Some Thoughts On The Unauthorized Saved By The Bell Story

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If you watched last night’s Lifetime movie on the 90’s Saturday morning show Saved by the Bell, you’d be forgiven if you were confused on what exactly was so unauthorized about this behind-the-scenes look at the program. If anyone was tuning in hoping for some of the salacious accusations that Dustin Diamond (Screech) leveled in his now disavowed memoir about his time on the show, you would be sorely disappointed. Diamond’s book was probably hokum, but at least it was semi-interesting hokum. Though Diamond was a producer on the Lifetime movie and the film is told mostly from his point of view, any hint of scandal or intrigue have been eliminated or whitewashed. While Diamond’s book documents on-set hookups, threesomes with producers and drug use, the most sensational thing that happens in the Lifetime movie is that Diamond smokes some pot and gets drunk – neither of which is a shocking revelation. The Unauthorized Saved By the Bell Story was less a tell-all and more a poor re-enactment of scenes from the show and boring snapshots of the behind the scenes “drama,” so much as it was. Honestly, I think there is more drama around my office and we’re a pretty boring office.

Still, I sat through the entire two hour movie, despite the fact that pretty much nothing happened and I’ll be damned if I wasted my time for nothing. So as a public service announcement to anyone that is thinking of watching the movie or has it sitting on their DVR, here are the highlights and lowlights from the movie. Admittedly, it’s hard to tell which are which.

  • Apparently no young actors look like the cast of Saved by the Bell.

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Without any context, I don’t know that you would guess that the people above were supposed to be portraying the people below.

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Lifetime didn’t seem too concerned with authenticity when making their casting decisions – a point that is only reinforced by the trailers for the Brittany Murphy biopic this weekend – and that might not be a problem if there was more going on in this film. But since there is not much else happening in the movie, I found myself fixated on the laughable job that they did in finding the actors to portray Mark-Paul Gosselaar, Mario Lopez, Elizabeth Berkeley, Tiffani-Amber Thiessen, Lark Voorhies and Dustin Diamond. Other than getting the skin color mostly right and bleaching and coifing the actor that played Gosselaar’s hair within an inch of its life, it appears that they just took the first actors that remotely could work and called it a day. It’s legitimately distracting.

 

Mark-Paul Gosselaar’s mother is part Indonesian.

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I know what you are thinking – who cares, right? That would be the normal response, but this was apparently a VERY big deal to the people at Lifetime. Gosselaar’s mother’s heritage is referenced multiple times in the film, for no real apparent reason. I guess they were really scraping the bottom of the barrel for new information. A scene also revolves around Lark Voorhies being a Jehovah’s Witness. Again – these are the shocking tidbits you learn from The Unauthorized Saved by the Bell Story. I’m clutching my pearls as we speak.

The writers seem to think that Elizabeth Berkeley was Jessie Spano.

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Maybe this is a case of life really imitating art, but I’m going out on a limb and saying that the writers of the Lifetime movie forgot that Jessie Spano was not a real person and just wrote the depiction of Berkeley like she was her character. Berkeley is shown as wanting Saved by the Bell to be more than it was and fighting behind the scenes for more real-life story lines. Her crowning achievement is the most laughable and iconic moment in the history of Saved by the Bell – Jessie’s addiction to caffeine pills. They also show her auditioning for a role in some movie about Eleanor Roosevelt, which is a very Jessie Spano thing to do (though I’m curious who she would even be playing in a movie about Eleanor).

 

Ironically, the “I’m so excited” scene may have led to Dustin Diamond’s drinking

 

In the Lifetime movie, Berkeley and Gosselaar unveil the famous scene to their fellow cast members who are all really impressed by this thespian achievement – except for Diamond. Diamond may be a jerk, but even he saw that over the top nonsense for what it was. He laughed after the end of the scene and said “It’s caffeine pills; it’s not like she was addicted to black tar heroin” which did not go over well with the cast. He is called names, runs off the stage and the next scene shows Diamond drinking from a flask. As presented, this is clear causality.

 

Even a fictional depiction of Mario Lopez is a douche.

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I have never liked Lopez, so the fact that he is shown to be a womanizing jerk behind the scenes in the Lifetime movie made me extremely happy. Everything else was pretty sanitized, but his inherent douchiness managed to shine through.

