Retro Television Reviews: California Dreams 5.2 “Shaken, Rattled, and Rolled” and 5.3 “Honest Sly”

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, the Dreams finally experience an earthquake!

Episode 5.2 “Shaken, Rattled, and Rolled”

(Dir by Patrick Maloney, originally aired on September 14th, 1996)

Sly has just discovered that radio executive Joey DeParna’s legendary thick head of hair is actually a wig and he’s blackmailing Joey into giving the Dreams an audition!  The only problem is that, due to a recent earthquake, Tony is suffering from PTSD and can’t even play the drums without having a flashback!  Mark suggests recreating the earthquake so that Tony can conquer his fears but, when the Dreams start shoving Tony’s drum kit back and forth, Tony panics and runs straight into a wall.  It looks like Tony’s going to have to live with his aunt and uncle in Ohio.  Fortunately, right as Tony is getting ready to say goodbye to his friends, another earthquake hits and Tony gets in a doorway.  When he realizes that the second earthquake didn’t kill him, Tony conquers his fears and decides to stay in California.  I don’t know.  I think two earthquakes in one week would be enough to make me leave but then again, I like Ohio.  Actually, we do have earthquakes in Texas but it’s rare that we ever actually notice them.  California, on the other hand, is probably going to plunge into the ocean and float away in another year or two.

I’m a little bit surprised that it took five seasons for a show called California Dreams to feature an earthquake.  I was also surprised that this was apparently Tony’s first earthquake, even though he grew up in California.  The scenes where Tony freaked out and flashed back to the quake were actually a lot better done than you would expect from a Saturday morning kids show.  I could understand Tony’s fear!  That said, the highlight of this episode was not the earthquake but instead a B-plot in which Tiffani got a job at an animal shelter and, while the shelter was closed for a week, all of the Dreams (except for Lorena) got to take care of an animal.  Tony’s beagle was adorable!

Episode 5.3 “Honest Sly”

(Dir by Patrick Maloney, originally aired on September 21, 1996)

Sly has a new job!  He’s working for Gem Diamond (Gary Beach) and selling used cars!  Sharp-eyed viewers will recognize Gem Diamond as being the same guy who sold Zack Morris a cheap class ring on Saved By The Bell.  As such, you can probably guess what type of cars Gem has on his used car lot.  Sly, of course, doesn’t have any problem selling crappy used cars for too much money.  Or, at least, he doesn’t until Sam buys a car and it crashes because the brakes were bad.  Struck with guilt, Sly goes on live TV and reveals that Gem sold Sam a defective car.  Gem gives Sam back her money and is so impressed with Sly’s sneakiness that he offers to go into business with him.  Sly, however, has had it with selling used cars.

Meanwhile, Lorena pretends to be Mark’s girlfriend so that Mark will develop the confidence necessary to ask out another girl.  Being Lorena’s fake boyfriend means doing stuff like shining her boots.  (I need to get a new pair of boots myself.)  The other girl is so impressed that she asks Mark to wash her car and do her French homework.  Seriously, this show’s writers could never decide just how much of a loser Mark actually was.  He was always either dating an Olympian or having an anxiety attack.

Usually, Lorena is the character to whom I most relate on this show but, during this episode, I related to Sam because everyone kept giving her such a hard time about being a bad driver.  Much like me, Sam wasn’t a bad driver as much as she was just someone who found it difficult to focus while the person sitting beside her kept yelling, “LOOK OUT!”

This was a good episode.  Gary Beach was genuinely funny as Gem Diamond.  For continuity watchers, there’s a moment in the episode where Jake mentions the time that Sly got conned by a fake modeling school.  The modeling school episode didn’t actually air until 4 months later.  We’ll get to that episode in another few weeks.

Coming up next week: Jake’s father is hired by the school and Tony cheats on a test!

One response to “Retro Television Reviews: California Dreams 5.2 “Shaken, Rattled, and Rolled” and 5.3 “Honest Sly”

  1. Pingback: Lisa Marie’s Week In Review: 4/10/23 — 4/16/23 | Through the Shattered Lens

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