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Saved by the Bell - Season 1
Credit: NBC

Saved by the Bell is just one of those shows that everybody has seen a time or twelve. Whether you watched it when it was originally airing, or caught it after school in syndication, suffice to say it’s had a big impact on multiple generations growing up. One episode that stands out, even still, is “Jessie’s Song”, the episode where Jessie Spano got hooked on caffeine pills. It’s an episode that Executive Producer Peter Engel says gets brought up to him most often by fans, and in his new book, I Was Saved by the Bell, he offers insight into what was a very emotional — and slightly odd — episode.

While this episode definitely gives you ~feels~, Jessie’s outright addict behavior seems kind of odd for someone who’s take a pill that’s the equivalent of an espresso shot. Engel reveals in his book that this is because Jessie was originally meant to be addicted to speed.

Engel had ambitions to address real, complex issues that impacted the kids that watched the show, and we admire his goal. Unfortunately, both the network (NBC) and Standards and Practices had an issue running an episode about illegal substance addiction on Saturday mornings, and so caffeine pills were the compromise.

It’s often a struggle for writers to get the material they find most meaningful on the air, because the priorities of writers and other creatives looking to change lives are so far removed from the network executives, whose bottom line tends to be business (even if they, too, would like to make a difference.)

We love that Engel got to tell the story he wanted, even if it wasn’t exactly as he envision. And so is he.

“It made an impact. It helped them grow up. And I’m still, to this day, proud to have my name on that episode.”