‘I Was Saved by the Bell’ is the chronicle of producer Peter Engel’s amazing journey as one of the most prolific producers in television and who single handedly created the teen sitcom, “Saved By The Bell,” which he executive produced through all of its many incarnations, and which led to his many other teen series including the iconic “Last Comic Standing.”
Peter Engel has written a very entertaining book on his love affair with television, starting with a very funny episode where he badly wanted thirteen more episodes of a TV program he was producing and laid down on his boss’ floor: 13 episodes or call security! Apparently he continued to lay flat on his back on the floor until his boss gave in and gave him what he wanted. Like all passionate love affairs, you suffer the consequences of fate and misjudgment, and the underlying pathos of rejection in his private life that is echoed in his professional one is what makes this a great read, because he is so brutally honest in the telling that when he succeeds, you do too and when he hurts, you hurt along with him, that is the mark of a great writer.
Peter takes us back to 1948 and the formative years of TV and the part that radio played in our going forward. The world changed so much after World War II that looking back, we wonder how we managed it. His foray into politics was very interesting and he became enamored with John F. Kennedy and his formed his own support group, giving us a glimpse into the background of the machine that put Kennedy in the White House and the consequences of his assassination. It was very sad and almost immediately, the political climate changed drastically with the deaths of the Kennedy brothers and Dr. Martin Luther King.
Engel weaves his spell over his readers coming and going with ease from one era to another. His vision of Jesus was beautifully done and his courage as a Jew to become a follower of Christ, was touching. He has put on paper the details of his shows, the hits and the misses, the stars and the wannabes, successes and failures, but the whole way through, he blends life and love, heartbreak and friendship, in the most honest way possible.
There is so much in this book to keep you reading and wanting more. It is an entertaining and solid read and if you ever thought you wanted to produce for television or film, you better have the knack, passion, guts, and heart to go through with it. I thoroughly enjoyed this book, Engel found his magic but only through blood, sweat and while there were tears, there was also a great deal of laughter. As he said, find your dream and don’t let anyone stomp on it. Very highly recommended.
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