TV

Dear NBC, Let the Chaotic Evil of Zack Morris and "Saved by the Bell" Die

The show was about a teen sociopath named Zack Morris (played by Mark-Paul Gosselaar) who drugged, prostituted, and sexually harassed his friends and who once put a baby in a gym bag (before losing said bag).

NBCUniversal is launching its own streaming service called "Peacock" (seriously), for which the network has recruited talented 30 Rock writer and Great News creator, Tracey Wigfield, to give toxic masculinity a reboot with a new Saved by the Bell series exclusively available on Peacock.

If you weren't raised by cable television like a normal '90s kid (or if you were one of those sheltered homeschooled kids who has a mortgage by now), the original show ran from 1989 to 1992. It was about a teen sociopath named Zack Morris (played by Mark-Paul Gosselaar) who drugged, prostituted, and sexually harassed his friends and who once put a baby in a gym bag (before losing said bag). Morris was inappropriately friendly with his school principal, Mr. Belding (played by Dennis Haskins, who, according to his popular Twitter account, is "still chasing the dream!"), and his ability to freeze time and break the fourth wall was either a blatant rip-off of Ferris Bueller's Day Off (1986) or a manifestation of his schizophrenic mental disorder.

The Time Zack Morris Sold Swimsuit Photos Of Underage Girls www.youtube.com

The good news is that in April 2020, you can revisit the chaotic evil of Bayside High—maybe? Actually, not many details are known about the reboot other than the fact that NBCUniversal is launching its own streaming service to rival Disney+ and Apple TV, and they really, really want you to know about it as soon as possible. The cost has yet to be announced, but Peacock (Jesus Christ, we really have to call it that) will boast 15,000 hours of content, including original titles from NBCUniversal production. That means Peacock will be the only streaming service to offer The Office and Parks and Recreation, with other hit shows also available, from classics like Cheers, Frazier, Everybody Loves Raymond, and Will and Grace to 30 Rock and Brooklyn Nine-Nine.

But 2020 will bring more problems than deciding which streaming service to subscribe to and ever worsening climate crisis. Peacock's plans to revive Punky Brewster, Battlestar Galactica, and Saved by the Bell mean that NBCUniversal is going to attempt the cringey tactic of aging its teen stars to suddenly become modern adults—and that never goes well. Whether it's Boy Meets World's bizarre, infantilized revival of Cory Matthews and Topanga Lawrence as terrible parents in Disney's spinoff series, Girl Meets World, Netflix's creepy (and critically panned) revival Fuller House, or the epidemic of Soap Opera Rapid Aging syndrome (SORAS): Stop it.

The Time Zack Morris Got Jessie Hooked On Caffeine Pills youtu.be

So far, only two original characters are confirmed to return for Saved by the Bell 2.0. Elizabeth Berkeley and Mario Lopez are expected to return as Jessie Spano and A.C. Slater. Mark-Paul Gosselaar isn't attached to the project as of yet, due to complications with his contract with ABC's Mixed-ish and the fact that 30 years after Saved by the Bell first aired signs still point to Gosselaar being not a terrible guy. (Luckily, the same can't be said of Mario Lopez and definitely not of Dustin Diamond, who played Screech and is human trash). The series' original producers Peter Engel and Franco Bario have both signed on as executive producers. Here's their stupid premise for the revival:

"The new, straight-to-series comedy explores what happens when California Gov. Zack Morris gets into hot water for closing too many low-income high schools, he proposes they send the affected students to the highest-performing schools in the state — including Bayside High. The influx of new students gives the over-privileged Bayside kids a much-needed and hilarious dose of reality."

So, at best, a sexist teenage soap opera with a laugh track is going to tackle classism, income inequality, and America's failing school system in a world in which an egomaniacal sociopath has ascended to a position of power through his fast-talking manipulations and grandiose narcissism. At worst, it's going to depict Jessie Spano and A.C. Slater as quirky, eccentric parents who are so excited to welcome poor, disadvantaged kids to their neighborhood in an outdated and out-of-touch after-school special format.

Still, we bet you a baby in a gym bag that the revival won't be as cringey as the Saved by the Bell reunion sketch Jimmy Fallon hosted in 2015. That revival managed to capture all the creepy-next-door-neighbor energy of Mr. Belding and the homophobic overtones of A.C. Slater's entire character arc. It ended with the tasteless climax of Kelly Kapowski revealing she's pregnant with Zack Morris' baby, prompting him to wink at the camera.

Jimmy Fallon Went to Bayside High with "Saved By The Bell" Cast youtu.be

FILM

"Rocko's Modern Life: Static Cling" Is Your Inner Child's Identity Crisis

Nickelodeon, Netflix, and Joe Murray create a reboot featuring LGBTQ+ identity, technology, and identity crisis to show your inner child that '90s cartoons are the answer to all your problems.

