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!
Do surf dudes still have attitude in 2023? I was going to suggest watching California Dreams to find out but, then again, today’s episodes are from 1994 so I guess that wouldn’t really answer the question.
Oh well, onward to the reviews….
Episode 3.6 “The Long Goodbye”
(Dir by Patirck Maloney, originally aired on October 15th, 1994)
In a rare nod to continuity, Nikki Cox returns as Sly’s blind girlfriend, Allison!
Sly is being so nice and considerate to Allison that it leads to Lorena and Sam realizing that Tony and Jake are totally inconsiderate pigs who won’t even hold open a door for them! Instead of changing their ways, Tony and Jake demand that Sly stop being so romantic. Sly, however, is devoted to Allison and he even joins the track team so that he can give her a letterman’s jacket and ask her to be his “exclusive” girlfriend. Allison takes her to Sharky’s to pop the question and attempts to convince her that they’re at a romantic French restaurant by having Tony speak with a French accent. Tony’s accent is terrible. Allison sees right through him….
Unfortunately, Allison is moving away! She’s been accepted at a prep school in Chicago, one that will prepare her to teach blind children. Sly, as usual, acts like a jerk and all of the Dreams gang up on him for being distant with Allison after learning that she’s leaving but honestly, Sly’s reaction was realistic. That doesn’t mean that Sly wasn’t wrong for 1) refusing to return Allison’s calls and 2) trying to go on a date on the same night that Allison was having her going-away party but people do stupid things when their heart is broken. And, just like many people do in real life, Sly eventually saw the error of his ways and he had a rather sweet conversation with Allison at the party. It’s a shame that Allison left the series as Nikki Cox and Michael Cade had a far more believable chemistry than the show’s main couples.
Speaking of which, this episode featured a rather stupid subplot in which Tony and Jake attempted to be more romantic by pretending to be the lead characters of the romance novel that Tiffany is reading. Needless to say, this leads to Renaissance costumes and fencing. It’s pretty dumb (though Jay Anthony Franke and Williams James Jones deserve some credit for the extent to which they threw themselves into it) but it’s also an indication of just how different season 3 of California Dreams was from season 2 of California Dreams.
All that said, this was definitely one of the better episodes of California Dreams and, again, credit for that goes to Michael Cade and Nikki Cox and their ability to bring some much-needed reality to the show’s musical hijinks.
Episode 3.7 “Trust Me”
(Dir by Patrick Maloney, originally aired on October 22nd, 1994)
Sly has entered the Dreams into a music video contest! The only problem is that Jake and Mark have yet to finish writing the lyrics for the Dreams’s newest song. Maybe they should give Matt Garrison a call and ask for his advice.
Not wanting to visit his creepy uncle, Mark spends the weekend at Lorena’s loft. He and Jake are supposed to be working on the song but Lorena would rather have fun and watch movies! Jake accuses Lorena of being a distraction. Jake and Lorena fight and later, after Jake has gone home for the night, Mark kisses Lorena. Uh-oh!
Mark, it appears, misinterpreted the fight. It turns out that Lorena and Jake fight all the time and it’s actually a huge part of what they enjoy about their relationship. Feeling guilty, Mark writes and then sings a song about how he kissed Lorena. Jake loses it and refuses to perform with Mark. Fortunately, two bullies show up at Sharky’s and try to give Jake a hard time. When Mark stands up to the bullies, it leads to a brawl and a renewed friendship. Yay!
But did the Dreams wins the contest? We never find out.
As for the episode itself, it provided a showcase for the two newest members of the cast and Diana Uribe and Aaron Jackson both did a really good job. I could relate to Lorena because I’ve had the same “You’re a distraction” line tossed at me and it definitely hurts. And Aaron Jackson totally sold the scene where he nervously sang Jake the lyrics about kissing Lorena. All in all, this was another good episode.
Way to go, Dreams!