All the cool shows are doing it -- "Punky Brewster," "Lizzie McGuire" and "Party of Five" have confirmed reboot plans. It’s a risky proposition, tampering with our teen and childhood memories, but the reboot machine just keeps on pumping shows out. I was adamant at how much I was initially not into the "Beverly Hills, 90210" reboot, "BH90210," but after watching it, I must say that the quirky little meta-black dramedy was positively delightful. I applaud Tori Spelling and Co. for turning the trend on its ear.
NBCUniversal has announced that "Saved by the Bell" will get a reboot, and I’m feeling very conflicted about it. Details were released yesterday about NBCUniversal’s new streaming service, Peacock (good grief, not another one); Elizabeth Berkley and Mario Lopez will produce and star in the series, which features Zack Morris (played originally by Mark-Paul Gosselaar) as the governor of California. After he closes too many low-income schools, Morris will need to bus students to high-performing districts including his alma mater, Bayside High. The clash of the privileged kids with the new kids will lead to comedy, I guess?
The whole thing sounds a little uncomfortably topical from a Saturday morning staple that was known for its jarring laugh track. Remember when the audience would all go “Woooooooooh!” every time two characters kissed? So the idea of the reboot handling bussing and class wars sensitively seems like a stretch. Do you recall how Jessie got hooked on uppers and scream-sang The Pointer Sisters' "I'm So Excited"? Not exactly a shining (or realistic) moment for teen substance abuse prevention.
There's hope, though. The reboot is being written and executive produced by Emmy Award-winner Tracey Wigfield ("30 Rock," "The Mindy Project," "Great News"). Can she elevate the show from its ham-fisted origins, or is every episode going to make us cringe? We’re hoping for a "BH90210"-style surprise, but are prepared for “Fuller House” levels of disappointment.
It’s unclear if Gosselaar, who stars on ABC's "Mixed-ish," will even reprise his role. If not, will someone replace him, or will his character reside off-screen? No mention has been made of the show’s other stars; Tiffani "formerly middle name Amber" Thiessen is now a professional foodie and stars on Netflix's "Alexa & Katie." Lark Voorhies and Dustin Diamond, who have had their share of issues in the public eye, aren't yet signed on either. Diamond actually wrote a scathing book about his time on the original series called "Behind the Bell," so we can’t imagine the producers, including returning Peter Engel, would be jazzed about having him back. But can there be a series without Kelly, Lisa and Screech? What’s Mr. Belding up to these days?
"Saved by the Bell" will join the new Peacock network alongside reboots of "Punky Brewster" and "Battlestar Galactica," as well as reruns of "The Office" and "Parks and Recreation." Over 15,000 hours of NBCUniversal movies and shows will be loaded onto the streaming service, which will launch in April 2020. No word is available yet on pricing or if this is even something we want. Can we take "The Office" and "Parks and Rec" episodes and leave the rest behind?