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, one season ends and another begins.
Episode 4.15 “Dancing Isn’t Everything”
(Dir by Don Barnhart, originally aired on April 6th, 1996)
The fourth season of California Dreams comes to a close with one of its best episodes and a personal favorite of mine, Dancing Isn’t Everything. In fact, I already reviewed this episode a few years ago.
Rewatching it, I was pleased to discover that I still continue to enjoy the episode. Determined to prove the she’s more than just the band’s groupie, Lorena enters Sharky’s dance contest. Unfortunately, a series of events conspire against her and she’s forced to dance with the very unrhythmic Sly. Fortunately, Lorena learns about the importance of friendship and, even more importantly, this episode sets up the foundation for what will become Lorena and Sly’s romance during Season 5.
There are more than a few memorable moments from this episode, from Lorena coldly dismissing all of her potential dance partners to Sly breaking out his spastic dance moves whenever the judges aren’t looking. My favorite moment is Sly reading the subtitles and discovering what Lorena actually said to him. (If you watch carefully, you can see Kelly Packard breaking character and laughing in the background.) This was also the first episode to feature Tony and Sam performing Next Big Thing. “He’s so funky!”
This episode is California Dreams at its best and it brings the fourth season to worthy close.
Episode 5.1 “Stand By Your Man”
(Dir by Patrick Maloney, originally aired on September 7th, 1996)
The fifth and final season of California Dreams was the best of the show’s history. It not only gave the show a proper send-off but it also gave all of the members of the cast to show how much they had grown as actors since the show began. By the end of the fifth and final season of the show, the cast had proven themselves to be the type of tight and talented ensemble that could wring laughs and tears from even the most predictable of situations.
You wouldn’t necessarily know that from watching the first episode of the fifth season, though. In this episode, Jake needs money to fix his motorcycle and takes a job that requires him to dress up like a pirate for the local seafood restaurant. When he tires of his friends laughing at his costume, Jake gets another job at a local garage. The pay is good and Jake does like working on cars and motorcycles. However, his boss is an attractive woman named Mel. (I have a sister named Melissa who we call Mel. Hi, Mely!) Tiffani gets jealous and, for some reason, she decides that it would be a good idea for her, Sam, and Lorena to put on fake beards and pretend to be old bikers so they can hang out around the garage. (*Sigh* Wacky disguises were a staple on these shows and they never cease to be annoying.) This leads to them knocking over a motorcycle and Jake getting fired. Jake is furious with Tiffany, not because he lost his job but because she didn’t trust him. Tiffani apologizes and Jake forgives her. He then gets his old pirate job back. Arrrrgh!
Meanwhile, Sly and Tony try to catch Mark doing something stupid so they can win a video contest. However, it turns out that Mark is actually filming them for the same contest. Ha ha.
You may be under the impression that this episode was not a favorite of mine and you’re right. It’s not. It’s just too silly and cartoonish, particularly when compared to some of the other season 5 episodes. This is the first episode of the final season and it’s hard not to feel that there should have been a bit more to it than just wacky disguises and a pirate joke.
Oh well! Things will get better next week, as we move further into the final season of California Dreams.
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