Retro Television Review: California Dreams 1.5 “The First Gig” and 1.6 “Friends First”


Welcome to Retro Television Reviews, a feature where we review some of our favorite and least favorite shows of the past!  On Saturdays, I will be reviewing California Dreams, which ran on NBC from 1992 to 1996.  The entire show is currently streaming on YouTube!

The saga of California’s blandest garage band continues.

Is anyone reading this a surf dude with attitude?

Actually, wait a minute.  Didn’t I use the exact same introduction last week?  Eh. It’s the first season of California Dreams, a show that was constructed out of unused story ideas for Saved By The Bell.  A little bit of deja vu is understandable.

Episode 1.5 “The First Gig”

(Directed by Don Barnhart, Originally aired on October 10th, 1992)

Wimpy California dude Matt Garrison has formed a band called the California Dreams.  Matt plays guitar and sings.  Matt’s sister, Jenny, plays keyboards and sings.  Tony Wickes plays drums and works at Sharkey’s, the most popular restaurant on the beach.  Tiffani plays bass and surfs.  Matt’s best friend, Sly, wants to manage the band and he even gets them their first gig!  Sly arranges for them to play Randi-Jo’s birthday party.  Matt totally has a crush on Randi-Jo….

Wait, this doesn’t make any sense.  First gig?  The California Dreams have had plenty of gigs!  They’ve even got a fanbase.  Sly already is the band’s manager.  And Matt’s been dating Randi-Jo since the show began.  What the Hell!?

Well, it turns out that the fifth episode aired of California Dreams was actually the first episode filmed.  The First Gig also served as a pilot for the show but, when the show went into production, the pilot was shown during the middle of the season as opposed to the beginning.  This, of course, led to a mess of continuity errors….

Of course, that’s not a surprise to anyone who has watched any of the shows that Peter Engel produced as a part of TNBC.  Maintaining continuity or, for that matter, any sort of consistency was never a huge concern.  And they got away with it because it was the 90s and its not as if the people watching the show could have jumped on twitter and complained about how it didn’t make any sense.

As for the pilot itself …. eh.  I can understand why this pilot would have led to a show, as the cast was good-looking in a very nonthreatening way.  But good Lord, is the music ever dull!  Fortunately, the music would improve sometime around the start of the third season but, while watching the pilot, I found myself wondering why a group of teenagers would want to start a band to play the type of music that their parents probably listened to on the easy listening station.  Judging from the pilot, the Dreams were the only teenagers in 90s America who had never heard of Nirvana.

Episode 1.6 “Friends First”

(Directed by Don Barnhart, Originally aired on October 17th, 1992)

Continuity continues to go out the window as this episode opens with Sly trying to convince Sharkey to hire the Dreams to play at his restaurant, despite the fact that we’ve already seen the Dreams playing Sharkey’s several times over the past few episodes.

While Sly tries to make money, Matt’s friend from music camp comes to visit and both Jenny and Tiffani fall for him after discovering that he’s lost over 200 pounds since his music camp days.  It leads to a typical TNBC situation in which Jenny and Tiffani learn to not let liking the same boy ruin their friendship.  To be honest, my main reaction to this episode was a strange sense of annoyance with Matt.  Seriously, he was exactly the type of kid who would go to music camp and come back as a huge music snob.  One can just imagine Matt ruthlessly critiquing every other band in the world.  “I didn’t care much for that bridge …. the pitch is not perfect …. here’s where you need to drop the chorus….”  Shut up, Matt.  It’s supposed to be about the feelings and the emotions!

One response to “Retro Television Review: California Dreams 1.5 “The First Gig” and 1.6 “Friends First”

  1. Pingback: Lisa Marie’s Week In Review: 9/12/22 — 9/18/22 | Through the Shattered Lens

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