In contemplating Mark-Paul Gosselaar's appearance as Zack Morris on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon (seen here), this reviewer was struck by a reader's comment. In asking about MPG's appearance, the reader noted that the question was "off topic" from the latest post on the Implausibility of Doing the Urkel. With all due respect to that reader, this reviewer finds the parallels between that article and the Zack Morris interview quite remarkable. Specifically, at the conclusion of the "Doing the Urkel" post, this reviewer contemplated that middle schoolers in the fictional Port Washington may have seen Urkel's appearance on the American Comedy Awards. A similar phenomenon occurred on the Late Night program when MPG conducted the entire segment as Zack Morris. In both cases, fictional characters breached not only the fourth wall between the audience and the fiction, but the theoretical fifth wall separating potentially conflicting realities.
The fifth wall is a postmodern metafictional construct that assumes that a work of fiction maintains its own continuity separate from that of our own reality. Should a fictional character break that fifth wall and enter the continuity in which we, the audience, exist, that character would then exist in the same continuity as the actor that portrays the character and, indeed, as the character's creator and/or writers. The metaphysical ramifications on the concepts of free will and higher powers are staggering.
When the Urkel character performed his dance on the American Comedy Awards, he entered a world in which Jaleel White exists, breaking the fifth wall. Similarly, ZAck Morris' interview on Late Night allowed the character to enter the continuity that includes MPG. Incredibly, however, Zack Morris not only appeared in the same reality as MPG, but he challenged and negated MPG's very existence. Zack Morris argued that he was in fact a real person who created the screen name MPG for the purposes of complying with the Screen Actor's Guild. He also posited that the Saved by the Bell universe was in fact reality. Furthermore, Zack Morris challenged the idea that the SBTB continuity was hopelessly fragmented and presented it as logically consistent. This point was comedically driven home when he insisted he moved from Indiana to Bayside with two friends and his high school principal.
All in all, the segment was both highly entertaining and academically significant.
As a post script, this reviewer was rather skeptical of the idea that anything of significance could occur on a show hosted by Mr. Fallon. In the past, I have found him to be quite loathsome, low brow, and rarely appreciated his incompetent boobery on Saturday Night Live. Imagine my delight when I witnessed not only something intellectually challenging, but a segment that combined my twin intellectual pursuits of postmodernism and Saved by the Bell.
Finally, this week's television schedule has two programs of note. First, on Sunday, June 14, 2009 at 9:30 a.m. EST, the ABC Family network will air Full House's postmodern existentialist masterpiece "Under the Influence." Second, on Wednesday, June 17, 2009 at 7:30 a.m. EST, TBS is airing the cynical anti-feminist critique "Hold Me Tight."