It’s been nearly 30 years since our TVs graced the halls of Bayside High School, but it’s time to head back to classroom in Peacock’s new reboot of Saved by the Bell, which launches its first 10-episode season today!
Thanks to California Governor Zack Morris’ (Mark-Paul Gosselaar) ill-conceived budget cuts, many of the schools in poorer neighborhoods are forced to shut down. As a result, students from these affected districts are relocated to well-funded schools in the richer neighborhoods. Some of the former Douglas High students headed to Bayside include football player Aisha (Alycia Pascual-Pena), over-achiever Daisy (Haskiri Velazquez), and quiet, aspiring musical theater student Devante (Dexter Darden), who’s often mistaken for a jock based on his looks.
To help these students transition to their new school, each is paired with a “Bayside Buddy”. Mac Morris (Mitchell Hoog) is the son of the mayor and chip off the old obnoxious block—he’s the laid back, self-absorbed popular kid who is constantly taking advantage of the ever-positive pushover Principal Ronald Toddman (John Michael Higgins). Dimwitted jock Jamie Spano (Belmont Cameli) is the son of the school guidance counselor Jessica Spano (Elizabeth Berkley), and the quarterback of Bayside’s horrible football team, led by coach A.C. Slater (Mario Lopez). And finally, there’s transgender mean girl/drama queen (in every sense of the word) Lexi (Josie Totah), who has her own TV reality show. After the initial culture clash, the transfer students seem to quickly blend in, and it isn’t long before a new Bayside six is hanging out at The Max and getting into all kinds of crazy schemes!
The series is ridiculous and over the top, and very self-aware, making lots of callbacks and references to the original series while also calling out and making fun of some of the original show’s obvious flaws. Saved by the Bell doesn’t take itself seriously at all, which is what makes it so fun. It has many similarities to the original, starting with the core group of six, who usually have some sort of problem(s) of the week, and stage some elaborate scheme(s) in order to resolve things. Like the original, the series often breaks the fourth wall, however, this time it’s Daisy who is talking to camera and doing the old Zack Morris timeout. The transfer students also serve as the voice of reason, calling out the overly-absurd happenings and schemes they are witnessing, but are just second-nature to the the Bayside students.
The series brings back most of the original cast in some form or another. Like with the recent Fuller House reboot, I found that less is more when it comes to bringing back the original cast. While Zack Morris makes a brief appearance in the series premiere and returns for the last few episodes, we see far more of Slater and Jessie throughout the season. Jessie is married but she hardly ever sees her husband, and still coddles now-teenager Jamie. A.C. is single, but still has obvious feelings for Jessie. He struggles to accept the fact that he’s not the cool popular jock from his high school heydays. As for the rest of the main cast, Lisa only appears for one short scene, and we never see Mr. Belding or Screec—though, there’s a hilarious explanation as to where he is and why he couldn’t be there. The season also includes some cameos from other recurring characters from the original series.
The first few episodes are a bit heavy on the wokeness and the concept that the white Bayside mothers are trying to save the poor transfer students. Though it takes a humorous approach to the subject matter and doesn’t get too political. The series quickly moves away from this kind of statement-driven story, and just embraces the fun of it all. By the third episode, I was all in, and binged through all 10 episodes in a single sitting. I found the series to be quite hilarious, and I loved how it takes the ridiculousness and absurdity of the original series, fully embraces it, and dials it up to 11.
At launch, all 10 half-hour episodes of the first season of Saved by the Bell will be available to watch for Peacock Premium subscribers, while those with the basic free tier should be able to at least check out the first episode.