'Saved by the Bell' EP reveals Jessie's addiction was supposed to be speed, not caffeine pills

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Don't worry, "Saved by the Bell" fans; if you always felt that Jessie Spano's caffeine-pill freakout in the classic episode "Jessie's Song" came off as a touch melodramatic, you aren't wrong.

In an excerpt from his new book "I Was Saved by the Bell: Stories of Life, Love and Dreams That Do Come True," the Saturday-morning show's executive producer Peter Engel reveals that Spano (Elizabeth Berkley) was initially supposed to be hooked on something stronger than caffeine, but that network censors put the kibosh on his original idea.

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"Today, when I meet fans of the show, 'Jessie's Song' is almost always the episode that comes up first. It made a big impression on them. But it's sometimes laughed about now, as a lot of people look back and say, wait a minute, caffeine pills? Really?" Engel wrote in the excerpt, published by Vulture. "And to be sure, when you watch the scene where Zack discovers Jessie's 'addiction' and intervenes, a lot of people today will say, as Dustin Diamond did years later, that Jessie was acting more like a heroin addict than someone on NoDoz."

Engel went onto explain, "What fans don't know is that, when I originally wrote the episode with Tom Tenowich, Jessie was hooked on speed, not caffeine pills. But Standards and Practices, the censorial department of NBC, vetoed it, saying speed was too serious for Saturday mornings. I insisted that we needed to start dealing with more important issues than we had in the past, and that speed was a vehicle not only for exploring drug use but also the pressure that kids put on themselves to achieve. But Standards and Practices wasn't budging."

