Jimmy Fallon pulled off a pretty stunning feat last night by not only reuniting most of the Saved by the Bell cast, but actually getting them to dress up like their characters and perform a scene on a recreated version of the old Bayside set. Dennis Haskins was livid that he was left out of a People magazine cover reunion in 2009, but this time around he was happily back with the gang. Sadly, Lark Voorhies and Dustin Diamond have their own issues to deal with right now and weren’t included.
Most Saved by the Bell fans know it began back in 1988 as a very different show called Good Morning, Miss Bliss. There was no Kelly, Slater or Jessie yet, and the crew went to John F. Kennedy Junior High in Indianapolis. They were taught by Hayley Mills, and unlike the wildly incompetent and downright bizarre teachers we met on Saved by the Bell, she was incredibly devoted to her students and great at her job. After one season of middling ratings, the show was retooled and brought over to Saturday mornings where it flourished.
But only the most devoted Bell nuts know about the 1987 Miss Bliss pilot. NBC aired it once in the summer of 1987, and a handful of people actually taped it and held onto it until YouTube finally came around. Mills was the only person that survived the post-pilot purge, but the students they cut went onto pretty promising careers. Brian Austin Green, Jaleel White and Jonathan Brandis were all in Miss Bliss’ classroom.
White plays a very non-Steve Urkel class clown, Green plays a prepster who wore suits to school and Brandis plays a sullen new kid who labeled Indianapolis “the pits.” He even tells a friendly girl with a supremely 1987 bow in her hair to “bug off” when she tries to be nice to him. Miss Bliss is not pleased with his attitude and tries to talk about it with Mr. Belding (played at this point by Oliver Clark), but he’s focused on his eventual retirement and doesn’t want her to get involved in her students’ lives.
In a stunning violation of the student/teacher relationship, Brandis shows up at her house that evening to announce he’s not planning on returning to school. She invites him in to discuss the matter and discovers that his brother Billy is dying. It’s quite the dramatic curveball, but the storyline didn’t attract many viewers and NBC fired every single student and brought in Mark-Paul Gosselaar, Tiffani-Amber Thiessen, Voorhies, Diamond and Haskins. No matter what those people do with the rest of their lives, they’ll always be Zack, Kelly, Lisa, Screech and Mr. Belding to millions of people around the world. White and Green can certainly relate. It’s probably rare a day goes by when someone doesn’t yell out “Hey Urkel!” or “David Silver!” at them.