This article comes from Den of Geek UK.
Some people collect stamps. I wish I collected stamps, that would be infinitely easier than my hobby, which is collecting Saved by the Bell cast members in Christmas movies. Think of it as Panini stickers on ultra hard mode.
Sadly, my collection depends on the whims and careers of the various Bayside alumni. I’m not doing too bad; so far I have five of the six main cast members, and a few supporting characters. But the hunt for the missing actors takes up far too much of my time, time that could be spent watching Homes Under The Hammer and crying.
Here are the actors I have in my strange, fictional sticker album so far…
Mark Paul Gosselaar (Zack): 12 Dates Of Christmas
Plot: A newly single woman must repeat the same date over and over again until she realizes that she’s supposed to go out with Zack Morris.
Kate (played by Amy Smart), repeats the same date with Gosselaar’s Miles, until she stops pining for her useless ex. Miles helps Kate forget her ex by being an upstanding young man who coaches a kids’ hockey team in his spare time. There’s an old lady who bakes loads of cookies too; I’m not sure how she helps.
A nice enough take on the Groundhog Day story; if Christmas movies were supermarkets, I’d rank it as at least an Asda.
Bayside rating: 2/5. Gosselaar is not Zack Morris in this film. He’s handsome and charming, but at no point does he stop time, have three girlfriends at once, or attempt to scam a school out of money.
Tiffani Thiessen (Kelly): Northpole
Plot: A lonely boy must team up with an elf to save Christmas.
Do you want to know something? I sat through an hour and a bastard half of the wrong film, waiting for Kelly Kapowski to show up, stuffing crisps into my mouth and becoming increasingly confused. Accidentally watching Northpole: Open For Christmas was an easy mistake to make, but it was a mistake that made me want to punch myself in the face.
Turns out what I actually needed to watch was the first film in the series, Northpole. Thiessen plays the lonely, Christmas saving boy’s mother, a hard hitting journalist who learns the meaning of Christmas, which is trees. Or something. It’s an okay film; I’d probably have warmed to it more had I not sat through 90 minutes of its unnecessary sequel first.
Bayside rating: 2/5. Some elements of Kelly Kapowski. Thiessen is nice to everyone, even when she’s being a hard hitting journalist. But no cheerleading, and no mad exploding mullet.
Elizabeth Berkley (Jessie): Lucky Christmas
Plot: A woman has a change of fortune when she wins the lottery. But oh shit – the ticket is in her car, which has been stolen by the man she will later fall in love with, and presumably have sex with.
This is a pretty good film; if I had to choose between watching it again and gouging my own eyes out, I’d definitely choose the former. You know how it’s going to end pretty much straight away (hint: it doesn’t end with her lying in a pool of suicidal blood because she lost all that money. And I think she learns that the money was always there in her heart). There are definitely worse ways to spend an afternoon.
Bayside rating: 3/5. Some elements of Jessie. Mostly she has the same face. But she doesn’t go on and on about sexism and oil drilling. Most importantly, she’s not off her tits on caffeine pills in this film.
Mario Lopez (Slater): Holiday In Handcuffs
Plot: A frizzy haired mental woman needs a boyfriend to impress her family over the Christmas period, so she kidnaps a handsome stranger, who has to spend his ‘holiday in handcuffs’ (RIP my sides).
Holiday In Handcuffs is a double whammy for retro tween sitcom fans, because it also stars Melissa Joan Hart (Sabrina The Teenage Witch). Lopez and Hart make an entertaining comedy pairing, but the film ends up being about much more than them, with the various conflicts in Hart’s family given equal screen time. And, of course, you end up rooting for the psychotic kidnapper, which is always nice and festive.
Bayside rating: 4/5. Lopez turns up and has muscles. He loses a point for not being accompanied by a “Woooooo!” from the studio audience whenever he gets his ankle out.
Dustin Diamond (Screech): A Dog For Christmas
Plot: A girl wants a dog for Christmas. Her parents don’t really want to get her a dog. Will they get her a dog? Someone apparently gets strangled.
Oh my God, the trouble I’ve had finding a copy of this film. No one has a copy of it, not even Dustin Diamond. Probably. I didn’t ask him. I could have bought a copy from US Amazon, but it wouldn’t have arrived in time to finish this quite frankly brilliant article. As a result, I’m not really sure who Diamond’s character ‘Fred’ is. I think he’s a human though, rather than the dog. And I have no idea why someone gets strangled in it. I’m looking forward to finding out more in the new year.
