What Lisa and Megan Watched Last Night #62: California Dreams S3E3 “Budget Cuts” (dir. by Patrick Maloney)


Last night, my sister Megan and I continued to bond over episodes of bad sitcoms from the 1990s.  Among those episodes was “Budget Cuts,” from the third season of California Dreams.

Why Were We Watching It?

I’ve been spending this holiday week visiting my wonderful sister Megan in Ft. Worth and, for the past few days, we’ve been bonding over the fact that she has almost every single episode of Saved By The Bell: The New Class and California Dreams on DVD.

(Personally, SBTB: TNC has a lot of nostalgia value for me but Megan claims that California Dreams was a “thousand times better” than either the original Saved By The Bell or The New Class.)

Last night, we watched several randomly selected episodes of both SBTB: TNC and California Dreams and, out of all of them, “Budget Cuts” is the one that really stood out.

What Was It About?

Much like the “Belding’s Prank” episode of SBTB: TNC, “Budget Cuts” is an episode that seems to take place in a high school that has an absurdly powerful student body.  The school also has its very own radio station that broadcasts nonstop over the course of the entire day.  I’m not really sure how this would work, since it seems like this would interfere with things like students going to and concentrating in class but maybe that’s just the way things were in California during the mid-90s.

Anyway, sleazy Sly Winkle (played by Michael Cade) is given control of the radio station and he promptly gives shows to all of his friends.  Mark (Aaron Jackson) is a bitchy critic in the style of Addison DeWitt.  Sam (Jennie Kwan) gives love advice to a caller who, in the opinion of both me and Megan, was just a guy wearing an ugly wig.  Lorena (Diana Uribe) has a show that’s all about fashion.  (Yay!)  And Jake (Jay Anthony Franke) has a show where he tells people to “Shut up and listen!”

Anyway, the school board is making budget cuts and it appears that the radio station is going to be closed down!  After being pressured by Jake, Lorena ends up locking herself in the studio and refusing to come out until the school board agrees to hear the student demands.

Somehow, this works and then, fortunately, Jake shows up at the school board meeting and OH MY GOD!  JAKE’S WEARING A SUIT!  The live studio audience goes crazy at the sight of Jake all dressed up and with good reason.  The boy cleans up well.

But will it be enough to save the radio station?

What Worked?

Every teen sitcom has to have at least one episode where the show’s resident rebel makes an appearance wearing a suit as opposed to his leather jacket.  This, of course, is because we all know that the most important thing about a rebel is that he should be able to clean up well.  In this episode, Jay Anthony Franke cleans up very well.

What Did Not Work?

Four words: “Absurdly powerful student body.”  Seriously.  Between California Dreams and Saved By The Bell, California appears to be a state where teenagers are given the equivalent of diplomatic immunity.

“OH MY GOD!  JUST LIKE US!” Moments

Both Megan and I agreed that we both identified with the character of Lorena, both because of her temper and her sense of fashion.

Though this episode of California Dreams didn’t actually feature the band performing, Megan and I still decided that we should start a band of our own.  We’re going to call ourselves the Cleavage Sisters and we’re going to hire David Foster to write aggressively bland songs for us.  Megan will sing them while I dance around the stage.  It’ll be fun!

Lessons Learned

Sometimes, people don’t like to be told to “shut up and listen.”

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One response to “What Lisa and Megan Watched Last Night #62: California Dreams S3E3 “Budget Cuts” (dir. by Patrick Maloney)

  1. Somehow, I endured this episode of “California Dreams”. Now I know what they show inmates at San Quentin.

    One of the biggest problems is the theme song. It’s so horrid! Honestly, if this show didn’t come “Bowman Sisters” recommended, I wouldn’t have stayed with it past the opening credits. “California Dreams” sounds like a fun title, so why is the theme music so dreary?

    I wasn’t really impressed by the student body and their list of demands. Powerful student body? Hardly! Don’t they know that once your first demand is met, you keep holding out to fulfill more demands, each more ridiculous than the last? That’s how Gary Lockwood and Paul Winfield did it in “R.P.M.” Look how far it got them!

    It’s also never explained why these kids need to beg the school board for extra funds to prop up their crummy radio station anyway. The imitation Fonz (and a damn pale one at that) obviously has enough lazy cash to buy himself a brand new suit for the expressed purpose of persuading the school board to sprinkle a few extra bucks over the radio station, an exercise that takes Fonz-Lite all of about two minutes. Also, there’s that other kid who gets about in those snappy two-piece suits that look as if they would cost a week’s wages for a “regular” person. Damn it, these kids could’ve purchased radio stations across the entire West Coast with the money they must’ve had sitting around.

    The only other thing to mention is that the Lorena Costa character looks like Lisa Marie Bowman.

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