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, Jake’s Dad gets a job and Sam wins an election!
Episode 5.4 “Mop n’ Pop”
(Dir by Patrick Maloney, originally aired on September 28th, 1996)
With graduation approaching and everyone feeling restless, the senior class of PCHS have all gotten caught up in the newest game, Ba-Boominator! Basically, it’s a game of elimination, where everyone carries a phallic-looking Ba-Boom gun and they shoot silly string at one another. The goal is to be the last one untouched by the milky, white string that spurts out of the end of the gun.
Needless to say, it’s a rather messy game. Fortunately, the school has a new janitor who is very understanding and doesn’t have any problem cleaning up after the students. Unfortunately, that janitor also happens to be Jake’s Dad. Jake’s Dad was an airplane mechanic but, after getting laid off from his job, he had to take whatever he could find and he ended up as a janitor. Jake is not particularly happy about it.
His friends are supportive about it, except for Sly who makes one too many janitor jokes and ends up getting punched in the face by Jake. Sly ends up with a black eyes and Jack’s Dad ends up quitting his job because he realizes how much it embarrasses Jake. At first, Jake is happy but after Sly yells at Jake and tells him that he should be happy just to have a father who cares about him (which is something Sly does not have), Jake realizes that he’s been a jerk.
This episode was a bit of a change-of-pace, if just because it featured Jake learning a lesson as opposed to teaching one. It was also another strong fifth season episode, highlighting just how much the cast had grown as actors over the course of the show.
Finally, the Ba-Boominator competition is won by Sam and Tony, who both decide that their love is more important than winning any game. Awwwwww!
Episode 5.5 “Diss Honored”
(Dir by Patrick Maloney, originally aired on October 5th, 1996)
Samantha has been elected President of the Honors Society! Everyone’s totally excited, even though Sly says that it’s a stupid office that nobody really cares about. In this case, I tend to agree with Sly but, apparently, it really is a big deal in the world of California Dreams. Suddenly, Sam has a lot of extra responsibilities and she can’t spend as much time with Tony. Tony fears that he’s going to lose her! To be honest, if their relationship can’t survive Sam holding a ceremonial post for a few months, maybe there are bigger issues at play.
Tony decides that he has to do get into the Honors Society so he cheats on his midterm. Unfortunately, Sam’s rival and the former president of the Society, Harvey, figures out what Tony did and publicly challenges him to some sort of weird Honors Society duel. At first, Tony lies but then he comes clean and all of his friends act like a bunch of jerks and shun him.
(Because, seriously, no one in the entire history of the world has ever cheated on a high school midterm, right?)
The main highlight of this episode was Tony being haunted by two spirits, an evil spirit that looked like Sly and a good spirit that looked like Tiff. It was a bit silly but William James Jones, Michael Cade, and Kelly Packard really threw themselves into their roles. In particular, this episode probably features Jones’s best work on California Dreams.
And feat not! Tony comes clean to Sam and everything works out in the end.
Next week: Jake appears on a reality show and we finally meet Sly’s father!
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