It’s been a pretty divisive month for fans of Master Shake and Zack Morris, and you can blame it all on the people behind Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim.
Everything was fine until the programmers at Swim — Cartoon Network’s nightly block of alternative ‘toons — decided to pluck “Saved by the Bell” from syndicated limbo and add it to their weekly lineup. The move was greeted with the ire of Swim’s loyal fanbase (sample reactions on the Adult Swim message board: “This had better be a joke … or there’ll be a jihad for the next two weeks!” and “We’re one step closer to getting ‘Murder She Wrote.’ … Excellent move”).
Randomly selected episodes of “Bell” — a Saturday morning staple on NBC from 1989-’93 — began airing April 17 and are scheduled to wrap up this week with the broadcast of the epic “Snow White and the Seven Dorks” ep, where the gang at Bayside High puts together a hip-hop version of “Snow White.”
Reacting to viewer feedback, Adult Swim decided to take things to the next level. On April 19, the network released a statement claiming “Saved by the Bell” was headed back into production, with Cartoon Network ordering 30 new episodes of the show. According to Matt Laster (identified in the statement as “the VP of Turner Entertainment’s newly created ’80s Reclamation Department”), most of the original cast was already on board for the new edition of “Bell.”
“The series will follow the events after ‘Saved by the Bell: The New Class’ and finds Screech as the new principal of Bayside [with] a retired Mr. Belding as the proprietor of the Max, the hangout that the ‘Saved by the Bell’ gang frequented,” the statement read. “Screech is overwhelmed by the new group of students and puts out a call for help, and soon all of the old regulars are back at Bayside.”
Of course, news of the resurrected “Saved by the Bell” quickly made its way around the Internet, showing up on sites as diverse as Celebrity-Moms.com and the online home of Boston’s long-running Phoenix alt-weekly.
Most seemed to greet the news with cautious optimism — after all, several castmembers have gone on to bigger and better things (Mark-Paul Gosselaar, who played Zack, has logged time on “NYPD Blue” and “Commander in Chief”), or at least just bigger things (Elizabeth Berkley, who played brainy Jessie Spano, starred in “Showgirls”). It seemed unlikely that they’d choose to revisit roles they left more than a decade ago. Also, Laster’s title seemed to reek of fakery, and it was Adult Swim, which seemed capable of pulling off a prank of this magnitude.
It turns out the whole announcement was nothing more than that: a really big joke. According to James Anderson, the vice president of public relations for Adult Swim, there are no plans to bring “Bell” back. And while Matt Laster is an actual Swim employee, he’s not the VP of anything.
“The whole thing is just the people behind Adult Swim being who they are. When ‘Saved by the Bell’ first started airing, it created such a divide between [Adult Swim] fans that the people here had to make a joke about it,” Anderson laughed. ” ‘Saved by the Bell’ is not coming back. We’re not going to do that. It was just the people here being blasphemous.”
Somewhere, Dustin “Screech” Diamond quietly weeps.