WARNING: The following contains spoilers for season 2 of Saved by the Bell, now streaming on Peacock.
The Saved by the Bell revival is many things: a fun over-the-top comedy, an inclusive version of the show so many of us grew up with, and even an interesting look at some of the issues kids’ todays are facing. But above all things, it’s a vehicle for nostalgia. And in the first episode of the revival’s second season, the original characters paid tribute to the one member of Saved by the Bell who wasn’t around to join the new show.
Dustin Diamond, who played Samuel "Screech" Powers in the original show, passed away in February of this year from lung cancer. Though he didn’t appear in the first season of the revival, his character was referenced. In Season 1, Episode 8 "The Todd Capsule," an episode that sees all the other members of the original gang return, Slater mentions that Screech and Kevin are living on the International Space Station.
The conclusion is easy: Screech is an astronaut. As for the Kevin part, that’s an Easter Egg for fans of the original series, as Kevin was the robot Screech built and programed himself, a robot that famously took on odd jobs to assist his creator and even doled out advice.
When Season 2 starts, however, things are different. The revival never confirms how Screech passed away, even if the episode focuses on the aftermath of the pandemic pretty heavily. Instead, it centers on the reactions from Screech’s friends, and it allows them a final moment to say goodbye to the character – and the actor. Plus, as a bonus, it brings back Kevin for a moment, as Screech’s friends reminisce on some of the crazier storylines from the original show and toast to Screech – with Screech’s spaghetti burgers from The Max instead of drinks, because of course they do.
It’s impossible to know if Diamond would have been invited to appear in season 2 of the revival – he had his share of personal issues, which included a short stint in jail – but as Diamond’s former costars Mark-Paul Gosselaar (Zack Morris), Tiffani Thiessen (Kelly Kapowski-Morris), Mario Lopez (A.C. Slater), Elizabeth Berkley Lauren (Jessie Spano) and Lark Voorhies (Lisa Turtle) reunite and a montage of vintage Screech clips appear, the likelihood that the character would have ever made an appearance is likely the farthest thing from anyone’s mind. Nostalgia is a funny thing that way.
There is never an easy way to deal with loss, and the show could have just ignored the absence of a character that was never actually present, but by tackling it head on they managed to pay tribute to an iconic character, and highlight what was, perhaps, the best moments of a troubled actor who passed away way too soon. It wasn’t perfect, and the original gang will never be together again, but it was, all in all, a pretty nice goodbye to Screech, and to Dustin Diamond.
To watch more of the original Saved by the Bell crew, as well as the new kids, Saved by the Bell is available to stream on Peacock.
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