The first episode of the new season of the Saved By The Bell reboot has paid tribute to the late Dustin Diamond, who played Screech on the original show.
Diamond was one of the few original cast members who did not appear when the show was relaunched in 2020, with his character’s absence explained by a plot that saw Screech living on the International Space Station.
He had reportedly been in talks to return to the show before his death aged 44 earlier this year, three weeks after he was diagnosed with lung cancer.
Makers of the show had already said that they would pay tribute to Diamond in new episodes, and did so in the premiere of season two.
The episode sees a number of characters including Jessie Spano, Lisa Turtle and A.C. Slater meet up at The Max to enjoy a new addition to the menu, ‘Screech’s Spaghetti Burger’, and reminisce about some of his most memorable moments on the show.
Slater describes the burger as “A little weird, but great,” which Turtle says is “Kinda like Screech.”
Elizabeth Berkley Lauren, who plays Spano and is also a producer on the show, told EW: “We obviously gave that a lot of thought and care.”
She added: “We really wanted to be sensitive to strike a chord between the choice about his actual character passing and honoring the legacy of Dustin himself. No one could have done that role but him — so incredibly well and with his comedic genius.
“And just figuring out a way to integrate that into the script without it being heavy-handed. It just was [about] striking a balance of honoring, reflecting, celebrating, and mourning together.”
Speaking about Diamond earlier this month, showrunner Tracy Wigfield said: “I didn’t know him and I hadn’t met him,” Wigfield told Variety. “Just thinking about it as a fan, I knew we wanted to do more than just putting a picture of him up at the end.”