‘Saved by the Bell’ Producer Opens Up About Iconic ‘Jessie on Speed’ Episode

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Saved by the Bell fans will remember that one episode in which overachieving Jessie Spano, played by Elizabeth Berkley, became addicted to “caffeine pills” and had a meltdown.

In the episode called “Jessie’s Song,” she flips out in front of Zack (Mark-Paul Gosselaar) when he tries to stop her from taking the pills because she thinks she needs them to perform her song. It’s pretty damn great… watch a clip below.

In his memoir, I Was Saved by the Bell: Stories of Life, Love, and Dreams That Do Come True, out today, the show’s executive producer Peter Engel talks about how he wanted Jessie to be hooked on speed, but the censors changed it to caffeine pills.

“I insisted that we needed to start dealing with more important issues than we had in the past,” he writes, “and that speed was a vehicle not only for exploring drug use but also the pressure that kids put on themselves to achieve.”

Still, Engel remains proud of it. “And even though we can laugh now about how silly the caffeine pills were,” he writes, “there’s a reason that so many young adults make a point of telling me that ‘Jessie’s Song’ was, hands down, their favorite episode. No one was making programming for kids like that at the time. It made an impact. It helped them grow up.”