Chances are you haven't seen the new Saved by the Bell reboot because it is exclusively on Peacock, NBC's streaming platform, and holy hell, do we really need to download another streaming service? Who knew that when Thornton Wilder was talking about the burden of choice, he was referring to streaming? Regardless, the Saved by the Bell reboot is admittedly great and is at least worth watching under a free-trial with a closely monitored credit card and/or burner email. It also hilariously merges the Saved by the Bell and Franklin and Bash universes, and we need to talk about what this means.
The pilot episode opens by bringing us up to speed with the lives of the original cast from Bayside high with a voiceover montage. In that montage, we learn that Zack Morris married Kelly, went on to become a lawyer, and then, in an effort to get out of a $75 parking ticket, ran for Governor of California and won. Pretty standard Saved by the Bell stuff, but in revealing Zack's law career, the show uses the poster for TNT's Franklin and Bash.
This is meant to be a throwaway gag. The actor who plays Zack Morris, Mark-Paul Gosselaar, also plays Peter Bash in Franklin and Bash. We're meant to look at the shot and go, "HA, look how self-aware the writers are. They used one thing from a show about another thing!" But it also does nothing to diminish the shared continuity of these two universes, and frankly, it kind of fits. I mean, all you need to do is just imagine that Zack Morris temporarily changed his name to Peter Bash after college (a very plausible scenario if it involves some sort of prank on Kelly), and everything pretty much lines up. Isn't this exactly how you'd imagine Zack Morris to be if he worked at a law firm?
Franklin and Bash is just an okay show on its own, but add it to the Saved by the Bell franchise, and suddenly the mythos of Zack Morris grows all the richer. It's also worth noting the possibilities this opens up for other character crossovers. Did Kelly lead a double life as Valerie Malone, racing back and forth between Beverly Hills and Bayside High? Did Jessie hitchhike to Las Vegas to make it as a showgirl before eventually deciding to get a Ph.D. in educational psychology and return home to California? Will we be treated to an episode where it's explained how Slater conned his way onto Dancing with the Stars?
The answer is unclear, but with moves like that, I have a tough time seeing Slater in his role of gym teacher/ football coach/ ironic mentor not mention it in a future lecture to Mac Morris and Jaime Spano.
Yeah, this universe is complicated.
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Top Image: Peacock