Full disclosure: I have not seen a screener of The Unauthorzed Saved by the Bell Story, which premieres tonight on Lifetime (9 ET/PT). I have, however, seen many clips and promos, most — if not all — of which are on the movie’s website. This includes the first five minutes and a clip where the gang is taking promo pictures and bickering in a very juvenile way. This is all to say that I know probably just about as much as anyone else about this movie (which I do plan to watch tonight), but I thought I’d pass on some early reactions nonetheless.
I was a Saved by the Bell fan. I never really cared all that much about what happened behind the scenes. Sure, you could guess that there were drugs, alcohol, parties, and sex, and while I’d love to convince myself that child actors are different, well, that’d just be naive. (It’s actually, rather sad, but we won’t go into that. I’m sure Bieber and Lohan fans all over the world have written enough about that.) But anyway, if you’re going to hand me the story in a neat little Lifetime package, I’m going to take advantage of it. That being said, I think it’s going to be a horrible train wreck… in the best possible way.
Let’s start with the casting. If you watched the first five minutes, you’ve already discovered that our SBTB narrator, Zack Morriss, is not the narrator of this particular tale. While this movie swings the spotlight in another direction, I must admit that I find the actor who plays Mark-Paul Gosselaar, Dylan Everett, a terrible pick. I can’t speak to his acting chops (like I said, I’ve only seen a few clips), but for such an iconic character, he just doesn’t look like him and the voice doesn’t match. He’s too short. His face is too wide. Beyond the blonde hair, brown eyebrows (which SBTB costar Dustin Diamond relentlessly mocks in his book, of all things), and comically large cellphone, you wouldn’t really know it was supposed to be Gosselaar at all. That’s not to say Everett isn’t going to do a good job, but he’s certainly going to have to convince us more than the others. It’ll be a tough hurtle.
On the other side of the spectrum is Taylor Russell McKenzie, who plays Lark Voorhies. Because I read Diamond’s book, I know that Voorhies was a rather quiet one on the set (he called her boring, but given the tone of the entire disaster of a book, I’m a wee bit skeptical). So between her look and her demeanor, she might just be a good choice. All that being said, it will be interesting to see what she does with the role — and what Lifetime does with the part. We don’t want any boring characters, even inadvertently. I wonder what she’ll get herself into. Continue reading