 

Not enough Belding

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There is no way that you are going to convince me that Dennis Haskins, the actor that played Mr. Belding on the show, was not a straight up creeper. Ain’t gonna to happen. In fact, I guarantee you that there are some legendary stories where that dude acted inappropriately or weird around the set. Yet there is very little of Belding in the movie, which leads me to believe that the real reason that Haskins refused to watch the film was because he knew that he wasn’t a major part of it.

 

Jennie Garth was almost Kelly.

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According to the film, the role of Kelly was narrowed down to three actresses – Theissan, Berkeley and Garth. Garth was eliminated from consideration because they “though they could do better,” which is kind of hilarious. Now, Garth is no Oscar winner, but she also didn’t appear in Showgirls. As we all know, they ultimately went with Theissan, but created the role of Jessie for Berkeley.

 

Gosselaar and Voorhies dated…or something.

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The Lifetime movie paints Mark-Paul Gosselaar and Lark Voorhies as being romantically interested in one another, but only show them occasionally holding hands and chastely kissing once or twice. This had to be done all in secret, since they were supposed to keep their personal and professional lives separate, but it’s unclear that this was a real relationship. Gosselaar also may or may not have been romantically interested in Thiessan – they kiss once in the movie, but it was called for the Saved by the Bell script. Because the film is so vague and PG, it’s unclear if any of this amounted to much of anything beyond youthful flirtation. And really, that’s the stuff that people tuning in for an unauthorized movie are looking for.

 

What happened to Max?

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There is no mention in the movie of Max, the proprietor of the restaurant where the kids hung out. He was a main character early in the series – he even made the opening credits – but then abruptly disappeared. The kids still hung out at the Max throughout the series, but the restaurant appeared to be run without any adult involvement.

 

They skipped over Zack Attack

 

How you ignore the seminal musical act of a generation is beyond me.

 

The movie is under the impression that both Voorhies and Berkeley had careers after Saved by the Bell.

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The end of the film discussed the careers of the kids after Saved by the Bell and indicated that both Voorhies and Berkeley continued to work once the series ended. They did make the concession that Showgirls didn’t turn out how Berkeley had hoped, but that her career eventually bounced back and that she’s worked ever since. Someone might want to pass along this information to Berkeley and Voorhies, since based on their respective IMDB pages this might come as a shock to them.

I was never a huge Saved by the Bell fan back in the day – by the time it was on the air my preferences for darker and more sophisticated material had already manifested – but I think even die-hard fans would have found Lifetime’s The Unauthorized Saved by the Bell Story a snoozefest. I don’t know how they managed to make a two hour film where nothing happened, but that’s what they produced. I wasn’t expecting Shakespeare – this is Lifetime after all and the source material isn’t exactly high art to begin with – but I thought that they might put together a moderately interesting movie that unearthed some new or sexy information about the goings on on the set. This Lifetime movie gave the impression that they were scared to death of being sued for defamation of any kind, so they put together the blandest and most boring version of events and hoped to cash in on nostalgia without offering anything of real value. I wish I had some of Jessie’s caffeine pills to keep me interested; I wasn’t excited or scared – just bored.

Pop Culture Odds and Ends – Breaking Bad Edition

I normally have a lot of Breaking Bad info in these pop culture roundups, but with the show recently returning for its final eight episodes ever (SOB!), there was more awesome info than normal this week. I’m not one to look a gift horse in the mouth, so sprinkled throughout the roundup is an abundance of links related to the show. And for the love of all that is holy, if you aren’t watching this show get to steppin’. You are missing out! So kick back and bring yourself up to speed on all the pop culture that you may have missed over the last two weeks. Let me be your pop culture curator.

  • N’Sync is rumored to be reuniting at the MTV VMAs on Sunday, which now forces me to watch the VMAs. I’m skeptical as I’m not sure what Timberlake gets out of this. But I do hope it happens.

 

  • Jimmy Fallon is doing a Breaking Bad parody. This will be amazing.

 

  • It’s hard to get excited about football season when you root for the Bills, but I do love when the Manning brothers do commercials:

 

  • This is an interesting casting rumor (emphasis on rumor) – could Charlie Hunnam play Christian Grey in the Fifty Shades of Grey film adaption? By the time this movie comes out, will anyone still care?
  • Friday Night Lights, the movie? Make it happen!
  • HBO has released a trailer for the new season of Girls:

 

  • NBC is clearly in the Jonathan Banks (Mike, Breaking Bad) business. After a guest appearance on Parks and Recreation, the actor will be a regular on Community.

A quick break for the depressing stuff:

  • Lisa Robin Kelly, who played Topher Grace’s older sister Laurie on That 70s Show, died. She was 43.

