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For the first half of the 1990s, there were few TV characters as ruthless, duplicitous and downright chaotic as Saved by the Bell's central teen heartthrob Zack Morris. While many fans can remember every one of Zack's schemes by heart, The Passage's Mark-Paul Gosselaar doesn't exactly fit into the same category. According to the actor, his Saved by the Bell production days have largely dropped out of his memory bank over the years. In his words:
When I watch the episodes, it's like a new experience for me. I don't remember, I wasn't sentimental, I didn't take anything from the set. My 14 and 12-year-old are watching it. They're kind of like, 'Eh ... ' They're unimpressed. But they're unimpressed about everything.
I can't be the only person who's downright shocked by that admission, right? (Well, not the unimpressed kids thing.) After all, one would assume that most young actors leading an NBC series would desperately want to keep all of those memories intact, whether they would be about certain acting advice, specific scenes, or one-of-a-kind experiences with co-stars. But for Mark-Paul Gosselaar, stockpiling those memories just wasn't as imperative.
Of course, Mark-Paul Gosselaar was around 15 or so when he landed Disney's Good Morning, Miss Bliss, which was reworked into Saved by the Bell for NBC. From 1989-1994, Gosselaar played Zack Morris for 14 episodes of Miss Bliss, 86 episodes of Saved by the Bell proper, four installments each of the Hawaiian Style and Wedding in Las Vegas offshoots, and 19 episodes of Saved by the Bell: The College Years.
That's a whole hell of a lot of Zack memories to get crammed into a five-year stretch, so perhaps it's not a mystery why much of those episode shoots have been excised from Mark-Paul Gosselaar's brain. Plus, he's kept up a healthy acting career in the meantime, with projects like Franklin and Bash and Pitch that likely took over his Saved by the Bell mind-space.
Promoting his new Fox show The Passage on a recent episode of Watch What Happens Live, Mark-Paul Gosselaar confessed that he and his Saved by the Bell co-stars don't really make that much money off of the hit teen comedy these days. Yes, despite the fact that it remains a winner for syndication, as well as a draw for Hulu subscribers. Here's how the actor put it.
We made really bad deals. Poor deals, back then. It is what it is. You move on, you learn. Great experience.
Nothing too sarcastic about that last thought, but it doesn't look like Mark-Paul Gosselaar is altogether upset about not having many memories or dollar bills to show off from his Saved by the Bell tenure. After all, he's got a new show on Fox that's based on Justin Cronin's popular quasi-vampire series of The Passage novels, so he's not lacking for jobs to keep himself busy.
But if he wanted to find something fun to spend his time with, Mark-Paul Gosselaar could do worse than watching the shortform series Zack Morris is Trash, which is a brilliant look at just how morally corrupt the blonde teen was during his Bayside years. Maybe he could watch with his real-life buddy, former co-star Tiffany Thiessen, and she could maybe help his memory out a little. (For the record, he does remember enough to be regretful about one particular SBTB episode.)
Be sure to check out Mark-Paul Gosselaar's new starring turn on Fox's The Passage, which kicks off on Monday, January 14, at 9:00 p.m. ET. Don't forget about all the other new and returning shows hitting the midseason TV schedule, either.