For now, I have to piece together various clues to get a picture of what this film might be like. Let’s start with the trailer, which tells us nothing about Dustin Diamond.
There’s also this charming cake, which was made for the movie premiere. It’s not really relevant, but I like cake.
Finally, we have a selection of Amazon reviews, which we can comfortably describe as ‘mixed’:
“This is a goofy, cute, entertaining and silly movie with no real plot to hold it together. It’s Christmastime, a girl wants a dog, and we wonder whether or not she will finally get it. A Salvation Army sidewalk Santa sets up the story in segments. Aside from a huge family invading for the holiday, we have some entertaining extraneous characters that move it all along. This movie is fun, but don’t expect to become enraptured by a plot. As sweet as it is, I really don’t expect that children will make it all the way through. Will the girl get the dog? I’ll just bet you won’t be able to guess…”
“Quite honestly one of the worst movies I have ever seen. Unfortunately I watched it with my 5 year old who was too young to understand why the adults were putting presents under the tree and calling them Santa presents. Nearly every adult interaction was annoying and stupid. Cannot believe someone made this into a movie.”
“…I will wrap this up by spoiling the ending. The girl gets the dog, which you see for 2 minutes of the entire movie, and it is a full grown husky that the audience saw at the dog park earlier. Which means the grandfather stole the dog!”
Bayside rating: 0/5 on account of how I haven’t seen it. On the other hand, it could be 5/5, and Dustin Diamond’s character could walk around in tie-dyed pants moaning that Lisa doesn’t like his bug collection.
Dennis Haskins (Mr Belding): Up On The Wooftop
Plot: Santa’s naughty dog gets lost and must find his way back to the North Pole, or… I dunno, Santa will be a bit upset and go “Hey hey hey hey! What is going on here?”.
I wish I was joking about the title. I’m probably just mad because I didn’t think of that pun first. Anyway, Santa’s dog Toby stows away on his test flight, falls out of the sleigh, and lands in a little girls’ house. Predictably, the girl’s dad is a stressed out, dog hating businessman. The girl helps Toby find his way back to Santa, and they also defeat some criminals. The dad learns the meaning of Christmas, which is dogs.
There’s a training montage. There’s an elf getting pissed with the Hell’s Angels. There’s the line “Toby hasn’t missed a French toast breakfast for seven years!” And there’s a strange bit at the beginning where one of Santa’s staff accuses him of being a “socialist”. All in all, a fun watch.
Bayside rating: 5/5. The world would be a better place if Mr Belding was the real Santa.
Tori Spelling (Violet Bickerstaff): A Carol Christmas
Plot: Woman is a bit mean, visited by three ghosts, isn’t mean any more, etc.
Known on Saved By The Bell as Screech’s nerdy girlfriend, Tori Spelling went on to achieve fame on Beverly Hills 90210, and from being Tori Spelling.
A Carol Christmas is one of those ‘Scrooge type career woman learns the meaning of Christmas’ jobs. If you’re not familiar with this type of movie, Christmas 24, True Christmas or Infinite Christmas Until You Die are showing them every half an hour. However, this is automatically better than the others because it has William Shatner in it as the ghost of Christmas present. Meanwhile, Gary Coleman is the ghost of Christmas past. I see nothing wrong with this setup.
Bayside rating: 1/5. Carol is nothing like Violet Bickerstaff. If she met Screech in this universe, she’d hire him just so she could sack him on Christmas Eve, and then laugh at him and call him a prick. Bah humbug.
Missing from my collection
Lark Voorhees (Lisa)
Voorhees has been in a couple of Christian movies, but sadly they don’t include the birth of their savior. She’s also been in a load of relatively obscure American sitcoms, but the overlap of her storylines with the sitcoms’ Christmas specials makes a shit Venn diagram. In short – no luck so far, but I’ll keep trying. Lark – on the off chance you’re reading this, please do a Christmas movie. It would make my life a lot easier, and you’d probably make a few bucks.
Leanna Creel (Tori)
Leanna Creel, the sassy, Jon Bon Jovi haired girl one in the final series of Saved By The Bell, has gone on to carve out a fine career as a director and producer, particularly in the documentary field. But she hasn’t once thought to produce or direct a Christmas thing, even though she knows it would help my collection. She knows this because I’ve shouted it at the TV while watching the Tori episodes of Saved By The Bell.
She did make a documentary called Anchor Baby, which sounds a bit like Santa Baby. I might count that as half a point for her.