How the Saved by the Bell revival honored Dustin Diamond in the season 2 premiere
Warning: This article contains spoilers for the season 2 premiere of Peacock's Saved by the Bell.
Peacock's Saved by the Bell revival used its season 2 premiere to welcome back the students of Bayside High, and to say goodbye to one of their own: Dustin Diamond, who played Screech on the original series and died from carcinoma in February, at 44.
Diamond was one of the only original cast members who didn't make an appearance in the revival's first season. The show explained away Screech's absence by revealing that he was living on the International Space Station with his robot Kevin. Before Diamond's death, his team told EW that the actor was in talks to appear on the show should it return for a second season. Unfortunately, that didn't come to fruition, because Diamond died between the seasons.
The season 2 premiere gave both the original stars and their characters — Elizabeth Berkley Lauren (Jessie Spano), Mario Lopez (A.C. Slater), Mark-Paul Gosselaar (Zach Morris), Tiffani Thiessen (Kelly Kapowski), and Lark Voorhies (Lisa Turtle) — an opportunity to mourn Diamond's passing and Screech's absence from the show's world.
Trae Patton/Peacock Lark Voorhies as Lisa Turtle, Elizabeth Berkley Lauren as Jessie Spano, Mario Lopez as A.C. Slater, Tiffani Thiessen as Kelly Morris, Mark-Paul Gosselaar as Zack Morris on Peacock's 'Saved by the Bell'
"We obviously gave that a lot of thought and care," Berkley Lauren, who also serves as a producer on the show, tells EW. "[Showrunner Tracey Wigfield] and the writers showed us, as a team [and] cast, a few different versions for how we could go about doing it. I can't say enough about how inclusive [Wigfield] is in terms of collaboration, especially with this. Because this was someone in our lives, and it was so tragic."
The season begins with the Bayside students and teachers returning to campus after the coronavirus pandemic, including Jessie and Slater. Throughout the first episode, Jessie urges Slater to stop avoiding his feelings (or at least consider therapy) and join her and their friends at the Max at the end of the day. At first Slater resists, but by the end of the half-hour he decides to attend. There, Jessie, Slater, Zach, Kellie, and Lisa enjoy the latest addition to the Max's menu, Screech's Spaghetti Burger (presented by Kevin), and reminisce about their friend — from the time he became psychic after getting struck by lightning to him winning Miss Bayside over Lisa.
"It's a little weird, but great," Slater says of the burger.
"Kinda like Screech," Lisa replies.
Paul Drinkwater/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images Dustin Diamond as Screech on 'Saved by the Bell'
While the episode doesn't explicitly state what happened to Screech, it's implied that he has passed away. As the gang raise their burgers in his name, the episode cuts to a funny yet sweet compilation of some of the character's most memorable moments on the original show.
"We really wanted to be sensitive to strike a chord between the choice about his actual character passing and honoring the legacy of Dustin himself," Berkley Lauren says. "No one could have done that role but him — so incredibly well and with his comedic genius. And just figuring out a way to integrate that into the script without it being heavy-handed. It just was [about] striking a balance of honoring, reflecting, celebrating, and mourning together."
Watch the tribute below:
All 10 episodes of Saved by the Bell season 2 are available now on Peacock.
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