Saved by the Bell fans, get ready to get “so, so scared” about some news.
According to executive producer Peter Engel, Jessie Spano’s manic crying fit during the episode “Jessie’s Song” was originally caused by speed, not caffeine pills.
As Engel reveals in an excerpt from his new book on Vulture, NBC’s Standards and Practices department made the change, stating that a storyline featuring the drug was too dark for a Saturday morning TV show.
“I insisted that we needed to start dealing with more important issues than we had in the past, and that speed was a vehicle not only for exploring drug use but also the pressure that kids put on themselves to achieve,” said Engel, who’d also written the episode. “But Standards and Practices wasn’t budging.”
That’s when someone else suggested they use caffeine pills, which Standards and Practices approved. However, they still kept the episode the same — including Jessie’s reaction.
“I wasn’t pleased about it — after all, the average caffeine pill was the equivalent of a cup of coffee, if that, so we might as well have had Jessie get addicted to earl grey, or breaking into the Max to snort coffee grounds,” writes Engel. “But hey, we had to start somewhere.”
Engel’s book, I Was Saved by the Bell: Stories of Life, Love, and Dreams That Do Come True is currently available for purchased.