Mere weeks after it was announced, last weekend Lifetime aired The Unauthorized Saved By the Bell Story, a TV-movie about the behind the scenes action of NBC’s 1989-1993 Saturday morning sitcom Saved By the Bell. Here are some Saved by the Bell facts you might not have known.
- The series originated as a 1988 NBC sitcom pilot called Good Morning, Miss Bliss, and it centered on the titular teacher, portrayed by former Disney child star Hayley Mills. NBC turned down the show, but the Disney Channel picked it up for a season. Only then did NBC want the show…with some changes. The setting was moved from Indiana to southern California, the school from a junior high to a high school, and nearly all the characters were dropped to make it a show about the students not the teachers. The characters of Zack, Lisa, Screech, and Mr. Belding made the cut for the new show, retitled Saved By the Bell. The Miss Bliss episodes were included in the package of SBTB reruns that aired on local stations, with an intro from star Mark-Paul Gosselaar in character as Zack reminiscing about his “junior high days.”
- Zack and Principal Belding (Dennis Haskins) were certainly much closer than a real-life troublemaker and his principal. In the last season of the show, Belding told Zack he was “the son he never had,” and Zack delivered Mr. and Mrs. Belding’s baby in an elevator who the Beldings named…Zack.
- Zack and A.C. Slater (Mario Lopez) were initially written as bitter rivals. But after producers and writers saw that the two actors had great chemistry (they were close friends in real life), they made their characters best friends.
- Among the unknown child actors who unsuccessfully auditioned for the show: Jaleel White, who would later play Steve Urkel on Family Matters and Brian Austin Green, who would later co-star on Beverly Hills, 90210.
- Speaking of 90210, Saved By the Bell gave 90210 star Tori Spelling one of her first roles: she played Screech’s equally nerdy girlfriend, Violet.
- Despite four years of dominating the Saturday morning ratings, Saved By the Bell was not ready for primetime. In fall 1993, Saved By the Bell: The College Years aired on Tuesday nights. Despite more adult plotlines—Kelly (Tiffany-Amber Thiessen) dates a professor, for example—the show was among the lowest watched and network TV and was not saved by the network for another season.