Zack (Mark-Paul Gosselaar), Kelly (Tiffani Thiessen), Slater (Mario Lopez) and Jessie (Elizabeth Berkley) are back at Bayside (in one way or another) for Peacock’s “Saved by the Bell” reboot, just in case you were running short on things to be thankful for this year. But of course, the O.G. Tigers are in their mid-40s now — enter the new new class.
Among the fresh-faced crop of kids is Daisy (Haskiri Velazquez), one of the students being bussed into the affluent area after California Gov. Zack Morris (you read that right) shut down a bunch of inner-city schools as a snap-decision budget cut. Not only is Daisy now roaming Zack’s old halls, but she’s even using his “timeout” power, freeze-framing the whole damn scene.
We had lots of questions about that choice. Fortunately, we also had two executive producers captive on Zoom.
“Just because of the premise, it felt like, if we’re painting Bayside as sort of this magical place where these kids — in our world — because of privilege never have any real problems, then obviously they are not the protagonists of your story,” said “Saved by the Bell” reboot showrunner Tracey Wigfield. “They obviously are leads and they change throughout the course of the season, but you really wanted your way in to be with these kids from the other high school that got shut down.”
She continued, “So it felt like to me, giving Daisy that way to speak directly to the audience was just a way to kind of endear her to them. But we’ve had many conversations about, like, what are the rules of this? Even in the beginning, we filmed it a couple different ways, like is this ‘Fleabag’ where she’s constantly looking at the camera? We played with a couple of different things. [The timeout power] felt like the most seamless and organic, what we landed on, and still fun.”
However, the rules could change for a second season of the “Saved by the Bell” reboot or beyond, Wigfield told us.
“There were definitely conversations towards the end of the season that we didn’t end up doing, where it’s like, can Zack still do it? Did he lose this when he lost his virginity or something? When [Daisy] times out and he’s in the scene, can he still talk to her?” Wigfield said. “But that sort of metaphysical storytelling, I think we have to save for later seasons. We don’t want to pull that out yet.”
For his part, executive producer Franco Bario — who has been a producer on every “Saved by the Bell” iteration (yes, including “Good Morning, Miss Bliss”) since inception — is simply thrilled that the technology has made it so none of his “frozen” Bayside Tigers are still breathing or blinking in the background.
Another fun Easter egg in the first episode comes early on. During the early exposition from Zack and Kelly Morris (née Kapowski), the “Saved by the Bell” reimagining (that’s the word Peacock wants us to use) explains how the leader of Zack Attack became Gov. Morris by way of a successful legal career. The visual aid for Morris’ “Saved by the Bell” maturation is Mark-Paul Gosselaar as Peter Bash opposite Breckin Meyer’s Jared Franklin in “Franklin & Bash,” which ran on TNT from 2011 to 2014.
“We did talk to Breckin and we did talk to Sony about clearing the ‘Franklin & Bash’ [photo] because it’s actually a still from the show,” Bario said.
“It used to be a longer sequence from ‘Franklin & Bash’ where [Gosselaar] is flirting with a woman in the jury to try to win a case,” Wigfield said. “I was like, ‘This is so funny, this is Zack Morris exactly.'”
Watch our interview with Wigfield and Bario via the video above. It opens with Bario speaking about rapper Lil Yachty’s theme song, which he did for the reboot because “his mom is a huge fan of ‘Saved by the Bell,'” Wigfield said.
This 39-year-old writer’s mom didn’t totally love him watching the original.
Season 1 of the “Saved by the Bell” reboot is now available in its entirety on Peacock.