“Saved by the Bell” character Screech Powers and Dustin Diamond, the late actor who played him, are getting a gentle and kind sendoff as the rebooted series’ second series launches on NBC’s Peacock streaming service.
Diamond died in February of lung cancer that had metastasized from elsewhere in his body. He was 44.
“The whole thing is obviously sad, and it was imperative that we treat it in a delicate manner,” actor Elizabeth Berkley, who plays Jessie Spano, told Yahoo Entertainment about the tribute.
“I hope that fans really love it. It was tender and really moving to be in the Max, just the five of us. You could feel that something was obviously missing from this perfect puzzle, but it was definitely a way to honor Dustin and the legacy of his craft in creating such an iconic character that no one else could have done.”
Diamond, who was often caught up in scandal off camera, wasn’t cast in the first season of the revived teen sitcom, which had run originally Saturday mornings on NBC from 1989 to 1993. The revival, which debuted in 2020 on Peacock, sees the high school gang grown up and running things at fictional Bayside High and beyond.
In Season 2, the cast returns to a world where the COVID-19 pandemic is firmly in the rearview mirror and Bayside has done a swell job managing it. But sadness looms among the adults on the show — and spoiler alert: Any readers who want to be surprised by the tribute to Diamond should stop reading here.
Screech’s demise is hinted at, delicately, early in the episode, with Zack (Mark-Paul Gosselaar) and A.C. (Mario Lopez) talking about going to “that thing tonight at the Max” without adding any details.
And those details never come; the show, aimed at a younger audience, leaves things open for interpretation. The fact that Screech died isn’t even clear. He is simply gone, after supposedly spending the first season of the reboot living on the International Space Station with his robot Kevin.
Before heading to the old gang’s gathering place, the Max, A.C. tells Jessie he has realized that “the only way through hard things is together.”
The gang then dines on the newest addition to the diner’s menu, Screech’s Spaghetti Burger, served by Kevin, who’s come back from space and “had some work done.”
A.C. takes a bite of a burger and opines, “It’s a little weird, but great.”
“Kind of like Screech,” says Lisa Turtle (Lark Voorhies).
The gang then shares memories of their old buddy, capped by Jessica saying wistfully, “He was so funny.”
“To Screech,” Zack says, and the group raises their spaghetti burgers in a toast of sorts to their departed friend.
Then the episode cuts to a montage of Screech’s funniest moments from the original series, set to a song memorializing him as the school’s first “Mr.” Miss Bayside. Diamond mugs for the camera and engages in the physical comedy that was his alone on the show.
The actor revealed his cancer diagnosis in mid-January and died not even three weeks later. “Dustin did not suffer. He did not have to lie submerged in pain,” his agent, Roger Paul, said in a statement back then. “For that, we are grateful.”
Before Diamond’s death, his team told EW they were in talks about him returning to the revisited series if it came back for a second season.
©2021 Los Angeles Times. Visit at latimes.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.