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, we finally meet Sly’s father!
Episode 5.6 “Reel Teens”
(Dir by Patrick Maloney, originally aired on October 12th, 1996)
Reel Teens, a reality show, follows around Jake and the California Dreams for a week and reports on how they handle stress. Since this episode is from the 90s, the entire episode is shot in the style of the Real World, with skewed camera angles, colorful title cards, and random use of black-and-white. Though Jake assures the viewing audience that “Jake Sommers doesn’t do stress,” it turns out that he actually has a lot of stress. Jake has to fix Tiffani’s car. He has to write a song by Friday. He has to turn in his term paper and, for his home economics class, he has to sew a wedding dress.
I enjoyed this episode. It was actually a pretty clever satire of 90s-style reality television. Plus. Jake’s wedding dress was actually really nice. Good for him!
Episode 5.7 “Father Knows Bets”
(Dir by Patrick Maloney, originally aired on October 19th, 1996)
After five seasons, we finally get to meet Sly’s father! To be honest, I was expecting him to be some sort of greasy, used car salesman type of guy. I was thinking of maybe the TNBC version of Frank Reynolds from It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia. Instead, it turns out that he’s a high-powered businessman who had apparently never been a part of Sly’s life. In fact, his father is so neglectful that all of Sly’s bad and obnoxious behavior suddenly makes perfect sense.
However, in this episode, Sly finally goes too far when he develops a gambling addiction. Sly wins his first few bets and then he loses big. And, since Sly made the mistake of putting the band’s equipment up as a collateral, the Dreams lose big too. Sly sells his car in order to pay back the band but, by this point, Jake has already called Sly’s father and told him what’s going on. Sly and his father finally have a heart-to-heart talk outside of Sharky’s and you know what? It’s actually extremely touching. By the end of this show, Michael Cade had developed into a very good actor and he proves it in this episode.
Meanwhile, all of the school is wondering who will be given the Himalaya Award, which honors the most unique student. Tony is on the committee and he whispers to everyone that the winner will be Jake. However, it turns out that the winner is Tony and the rest of the committee lied to him because they knew Tony couldn’t keep a secret. “I can keep a secret!” Tony says, in front of all the people who he previously told Jake was going to win.
Hey, it made me laugh!
This was a good episode. if you need proof of just how much better California Dreams was than the other Peter Engel-produced sitcoms of the 90s, compare this episode to the Saved By The Bell episode were Zack Morris talked to his Dad or the City Guys episode where Chris found out his parents were getting divorced.
Coming up next week, a clip show and a senior prom!
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