If you’re like me, there was a part of you that liked A.C. Slater, and then there was the other 99% that always wondered why he couldn’t get his own girls. With those acid-washed jeans? Please. Nevertheless, I always found myself thinking, “Zack Morris is God.” There was also another part, as I got older, that thought, “This dude must have AT LEAST four venereal diseases.” And that’s just in high school. The College Years, who knows with the bevy of malleable freshman (and Women’s Studies professors) to prey on. I digress. By the way, I’m talking about Saved By The Bell. If you weren’t aware of this, please swallow some Drain-O, or in a less fatal move, stop reading now.
I always loved this show and I continue to love it to this day. I’d wake up early and watch it before school while eating Rice Krispies with a pound of sugar on top. Then I’d watch it after school while eating Crispix with a pound of sugar on top. I didn’t get a lot done in school. But while Mark-Paul Gosselaar was just about every male’s boyhood hero, aside from Mugsy Bogues in Space Jam, his career was pretty much on DNR after the spectacularly, and long-awaited, gem that is this. This got me to thinking: Where did the power of MPG go? As I looked into his Corey Haim-like (RIP, Lucas) descent from teen superstardom, some things came to light that might subtly (or, in true SBTB fashion, “subliminially”) explain why Mark-Paul Gosselaar was never as cool as this. These are five of them.
Many a person has wondered, “What kind of name is Mark-Paul?” Why not just “Mark Gosselaar?” If I’m being fair, Mark-Paul Gosselaar does roll of the tongue quite easily and it also adds a statesman-like diplomacy to his overall persona. I mean, he’s got to be rich and he’s got to be awesome with that name, right? I bet he is the true inventor of “Makin’ it rain.” Did you ever see his bedroom on SBTB? I’m not convinced that wasn’t his real bedroom, or that the show wasn’t based on his real life. What I am convinced of is that his middle-middle name of Harry has to be a reason he’s not as famous as Leo or Johnny. Read it out loud: Mark-Paul Harry Gosselaar. That’s either a porn name or what could’ve been more popular than “Dirty Sanchez.” Think about it: “Oh shit, son, you just got Harry Gosselaar’d! Do some push-ups!” In the Hollywood scene, he’d just be referred to as “Mark.” But, when you hear “Mark,” you have to think of this guy, naturally. Good job, MPG’s parents.
4. For The Love of Nancy and Robin’s Hood
Before you ask, the title is two separate things. Confusing, right? Anyway, what better way to ride the success of a genre-changing show like Saved By The Bell than to work on something called For The Love of Nancy. Just look at the cover. He decided to do a TV movie with bulimic and anorexic and agoraphobic Tracey Gold. I think I made one or all of those up? Talk about a career killer. Makes me wanna vom or starve or sit inside my house. Oh, shit, too soon? If that wasn’t enough, it looks like he did the SBTB movie after this, so they clearly wanted to cash in on his Zack Morris prowess (Mowess?). Maybe he got suckered into this movie. Maybe he felt bad for her and said, “You know what, I’ll play Tommy in your made-for-TV movie For the Love of Nancy. WWZMD, right?” Fair enough. What gets me is that his next credited work in IMDB is this thing. A Dangerous Minds-like show where a “for the greater good” lady takes disenfranchised youths under her wing and out of the hood. See what they did there? What gets me even more is that he’s credited with what looks like one episode in this 22 episode TV series, yet I can’t even see what he did on the show. THIS IS ZACK FUCKING MORRIS HERE! What I did notice was that Rick Springfield (RICK SPRINGFIELD?!) plays Nick Collins in “unknown episodes.” I’m assuming that he sings “Jessie’s Girl” in its entirety at least three times during this series. I’ll found out more.
