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Saved by the Bell and its multiple follow-ups were a TV institution for generations of young people (some of whom turned into older people), and while I doubt anybody would call them perfect television, they are certainly iconic in their own hyper-specific Saturday morning programming ways. It turns out Peter Engel, the executive producer who basically spearheaded the entire franchise, has a pretty big regret about one Saved by the Bell choice. And it all about what happened after Bayside.
I should've taken all the six kids to college. I should've insisted we take them all and I didn't. It was my decision and I made a mistake.
Peter Engel is standing at the edge of tomorrow in making that comment, and from here, the future looks bright for him, since that's a perfectly astute regret to have concerning the higher education spinoff Saved by the Bell: The College Years. Fans got to watch Zack, Slater and Screech make themselves at home in a college dorm with some female strangers and the overly personal NFL great Bob Golic. Kelly did show up not too far into the run, so it was then sort of on par with "The Tori Years" from O.G. Saved by the Bell. And nobody liked those the most. It was all definitely different, and arguably missed the mark.
There wasn't necessarily anything wrong with new characters Leslie or Alex, respectively played by Anne Tremko and Kiersten Warren, but it was always hard to accept newbies into the Zack Attack clique. (Tori Spelling's Violet Bickerstaff and Leah Remini's Stacey Carosi are two examples.) Plus, let's not forget that Saved by the Bell: The College Years split Zack and Kelly romantically to head back to Kelly's possibly perverse fascination with older men. Remember when she was all up in love with Jeff, her boss at The Max? Here, she was all into her professor, played by Patrick Fabian of recent Better Call Saul fame. What is that about, Mr. Engel?
In his interview with The Wrap, Peter Engel seems to address that kind of thing.
I was trying to make it different than Bell and I think we made it too different. I think we lost some of our --- what's the word? --- innocence.
I believe we all know the innocence really died when Jessie got totally strung out on caffeine pills - which was originally supposed to be about something else - or during the drunk driving episode. Or when Jessie's stepbrother killed that one teacher. (That last one might have been fan fiction.)
You'd better hurry if you want to still watch the high school comedy on Netflix, as it's going away soon. You can catch some of the Saved by the Bell cast in different places on your TVs, with Mark-Paul Gosselaar catching baseballs on Fox's Pitch, Tiffani Thiessen cooking meals on Dinner at Tiffani's, Mario Lopez co-hosting on Extra and appearing in hit shows like This is Us and NCIS: New Orleans, Dancing with the Stars vet Elizabeth Berkeley appearing on New Girl earlier this year, and Dennis Haskins working on indie movies as well as the ABC comedy web series This Isn't Working. Dustin Diamond is currently apologizing to his former co-stars.
And in between chapters of Peter Engel's recently released memoir I Was Saved by the Bell: Stories of Life, Love and Dreams That Do Come True, check out our midseason premiere schedule to see what the small screen has to offer in the 2017.