When it comes to the OG crew, Mario Lopez (A.C. Slater) and Elizabeth Berkley (Jessie Spano) are the most regular returning cast members as they’re both now teachers at Bayside High. And it’s to the show’s benefit as their performances, chemistry, and nostalgia-driven friendship is one of the strongest parts of the series, with Jessie’s failing marriage and Slater’s stunted adulthood offering some of the most emotional parts of the series. But Saved by the Bell never gets lost in the drama, with pretty much every potentially melodramatic moment pierced by a perfectly biting joke or an intrusive teenager with a problem or a ridiculous plan.
Saved By The Bell Reboot: Season 1 Photos
Daisy is the fourth-wall breaking youth here, A.K.A. the new Zack Morris. Velazquez is brilliant at looking into the camera and rolling her eyes in a way that feels completely genuine – she’s a Jim from The Office in terms of how many meme-able moments will inevitably come out of this, but Velazquez also makes Daisy a lead you care about. One who is relatable and smart, funny and flawed, and just as bemused by Bayside as we all are. Teamed up with Pascual-Pena, the pair are unstoppable. Aisha is very much the breakout of the new Saved by the Bell. Her arc is one of the most engaging, her performance the most believable, and her wardrobe the most covetable. These two could lead this show for years if NBC wants them to.
From the outset, Saved by the Bell isn’t shy about who it’s taking aim at: government bureaucracy, the public school system, privilege, sitcoms, and most importantly, Zack Morris and his son Mac. The pair are the butt of many jokes and both do a stellar job. While Gosselaar is great, occasionally popping up as a puffed up and useless public figure, Hoog is the perfect comedic foil in a world of street-smart straight men. Bayside has been Mac’s playground until the new kids show up, and he’s suddenly forced to come to terms with a world outside of Bayside. It sounds like it could be hamfisted and preachy but instead, it’s a hilariously abstract exploration of fitting in, rolled up in a metatextual teen comedy about TV comedies.
While there’s an overarching plot to the whole season, each episode pretty much works as a standalone too, echoing the structure of the original series. But with only ten episodes running around 30 minutes each, you’ll most likely binge the entire thing once you get started. There’s a lightness and fun here that’s missing from many modern reboots. There’s no interest in making Saved by the Bell “gritty” or “dark” – in that way it’s the anti-Riverdale. This is a teen show featuring actors who actually look and act like real teens, and who are more likely to give each other solid advice and hold hands than commit murder or have premarital sex. In fact, that’s another strength; the series is pretty low stakes even when it deals with big issues, making it an easy, pleasant watch.It’s also rare to watch a show that does such a great job of offering up biting comedy which isn’t mean. Saved by the Bell is, at its core, a kind show. The kids are kind, their parents are kind, and the jokes never, ever punch down. There’s plenty of subversion here, with the football team as a great example. Instead of the bullying jocks we usually see, they’re sweet to the point of basically being himbos. And they’re fronted by their bold and lovely leader, Jamie Spano, the kindest of them all. Cameli is a charming presence in the show and there should be a lot more work for him after his commandingly sweet and open performance here. Jamie is a great example of the kind of character work that makes Saved by the Bell function so well and feel so unique.
If you’re looking for a laugh then you’ll struggle to find anything funnier than Saved by the Bell, and the best thing is that you can enjoy it whether or not you’ve ever watched the original. But if you’re familiar with the ’90s classic then you’ll get a lot of laughs from the smart and engaging way that they combine the old with the new.