Zack To The Future
Episode 11 was entitled “The Friendship Business.” Special Guest Star for the Podcast was Saved By The Bell Writer Bennett Tramer. He wrote “The Gift” and “Friendship Business” among others. He worked with Peter Engle on the 1985 movie Poison Ivy with Michael J Fox. There had been a writer’s strike for 6 months and he was glad to get a gig writing for Saved by The Bell when it was over.
They discussed how the opening song changed. It was sung by Michael Damien, a soap opera star, but then it was sung by someone else later. They also discussed how Saved By The Bell was shot in a linear fashion, but was not aired as such.
Peter Engle had a short attention span and didn’t like to have scenes over 6 pages. He would often cut lines that the writers were thought were important. However, the scene usually worked fine without the lines. Engle used to tell the writers “No baby steps.”
Mr. Tuttle was played by Jack Angelos, who signed their checks. Angelos was an accomplished actor and debater. He guest starred in like 5 or 6 episodes. His first reading was kind of flat, but then they told him to be himself and he brought a lot of energy to the role.
They discussed the background actors. Alan was the heavy kid who asked when were they going to eat. There was a black kid with a uniquely deep voice. There was a tall girl with glasses. The main nerd named Poindexter was William Joseph Barker.
In the Fuzzy Pink Fantasy bit we see some Background Magazines in Frames on Belding’s Wall. These magazines now sit in Mark-Paul Gosselaar’s storage unit. He didn’t really know where they came from or their significance for Saved By The Bell until he watched this episode. Tramer talked about how wonderful Dennis Haskins was and how his relationship with the kids reminded him of Sargent Bilko.
Mark-Paul commented on how wonderful Dustin Diamond’s Robin Leech impression was. The show reference shady business ethics and looked down on corrupt big businesses. There was a mention of George Bush and Dan Quail. Mark-Paul said he saw Zack as a Republican and Jesse as Democrat. The writers referred to Jesse as a “Sensitive Marshmallow,” similar to the term “Liberal Snowflake” today.
They talked about how $100 in an envelope seemed like a bit much for High School Students. It seemed unlikely that a teacher would be able to invest in their businesses like that. Anyway, they went from Friendship Bracelets to Buddy Bands to Love Cuffs. Dashiell commented on how the Love Cuffs sounded like something you bought an an adult sex shop. So, the gang’s friendship was almost ruined over bad business, but was rescued by Kelly’s golden heart. The theme of Friends Forever creeps up in the Behind the Music episode later on, so there was some continuity.
Bennett Tramer talked about how the child or teen stars were respectful and successful because they all had wonderful parents. He asked Mark-Paul to give his regards to his mother Paula. Tramer said one of the reasons that Mar-Paul had gotten the role of Zack Morris was because he was considered, ‘Inherently likable.” Mark-Paul also talked about how he wasn’t comfortable as a comedic actor. He prefers drama to comedy. In fact, he’d done the dramatic movie Necessary Parties before the Saved By The Bell premier on NBC and really enjoyed it.
Episode 12 was titled “The Mamas and The Papas.” It was taken from the famous 60s quartet with Mama Cass, Michelle and John Phillips. This episode is about a Home Economics type Social Experiment where students pretend to be married and have children.
Dashiell Driscoll brings up the Peter Engle Show California Dreams (September 12, 1992 to December 14, 1996.) The title of the show comes from the hit song by the Mamas and The Papas. The Peter Engle show was patterned after Saved By The Bell, except the kids all sang. It was supposed to spawn hit singles, but didn’t. Although the show continued, the songs weren’t hits and the musical format was dropped.
Anyway, Mark-Paul pointed out the use of Chyrons or Titles on Screen. It is a similar thing to the pink fuzzy fantasies and other gimmicks. Don’t think they ever used this particular style or method in any other episode. The producers seem to be throwing jokes and things against the wall to see what stuck. Chyrons were not one of the things that stuck.
Dashiell Driscoll talks about how the episode is what they call a Bottle Episode. They have used up their budget and have to save money by limiting locations to one or two sets and eliminating background actors. This episode mostly takes place in the single classroom. There is a brief scene in Lisa’s bedroom and a finale in The Max, but that is it.
Mark-Paul points out the same creepy doll in Lisa’s bedroom that appears in both Jesse and Kelly’s bedrooms. Dashiell and Mark-Paul talk about Home Economics classes. Neither one of them took Home Ec. Mark-Paul said that his kids have a FACS class or Family and Consumer Science Class and he thought it was a good idea. The guys agree learning to cook and sew is good for both boys and girls. Mark-Paul lamented having to teach Breckin Myers some basic bachelor skills.
Anyway, Mark-Paul noted that Zack and Kelly get married for the Social Experiment. Zack is desperately trying to “fuck Kelly.” Oddly enough, Mark-Paul was still a virgin at 15 or 16. Dashiell seems to think that this whole marriage experiment was ripped from the movie Grease 2 since he’d never heard of it being done in real life.
Driscoll points out that Zack Morris mentioned watching The Brady Bunch and The F Troop. He thinks perhaps Zack is a fan of Nick at Nite. Driscoll used to watch that as well, but got thrown for a loop when they replaced Lassie and Leave It To Beaver and The Mary Tyler Moore Show with The Fresh Prince of Bel Air. He felt officially old when they switched over to that show.
Driscoll and Mark-Paul debate on rather Slater and Jessie ever kiss on screen or not. They can’t remember. Then Driscoll was once again bothered by Ed Alonzo’s use of live poultry for his magic tricks in a restaurant. That has to be a health code violation. Then Mark-Paul mentions how Zack and Kelly are about to kiss at the end and Belding “The Big Bopper” Cock-blocks Zack.
They end the podcast by talking about how Zack and Kelly get married at the end of the series. There is the movie Wedding in Vegas, which was really filmed in Vegas. Mark-Paul remembers the big OJ Simpson car chase being on TV while they were filming the Wedding in Vegas movie.