When the new season of Saved by the Bell arrives this month, fans will finally see Bayside High School graduates mourn their late classmate, Samuel “Screech” Powers.
The actor who played the character on the original show — plus the series that came before (Good Morning, Miss Bliss) and after (Saved by the Bell: The College Years, Saved by the Bell: The New Class and two TV movies about the gang) — died Feb. 21. Diamond, 44, had been diagnosed with lung cancer just three weeks before.
Showrunner Tracey Wigfield told Variety on Monday that the team has written a scene featuring the ’90s show’s core characters — Mark-Paul Gosselaar’s Zack Morris, Tiffani Thiessen’s Kelly Kapowski, Lark Voorhies’s Lisa Turtle, Elizabeth Berkley’s Jessie Spano and Mario Lopez’s A.C. Slater — talking about the loss of their friend. They’ll do it at the Max, of course.
“I didn’t know him and I hadn’t met him,” Wigfield told the media outlet. “Just thinking about it as a fan, I knew we wanted to do more than just putting a picture of him up at the end.”
Diamond did not appear in the first season of the revival, although the other actors all did. Still, producer Franco Bario said he had told Diamond before the first season of the reboot aired that Screech might be included in the second batch of episodes.
When Diamond died, Wigfield said they knew they had to do something in an already heavy season that makes reference to the pandemic.
“It would have been wrong to not acknowledge that in a real way and to not have our OG characters mourning this character that we’ll never get to see again,” Wigfield said. “That, I wanted to put on the screen, but I just wanted to make sure we were being as sensitive as possible. There was a real guy who had people who loved him. You don’t want to make any jokes or talk about it in any way that might hurt anyone’s feelings.”
Bario noted that they were also very selective when choosing the clips that they’ll use to pay tribute to Screech.
“A lot of what Screech was is known for was being the butt of a joke or being an outrageous character,” he said. “And what we were hoping for was using the clips to show how important he was to the show, but also to the other characters in the show.”
Lopez teased in May that the show was planning “something special” for Diamond, with whom he had remained close over the years, even as Gosselaar and others did not.
The second season of Saved by the Bell premieres Wednesday, Nov. 24 on Peacock.