Life in the Slow Lane

March 17, 2009

Ranking the careers of the ‘Saved by the Bell’ cast

Filed under: Television — pauljlane @ 12:07 pm

Growing up, my brother and I had a pretty weird game: He’d time me at the start of each “Saved by the Bell” rerun we’d watch to see in how many ht_sbtb_080407_sshseconds I could tell what that episode was about, and I’d try to beat that mark the next day (I always got it in less than 10 seconds).

So, yeah, I was a fan of the show. I still catch episodes on occasion when they air early mornings on TBS.

And when I watch them, I’m left wondering: What the heck happened to Lark Voorhies (Lisa)? Wasn’t she destined for better things? I mean, Mr. Belding (Dennis Haskins) was never going anywhere, but surely Lark was.

But no.

So that got me thinking: Which “Bell” cast member has done the best for himself after leaving Bayside? I couldn’t resist the opportunity to rank major cast members’ careers, so here they are, from bottom to top.

8. Leanna Creel (Tori): She was only one for part of one season, but I figured I’d throw her in here. her acting career is basically non-xistent since leaving “Bell” in 1993, having appeared in guest spots in “One West Waikiki” and “Ned and Stacey” – she has no acting credits since 2000. She does, however, have a writer credit for “Offside” in 2001 and several producer credits, including this year’s “Boutonniere,” but she’s pretty much vanished from people’s consciousness.

7. Haskins: After doing 70 “Bell” episodes, he stuck around until 2000 as principal of Bayside in “Saved by the Bell: The New Class.” After that, it was pretty much appearances in low-budget films such as “The Treasure of the Painted Forest” and a couple National Lampoon titles that are due out this year. Haskins has a cool connection to Western New York, as he’s good friends with Jim Kelly and other members of the Bills’ Super Bowl teams and used to spend a lot of time here, but that’s about all he has going for him.

6. Dustin Diamond (Screech): Diamond also went the “New Class” route before doing a handful of guest appearances and making a chess how-to video. He then went the reality circuit, making several “Celebrity Boxing” appearances, working out on “Celebrity Fit Club” and doing fairly well on the first season of “Hulk Hogan’s Celebrity Championship Wrestling.” In further efforts to stay on Hollywood’s D-list, he’s made the stand-up comedy rounds and has a tell-all book in the works about the “Bell” years. And, yes, we’re intentionally ignoring the porno tape.

5. Voorhies: Since “Bell” left the air, she’s appeared on “Days of Our Lives” and “The Bold and the Beautiful,” as well as guest spots on series such as “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Ai.” She’s also dabbled in music and reportedly has a single coming out this year, and she runs a management company. Not horrible, but not what we expected from Lisa Turtle.

4. Elizabeth Berkley (Jessie Spano): The first “Bell” alum to make a name for herself after the series, Berkley assured her eternal spot in the Worst Acting Pantheon with her starring role in “Showgirls” (yes, I mean the pool scene). From there, she’s actually pieced together a solid career with roles in “Any Given Sunday,” “The Curse of the Jade Scorpion” and a recurring ongoing role on “CSI: Miami.”

3. Mario Lopez (A.C. Slater): From here on up is where some debate could really rage. Lopez disappeared for a few years after “Bell” before reappearing on the USA series “Pacific Blue.” From there, he did a series of guest shots before landing a recurring role on “The Bold and the Beautiful” before eschewing acting. He’s appeared on “Dancing with the Stars,” been a co-host of the tak show “The Other Half,” hosted the Miss America pageant and currently doubles as host of “America’s Best Dance Crew” and the gossip show “Extra.” He also appeared on Broadway in “A Chorus Line.”

2. Tiffany Amber-Thiessen (Kelly Kapowski): She exploded upon the world after leaving “Bell,” landing a key role on “Beverly Hills 90210” and staying on that show for about seven seasons. She did a few guest spots after that show ended in 2000 before landing a lead role on the short-lived “Fastland” and even shorter-lived “Good Morning, Miami.” She’s since dropped “Amber” and appeared on the doomed series “What About Brian,” and she’s set to appear on the new USA series “White Collar.”

1. Mark-Paul Gosselaar (Zach Morris): Yep, Preppie made it to the top of this list. He stuck to TV for a while, doing “College Years” and a couple TV movies before landing a lead role in “Dead Man on Campus” in 1998. He then landed a role on “Hyperion Bay” and did more TV movies for a while until being resurrected on “NYPD Blue,” on which he worked for four seasons. He then worked on “Commander in Chief” and “John from Cincinnati” before landing his current role as a lead attorney on the TNT series “Raising the Bar.” Again, an argument could be made for any of the top three, but Gosselaar has had the longest-lasting success and the most acclaimed run of the “Bell” alums.

No matter what, though, the cast members have a great sense of humor about the series; “Robot Chicken” did a parody of “Bell” that put the cast members into the movie “Saw” and most of the cast offered their voices to the claymation sketch. Top-notch. There’s no video on the Internet right now of the sketch, so take my word for it.

For your viewing pleasure, though, here’s Jessie on drugs.


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