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'Saved by the Bell' cast in their glory days
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'Saved by the Bell' cast in their glory days
SAVED BY THE BELL -- Season 3 --Pictured: (l-r) Top: Tiffani Thiessen as Kelly Kapowski, Elizabeth Berkley as Jessie Spano, Mario Lopez as A.C. Slater, Lark Voorhies as Lisa Turtle; Middle: Dustin Diamond as Screech Powers; Bottom: Mark-Paul Gosselaar as Zack Morris -- Photo by: Chris Haston/NBCU Photo Bank
Promotional portrait of the cast of the television series, 'Saved By The Bell,' circa 1990. (Photo by Fotos International/Getty Images)
SAVED BY THE BELL -- Season 1 -- Pictured: Mark-Paul Gosselaar as Zachary 'Zack' Morris -- Photo by: Sheryl Noday/NBCU Photo Bank
SAVED BY THE BELL -- Media Tour -- Pictured: (l-r) Mark-Paul Gosselaar as Zack Morris, Tiffani Thiessen as Kelly Kapowski -- Photo by: Joseph Del Valle/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images
SAVED BY THE BELL -- Season 1 -- Pictured: Mark-Paul Gosselaar as Zachary 'Zack' Morris -- Photo by: Sheryl Noday/NBCU Photo Bank
SAVED BY THE BELL -- Media Tour -- Pictured: (l-r) Mark-Paul Gosselaar as Zack Morris, Tiffani Thiessen as Kelly Kapowski -- Photo by: Alan Singer/NBCU Photo Bank
SAVED BY THE BELL -- Season 2 -- Pictured: Mark-Paul Gosselaar as Zack Morris -- Photo by: Gary Null/NBCU Photo Bank
SAVED BY THE BELL -- Season 2 -- Pictured: Tiffani Thiessen as Kelly Kapowski -- Photo by: Gary Null/NBCU Photo Bank
SAVED BY THE BELL -- Pictured: (back, l-r) Mario Lopez as A.C. Slater, Lark Voorhies as Lisa Turtle, Tiffani Thiessen as Kelly Kapowski, Elizabeth Berkley as Jessie Spano (front, l-r) Mark-Paul Gosselaar as Zack Morris, Dustin Diamond as Screech Powers -- Photo by: NBCU Photo Bank .
SAVED BY THE BELL -- Season 2 -- Pictured: (l-r) Lark Voorhies as Lisa Turtle, Tiffani Thiessen as Kelly Kapowski, Elizabeth Berkley as Jessie Spano -- Photo by: NBCU Photo Bank
SAVED BY THE BELL -- Season 2 -- Pictured: Dennis Haskins as Mr. Richard Belding -- Photo by: Gary Null/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank
SAVED BY THE BELL -- Pictured: Dustin Diamond as Screech Powers -- (Photo by: NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
SAVED BY THE BELL -- 'Screech's Woman' Episode 5 -- Pictured: (l-r) Mario Lopez as Albert Clifford 'A.C.' Slater, Mark-Paul Gosselaar as Zachary 'Zack' Morris -- (Photo by: Paul Drinkwater/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
SAVED BY THE BELL -- 'Screech's Woman' Episode 5 -- Pictured: (l-r) Dustin Diamond as Samuel 'Screech' Powers, Mark-Paul Gosselaar as Zachary 'Zack' Morris -- (Photo by: Paul Drinkwater/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
SAVED BY THE BELL -- 'From Nurse to Worse' Episode 16 -- Air Date 12/15/1990 -- Pictured: (l-r) Mark-Paul Gosselaar as Zack Morris, Tiffani Thiessen as Kelly Kapowski, Lark Voorhies as Lisa Turtle, Elizabeth Berkley as Jessie Spano, Mario Lopez as A.C. Slater -- Photo by: Gary Null/NBCU Photo Bank
SAVED BY THE BELL -- 'From Nurse to Worse' Episode 16 -- Air Date 12/15/1990 -- Pictured: (l-r) Elizabeth Berkley as Jessie Spano, Lark Voorhies as Lisa Turtle, Mario Lopez as A.C. Slater -- Photo by: Gary Null/NBCU Photo Bank
SAVED BY THE BELL -- Season 3 --Pictured: Mario Lopez as A.C. Slater -- Photo by: Chris Haston/NBCU Photo Bank
SAVED BY THE BELL -- Season 3 --Pictured: Mark-Paul Gosselaar as Zack Morris -- Photo by: Chris Haston/NBCU Photo Bank
SAVED BY THE BELL -- 'House Party' Episode 5 -- Air Date 10/06/1990 -- Pictured: (l-r) Tiffani Thiessen as Kelly Kapowski, Lark Voorhies as Lisa Turtle, Mark-Paul Gosselaar as Zack Morris, Elizabeth Berkley as Jessie Spano, Mario Lopez as A.C. Slater, Dustin Diamond as Screech Powers, Jeffrey Asch as Maxwell Nerdstrom, Tori Spelling as Violet Anne Bickerstaff -- Photo by: Paul Drinkwater/NBCU Photo Bank