Obviously, '90s cartoons were insane.

From the mind-boggling anatomy of CatDog and a conspicuous number of red demon-like characters to someone being allowed to title a children's show "The Angry Beavers," it's no wonder that being a millennial these days is practically a pathologized disorder. With the highest rates of mental disorders, '90s kids have also been dubbed "the brokest generation," and, worst of all, they have far less sex than prior generations. So, to sate our constant nostalgia for simpler times (before we realized the planet was doomed by 2050), Nickelodeon, Netflix, and Rocko's Modern Life creator Joe Murray made a 45-minute special with all the chaotic energy of the original series but applied to modern day crises.

rocko's modern life Giphy

"The 21st century is a very dangerous century." Rocko, the neurotic wallaby who taught '90s kids what a terrible Australian accent sounds like, breaks the fourth wall only once in Netflix's reboot, Rocko's Modern Life: Static Cling. Rocko's lament comes after he and his best friends, Heffer and Filburt, have just returned to O-Town after spending 20 years suspended in space. When they return home, they're assailed by smartphone technology, social media craze, cancel culture, and the corporatization of everything they love. But the only change Rocko can't accept is that his favorite show, The Fatheads, has gone off the air (he's spent 20 years obsessively watching the VHS, after all). So Netflix's rebooted special of a '90s cartoon centers around Rocko's quest to create a rebooted special of a '90s cartoons. Why? As the O-Town news reports, this "90s cartoon solves problem$."

Rocko's Modern Life: Static Cling Trailer | Netflix youtu.be

As heavy-handed and clumsy as the meta-commentary often is, the series' original creator, Joe Murray, chose to stream the Nickelodeon cartoon in order to maintain more creative freedom. "I wanted it to be as strong as the show and as much satire and as much social commentary as we could do in the times that we live in now," he told CBR. Indeed, Rocko returns to a world "where coffee shops are on every corner, food trucks offer multi-layered tacos, touch-screen O-Phones are being upgraded on a near-constant basis, an instant-print kiosk has replaced Rocko's old job at Kind-of-a-Lot-O-Comics, and radioactive energy drinks turn their consumers into mutants," as per Netflix's description.

Aside from pointed jokes about how the business behind computer animation is as soulless and robotic as its sub-par creations, the special's most overt social commentary is on its first trans character. "I wanted the story to be about change, how we deal with it and how it affects us," said Murray, who voiced the Bigheads' daughter Rachel (Ralph in the original series). Murray added, "I couldn't think of a more positive change in one's life than to make the decision to transition and embrace who you really are."

EW

Rachel's character is easily the special's best achievement, with her storyline delivered simply and to-the-point, without fanfare that usually problematizes trans identity more than normalizes it. In fact, Nickelodeon developed the character by consulting with GLAAD. Nick Adams, GLAAD's director of transgender representation, praised the creative team. "When I read the story outline, I was happy to see that Rachel's gender was treated as a non-issue by Rocko and his friends, and that Rachel's father finally realized that he loves and supports his daughter," Adams wrote. "I worked with the show's creators to ensure that Rachel was drawn in a respectful way, so that her femininity wasn't a joke. We also talked about how to portray the moment Rachel reveals her transition to the boys so that it wasn't sensationalistic."

Static Cling adds much-needed LGBTQ+ representation to the G-rated sphere of entertainment. Murray seamlessly embeds Rachel's storyline into a larger narrative about how we cope with both the perks and the ravages of the 21st century, which touts the fastest rate of technological and societal change since the Industrial Revolution—or maybe ever. "It felt natural," Murray said, "because it was not only about change, about somebody finding who they are and making that courageous choice to go through that change."

The special also features returning cast members Carlos Alazraqui as Rocko, Tom Kenny as Heffer, Mr. Lawrence as Filburt, and Charlie Adler as Mr. Bighead. As Nick Adams wrote, "Rocko's Modern Life: Static Cling tells a beautiful—and hilarious—story about accepting change. The younger characters accept Rachel immediately; recognizing she's still their friend. And while Rachel's father is slow to accept change within his own family, even he realizes that loving your child should be unconditional. This story of inclusion and acceptance is so needed in our current climate."

Ultimately, it's Static Cling's distinct '90's style of after-school-specials and fable-like morals that make its over-arching message palatable rather than self-righteous. Even if the world turns sideways and you're left feeling alienated from "too much change!" as Rocko screams at the bustling town that's left him behind, "We can't live in the past," as Mr. Bighead says. "We can be grateful for it, but life isn't permanent, and if we don't embrace what's now, we miss out on a lot of the important stuff."

TV News

"The Sandlot" Reboot Needs to Defy Time and Space to Make Sense

Remember how the film's final three minutes gave away the gang's future? So what's left to tell?

