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References You Missed In The Saved By The Bell Reboot

For the millions who grew up watching Saved by the Bell on Saturday mornings from 1989 to 1993, Peacock's 2020 sequel series is as irresistible as a cheeseburger at The Max. This Saved by the Bell catches up with almost the entire gang from Bayside High. Zack Morris is now the governor of California, and his wife, Kelly, runs a wellness brand. Plus, their old friends, Slater and Jessie, still work at Bayside, serving as the football coach and guidance counselor, respectively. 

The show also introduces several new characters. For example, Zack and Kelly's son, Mac, is the spitting image of his father in both looks and impish personality, and he's surrounded by a clique of wealthy and confident friends, including queen bee and social influencer Lexi and sweet but stupid athlete Jamie. Their casual, privileged lives go unexamined until the arrival of students from the underfunded Douglas High arrive, and like the previous generation, they learn what it means to be friends forever.

There's a sweet, sly, and meta nostalgia throughout the new Saved by the Bell. And along the way, the new series has plenty of nods — both big and small — to the original show. Here are all the clever shout-outs to the classic series on the Saved by the Bell reboot.

There are clues about what's happened since graduation

The episodes of 2020's Saved by the Bell focus mostly on the high school shenanigans and relationships of a new group of teenagers attending Bayside High. However, most of the original cast members figure prominently into the series. The reboot also gives viewers numerous, subtle updates on many original Bell individuals. For example, in "Clubs and Cliques," Slater goes through his female contacts on his phone, which includes a princess from Liechtenstein, showing he's apparently still in touch with that young royal-in-hiding he met when the gang had summer jobs at the Malibu Sands resort back in high school. 

Granted, there's a noticeable character missing here. Ultra-nerd Samuel "Screech" Powers doesn't appear on the new show, but his absence is explained in "The Todd Capsule." As it turns out, he's living on the International Space Station with "Kevin," the robot he built himself that made a few appearances on Saved by the Bell. This implies the two are still very close. At the very least, they're coworkers, if not also best friends or life partners.

Saved by the Bell has some obscure shout-outs

In the first season finale, "Showdown," two very obscure characters get shout-outs. When Mac asks his mother if he truly knows his distant father, Kelly dismisses the notion in a panic, and she suspiciously offers up the idea that he's "not Jeff's!" If you'll recall, back in the day, Jeff was an older guy and her manager at The Max. The two briefly dated after Kelly broke up with Zack, and she may have had an affair with him as recently as 2004, as Mac is about 16.

As for that second shout-out, at one point in the series, Zack says at a family dinner that new kids at Bayside are good because they "keep things fresh." As an example, he asks Kelly, "Remember Tori?" Kelly replies, "Who?" In the continuity of the series, Kelly would have no idea who Tori is. See, in real life, when Kelly actress Tiffani Thiessen left the show for a few episodes in its final season, producers brought on Leanna Creel to play a new character, Tori Scott.

Actors with small parts in the original return for the reboot

There are quite a few familiar faces from the '90s Saved by the Bell who returned for the 2020 reboot, and we're not just talking about the main characters. Several members of the first show's supporting cast members also returned to the world of Bayside High, although in different roles, essentially becoming living, breathing Easter eggs for the most hardcore of Bell fanatics. 

In "The Bayside Triangle," Mac and Jamie compete to win the affections of a new student, and their posturing involves the delivery of a bouquet of flowers in the middle of a class. The flower guy is portrayed by actor Matt Kaminsky, who garnered one of his first roles on a 1991 Saved by the Bell episode, portraying visiting Russian chess champion Peter Breschnev. On top of that, playing that class' teacher, Mr. Dewey, is Patrick Thomas O'Brien, reprising his role from the old show. 

In the episode "All in the Hall," Daisy, Mac, and Lexi hit City Hall to file some emergency paperwork vital to the continued operation of Bayside and creatively cut their way through the line, which involves giving one guy five bucks (after he rejects primo U2 tickets). That dude in line is played by Troy Fromin, who portrayed dumb jock Ox on more than a half-dozen Saved by the Bell episodes in 1992.

Mr. Belding is in the Saved by the Bell reboot in spirit

In the 2020 Saved by the Bell, Screech's absence is explained, Lisa Turtle makes a cameo appearance via video chat from her fashion studio in Paris, and even Max — The Max's operator and magician-in-residence — shows up a couple of times. However, that leaves one major character from the original series who's completely unaccounted for in the reboot. Yeah, it's Richard Belding, the man who put the "pal" in principal as Bayside's very hands-on administrator.

As Mr. Belding, actor Dennis Haskins has done more Bell than anyone, playing the part on prequel series Good Morning, Miss Bliss and on the follow-up Saved by the Bell: The New Class, but his character's whereabouts and recent activities are unknown and unmentioned on the 2020 series. However, even though he's missing, he's still referenced through the lens of present-day Bayside principal Ron Toddman. 

