives a shit about him.

Directed in 2013 by Sandeep Parikh, a guy I’ve never heard of but who’s apparently been in a bunch of shit I’ve also never heard of, and distributed by website The NerdistBreaking Belding recreates one of the scenes from the first episode of Breaking Bad. Whereas, in Breaking Bad, Walter White and Jesse Pinkman were in a RV in the desert making a batch of cocaine, Mr. Belding and Zack Morris are creating the world’s most pure batch of caffeine pills called Zack Attack. Like I said, I won’t fault them on the implausibility of this shit given it is just a loving fan film.

Basically, Max shows up and wants to arrest them but is distracting by Screech acting like a dumb ass. Then Lisa and Tori show up, guns a blazing, to try and steal the caffeine pills, but Slater blows them up before they can. Zack Morris uses a time out to save Mr. Belding and himself before the explosion and pulls Mr. Belding’s pants off in the process, driving off into the sunset. Yeah, it’s as weird as it sounds.

The whole cast is here, and I don’t get most of the Breaking Bad references. Max is a DEA agent who does magic. Screech is a lawyer. Kelly od’ed on caffeine pills. Jessie is an addict who takes Zack Attack. Slater is in a wheelchair for reasons I didn’t fully grasp. And Lisa and Tori are drug buyers. Like I said, I don’t get it, but I guess I’m not truly the target audience for this one, although there are in-jokes, like Zack Morris talking about delivering Little Zack and Jessie recreating the infamous freak-out scene from “Jessie’s Song.” And, of course, Zack Morris using a time out.

Other than Dustin Diamond, there are no actors of note in this, which is to be expected from a fan film. Some of the actors cast, though, are actually right on. Brendan Bradley as Zack Morris and Alicia Marie as Lisa are right on. Others not so much. Brian Palermo as Mr. Belding was pretty bad and wearing an obvious bald wig while I never would have guessed Todd Stashwick was playing Max if they hadn’t referenced him by name as the actor looked nothing like Max. I guess you can’t expect too much out of a fan film, but they had the budget to bring in Dustin Diamond so I have to expect at least a little better out of them.

And, I have to admit, Dustin Diamond isn’t annoying as shit in this as he doesn’t try to do some horrible The New Class high-pitched voice. He does come off as the douche he is playing a sleazy lawyer, which may be just as well. In any case, for once he isn’t the worst thing about something related to Saved by the Bell.

To promote the short film, there were also two commercials created for the fake spin-off, Better Reach Screech.

The first is Dustin Diamond advertising he’ll sue anyone, anytime and shit, which is quite ironic considering the pariah Dustin Diamond has made of himself.

The other basically just gives different examples of things you can sue for.

Like I say, these are definitely not my thing so don’t let me dissuade you if they sound interesting. If you enjoy both Saved by the Bell and Breaking Bad, you may want to check it out, and it’s only eight minutes of your life. The worst that will happen is you’ll have to watch Dustin Diamond briefly again.