Retro Television Reviews: California Dreams 2.8 “High Plains Dreamer” and 2.9 “Bwa Ha Ha Means I Love You”

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!

This week, Tony turns out to be a total coward while the Dreams attempt to record their first album.

But first, the opening  credits.  Again, because the post-Jenny opening credits for season two have not been uploaded to YouTube, you have to imagine Jennie Kwan in the place of Heidi Noelle Lenhart.

Episode 2.8 “High Plains Dreamer”

(Directed by Patrick Maloney, originally aired on October 30th, 1993)

Oh Good God.

Like all TNBC shows, California Dreams had its share of bad episodes.  In fact, technically, you could argue that the majority of them were bad.  It’s not like anyone was trying to win an Emmy for a writing or directing a show like Saved By The Bell, Hang Time, or California Dreams.  Still, even the knowledge that we’re not exactly dealing with Friends or Seinfeld here, left me unprepared for the crappiness of High Plans Drifter.

High Plains Drifter is the worst episode of California Dreams that I have seen so far.  At the movies, Tony is threatened by a bully.  Tony reacts by passing out.  Seriously, he doesn’t even get knocked unconscious in a fight or anything like that.  Someone gives him a mean look and he faints!  And then, while he’s passed out, he imagines that he’s a drifter who becomes the sheriff of an old west town.  Matt shows up as the town’s singing cowboy.  Jake is the blacksmith who promised his wife, Tiffani, that he would never pick up a gun.  Sly is the rich ne’er-do-well who owns the town.  Sam runs the town’s dancehall, which is obviously meant to be a brothel.

One gets the feeling that the cast had fun with this episode, because everyone got to wear a costume and speak with an exaggerated Southwestern accent.  But, for the most part, the humor is painfully corny (even by the standards of California Dreams) and the cast’s overly theatrical performances quickly wear out their welcome.

Let’s move on!

Episode 2.9 “Bwa Ha Ha Means I Love You”

(Directed by Patrick Maloney, originally aired on November 6th, 1993)

Jake and Tiffani’s seven-week anniversary is coming up and cash-poor Jake hasn’t even bought her a present yet!  It looks like it’s time for to Jake to set aside both his pride and his leather jacket and take a job at Maniac Music.  Jake puts on a tie and a red vest and soon, he’s the one handing out flyers and saying, “Welcome to — Bwa ha ha! — Maniac Music!”

Unfortunately, only Tony knows that Jake has taken a job.  When the other Dreams — and Tiffani — begin to wonder why Jake appears to be sneaking around, Jake’s fumbling attempts to answer their questions leads to Sam deciding that Jake must be cheating on Tiffani.  And, of course, Tiffani believes it because …. well, who knows?  This is another one of those annoying episodes where a lot of conflict could have been avoided by people just not being stupid.

Meanwhile, the Dreams record their first album!  And hey, it only takes an hour or two!  They perform in Matt’s garage and Sly hits record on the big tape recorder.  They don’t even need a producer or a mixing board or anything else like that.  Sly takes the tape and heads down to Maniac Music.  When he discovers that Jake is working there, Sly convinces him to pressure the store manager into carrying the tape.

The members of the Dreams hear that their album is for sale at Maniac Music so they head down there.  Not only do they discover that Jake has a job at the store but they also discover that all of the tapes are blank!  Sly screwed up the recording but why would the store manager agree to stock the tapes without checking to make sure that there was actually something on them?  Meanwhile, Tiffani is so mad that Jake lied to her that she refuses to speak to him.  Jake angrily quits his job.

Fortunately, all it takes for Jake to get back together with Tiffani is one impassion speech at Sharky’s.  Plus, the Dreams record their performance so I guess they’ll survive the whole blank tape fiasco.  Yay.

This was an incredibly busy episode.  In fact, it was a bit too busy.  Nothing anyone did made sense.  Sly was somehow allowed to remain the manager of the Dreams despite screwing up their big break.  Jake told increasingly elaborate lies to hide from Tiffani the fact that he had a job even though Tiffani has consistently been the only Dream who probably wouldn’t have made fun of him for having to wear a dorky vest.  This was an annoying episode but it was still a hundred times better than the old west episode so it had that going for it.

Seriously, that old west episode was bad!

2 responses to “Retro Television Reviews: California Dreams 2.8 “High Plains Dreamer” and 2.9 “Bwa Ha Ha Means I Love You”

  1. Pingback: Lisa Marie’s Week In Television: 11/6/22 — 11/12/22 | Through the Shattered Lens

  2. Pingback: Lisa Marie’s Week In Review: 11/7/22 — 11/13/22 | Through the Shattered Lens

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