It has been announced that there is a Saved By The Bell reboot in the works and we have but three questions.
- Have we, as a society, asked for this?
- Is this what society needs right now?
- Why now?
To which we can answer: not really; not particularly and, presumably one of the original cast members has run into financial difficulty. Before we go on, the show will unfortunately not follow along the lines that I - and I'm sure many of you - were initially hoping for upon hearing this news. It will not detail the adventures of an alternate reality version of the cast who, due to their varied and repeated infractions of school laws - and often laws in general - have been continuously held back and forced to repeat school years so that they are still, as people in their mid-forties, trying to complete their high-school education.
It will unfortunately not be thus. We will not be treated to the sight of a middle-aged Screech, haunted by stasis, yet again misinterpret some relatively simple social cue from a classmate - some thirty years his junior - to 'hilarious' affect. We will not have to endure a haunting story-line where Kelly and Zack are summoned to Mr. Belding's office - himself, now little more than a brain in a jar - to be punished for yet again being late to class. Their appeals that they were only late due to child-care arrangements for their seventh child having fallen through at the last minute will not wash with Mr. Belding - the brain in the jar who runs the school.
No, alas, the new Saved By The Bell is not to be thus. It instead, sounds as if it will be even more horrific.
The synopsis provided by NBC with the announcement of the news runs thus:
When California governor Zack Morris gets into hot water for closing too many low-income high schools, he proposes they send the affected students to the highest performing schools in the state – including Bayside High. The influx of new students gives the over privileged Bayside kids a much-needed and hilarious dose of reality.
This honestly sounds like a socially dystopian thriller of a scale hitherto never conceived of by television writers. Forced closures of low-income schools? 'Rich kids' interracting with children who grew up in economically-deprived and systemically-disadvantaged neighbourhoods being utilised as an apparent vector for comedy? Zack Morris as a governor? Truly, it is hell writ large on the silver screen.
What is truly bizarre about this reboot is that, as of now, the only original cast members who have been confirmed for it are Mario Lopez and Elizabeth Berkeley, who play A.C. Slater and Jessie Spano. Notably, Mark-Paul Gosselaar - the actor who played Zack Morris - has yet to be confirmed as a returning cast member. This is despite the fact that is the only original cast member actually referenced in the provided synopsis of the reboot.
Is this simply a mild oversight indicative of the paltry resources and limited attention and care that are being afforded this remake? Is it to imply that the character of Zack Morris is to return but helmed by a different actor? If so, will this be Eddie Redmayne, and, if so will the usual moral complexities around the casting of Eddie Redmayne in lieu of a more releveant actor, ie. Mark-Paul Gosselaar, arise in such a situation? Or, perhaps, we are to be treated to a deepfake version of Zack Morris, where they will digitally synthesise the face of Mark-Paul Gosselar onto the face of a vaguely, visually reminiscent - and cheaper - stand-in who will be used to film the scenes?
These are but some of the many questions that this announcement inspires.
Given that - in this despairing fictitious universe - Zack Morris has somehow advanced to the position of 'Governor of California', we can only hope that at least a signficant portion of the series will be spent focusing on the attempts of Governor Morris and his aides to desperately firefight the PR fallout from some #MeToo type scandal that erupts around the Governor following the inevitable emergence of some of his truly unsavoury antics as a youth.
The show will be coming exclusively to NBC's newly announced streaming service, Peacock, at some point in the future.