Retro Television Reviews: California Dreams 5.8 “Letters From Woo” and 5.9 “Senior Prom”

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!

It’s prom time at PCHS!  But first….

Episode 5.8 “Letters From Woo”

(Dir by Don Barnhart, originally aired on October 25, 1996)

The band is supposed to practice but Sam says it will have to wait because she’s making a “video letter” for her uncle back in Hong Kong.  She and the members of the Dreams discuss all of the wacky adventures that they’ve had and …. oh, it’s a clip show!

I’ll never forget that time I said, “Let’s move on….”

Episode 5.9 “Senior Prom”

(Dir by Patrick Maloney, originally aired on November 2nd, 1996)

Poor Mark!

Seriously, Mark Winkle was the nicest member of the California Dreams and yet he always seemed to be the one who ended up getting screwed over.  Consider what happens in this episode:

PCHS has prom fever!  Tony & Sam and Jake & Tiffani are running for Prom King and Queen but Mark is more concerned about getting a date with Erica.  He’s had a crush on Erica since forever but he’s too shy to talk to her.  When he finally does work up the courage to ask her, she says yes.  Yay!  But, on the day of the prom, she dumps him and tells him that she’s going to the prom with her ex-boyfriend, Dave.

Unfortunately, his friends can’t be there for him because they’re competing like crazy to be named King and Queen.  Lorena and Sly don’t help matters by making a bet on who is going to win.  Lorena supports Jake and Tiffani because she thinks that they have more class than Sam and Tony.  Sly supports Sam and Tony because he thinks they have more of a populist appeal than Jake and Tiffani.  Mark, poor dateless Mark, is trapped in the middle.

(Myself, I’m just wondering how a biker and a surfer would have less populist appeal than a wealthy exchange student.  For that matter, since when have Jake and Tiffani had any class at all?  One of the reasons why Lorena and Jake broke up was because Jake was way too crude for Lorena’s tastes.)

To make matters even worse, Sly has booked the Dreams to play a prom at a junior high on the same day as the high school prom.  Everyone tells Sly that it’s a terrible idea but then again, everyone could also use the money.  Unfortunately, the gig is a bust because one the amps blows up on stage.  Then, while the Dreams are trying to get back for their own prom, their van breaks down in the middle of nowhere!  As the Dreams try to flag down a ride, word comes over the radio that the PCHS Prom King and Queen are …. ERICA AND HER DATE, DAVE!

The leads to even more fighting until Mark yells at everyone for being selfish and makes them see the errors of their way.  The Dreams, now reunited in love and friendship, have their own prom on the side of the road.  Sly dances with Lorena.  Tony dances with Sam.  Jake dances with Tiff.  And Mark …. well, he gets to play guitar.  Mark may have saved the band but he still has to spend the prom alone.  POOR MARK!

Seriously, there was a lot I liked about this episode.  The cast’s chemistry was on fire.  Everyone looked good in their prom outfits.  But, at the end of the episode, you couldn’t help but feel that Mark really got screwed over.

Next week, Sam is cast on a show called Babewatch!  I wonder what that’s based on….

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