MOVIE REVIEW: The Unauthorized Saved By The Bell Story

Last night was a flashback to the late 80s and early 90s with Lifetime's The Unauthorized Saved By The Bell Story! This story was based off Dustin Diamond's (Screech) own book, Behind The Bell, a behind the scenes look at the show. I was excited to watch, even though I had my doubts just looking at the cast. I didn't technically "grow up" on Saved By The Bell (I was only 3 when the show ended), but I remember watching it as a kid, when reruns were on TBS every morning at 7 am. That's how I spent my summer mornings, at my Nana's house, watching the gang at Bayside High.

The movie showed how the show was developed, for those who didn't already know. The show, at first, wasn't even supposed to be about the students. It was supposed to be based on the teachers, starting as Good Morning Miss Bliss. The show was based in Indiana and shown on the Disney Channel, but was quickly cancelled after just one season. It was eventually brought back to NBC and revamped to be about the kids, and the setting was moved to California. However, though the live audience loved them, the reviews were terrible when the show first premiered. Unfortunately, the ratings weren't great at NBC either, and they were cancelled again. However, more and more kids started talking about the show and watching, and the show was given another chance, eventually going global!
Behind the scenes, the actors struggled being teens in Hollywood, managing their money, fame, and success, specifically Dustin, who felt like an outcast during the show, which eventually lead him to alcohol and weed. However, there were great things done too, like the cast fighting for serious issues involving teens like drug abuse, drunk driving, and more. And yes, the development of Jessie's "I'm So Excited" scene was shown too. We see relationships develop, specifically Mark-Paul Gosselaar and Lark Voorhies, who dated for a while during the show's history.

There were quite a few aspects I didn't like, though. I get that this was Dustin's story, but it was too centered around him. It seemed like we were supposed to feel sorry for him a little bit, which I'm not. Having him actually be the narrator just seemed off, especially since we always knew Zach Morris (Mark-Paul) But this was his story. That's why it's "unauthorized." The story seemed to merely scratch the surface on what was going on behind the scenes.  The fashion and little details about Bayside High were off (for example, at the end, during the graduation scene when the cast wore blue, but the colors were definitely maroon/burgundy...I'm picky about things like that). The casting seemed a little off too, especially in terms of appearance. Dylan Everett (Mark-Paul/Zach) was too short, and Julian Works (Mario Lopez/Slater) didn't do Mario justice at all, though he did sound a lot like him. Again, probably me being picky, but things like that stand out to me.

Being a huge fan of the show, a lot of this stuff wasn't anything that I hadn't heard before. It was cool to see it come to life on screen, but it was still really dry. Like I said, it was so Dustin-centric, it was a little dull. I'm sure there was a lot more behind the scenes going on, but it didn't get a lot of focus, because we were so worried about Dustin. It was one of those movies that was cool for what it was, but it wasn't all that great. I think more could've been done, but that's just me.

I give it ☆ (3 stars).

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