Wednesday, July 15, 2009

WWATN: The Class of Miss Bliss…

Watching TBS during the weekday mornings, I have been struck by something a bit odd. First, the Time Warner digital guide says that Saved By The Bell is on from eight to nine a.m., but when I click on the station, I am greeted by one Ms. Hayley Mills. The next thing I notice, if I happen to tune in in time for the opening credits is that all of the young pubescent faces have been superimposed into the neon squiggly cutouts of the latter SBTB years. Mark-Paul Gosselaar, still with his Sun-In surfer hair even introduces most of the episodes. Then it hit me, after SBTB became so popular—not just with my generation but with the younger siblings and perhaps now even children of my generation—the Powers That Be decided to integrate Good Morning Miss Bliss into that world as much as possible in an effort to tie them together as one show—one show that just happened to replace half its cast between seasons one and two. And those poor kids who got left by the wayside are the ones who got hurt in this situation: stripped of the kind of fame that would have plastered their faces on everything from posters to beach towels to lunch boxes…Then again maybe they were the lucky ones…?

Max Battimo, who played Zack Morris' right-hand man and BFF, Mike Gonzalez, only got to spend thirteen episodes in the hallowed halls of Bayside. When his stint ended in 1989, he went back to his normal school and friends and took quite an interest in playing hockey. In fact, the one-time child actor got so invested in the sport that he began to referee and then work as an Official for the ECHL. Now he still holds the job he loves—joining what was once inevitably just a hobby into a profession And moreover, he seems to be well adjusted and all-American in that stereotypically "normal" way. It is a wonder if people even recognize his name when it appears in hockey programs.

Jessie Spano predecessor, brainiac Nikki Coleman, was played by Heather Hopper-- who I remember from Troop Beverly Hills fame. In that movie, she played the equally intelligent but also somewhat geeky psychoanalytical daughter of a big time Hollywood director. No reason was ever given for why Hopper was replaced on the show, but even after a handful of guest appearances in other (slightly more adult) comedies like Beverly Hills 90210, Married With Children, and Miss Match, her role on the Saturday morning children's program is the one she is still most known for today. Hopper is still trying her hand at auditioning and bit parts, though, proving that the new Wells Fargo commercials are right: it truly is best when you turn a passion into a lifelong career! And that is something that both of these former child stars should be proud to say they are accomplishing.

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