SAVED BY THE BELL -- 'House Party' Episode 5 -- Air Date 10/06/1990 -- Pictured: (l-r) Ruth Buzzi as Roberta Powers, Dustin Diamond as Screech Powers, Dennis Haskins as Mr. Richard Belding -- Photo by: Paul Drinkwater/NBCU Photo Bank
SAVED BY THE BELL -- 'The Fabulous Belding Boys' Episode 15 -- Air Date 12/09/1990 -- Pictured: (l-r) Mario Lopez as A.C. Slater -- Photo by: Alice S. Hall/NBCU Photo Bank
SAVED BY THE BELL -- 'The Fabulous Belding Boys' Episode 15 -- Air Date 12/09/1990 -- Pictured: (l-r) Elizabeth Berkley as Jessie Spano, Mario Lopez as A.C. Slater -- Photo by: Alice S. Hall/NBCU Photo Bank
The cast in publicity portrait for the television series 'Saved By The Bell', Circa 1991. (Photo by NBC/Getty Images)
SAVED BY THE BELL -- 'My Boyfriend's Back' Episode 8 -- Air Date 10/05/1991 -- Pictured: Elizabeth Berkley as Jessie Spano -- Photo by: Joseph Del Valle/NBCU Photo Bank
SAVED BY THE BELL -- 'My Boyfriend's Back' Episode 8 -- Air Date 10/05/1991 -- Pictured: Mario Lopez as A.C. Slater -- Photo by: Joseph Del Valle/NBCU Photo Bank
SAVED BY THE BELL -- 'School Song' Episode 24 -- Air Date 11/28/1992 -- Pictured: (l-r) Leanna Creel as Tori Scott, Mark-Paul Gosselaar as Zack Morris, Mario Lopez as A.C. Slater, Dustin Diamond as Screech Powers, Lark Voorhies as Lisa Turtle-- Photo by: Paul Drinkwater/NBCU Photo Bank
SAVED BY THE BELL -- Pictured: Elizabeth Berkley as Jessie Spano -- Photo by: Alice S. Hall/NBCU Photo Bank
SAVED BY THE BELL -- Pictured: Lark Voorhies as Lisa Turtle -- Photo by: Alice S. Hall/NBCU Photo Bank
SAVED BY THE BELL: HAWAIIAN STYLE -- Air Date 11/27/1992 -- Pictured: (l-r) Ashlee Lauren as Jennifer, Rena Sofer as Andrea Larson -- Photo by: Joseph Del Valle/NBCU Photo Bank
SAVED BY THE BELL -- Pictured: Tiffani Thiessen as Kelly Kapowski -- Photo by: Alice S. Hall/NBCU Photo Bank
SAVED BY THE BELL: HAWAIIAN STYLE -- Air Date 11/27/1992 -- Pictured: Mark-Paul Gosselaar as Zack Morris -- Photo by: Joseph Del Valle/NBCU Photo Bank
SAVED BY THE BELL: HAWAIIAN STYLE -- Air Date 11/27/1992 -- Pictured: (l-r) Elizabeth Berkley as Jessie Spano, Mark-Paul Gosselaar as Zack Morris, Tiffani Thiessen as Kelly Kapowski -- Photo by: Joseph Del Valle/NBCU Photo Bank
SAVED BY THE BELL: HAWAIIAN STYLE -- Air Date 11/27/1992 -- Pictured: (l-r) Tiffani Thiessen as Kelly Kapowski, Elizabeth Berkley as Jessie Spano -- Photo by: Joseph Del Valle/NBCU Photo Bank
SAVED BY THE BELL: THE COLLEGE YEARS -- 'Pilot' Episode 1 -- AIr Date 05/22/1993 -- Pictured: Dustin Diamond as Screech Powers -- Photo by: Paul Drinkwater/NBCU Photo Bank
SAVED BY THE BELL: HAWAIIAN STYLE -- Air Date 11/27/1992 -- Pictured: (l-r) Dennis Haskins as Mr. Richard Belding, Mark-Paul Gosselaar as Zack Morris, Tiffani Thiessen as Kelly Kapowski, Dustin Diamond as Screech Powers, Elizabeth Berkley as Jessie Spano, Lark Voorhies as Lisa Turtle, Mario Lopez as A.C. Slater -- Photo by: Joseph Del Valle/NBCU Photo Bank
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Eventually, a compromise was reached on Spano's pick-me-up of choice — but Engel and crew chose not to tone down the impact on Spano.

Engel added that he "wasn't pleased" with the compromise.

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"I wasn't pleased about it — after all, the average caffeine pill was the equivalent of a cup of coffee, if that, so we might as well have had Jessie get addicted to earl grey, or breaking into the Max to snort coffee grounds. But hey, we had to start somewhere," Engel wrote.

So ... caffeine pills were a "very special episode" gateway topic?

Watch the pivotal freakout scene from "Jessie's Song" in the video.

Read original story 'Saved by the Bell' EP Reveals Jessie's Addiction Was Supposed to Be Speed, Not Caffeine Pills At TheWrap


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