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 California Dreams are in Aspen! Wait …. what?
Episode 4.13 “We’ll Always Have Aspen”
(Dir by Miguel Higuera, originally aired on January 6th, 1996)
This episode opens with the California Dreams in Aspen, Colorado, hanging out at the Costa Ski Lodge. Why are they there? They’re there because this episode was originally meant to air during season 3, after the episode where the Dreams went to the ski lodge and convinced Lorena’s father not to kick that old crank out of his isolated cabin. Why did NBC hold off on showing this episode for so long? I’m not sure but it certainly does lead to some odd continuity errors. For instance, Tony announces that he’s “hunting ski bunnies.” Obviously, this was meant to air before Tony and Sam became a couple. Lorena and Jake are also dating in this episode.
This episode is also one of the rare ones to focus on Mark. Mark is shocked to discover that his ex-girlfriend, Jenny (Catherine Nagan), is staying at the lodge. As he explains it, he and Jenny were once totally in love but then Jenny left him so that she could train to be on the U.S. Olympic skiing team. At first, Mark refuses to speak to Jenny but then Jenny explains that leaving him was the biggest mistake of her life and that she is tired of skiing. Mark and Jenny spend the day together and Mark realizes that Jenny actually does love skiing too much to give it up. So, Mark gets dumped again but this time, he was the one who suggested that Jenny should break up with him so I guess he feels better about the only member of the Dream to never have a romantic partner for longer than one episode.
In the B-plot, Lorena’s father leaves Lorena in charge while he goes off to do …. well, I’m not sure why he left. But him leaving means that Lorena is in charge of the big winter festival. Why would her father leave Lorena, who is a teenager, in charge of the Lodge’s biggest event? I’m starting to suspect that he is just not a very good businessman. Anyway, all of this leads to Jake having to wear a silly costume and Sly taking part in a yodeling contest. That was kind of funny.
This wasn’t a bad episode and it was nice to see Lorena and Jake back together but …. eh. The California Dreams belong the beach. They’re surfers not skiers.
Episode 4.14 “Lorena’s Place”
(Dir by Don Barnhart, originally aired on March 30th, 1996)
The first thing that I noticed about the 14th episode of the fourth season of California Dreams is that it aired over two months after the 13th episode, which itself was an episode that had been filmed for the 3rd season. I don’t know what exactly was going on behind the scenes at NBC but it appears that the network decided to end season 4 by burning off a few old episodes that, for whatever reason, didn’t air when they were originally supposed to.
(Of course, Saved By The Bell did the same thing. The episode where Screech is made hall monitor was filmed for the first season but, oddly, didn’t air until after the show’s Graduation episode.)
This episode finds the Dreams back in California. Eager to date a pretentious douchebag named Alan, Lorena turns her loft into a coffeehouse and hosts a poetry reading. Lorena also reads Alan a poem that her father wrote for her mother but which Lorena claims that she wrote for Alan. Alan is so impressed that he memorizes the poem. Then, after Lorena tells him the truth, he destroys the poem.
Not to worry. The Dreams hold another coffeehouse reading. Alan, for some reason, comes to that one as well and recites the poem. Sam records his words and recreate the poem for Lorena’s parents. So, not only is the poem saved but Lorena gets a new boyfriend! But Alan kind of sucks so hopefully, he’ll never show up again.
This episode was very 90s but it was a Lorena episode and, since Lorena is the character to whom I most relate, I enjoyed it.
Next week: Season 4 comes to an end!
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