During homecoming, when Zack, Kelly, Slater, and Jessie convene, Principal Toddman confronts them for not remembering him from their high school days. Zack stares at his supposedly former classmate long and hard before asking, "Were you Belding?" That's about the only mention the old principal gets on the new show, although Toddman does incorporate Belding's classic line. When he meets the principal of another high school, the two administrators perform an elaborate secret handshake known only to principals, set to the rhythm of Mr. Belding's catchphrase — "Hey, hey, hey, what is going on here?"

Saved by the Bell fans are definitely familiar with the work of the Birchwood Boys

Saved by the Bell's music was always recognizable, both for its catchiness and its anachronistic flair. After all, the show asked viewers to accept that teens in the early '90s didn't listen to the grunge or new jack swing of their real-life peers, but rather, the saxophone-based, vocal-free soft rock that came out of The Max's jukebox (itself a relic). 

A lot of those original musical cues are reused as very subtle background music on the Bell reboot, and the people who made the show's melodies appear on the new series, too. In "The Fabulous Birchwood Boys," Principal Toddman's band (the Birchwood Boys) performs at a Bayside school dance. The keyboard player, Saul, is portrayed by Rich Eames, who wrote original music for the old show, along with Scott Gale, who plays drums in the Birchwood Boys.

In the reboot, the characters' lives are basically Saved by the Bell reruns

For the fictional students of modern Bayside, history seems to repeat itself, as characters on the Saved by the Bell reboot endure relationships very similar to those experienced by '90s Bayside kids, who just so happen to be their parents in some instances. Viewers might get original series vibes when the reboot explores the dynamic between Mac Morris and Zack Morris. Like father, like son definitely applies here, as Mac pulls off schemes and pranks, seemingly in part to get his distant father to notice him, just like Zack did back when he was in high school. New Bell even features a scene where a father-son talk in the latter's bedroom is interrupted by the dad's need to take an urgent call on his cell phone, mirroring one starring Zack and his father on the old Bell.

Additionally, it's established early on in the original Saved by the Bell that Zack and Jessie had lived next door to each other for their whole lives and were very close friends until they became teenagers and entertained the idea of romance. This is like Lexi and Jamie's situation on the Saved by the Bell reboot. Lexi harbors a quiet crush on Jessie's son, Jamie, which she feels weird about because the guy "grew up next door" and they've been "friends forever." That latter bit also serves as a reference to the song title of the same name by Zack Attack, the old Bayside gang's garage band.

Daisy's phone has seen some use

The original Saved by the Bell was a frothy and thematically inconsequential show about California teens. The rebooted Saved by the Bell addresses the issues of economic inequality and racial tension that result when a poorly funded high school is shut down and its students — mostly people of color from the lower-middle class — are bussed to the predominantly white and wealthy Bayside. 

That contrast is heightened and lightened somewhat by a running joke that references the original Saved by the Bell while also calling out how much the world has changed since that show's run in the early 1990s. Main character Daisy comes from a single-parent household without a lot of money, and while most every other Bayside student has a smartphone and a tablet at their disposal, she carries around an enormous, late-'80s style cell phone that's the size of a brick. It's hopelessly obsolete, but it's also nearly identical to the one that Zack Morris used on the old Saved by the Bell, set in a time when such phones were the apex of technology and available only to wealthy people.

Saved by the Bell gets a little real

The cinematically shot, comically sophisticated Saved by the Bell reboot obscures the lines between itself and its corny, laugh track-laden predecessor series, as well as with reality. Not only do references to old-school Saved by the Bell episodes thoroughly lace the developments of the new Saved by the Bell, but the writers also managed to throw in nods to the actors' non-Bayside projects, as well as real life. 

The new show kicks off with a campaign commercial from "Governor Zack," as scheming Zack Morris went into politics and now leads the state of California. His ad mentions that he previously worked as an attorney, which is in character for someone as persuasive as Zack, and it's illustrated with a courtroom shot of Zack actor Mark-Paul Gosselaar from his TNT legal dramedy Franklin and Bash

Later on in the series, Zack brags to his son, Mac, that back when he was a teenager, he "did a PSA with the president of NBC that solved drugs." That refers to a strange cameo from late NBC head Brandon Tartikoff on a 1991 episode of Bell, in which he shot an anti-drug spot with the Bayside gang for some reason. One other bit of world-blurring happens when Slater accompanies Principal Toddman on a double date and hits it off with a woman named Michelle. Of course, Slater is played by Mario Lopez, and Michelle is played by Courtney Lopez, who's been married to Mario Lopez since 2012.

