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.