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‘Saved by the Bell’ Producer, Peter Engel, Has 1 Regret From the Series

Kelly Kapowski, Jessie Spano, and Lisa Turtle didn't initially appear in 'Saved by the Bell: The College Years'. Producer, Peter Engel, believes that is where he went wrong with the spinoff. Engel admits he might have been trying too hard to make the college spinoff different from the original.

Saved by the Bell was a success by most measures. The series technically ran for just four seasons, but it quickly became a cultural icon. Its 1990s style, goofy moments, and oddly satisfying drama have cemented it into the collective conscious of anyone raised in the 1990s. It’s enjoying a resurgence in popularity with the Peacock original reboot of the same name. Peter Engel, the show’s producer, found massive success with the show. Still, the famed television producer has one major regret from it.

After ‘Saved by the Bell’ ended, Peter Engel attempted a spinoff 

After Saved by the Bell ended, fans reconnected with some of the cast as they navigated life in college. A.C. Slater, Zack Morris, and Screech Powers all headed off to fictional Cal U, where they experienced further hijinx and dating mishaps together. The spinoff had the markings of success, but it fell flat. Ultimately, the show was canceled after just one season. 

Anne Tremko, Mario Lopez, Tiffani Thiessen, Mark-Paul Gosselaar, Kiersten Warren and Dustin Diamond pose for promotional material for 'Saved by the Bell: The College Years'
The cast of ‘Saved by the Bell: The College Years’ | Chris Haston/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images

All told, Saved by the Bell: The College Years contained just 19 episodes. The series never managed to catch on and ranked poorly in the Nielsen Ratings from the start. Some experts argue that the series failed to gain market share because of its time slot, while others claim it was unable to offer fans a strong enough connection to the original series. 

Peter Engel has one major regret from the ‘Saved by the Bell’ franchise

NBC tasked Engel with helping move the cast of Saved by the Bell from high school to college. Engel, who is credited with bringing several shows to market, revealed that he has exactly one regret from his time at the helm of the franchise.

Lark Voorhies (Lisa Turtle) and televison producer, Peter Engel pose for a photo at the 'Saved by the Bell' Season 1 and Season 2 DVD release event
Lark Voorhies and Peter Engel | Mark Sullivan/WireImage

Engel told The Wrap that he’d take the entire cast to college instead of just the three male characters if he had to do it all again. He told the publication, “I should’ve insisted we take them all and I didn’t. It was my decision and I made a mistake.” Engel surmises that the decision is what ultimately led to the failure of the series, even after he attempted to correct the course by adding Tiffani Thiessen to the cast. He said that he was trying to make it different from the original series and may have overcorrected. Instead of making the show unique, he theorizes, the series lost its “innocence.”

What happened to Kelly Kapowski, Jessie Spano, and Lisa Turtle after graduating from Bayside High? 

Fans who tuned into the premiere of the college-aged version of the series were left to wonder what happened to Kelly Kapowski, Jessie Spano, and Lisa Turtle. Because NBC canceled the show after just one season, two of the three never reappeared. Still, there is some information about what became of the characters. 

Mark-Paul Gosselaar as Zack Morris and Tiffani Thiessen as Kelly Kapowski act in a scene for the 'Saved by the Bell' reboot
Mark-Paul Gosselaar as Zack Morris and Tiffani Thiessen as Kelly Kapowski | Trae Patton/Peacock/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

Kelly eventually did appear in Saved by the Bell: The College Years as a student at Cal U. She and Zack rekindled their romance and married in a made-for-TV movie that helped wrap up the failed series. According to the 2020 reboot, the duo remains married and has a son. Lisa and Jessie were on hand for the couple’s wedding. 

After being accepted at the Fashion Institute of Technology, Lisa moved to New York. Since she never appeared on the spinoff, fans can assume she left California after graduation and rarely returned. The reboot reveals that Lisa is a successful fashion designer in Paris. 

Elizabeth Berkley stars in 'Saved by the Bell' as guidance counselor, Jessie Spano
Elizabeth Berkley as Jessie Spano | Chris Haston/Peacock/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

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Jessie’s dream was to attend Stansbury College, but she ultimately was accepted at Columbia University. According to the reboot, Jessie went on to earn her doctorate in educational psychology. Before settling in as a guidance counselor at Bayside, she wrote parenting books and was a public speaker. Her son, Jamie Spano, is a student at Bayside