Tori Scott. The name causes many in the Saved by the Bell fandom to shake their fist to the heavens. But are these episodes really all that bad?
In Saved by the Bell‘s final season, there were 10 episodes produced that seemed to exist in an alternate timeline or universe. Tiffani-Amber Thiessen and Elizabeth Berkley were absent and replaced by a the hybrid character Tori Scott: curly hair and sass (Jessie) plus a love interest for Zack (Kelly). Tori was played Leanna Creel.
These episodes originally aired mixed in with episodes featuring the regular cast throughout the fall of 1992. The final episode of the original series “Graduation” aired in May of 1993.
Are These Episodes Canon?
I can’t think of an argument for how these episodes could be considered part of the Saved by the Bell canon. There is no mention of Kelly or Jessie in any of these episodes—no mention of them moving away, transferring to Valley, or contracting some nerdy disease. Meanwhile, Kelly and Jessie never have and never will meet Tori, because she doesn’t exist in their universe.
The other issue with these episodes is that they do not conform to the conventions of typical SBTB exploits. A typical episode will feature Zack directly addressing the audience, a dream sequence at some point, and someone ending up in a costume—usually Screech, usually in drag. There are bits and pieces of these requirements, but overall the Tori Scott episodes are written as a more conventional sitcom. This is not necessarily a bad thing.
Binge or Purge?
With the way Netflix has divvied up the series, the choice to binge or purge is much easier. When I did a Saved by the Bell rewatch a few years ago following the show’s addition to Netflix, I skipped the Miss Bliss season and checked out a few episodes into the Tori Scott stretch. Part of the reason was burnout, but also there was some recycling of storylines. This time around, I watched the episodes as their own section, and they aren’t bad. They still aren’t canon, but there are some solid bits in there. Also, Leanna Creel does some great work as a foil for Zack, it’s a shame her résumé isn’t more robust.