OK – back to the more lighthearted links.

  • Blog fave Dean Winters (Dennis the beeper king on 30 Rock) is headed to the new Andy Samberg comedy Brooklyn Nine-Nine.
  • Oprah gives away cars when she is just a guest on a show. Mental note – get in the audience when Oprah is on a talk show.
  • A trailer for the new season of Homeland:

 

  • Jay Leno’s last night on The Tonight Show will be February 6th. Believe it when you see it, Jimmy.
  • Mark your calendars: the third installment of Adam Scott’s The Greatest Event in Television History drops on November 7th. Nothing is confirmed, but speculation is that they are doing the opening credits from Too Close for Comfort.
  • Ha! Billy Ray Cyrus does look like fat Mac:

 

photo from Uproxx

photo from Uproxx

  • Whoa – it’s Walter, Jr. from Breaking Bad:

 

Photo from Uproxx

Photo from Uproxx

 

  • A tweet from Sons of Anarchy creator and showrunner Kurt Sutter makes me very nervous.
  • The chicken fight from Family Guy was never one of my favorites, but kudos to these two stunt women for the live action re-enactment:

 

  • This new trailer for season 3 of Revenge has piqued my interest:

 

  • The new channel FXX, which will show new episodes of The League and It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, launches September. Use this handy website to find out if FXX is available on your cable system (Phew- it is for me!). The network is off to a promising start with a Parks and Recreation marathon.
  • This slowed down version of Dolly Parton’s “Jolene” is pretty cool:

 

  • The house from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off is for sale.
  • This Avril Lavigne music video is a little nuts:

 

  • The White House Twitter account made a Mean Girls reference:

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  • My birthday is a month from today and I would sure like it if someone bought me this Breaking Bad Lego set.
  • Another pop culture roundup, another American Horror Story: Coven teaser:

 

  • I’m surprised it took so long; watch a guy crowd surfs in order to “Come on Down” On The Price is Right:

 

  • Benedict Cumberbatch had a message for the papzrazzi trying to get spoilers on Sherlock:

 

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Getty Image

  • In this trailer for Fading Gigolo, watch Woody Allen act as a pimp for John Turturro. There’s a sentence I never thought I’d write.

 

  • I’ve always like Donal Logue, so I’m not surprised he helped a stranger propose. P.S. Terriers is now streaming on Netflix – do yourself a favor and watch this late great series.
  • J.J. Abrams released a mysterious trailer on Monday.

Turns out it was for a book.

  • Listen to the Breaking Bad theme played on meth lab equipment:

 

As always, we end with the mashups and supercuts

  • Mean Girls mashed up with Book of Mormon

 

  • Here are some super cuts of movie clichés. First up “You just don’t get it, do you?”

 

  • Phone numbers that start with 555:

 

  • Superheroes introducing themselves:

 

  • Vulture put together a supercut of all of John Oliver’s explanations for Jon Stewart’s The Daily Show absence.
  • Nerdist put together a Breaking Bad/Saved by the Bell mashup:

Dustin Diamond was available? I’m shocked.

  • Behind Elysium (A Behind the Candelabra/Elysium mashup)

 

  • The opening of Adventure Time done in Legos:

 

 

Another installment of a Seinfeld/Game of Thrones mashup:

 

  • Ha! Thor meets Arrested Development in Thorested Development:

 

  • Breaking Bad recut as a romantic comedy:

 

  • President Obama “sings” Demi Lavato:

 

  • Listen to “Total Eclipse of the Heart” in the style of other divas:

 

  • We Are Never Ever Gonna Cook Together (Taylor Swift/Breaking Bad parody)

 

  • And finally – Walter White “sings” “My Way”

Pop Culture Odds and Ends – No A/C Edition

So as I mentioned yesterday, I’m spending the week in training for my job. It somehow feels longer than a day at work, which may have something to do with the fact that we are trapped in a second floor classroom that doesn’t have any air conditioning. You read that right – 9 hours a day the second week of July in a room that doesn’t have a/c. The room doesn’t even have screens on the windows, which at least means some semblance of a breeze is generated when people swat flies away. It’s hard to concentrate on the finer points of project management when you are ready to pass out. I may just have to roll a cooler into class with me tomorrow.

While I consider options for beating the heat, enjoy your bi-weekly roundup of pop culture stories.

  • Jenny McCarthy is a possible new host on The View. There are multiple hosting seats available – Elizabeth Hasselbeck is headed to Fox News, Joy Behar is also leaving and Barbara Walters is retiring.
  • Ha! An Arrested Development fan put George Michal’s internal clock to the test:

Well played Arrested Development. Well played.

