Arts & Entertainment

Mario Lopez enjoying new acting stint in ‘Saved by the Bell’ revival

By Javier Romualdo

Los Angeles, Nov 26 (EFE).- The trend of giving second life to emblematic films and shows from the past is continuing with “Saved by the Bell,” a popular early 1990s high-school television series whose like-named revival featuring Mario Lopez as a gym teacher has been well received by both audiences and critics alike.

In the reboot, whose second season debuted on Wednesday, that 48-year-old American actor of Mexican descent is revising his role as A.C. Slater, who in his high-school days was a star athlete but a mediocre student.

“I’m surprised I’m just here all these years later,” Lopez said in an interview with Efe.

While the storyline of the new “Saved by the Bell” focuses more than the original on class differences among the students at the elite, beachfront Bayside High School in Los Angeles, Lopez’s character is little-changed from his teenage years.

“My character is fun because he’s one of those guys that’s sort of stuck in his era. He listens to the same music, wears the same clothes, has the same kind of game. He’s a fun character to play,” the actor said.

Slater could be observed in the first season excelling in his role as a gym teacher but otherwise struggling with the challenges of adult life, although the actor said viewers can expect to see a more mature character.

“He wants to grow as a man this year, and I think he does that. It’s kind of an emotional little journey he takes,” Lopez said.

Several other revival TV series have been released in recent years.

They include “Punky Brewster,” which along with “Saved by the Bell” has appeared on Peacock, NBC’s streaming platform, and “iCarly” and “Rugrats,” which were released on ViacomCBS’ Paramount+.

Of all those remakes, “Saved by the Bell” has received the best reviews in the US media, with The Hollywood Reporter saying the new series is more ambitious than the original and the Los Angeles Times hailing its first season as one of the best programs of the year.

The New York Times’ television critic, for her part, was more restrained in her praise but said “Saved by the Bell” is “now good.”

The series’ first season kicked off with the closing of a handful of California high schools due to budget cuts and the transfer of some low-income students to Bayside, one of the best-funded high schools in the state.

The arrival of the new students serves as a wake-up call for the Bayside kids, who are accustomed to resolving all of their problems with a cellphone call to their parents.

The second season of the series kicks off in the middle of the coronavirus crisis, with the students in quarantine and the school adapting to the reality of the pandemic.

Since the original “Saved by the Bell” ended, Lopez has appeared in shows including “Dancing with the Stars,” “Miss Universe 2020” and “America’s Best Dance Crew.” He also hosted the Miss America pageant in 2007, 2009 and 2010.

But now the reboot of the series from his beloved 1990s has brought him back to acting.

“That was a fun era, a nice era. I’m glad that people want to revisit it. I was a lot younger back then and had a good time,” he recalled. EFE


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