3. No Means No
If Marky-Mark was too busy with his “pants-dropping schedule” to help out Cher in Clueless, MPHG was probably too burned out from ordering pizza in the classroom and fending off tweenies to do anything substantial in the direct wake of SBTB. I almost feel okay giving him a “I was Zack Morris, I can do whatever the fuck I want for the next two years” pass, but you just can’t when you see his poor decision-making skills after the show ended. Gets done with The College Years, does a charity movie for Tracey Gold, jumps back into Zack Morris Mode in The Wedding, doesa TV series called Robin’s Hood for which he has ghost credits, goes back to one last hoorah (episode) in SBTB: The New Class, does a movie called Twisted Love, one called Specimen, one called Brothers of the Frontier where he plays a character Hiram Holcolmb (really, MPHG, really?), and then decides this was the next smart move. Yes, that’s Candace Cameron (Bure) from Full House. It’s like he IS living in TV Fantasyland and can’t (doesn’t want to) escape. Three things about this movie that make you go, “Uh, whaaa?!”: 1) It’s actually on DVD, as advertised by the “DVD” logo in the bottom right of the graphic. 2) The name of the movie is She Cried No. That’s a perfect name for a documentary about the Duke men’s lacrosse team, not a MPHG movie. 3) The synopsis of this movie is “A college freshman is date-raped at her brother’s frat party by a fraternity member.” I’m guessing MPHG isn’t the brother is this scenario. Cinematic gold, Harry Gosse.
2. Good Cop, Bad Lawyer
So, let’s get out of the 90’s (nooooooooo!) and into the double-zeros. From 1996 through 2001, MPG did absolutely nothing of value, other than Dead Man on Campus, a cinematic masterpiece. Jumping from the high school classroom into college on the silver screen and then on a slightly larger silver made-for-tv-movie screen is okay, but playing a rapist can kind of jam you up. Maybe that’s just me. Over the course of five or so years, he decided that he wanted to get away from the “I’m Zack Morris and can barely tie my shoes” typecast and branch out. So he decided, “Girls just threw it at Zack Morris, I’m gonna play a guy who just goes and takes the booty.” Hard to argue the rationale behind that. What he does after that, and through to today, is decide that he’ll jump from all that into the world of lawyerdom/copdom. The not-so-smart high school kid turned rapist now wants to be a (TV) lawyer. Okay, I’m still on board, MPHG. After all, you did order a fucking pizza from the classroom and (probably) slept with Mr. Belding’s wife. Free pass. So, after some really crap movies where he’s what looks to be a baseball player, an alien abductee, a kidnapped HS football player, a Cowboy, a rapist, and then a Van Wilder-like college student, he is in no less than 9 TV shows/movies where he’s either a lawyer or a cop. So much for not being typecast. Some of the shows, of which I only watch(ed) two (NYPD Blue (old) and Franklin & Bash (new)), might even be decent, depending on how much you’ve had to drink. And, he’s good-looking enough to play the charmer in either a suit or a uniform. Or this. I get it, he’s still dreamy. I won’t even say that all of these things are why he isn’t more famous. This has to be why cause I can’t think of any other reason, except for #1 down below. Hey, MPG, you’re not Heath Ledger, bro. Why so serious…about that hair? Eh, whatever. At least he’s a lawyer or a cop and not a Candace Cameron rapist.
1. MPG and TAT 4-EVER
Forget everything you think you know about failed careers. Forget everything you think you know about failed marriages. Forget everything you think you know about failed careers and failed marriages coming together (or apart) in the world of Hollywood. MPG could have cemented a lifelong legacy of “Superpimp” and go onto international movie fame if he did one simple thing: marry Tiffani-Amber Thiessen. I mean, come on. They were the Barbie and Ken of the TV world for like 20 years. Okay, like 5 or 6 years. But, before Chandler and Monica or Ross and Rachel, there was Zack Morris and Kelly Kapowski. She was hot (still in my Top 5) and he was hot (still in my Top 5. What, wait?). If Robert Pattinson and Kristen “I Blink Way Too Much” Stewart can make it work for now, you can make it work forever, MPG. What’s the problem? She can’t relate to your TV superstardom? No, wait, she was your girlfriend in your TV superstardom. She isn’t hot enough? We all know that can’t be it. What is it? For the love of Will Ferrell, she even has a hyphenated name like you! Mark-Paul and Tiffani-Amber. You can’t write this kind of stuff. You could be the Miffani or Tiffark of our generation! Instead you marry this hag? Her name is Lisa Ann Russell. She doesn’t even have the decency to hyphenate her name. Honestly, this might be the straw here. I’m not sure I can take much more. See, I know you’d still be together to this day. You might even have your own show like Tori Spelling and Mr. Tori Spelling. Instead, you decide that making 286 cop/lawyer/cop-lawyer shows was the better idea. Now TAT is no longer TAT. She’s just TT. You could have lived in L.L. Bean monogrammed heaven forever! She was waiting for you MPG and you fucked it up. Instead, she married this guy. He’s a better looking Ben Roethlisberger, without the rape. That’s not saying much, but he’s got TAT/TT and you’ve got this guy. Good job.