  • Dane Cook is going out on a stand-up tour, his first in four years. I saw him on his last tour; here’s to hoping he improved over the hiatus.
  • Chris Pratt is getting seriously ripped for his role in Guardians of the Galaxy.
  • I’m still sad that no one would take me to the Phish concerts last weekend; they did a first time ever cover of “Energy” by The Apples in Stereo:

 

  • Jay-Z’s domination continues – not only did he singlehandedly get the RIAA to change how they count sales, but the MTV movie awards are getting a special statue for their Brooklyn debut. I have no proof that Jay-Z had anything to do with the Moonman remodel; let’s just call it a hunch.
  • Speaking of Mr. Carter, turns out we share a cereal preference:

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  • Jerry Seinfeld did a Q&A with Jimmy Fallon’s audience:

 

  • I’ve always wanted to go to Universal theme park for Halloween, but now that they are doing a Cabin in the Woods themed maze I REALLY want to go. As you may recall, I was a fan of that movie.
  • Chucky’s back – a new Child’s Play film will come out this fall:

 

  • A new poster for Spike Lee’s Oldboy remake has been released:

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I’m still not totally on board with this project.

Firth deserves better. This Mr. Darcy is CREEEPPPPPYYYY

Firth deserves better. This Mr. Darcy is CREEEPPPPPYYYY

 

  • This slowed down version of the Seinfeld theme is kind of terrifying:

 

  • Pearl Jam announced a North American tour this fall. In other news, I will be traveling to Buffalo, Worchester, Brooklyn, Philly, Hartford or Baltimore this fall on “unrelated” business.
  • James Gandolfini’s legendary generosity continues after his passing; the actor left $500,000 to a friend with an autistic son.
  • David Beckham’s career recreated in LEGOs is impressive:

 

  • The Flintstones and Hong Kong Phooey may get revamps. My childhood continues to get ravaged.
  • Tumblr of the week: Icorns (celebrities as corn on the cob)
  • Anchorman gets the 8 bit treatment:

 

  • Spongebob makes everything better:

 

  • Turns out that I’m not the only person that noticed the Macy’s 4th of July fireworks show “curated” by Usher featured…..well, a lot of Usher.
  • These Game of Thrones mini LEGO figures would look nice to my Walter White and Omar Little figure on my desk. It is really amazing that they give me any responsibility at work – between the bobbleheads, Yankee paraphernalia and other toys, my office doesn’t exactly scream professionalism.
  • I can’t decide if this maid of honor toast is fantastic or terrible. One the positive side, it is original and memorable. Negatives are that it takes attention away from the bride and it is hard to understand. You decide.

 

  • Businessweek (of all places) has an infographic comparing how much money rappers say they have vs. how much money they actually have. Pitbull – your pants might be on fire.
  • Set your DVRs everyone – SyFy debutes Sharknado tomorrow night ( and who doesn’t love a tornado comprised of sharks?).
  •  Is it plagiarism if you steal from yourself? Aaron Sorkin likes to recycle his own dialogue:

 

  • Tomorrow (Thursday) is 7/11 day – head to your local franchise of the convenience store for a free Slurpee.
  • I’m bummed that there is a rift between the band members of The Civil Wars. I like them.
  • Jessica Simpson gave birth to a baby boy, her second child in 14 months. If a celebrity gives birth and no one cares, did it really happen?

And, as always, we end with the supercuts and mashups

  • All the coffee and pie scenes from Twin Peaks

 

  • Johnny Depp does enjoy making weird faces:

 

  • Kevin James sure does fall down a lot:

 

  • A supercut of movie trailers that use the cliché “one man” reference:

 

When does the “in a world” supercut come out?

  • You thought I was out of “Get Lucky” mashups? You would be wrong:

 

  • Actually you would be doubly wrong:

 

  • A Game of Thrones/Gotye mashup (includes major spoilers if you haven’t watched season one yet)

 

  • I totally love this Kanye West/Depeche Mode mashup:

 

  • This Ginuwine/Kill Paris/Daft Punk mashup ain’t bad either:

 

  • This is outstanding – a mashup of The Lumineers “Ho Hey” and Will Ferrell’s Harry Caray impersonation:

 

  • And finally, this may be the greatest thing I’ve ever seen: a “Blurred Lines”/The Cosby Show mashup:

 

 

Stay cool, my friends.