Dustin Diamond is the epitome of the term “washed-up celebrity.” He rose from obscurity to become a child star on a the Saturday morning TV high school sitcom, Saved By The Bell, despite a complete lack of good looks, charisma, acting ability, or comedic talent.
Diamond played the character "Screech" on the Good Morning: Miss Bliss, Saved By The Bell, Saved By The Bell: The College Years, and Saved By The Bell: the New Class, becoming more of a caricature and joke with each passing season. One would think that Diamond would be proud of all he accomplished as a child actor and would now be living the high life off all of the money he made on the various Saved By The Bell shows. Shockingly, that is not the case, as Diamond has managed to piss all of his money away and become nothing more than a pathetic joke to the millions of people who grew up watching Saved By The Bell.
This entry is a long one, as Diamond has done many, many things worthy of derision during his train-wreck of a career. So I have broken it into two posts. This first post covers Diamond’s life up through 2000, when Saved By The Bell: the New Class went off the air.
I. The Good Morning: Miss Bliss Years (1987-1989)
Diamond was originally cast as Screech on Good Morning: Miss Bliss, a show that ran on the Disney Channel from 1987-1989. Screech was an annoying and dorky kid in an Indianapolis, Indiana junior high school who was somehow friends with Zack Morris, his much more popular classmate. Although Screech would occasionally do dumb things during on the show, he was a normal, albeit weird, kid and he was practically a genius in the classroom, always doing well in his classes. His nickname “Screech” was given to him because he had a tendency to speak in a high-pitched voice that was supposed to be funny (even though it wasn’t).
II. The Saved By The Bell Years (1989-1993)
Good Morning: Miss Bliss was cancelled in 1989 and was repackaged as Saved By The Bell, a Saturday morning high school comedy/drama. The show’s location was moved from Indianapolis to Los Angeles, California, and several new characters were added, including A.C. Slater, a jock with a permed mullet (played by Mario Lopez), Kelly Kapowski (the head cheerleader), and Jessie Spano (the studious and annoying girlfriend of Slater and a champion of left-wing causes). Screech was friends with all of the main characters of Saved By The Bell, and Zack Morris continued to be his best friend. However, the writers were running out of ideas for the Screech character, so they turned him into a comic foil for the other characters. However, the writing was not very good - instead of actually providing laughs, Screech became a character that served to do nothing more than annoy the other characters and do dumb things.
Although he did do dumb things, he somehow managed to invent and build a robot whom he called “Kevin.” Kevin was one of Screech’s best friends and they actually competed together in a talent contest as magicians, as shown below. Unfortunately, Kevin was killed off after a few episodes.
Although Screech was an annoying turd, the cool kids at Bayside were friends with him. Screech also dressed like a complete idiot, wearing colorful and fruity Zubaz pants to class. Screech would occasionally get picked on, but eventually got his act together enough to get a girlfriend, Violet, who was one of the school nerds. Screech graduated at the top of his class and had a good relationship with the Bayside principal, Mr. Belding.
III. The Saved By The Bell: The College Years (1993-1994)
Screech attended California University with Zack, Slater, and Kelly on Saved By The Bell: The College Years. This was an awkward time, as Screech was going through puberty and was becoming uglier and more annoying every day. Screech continued to use his high-pitched “Screech” voice even though his voice was becoming deeper. The College Years was cancelled after a year due to low ratings.
IV. The Saved By The Bell: The New Class Years (1994-2000)
Saved By The Bell: The New Class was created to chronicle the students at Bayside after Screech, Zack, and Slater graduated in 1993. The first season did not do well, and producers decided that drastic changes were necessary. To save the show, the producers brought back Screech. Screech’s role on the New Class was as Mr. Belding’s assistant through some kind of college internship.
At the beginning of the New Class, Screech was the same annoying character he was on the College Years and near the end of the original Saved By The Bell show. The writers decided to mix things up a bit, so they gave Screech the catch-phrase “Zoinks” that Screech would often yell out whenever he screwed something up.
Unfortunately, the writers quickly ran out of ideas for the New Class. To keep the show interesting, Screech and Mr. Belding became close friends over time. I’m not sure whether it was intentional, but it certainly seemed as though Screech and Mr. Belding eventually became gay lovers. If you don’t believe me, take a look at these photos of Screech and Belding from several New Class episodes. Why else would Screech oil up Belding at a country club or ride a tandem bike with him unless they were lovers?
Screech also grew a huge Jewish afro (a.k.a., a “Jew-fro”) during several of the seasons. It’s unclear as to whether the Jew-fro was supposed to be funny, but I know that I certainly thought it was. Seriously, look at Screech in the photos below. Does he look like an idiot or what?
Dustin Diamond kept reprising the Screech role until Saved By The Bell: The New Class was finally cancelled in 2000. After the show ended, Dustin Diamond’s career quickly spiraled downward in a spectacular collapse, as is discussed in the next post, Dustin Diamond (2000 - present).
*See also Dustin Diamond (2007 Celebrity Fit Club Appearance) and Dustin Diamond - (2008 Celebrity Fit Club: Boot Camp Appearance)