I’ve been spending the weekend visiting my sister Megan and her family. Last night, Megan and I watched yet another episode of the mediocre yet oddly entertaining 90s sitcom, California Dreams.
Why Were We Watching It?
So, last night, after everyone else in the house was sound asleep, Megan and I were awake and doing some sisterly bonding, which — when you’re a member of the Bowman clan — usually concludes with watching something silly.
But what to watch? Because I have the greatest big sister in the world, Megan happens to have every season of Saved By The Bell: The New Class on DVD and, at first, I was really tempted to suggest that we watch something from the storied history of Bayside High. But, when I actually thought about it, I knew that we simply had to watch yet another episode of California Dreams.
Last night, we watched a handful of episodes but I specifically decided to review the “Daddy’s Girl” episode because it was the episode that preceded the Family Trees episode, which just happens to also be the last episode of the show that I reviewed for this site.
(As some of our regular readers my remember, it’s been nearly a year since Megan first introduced me to this show when, during the Christmas holidays, we sat down and watched the 4th season episode, Dancing Isn’t Everything. )
What Was It About?
Future steroid addict Tiffani Smith (Kelly Packard) is worried because her father has been alone ever since her parents got divorced. (I assume that the Smiths got divorced though it’s never specifically stated, beyond Mr. Smith saying, “Ever since your mother left…” So, it’s entirely possible that Tiffani’s mom may have joined a cult or something.) Tiffani arranges for her father to meet Ariel (Kristine Sutherland), a woman who claims to be an expert in dolphins. Mr. Smith and Ariel hit it off and, at first, Tiffani is super excited!
However, Mr. Smith is soon spending all of him time hanging out with Ariel and a jealous Tiffani ends up having one of those extremely elaborate and plot-specific nightmares that always seem to happen on California Dreams. So, with the help of Ariel’s criminal record, Tiffani breaks up her dad’s new relationship.
Problem solved, right?
Nope. Now that Mr. Smith is alone again, Tiffani feels guilty and seriously, you have to wonder if there’s ever been a more wishy-washy character than Tiffani Smith. So, Tiffani tries to get Ariel and Mr. Smith back together by singing them a song.
Meanwhile, in the B plot, Mark (Aaron Jackson) has come up with a computer program that tells Samantha (Jennie Kwan), Tony (William James Jones), Jake (Jay Anthony Franke), and Lorena (Diana Uribe) that none of them are compatible. Since this was made in the 1990s, everyone automatically believes anything determined by a computer to be true and, as a result, there are mass breakups.
As soon as Ariel first stepped into Sharky’s, Megan and I immediately exclaimed, “Buffy!” That’s because Ariel was played by Kristine Sutherland who is better known for playing Joyce Summers, the mother of Buffy the Vampire Slayer! This, of course, led to Megan and I imagining a scenario where Tiffani’s dad turned out to be a vampire and Buffy had to destroy him. That was a lot of fun.
I thought it was funny just how terrified Tony was of having to listen to Mr. Smith talk about humpback whales. It made me smile.
What Did Not Work?
To be honest, this episode really had a pretty bad message and I’m glad that I didn’t see it whenever it originally aired because it probably would have given me a lot of false hope. Tiffani’s father goes out with Ariel because Tiffani wants him to. He breaks up with Ariel because Tiffani wants him to. And then, eventually, they get back together again because Tiffani is really sorry and really wants everything to be better.
This episode takes place in a world where a daughter can heal a broken family just through sheer willpower and desire. It’s a world where, even if that daughter screws everything up, all she has to do is let everyone know how sorry she is and then sing a pretty song and magically, everything will be better. It would be nice if that was true but it’s not and that’s one of the hardest lessons to learn when you’re young and convinced that, since everything is somehow your fault, you’re also capable of fixing it all and making everyone happy again.
On a less serious note, do the members of the California Dreams ever do anything other than eat? Seriously! Almost every episode seems to feature them whining about how they don’t have any money and yet, they spend all of their time at Sharky’s eating. If Mark is really struggling financially, maybe he shouldn’t have ordered that expensive desert.
“Oh my God! Just like me!” Moments
As usual, I related to Lorena because she had really pretty hair and the best fashion sense of anyone on the show. Plus, I’ve got a weakness for bad boys who wear big, bulky jackets.
As I told Megan last night, much like Tiffani, I also spent a lot of my teenage years wishing that I could sing a song that would somehow make everything better.
“Lisa Marie,” Megan said, “that’s sweet but you know you can’t sing.”
And she’s right. I can’t carry a tune to save my life.
Humpback whales are boring.