What if the original pilot of Good Morning, Miss Bliss had been picked up by the Disney Channel? Not only would there be no Saved by the Bell, 1990s pop culture would have completely transformed.
The original pilot for Good Morning, Miss Bliss, the series which would eventually become Saved by the Bell.
This pilot, which was not picked up, aired as a special preview on NBC Saturday, July 11, 1987. Other shows (airing repeats) that night on NBC: The Facts of Life, Golden Girls, Amen, and Hunter. Interesting note: the episode won its timeslot.
Although the pilot aired on NBC, it was originally produced for the Disney Channel. However, there was significant retooling done to the show before the real first season of Good Morning, Miss Bliss aired. The premise of this pilot had sixth grade teacher Carrie Bliss (Hayley Mills) starting off the school year as a newlywed after a whirlwind romance the previous summer.1 Miss Bliss cared deeply about every one of her students, much to the annoyance of her principal Gerald Belding (Oliver Clark). The pilot takes on a heavy tone, as new student Michael Thompson (Jonathan Brandis!) has a tough time adjusting to Indianapolis, what with his brother dying.
This pilot happened in the midst of the 1980s resurgence of ISSUES sitcoms. The tone and style is heavily reminiscent of Family Ties right from the get-go, with the overly somber theme song, incredibly dated references (one exchange namechecked David Lee Roth, Ozzy Osbourne, the Beastie Boys, and Teddy Ruxbin), and coping with death as a situation comedy premise. Despite all this, the pilot kind of works, even looking at it in 2014. If you remove the 1980s filming techniques (zooming in on Miss Bliss while another character has an emotional breakthrough, for example) and take out the laugh track, you would have something comparable to the original version of Degrassi Junior High.
The other reason to put this episode in the time capsule: the students in the class. Not only do you have a young Jonathan Brandis2, you have a pre-Urkel Jaleel White and a pre-David Silver Brian Austin Green as the Alex P. Keaton knockoff. What if this pilot moved forward and White and Green stuck around? The 90s pop culture landscape would have been unrecognizable.