Retro Television Reviews: California Dreams 3.2 “Follow Your Dreams” and 3.3 “Budget Cuts”


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 is all about aptitude tests and radio stations!

Episode 3.2 “Follow Your Dreams”

(Dir by Patrick Maloney, originally aired on September 17th, 1994)

The school guidance counselor (Christopher Hewett) gives everyone an aptitude test.  Mark discovers that he should be a guidance counselor.  Tiffani discovers she should be a vet.  Tony discovers that he should be a musician.  (Way to go, Tony!)  Lorena’s ideal career choice is fashion designer.  The same is true of Sly, largely because he copied off of Lorena’s test.  Jake, meanwhile, is told he should go into arranging flowers.

This comes at a bad time for Jake.  He’s been suffering from writer’s block and, when the test says that he has no artistic skills, he considers giving up music.  Fortunately, he changes his mind.  The Dreams already lost Matt, I doubt they could survive losing Jake.

Meanwhile, Sly briefly becomes Lorena’s boyfriend but that only lasts a day before she discovers that he copied her test.  She humiliates Sly by forcing him to dress up like a caveman for a school presentation.  (Sly actually looks good as a caveman so it doesn’t quite work.)  Fear not.  Sly and Lorena will eventually get a second chance in another season or two.

This was a good episode.  Tony turning into a pretentious beatboxer was especially amusing.

Episode 3.3 “Budget Cuts”

(Dir by Patrick Maloney, originally aired on September 24th, 1994)

What was the deal with Peter Engel-produced shows and school radio stations?

Saved By The Bell had a school radio station that was used to help save the Max.  City Guys had a radio station that became a major part of the show after Chris and Jamal abandoned work on the video yearbook.  Did Hang Time have a school radio station?  It honestly would not shock me if they did.

Anyway, California Dreams also has a school radio station and Sly has been named the general manager.  Of course, all of the Dreams get programs of their own.  Mark becomes a drama critic and upsets Tony by ridiculing his performance as Hamlet.  Sam gets a job running an advice show and tells people to go see Mrs. Doubtfire.  Jake gets a show called “Shut Up and Listen!”  And Lorena does a show about fashion.  (“Combats boots are hot but wearing them with tube socks is not.”)

The radio station is a huge success for everyone but Jake.  As Sly points out, people don’t want to be told to shut up and listen.  When Jake refuses to change his format, Sly fires him.  The audience gasps.  One scene later, Principal Blumford (played by character actor Earl Boen), enters the radio station and announces that the school board has decided to cut funding for the radio station!

I’m sure you can guess what happens next.  Lorena, Tiffani, and Sam want to start a petition to save the station.  Jake ridicules them for not being “real rebels” so Lorena proves him wrong by locking herself in the radio station and broadcasting without authorization.  Jake is so impressed that he not only makes out with Lorena (on the air) but he also attends a school board meeting and successfully argues that the station is important. Jake wears a suit to the meeting.  The audience goes crazy.  The episode ends with him and Lorena declaring their love for each other while everyone else celebrates the fact that the radio station has been saved.

This is actually my second time to review this episode.  The first time I reviewed it, I think I was a little bit dismissive but I better appreciated it this time.  Some of that’s because I’ve been watching One World, a show in which the cast had absolutely no chemistry.  After watching something like One World or some of the lesser episodes of City Guys, it’s easier to see just how well the cast of California Dreams played off of each other.  They’re believable as friends and bandmates and that definitely adds something to the show, regardless of how broad some of the humor may be.

The highlight of this episode?  Lorena calling Jake “fake Fonzi.”  What made it work was that Jake responded by saying, “Heeeey.”  A close second would be Principal Blumford announcing, “I’ll be back,” which was a nice shoutout to Earl Boen’s role in The Terminator franchise.

Next week …. more music!

One response to “Retro Television Reviews: California Dreams 3.2 “Follow Your Dreams” and 3.3 “Budget Cuts”

  1. Pingback: Retro Television Reviews: California Dreams 3.12 “Harley and the Marlboro Man” and 3.13 “Rebel Without A Nerve” | Through the Shattered Lens

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