'Saved by the Bell' Reboot Producers Talk Rules of the Timeout Power

Plus: How they cleared that “Franklin & Bash” joke

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.

'Saved by the Bell': 9 Most Outrageous Screech Moments (Photos)

  • With “Saved by the Bell” set to return on Peacock with a new generation of Bayside High students, we look back at one of the breakout characters from the original: Dustin Diamond’s nerdy character Screech, who gave audiences endless laughs from his robot companion to dating his best friend.

  • In Season 1’s “Screech’s Girl,” the smitten nerd falls in love with Bambi, who is actually just Zack Morris (Mark-Paul Gosselaar) speaking in falsetto on the phone. At one point Screech handcuffs himself to the lockers in protest and won’t let himself go until Bambi shows up. Fortunately she finally does, but in the form of Zack in drag.

    NBC

  • Consider this the most unconvincing Afro ever. In Season 1’s “The Gift,” a lightning strike gives Screech the ability to see into the future and a hairstyle that dominated the 1970s. Thankfully, his brownish curls return in no time. 

    NBC

  • In the Season 2 episode “Dancing to the Max,” Screech pairs some erratic dance moves with Lisa Turtle’s (Lark Voorhies) performance at The Max. Radio host Casey Kasem guest stars and introduces the pair as they debut “The Sprain” for a cheering crowd.  

    NBC

  • Before Lisa Turtle (Lark Voorhies) broke Screech’s heart, there was Violet Bickerstaff played by Tori Spelling in Season 2’s “The Glee Club.” Screech comes to the rescue of his four-eyed love interest by saving her from stage fright during a performance. 

    NBC

  • Kelly Kapowski’s (Tiffani Thiessen) swimsuit and A.C. Slater’s (Mario Lopez) drum solo were no match for Screech during the “Miss Bayside” beauty pageant in Season 2. The gender-neutral competition saw Screech win the top prize, despite a black eye thanks to his robot Kevin. 

    NBC

  • Screech has his shot at becoming the big hero at Bayside High on the Season 3 episode “Check Your Mate,” which sees him squaring off against the resident chess champion from Valley High.

    NBC

  • It’s only fitting that a nerd like Screech would have an artificial intelligence sidekick, a robot named Kevin. Voiced by Mike Lavelle, Kevin made appearances throughout the series and in Season 4’s “Screech’s Birthday.” In this episode, Kevin reminds Zack of his best friend’s birthday. When fingered by Screech for helping, Kevin quickly rolls away noting he needs a bathroom break as his excuse. 

    NBC

  • Screech rips Zack Morris’ shirt, and that’s the most physical damage done in Season 4’s “The Bayside Triangle,” when he stands up for himself after catching his best friend kiss his crush, Lisa Turtle. It’s a serious moment for Screech who’s been the source of comedic relief throughout the series. The friends patch things up, but not before Screech has Zack promise he won’t break Lisa’s heart. 

    Youtube

  • Slater asks Screech to watch his pet lizard Artie on the Season 4 episode “Slater’s Friend.” Unfortunately, Artie kicks the bucket leaving Screech and Zack to scramble for a reptilian replacement. This wreaks havoc on the boys’ consciences, leading them to bad dreams with Slater dressed in a goofy lizard outfit.

    NBC

From dating his best friend to having a robot companion, Dustin Diamond’s nerdy character gave audiences endless laughs

With “Saved by the Bell” set to return on Peacock with a new generation of Bayside High students, we look back at one of the breakout characters from the original: Dustin Diamond’s nerdy character Screech, who gave audiences endless laughs from his robot companion to dating his best friend.

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