First, there were The Beatles, and then later on, after the line between talent and popularity had grown maddeningly large, there was the cast of Saved by the Bell. Just listen to the cacophony of teen ecstasy in the first five minutes of the TV movie The Unauthorized Saved by the Bell Story, which Lifetime released to remind people that life wasn’t always easy for actors in hit Saturday morning series. It comes complete with The Go-Go’s “We Got the Beat” and Bel Biv Devoe’s “Poison,” which means the music budget for this thing must have been in the dozens of dollars for sure.
Meet the cast. There’s Mark-Paul Gosselaar (Dylan Everett), Dustin Diamond (Sam Kindseth), Lark Voorhies (Taylor Russell), Tiffani-Amber Thiessen (Alyssa Lynch), Mario Lopez (Julian Works) and Elizabeth Berkley (Tiera Skovbye). They’re all in a limo dressed to the sevens and worried that their current 1990 fanbase won’t show up for whatever event they’re traveling to. We find out that the girls are more insecure than the guys, and that Mark-Paul is perfectly happy with slightly antagonizing anything without a vagina.
Lo and behold, the fans have turned out in droves, bringing smiles to everyone’s faces. Sure, my anticipation for this movie is drenched in irony, but this preview features quite a few details that I legitimately enjoy, starting with this massive estrogen-filled crowd. These posters are fairly outstanding – Zack 4 Life and Call Me Later, Slater were highlights - as are the cast headshots being held up by everyone. Because everyone knows teenagers have endless supplies of actor headshots at their disposal. (Maybe the network handed them out; I doubt we get that kind of exposition from this movie.)
Mark-Paul tries Zack’s patented “Time Out” trick, which Dustin interrupts, clearly sick of being hidden in the shadows while his more glamourous costars get all the attention. We also get to watch Dustin’s father get really pissed off that he has to drive a two-hour round trip for all these auditions, but seeing as how I haven't an iota of sympathy for the real Dustin Diamond, I’m certainly not going to oil my heartstrings for his Lifetime re-imagining. No, I get way more relevant pleasure out of seeing all the teenagers behind the two actors unable to remain in their frozen positions for the rest of the scene. There’s a reason why Zack usually did this trick in front of a wall.
These first few minutes also get into some behind-the-scenes stuff with show creator Peter Engle (Andrew Moxham), but that’s not what people want from this. We want to see bitches getting catty with one another, and we want Dennis “Mr. Belding” Haskins (Ken Tremblett) to be a total weirdo. Right? Additionally, I cannot wait to see Mark-Paul in his "natural environment", which does indeed include a poster that says “Get Dirty,” for anyone who was wondering.
The wait for The Unauthorized Saved by the Bell Story won’t go on much longer, as it is set to premiere on Lifetime next Monday, September 1. Hear the Bayside Tigers growl! Gr-r-r-owl!