There's lots of good stuff in the time capsule

The eighth episode of the Saved by the Bell update series drops the present-day teens almost entirely in favor of the characters from the original series. After all, it's set around Bayside's annual homecoming festivities. And here, Zack, Kelly, Jessie, and Slater dig up the time capsule they buried under the football field during their graduation year. 

However, a Saved by the Bell episode from 1993 jumped forward to 2003, showing that a group of Bayside students found the time capsule, and it was just a videotape of Zack and the gang's best memories of high school. But apparently, the group left another box filled with artifacts, and in 2020, they open it up on Principal Toddman's desk. One of those items is a wrapped box, which shoots green gunk all over Slater. It's a wacky slapstick prank that harkens back to that '93 episode, where Zack, on video, tells 2003 Belding to open his file cabinet's "ZZZ" drawer, unleashing a long-waiting confetti explosion. Other items in the time capsule include leis worn in the TV movie Saved by the Bell: Hawaiian Style and some "Buddy Bands," headbands sold by the group in a get-rich-quick scheme. 

And while we're on the subject of props, there's another noticeable item that makes an appearance at a different point during the reboot. When planning a prank, Mac Morris utilizes a scale model of Bayside High School. He apparently inherited that from his father because a similar one was used back in a '90s episode when oil deposits were discovered on school grounds.

Some plots and episode titles in the Saved by the Bell reboot are very familiar

For all of its commitments to representation and depicting real issues faced by teenagers in 2020, the Saved by the Bell reboot is still Saved by the Bell. In other words, the sequel show lifts some of its plot lines, both realistic and wacky, directly from its far sillier and contrived predecessor. In "The Bayside Triangle," friends Mac and Jamie both develop feelings for a new classmate and engage in a "gentlemen's prank war," evoking a similar Zack vs. Slater battle when they both pursued the same young lady in the 1992 episode "The Fight." In "Rent-A-Mom," Daisy hires an actress to pose as her mother for a meeting with school counselor Jessie, not unlike Zack hiring an actor to play both his father and his principal in 1990's "Rent-a-Pop."

Additionally, every new Saved by the Bell misadventure is tied to some old Saved by the Bell mischief by way of episode titles. All of the 2020 series' installments have names that allude to the Saved by the Bell universe of the '80s and '90s. For example, "The Bayside Triangle," "Teen-Line," and "House Party" were all episode names on the first Saved by the Bell, while "Clubs and Cliques" and "The Showdown" get their names from the Saved by the Bell-related Disney Channel show Good Morning, Miss Bliss. And on top of all that, "The Fabulous Birchwood Boys" plays off of Bell's "The Fabulous Belding Boys."

The very exciting, very scary story of Jessie Spano

Probably the most famous (and infamous) episode of the original Saved by the Bell is the 1990 installment "Jessie's Song." In what was clearly supposed to be a very special episode about the dangers of drug addiction, overachieving Jessie tries to balance schoolwork, activities, and her pop group by loading up on caffeine pills. Why caffeine pills? Because NBC's standards and practices department wouldn't allow a plan to get the character hooked on speed

Nevertheless, Jessie has a full-on hard drug downward spiral to rock bottom, depicted in the campy moment of the character sing-screaming, "I'm so excited! I'm so excited! I'm so ... scared!" The Saved by the Bell reboot fully embraces Jessie's brief but extreme addiction to caffeine with a series of self-deprecating references. In the first episode of the new show, viewers learn that Jessie has written a book on parenting called I'm So Excited, I'm So Scared. Plus, bottle of Jessie's drug of choice turns up in their class's time capsule, prompting Jessie to show off her Alcoholics Anonymous-esque chip, proclaiming she's 29 years caffeine-free. She even has a near relapse, which prompts her to dump her loser husband, René. He brings her a cup of coffee, and it's not decaf as she requested, making her realize that he doesn't care about "one of the most fundamental" things about her personality."

Saved by the Bell characters still dream in pink

Many of the characters on the original Saved by the Bell had vivid imaginations and active fantasy lives. Whether it was Zack Morris imagining some future triumph over authority or Jessie Spano worried that she was growing freakishly tall at a rapid rate, Saved by the Bell viewers were privy to everyone's weirdest and most self-absorbed fantasies and nightmares. 

The Saved by the Bell reboot lives more couched in reality, albeit a slightly surreal one (that's probably due in large part to the show's chief creative voice, Tracey Wigfield, honing her chops on the bizarre 30 Rock), but there is one big dream sequence. Mac Morris imagines what life at Bayside would've been like if Daisy had never transferred there, and it's one of over-the-top privilege and success. It's very much like the kind of daydream Zack Morris would've had back in the day, and as such, viewers are told it's a fantasy because it's surrounded in a hot pink frame. The original Saved by the Bell used the same technique to tell viewers that a character had gone on a little journey to the center of the mind.