Last night, my BFF Evelyn and I watched yet another old episode of California Dreams.
Why Were We Watching It?
As I’ve explained before, my sister Megan got me hooked on this silly old show called California Dreams last Christmas. For whatever reason, I continue to find myself oddly intrigued by this mediocre 90s sitcom. While I was on my vacation last week, it occurred to me that it had been a while since I last shared and reviewed an episode of California Dreams on this site so I resolved that, as soon as I got back, one of the first things I would do would be to remedy that situation.
As for how Ms. Evelyn ended up watching it with me — well, Evelyn’s a very good friend.
What Was It About?
It’s time for another wacky class assignment! Since the members of the California Dreams all have the exact same class schedule, that means that they all get the same assignment: to research their family trees.
All the Dreams discover that they come from distinguished backgrounds, except for Tony who opens up one book to one random page and, after spending less than a minute reading, announces: “My ancestors were slaves!”
So, Tony claims to be descended from royalty and, because everyone at Pacific Coast High School is an idiot, they’re soon carrying him around on their shoulders and talking about setting up a royal harem.
Things are looking pretty good for Tony but then, as often happens on this show, a ghost visits him during the night and sets him straight.
I’ll be the first to admit that I’m usually pretty lenient when it comes to judging old episodes of California Dreams. After all, it was made back in the 90s and, especially when compared to something like Saved By The Bell: The New Class, the members of the cast did the best that they could with the material they were given.
But seriously, of all the episodes that I’ve viewed on YouTube so far, Family Trees is without a doubt the worst. Good intentions aside, absolutely nothing worked in this episode.
Strangely enough, however, the fact that it is so truly bad makes this episode oddly fascinating. The fact that nothing works is what makes this episode watchable.
What Did Not Work?
Where to begin?
Okay, first off — I understand that this show was probably written with the best of intentions but are we to seriously believe that, before getting this particular class assignment, Tony apparently had no idea about the history of slavery in the United States?
Secondly, who could have guessed that all you had to do to research your family history was check out a book from the library and then open it up to a random page?
Third, Tony getting visited by the ghost of an ancestor reminded me of the fact that, just a few episodes later, Sam would be visited by the ghost of an ancestor! One gets the idea that the show’s writers were perhaps running out of ideas.
Fourth, what is the deal with the lack of classrooms at the high school? I swear, every class that they take seems to be located in that same tiny classroom.
Fifth, the Dreams did not perform during this episode. Couldn’t they have written a special “Be Yourself” song in order to make Tony feel better about himself? It seems selfish not to.
However, this episode’s biggest problem was pointed out by Evelyn when she said, “Why is everyone at that school so easily impressed?” And, seriously, she is so totally right.
Let’s say that one day, Arleigh informed me that he was descended from royalty. Would that cause me to treat him any differently? Well, of course, it would! I mean, who isn’t impressed by royalty? (Myself, I consider Pippa Middleton to be my royal role model.) However, eventually, I would stop calling him “your highness” and begging him to say stuff like, “I declare him to be an outlawwwwwwwwwww!” and things would get back to normal here at the Shattered Lens. However, the students at PCHS are so impressed by Tony’s claim to be descended from a king that they immediately form some sort of odd cult of personality.
And why, if they’re so impressed by Tony’s claim to royal lineage, are they not impressed by the fact that Lorena is legitimately descended from power?
Seriously, that school sucks.
“OMG! Just like me!” Moments
As usual, I related so much to Lorena that I’m tempted to think that my cousin might be Mario Lopez.
(As far as my family tree is concerned, I am of Irish-Italian-Spanish-German ancestry, with a bit of French mixed in there as well. If I was in that class, they’d have to set aside an entire week for me to give my full report.)
Surf dudes with attitude are kinda groovy. Especially when they’re feeling mellow…