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The past year has been an incredibly rich one for fans of Saved by the Bell. (Not a sentence one has to form very often.) It all reached an apex of sorts on The Tonight Show, which featured Jimmy Fallon taking a trip back to his high school days at Bayside, specifically the day when he told friends Zack, Kelly, Jessie and Slater that he was leaving. It’s pretty much the best thing since Saved by the Bell.
Nothing dredges the depths of post-modernism more gleefully than a Saved by the Bell sketch with the original actors commenting on their careers after SBTB. Beyond just a guilty pleasure, this is “scraped off of the electric chair pleasure,” as we watch Mark-Paul Gosselaar, Tiffani Thiessen, Elizabeth Berkley, Mario Lopez and Dennis Haskins don their old duds and essentially perform the hits for Jimmy Fallon and his audience. As soon as Bayside’s main hall shows up, with the walls covered in episode-specific posters, my face locked into a permagrin. And then Zack walked out, and the crowd screamed for like twenty minutes or something. Time doesn’t work the same in this universe.
From the costumes to the props to the jokes, there was nothing imperfect about this. The theme song gets a reference. Slater’s grin is as shit-eating as ever, and he’s wearing tearaway clothes for impromptu dance numbers. Lopez and Berkley don’t look like they’ve aged past Saved by the Bell: The College Years (which also gets a reference).
Fallon’s career and missed chances with Nicole Kidman gets joked about. ”I’m so excited!” and Zack Attack show up. And there was no better quote on TV on Wednesday than this.
I got Kelly Kapowski pregnant.
This was definitely better than the Saved by the Bell Lifetime movie, although that was amazing in its own special way. Watching these actors just settle right back into the roles that launched them into different orbits, it’s more fulfilling than actually seeing them return for an hourlong reunion special. You can’t get the giant mobile phone joke into a modern-day version.
Fallon recently brought back some TV nostalgia with his take on the Fresh Prince of Bel Air theme. Are we going to get a Beverly Hills 90210 reunion next? Is it too soon for Freaks and Geeks?