With ’90s nostalgia in full bloom, it seems only natural that audiences who came of age in that decade would want to take a fond look back at the shows they grew up with. One such ’90s mainstay was the popular teen comedy Saved by the Bell, which aired during the early part of the decade on NBC Saturday mornings and has lived on ever since in syndicated reruns. Unfortunately, what Lifetime is about to present will not at all be a nostalgic remembrance of SBTB; in fact, it’s a lot closer to a tabloid takedown of the property. Of course, that doesn’t mean it won’t be entertaining in a “so ridiculous it’s funny” way.
Seemingly inspired by – but not directly based on – Saved by the Bell cast member Dustin Diamond’s 2009 tell-all book “Behind the Bell,” Lifetime’s The Unauthorized Saved by the Bell Story will document a supposedly reality-based look at the purportedly tumultuous behind-the-scenes life of the sitcom’s teenage cast.
The first clip (embedded above) features a cast photo shoot involving principal stars Mark-Paul Gosselaar, Mario Lopez, Tiffani-Amber Thiessen, Lark Voorhees, and Diamond himself. It starts off all right, but quickly devolves into bickering, flirting, macho posturing, and backstabbing among the group that SBTB fans came to think of as the best of friends. As the actor playing Dennis Haskins says at the end of the clip, “The network didn’t kill us, but their hormones might.”
While it’s unclear how much (if any) of the events depicted in The Unauthorized Saved by the Bell Story actually took place, the movie itself appears to be exactly what everyone was expecting as soon as Lifetime announced the project. Yes, folks, this is going to be trashy TV of the highest order. The question now is whether it will be entertainingly trashy, or just a disposable telefilm that viewers forget about a half-hour after watching it.
Furthermore, one wonders whether Lifetime’s script adapts Diamond’s claims about cast three-ways and drug use, too, as those scenes would have the potential to be some of the most hilariously awkward in recent memory.
On a side-note, could the producers of this movie have possibly done a worse casting job here? One clip is obviously not enough to judge the overall quality of their performances, but absolutely none of them even remotely resemble their real-life counterparts. Thiessen and Haskins’ actors are probably the worst offenders in that department, but none of them look right, almost to the point of distraction.
Will The Unauthorized Saved by the Bell Story be a worthwhile investment of two hours? Or will you choose to be saved by the remote instead?
The Unauthorized Saved by the Bell Story premieres Monday, September 1st, 2014 @9pm on Lifetime.