Retro Television Review: California Dreams 1.11 “They Shoot Videos, Don’t They?” and 1.12 “The Time”


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 story of California’s blandest garage band continues.  Last week was all about Tiffani getting mad at her mom and surfing.  What will this week be about?

Let’s just lie here in the sun until these dreams are done.  Actually, how do those lyrics go?  I don’t really feel like relistening to theme song to find out.

Episode 1.11 “They Shoot Videos, Don’t They?”

(Directed by Don Barnhart, originally aired on November 21st, 1992)

Remember Randi-Jo?  Randi-Jo was Matt’s girlfriend.  She was incredibly boring but so was Matt.  On the show, Randi-Jo appeared in the pilot and then she appeared in the 3rd episode and then she vanished and the viewers even saw Matt dating (or at least trying to date) other women.

In episode 11, Randi-Jo suddenly shows up again!  She and Matt are so in love that she gets upset when Matt is supposed to be kissed by a girl in a music video that the Dreams is filming for a music video contest.  Randi-Jo ends up dumping Matt’s boring ass and Matt gets all mopey and writes a depressing song.  The Dreams then go on to film a music video that looks like every student film ever made.  Check out that dark lighting!  Check out that emotional close-up!  It looks like every bad indie film to ever come out of Austin.

This episode might have been better if Matt and Randi-Jo weren’t such boring characters and if maybe Matt was a little bit less whiny.  (“I just need to be alone, okay?”  Shut up, Matt.)  We do get watch the process by which Matt turns heartbreak into a song and it’s not very impressive.  (“Maybe I’m crazy,” Matt sings and I have to admit that I kind of groaned at the realization that Matt Garrison was essentially a 16 year-old version of Michael Bolton.)  To be honest, though, Randi-Jo was being a bit unreasonable.  People kiss in music videos.  Calm down.

Episode 1.12 “The Time”

(Directed by Don Barnhart, originally aired on November 28th, 1992)

The Dreams need a tour bus so that they can get to a show that’s several miles away.  Sly buys an old VW van, one that is covered with 60s era graffiti and bumper stickers about making love and not war.  Jenny freaks out when she finds a Partridge Family cassette in the van.  I don’t blame her.

Jenny has other problems, though.  She’s gotten back together with her jerky ex-boyfriend, Eric.  Eric is charming but self-centered and he doesn’t believe in the Dreams!  Soon, Jenny is blowing off rehearsals and actually having a life separate from hanging out with her brother’s band.  However, Eric soon proves himself to still be a cad and Jenny returns to the band.  Yay, I guess.

This one was okay, if just because every woman has known and dated someone like Eric and it’s good to be reminded that we deserve better.  Plus, Jenny got to star in her own black-and-white music video, which was far superior to the video that Matt starred in with his little break-up song.

These two episodes left me feeling mellow.

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