Buffalo News

Despite being released in 1993, The Sandlot glorified the summer of 1962, backyard baseball, and boyhood hormones.

The iconic scene of Benny "The Jet" Rodriguez running away from The Beast convinced 90's kids that English Mastiffs might be hellhounds and Benny will always be a national fucking treasure. Over 25 years later, David Mickey Evans, The Sandlot's director and writer is poised to ruin our precious memories with an upcoming TV series based on the film, featuring many of the original cast members.

Evans announced that he'd already sold two seasons to a streaming service he wouldn't name. He described, "I already got all the original cast members back. It takes place in 1984, when they're all, like, 33 years old and they all have children of their own. And that's all I can tell you." This isn't the first time Evans has teased an addition to The Sandlot's universe. Late last year, 20th Century Fox announced that a prequel film was in development in honor of the film's 25th anniversary. Evans is attached as co-writer for the script, but no release date is set.

So while the 1993 original film was about coming-of-age in 1962, the 2019 follow-up will be about parenting in 1984. But here's the thing: if you remember the last three minutes of The Sandlot, the entire point of the ending is to explain what happened to each member of the gang, including a jump forward in time to reveal that Benny "The Jet" became an MLB player and our awkward protagonist, Scottie Smalls, becomes a charismatic sports announcer.

The Sandlot - The Ending youtu.be

What's left to tell? Albeit, the film doesn't give away how far into the future we see at the end, so is 1984 when Benny is a down-and-out minor league player, hoping to make it to the big leagues one day (spoiler: he does)? Or is 1984 when Scottie and his friends first have kids of their own, and Scottie has to reconcile the inevitable weirdness of having Denis Leary as his stepfather? Then there's the weird story of how Bertram, the lanky nerd of the group, turned out. He can't possibly be in the series with the dark turn The Sandlot took when all we hear is that "Bertram got really into the '60s and no one ever saw him again." Maybe that's a plot point they're saving for season two.

"The Sandlot" original cast reunionFox 8


Meg Hanson is a Brooklyn-based writer, teacher and jaywalker. Find Meg at her website and on Twitter @megsoyung.


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The Curse of Nickelodeon's "All That" (The Reboot Is Already Doomed)

Ariana Grande is Nickelodeon's Chosen One. All others' success is sacrificed at her altar.

CafeMom

The original cast of Nickelodeon's All That are cursed by a strange phenomenon that wards off any and all success.

This week it was announced that SNL star and All That alum Kenan Thompson is helming a reboot of the show. This calls for an examination of how the show has impacted its cast and their careers.

Let me back up. From 1994 to 2005, the sketch comedy kids show shaped 90s kids' sense of humor and made us believe that we could get away with saying anything if we said it in a funny voice. Cast members included Kenan Thompson and Nick Cannon as teenagers, as well as young Amanda Bynes and Britney Spears' little sister. Since the show's end, we've seen Bynes' bizarre behavior while struggling with addiction and depression and Jamie Lynn Spears' scandalous teen pregnancy. Instead of being fleetingly curious about our favorite childhood stars with "where are they now?" the more urgent question we're left with is: "what happened?"

All that cast The CastSlashFilm.com

Now, Thompson is appointed to executive produce and contribute writing to the reboot of All That. He told Variety, "It means everything to me. It was my first job that I ever had. It gave me an opportunity." Co-creator of the original series and current president of Nickelodeon, Brian Robbins, proposed the idea: "We think there's a great opportunity to find the next pool of stars. We want to bring the show back in a real fun way. This summer, we are going to bring back a lot of the original cast and the cast through the years, and let them introduce the new cast of 'All That' to the world."

But what the next generation of cast members needs to know is that the promising careers of the original All That cast were sacrificed to a greater plan at work behind the scenes at Nickelodeon. In hindsight, it's clear that only one network star could channel the powers of stardom to become a cultural phenomenon. Only one childhood actor could rise to prominence as the voice of Nickelodeon's coming-of-age generation: Ariana Grande.

Beam of light signifying Ariana Grande's birth

In her role as Cat Valentine, the Grande's television career started on iCarly and Victorious, but she was always destined for greatness. When Grande was born in 1993, a blinding pillar of light pierced the sky. This is what Nickelodeon was waiting for, a superstar who could gain the prominence necessary to redefine pop music and establish a new world order. Without delay, television execs cobbled together All That, shepherding together the company's first flock of sacrificial lambs. From there, they built more shows, more false TV idols, all in the service of Grande, the path to her success slowly being paved with the failed careers of lesser stars.

Jennette McCurdy, moments before being sacrificed.

As for the cast of All That, just look at the evidence:

1. Lori Beth Denberg (1994-1998) - "The Loud Librarian"

All That-The Loud Librarian youtu.be

One of the greatest performers on the show, Denberg went on to impress as Lydia on the The Steve Harvey Show from 2008 to 2012. Since then, Lori Beth has guest starred as "Lori Beth" on three TV series since 2017–and nothing else. Clearly, we miss her talent, but consistent success was never in the cards for her.

2. Josh Server (1994-2000) - "Ear Boy"

Ear Boy gets his ears pierced! youtu.be

Known as the only original cast member to remain for all six seasons, Server was the go-to guy for character freak outs. After All That, he guest-starred on other Nickelodeon shows like The Amanda Show, Drake & Josh, and Ned's Declassified School Survival Guide. Now the 39-year-old...has a Twitter account.

3. Danny Tamberelli (1997-2000) - "Fat Cop"

Danny Tamberelli On Fat Cop | All That Reunion youtu.be

The Adventures of Pete & Pete (1992-1996) had already cemented Tamberelli's place in the hearts of 90s kids. As a cast member of All That, the raucous redhead brought us "Fat Cop." After providing the voice of Arnold in The Magic School Bus, his guest-starring roles petered out to a voice acting role in Grand Theft Auto V. Apparently, he's released music with his folk/pop band Every Good Boy, but most recently he started a podcast in 2013 with Pete & Pete costar Michael Maronna.

4. Alisa Reyes (1994-1997) - "Island Girls"

All That- The Island Girls 2 youtu.be

Reyes' most memorable performance was as the most annoying girl to be stranded with on a deserted island, opposite Lori Beth Denberg. Her manic energy and nonstop talking were perfectly insufferable. After leaving the show, Reyes had a recurring role on NBC's One World and a slew of one-off guest appearances. Despite playing roles in obscure movies from time to time, she remains best known for her three seasons on All That.

5. Jamie Lynn Spears (2002-2004) - "White Chocolate"

Britney And Jamie Lynn Spears On All That youtu.be

One of her recurring characters was Thelma Stump, "the oldest bodyguard in the business." As an elderly southern woman, she once called Justin Timberlake "white chocolate" and pulled down his pants before sexually assaulting him with a kiss. After becoming a Nickelodeon darling with her own show Zoey 101, Spears infamously had her first child when she was 16 and quickly left the spotlight. Now the 27-year-old mother of two is only heard from when getting into trouble for promoting unhealthy diet shakes on Instagram.

6. Nick Cannon (1998-2000) - "Latanya in Dudco Enterprises"

All That Season 6 - Latanya in Dudco Enterprises youtu.be


The 38-year-old has gone on to have a short-lived film career, host the improv show Wild 'n Out, manage to stay married to Mariah Carey for eight years, and host America's most popular cringe-worthy talent shows. As current host of the bizarre celebrity singing competition The Masked Singer, Nick Cannon will probably host a whole generation of garbage reality TV unless someone decides to reboot his 2002 teen movie Drumline.

7. Kel Mitchell (1994-1999) - "Good Burger" sketch

Classic Good Burger Sketch w/ the Whole Cast of All That | #TBT youtu.be

90s kids owe Kel Mitchell a lot for introducing us to Good Burger's Ed, the worst fast food employee to ever not wash his hands after using the faculty bathroom. Mitchell's acting career mostly consisted of guest starring roles until the Nickelodeon Group tapped him to rejoin the network on Teen Nick in Game Shakers, "one of the lowest shows" on Nick network. Recently, he reprised his role as Ed in a "Good Burger" skit on Jimmy Fallon.

8. Gabriel Iglesias (2000) - "Pizza Guy in Class"

All That Season 6 - Pizza Guy in Class youtu.be


Iglesias tried to be funny during his one season on All That. Afterwards, he tried to be funny as a professional stand up comedian. For some mysterious reason, the comedy circuit decided to never let him go, putting him in the spotlight like a hamster on a wheel never getting anywhere. Gabriel Iglesias is forever trying to be funny, but to no avail. He's comedy's Sisyphus.

9. Kenan Thompson (1994-1999) - "Ishboo Goes to a Sleepover"

Ishboo Goes to a Sleepover | All That youtu.be

Arguably, Thompson never left All That, since he's been on SNL for 15 years, which has devolved into All That: Drunk Babysitters since Tina Fey's departure in 2006.

10. Amanda Bynes (1996-2000) - "Ask Ashley"

All That - Ask Ashley youtu.be

Amidst her highly publicized personal struggles, the 32-year-old actress has elected to become her volatile "Ask Ashley" character.

Clearly, the alumni of the original All That are all adrift in an ocean of despair. There are only two possible explanations for why Nickelodeon would want to bring this show back.

1. Kenan Thompson, along with Brian Robbins, is attempting to sadistically perpetuate this cycle of abuse.

2. The next Chosen One has been born.


Meg Hanson is a Brooklyn-based writer, teacher and jaywalker. Find Meg at her website and on Twitter @megsoyung.


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