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 is it. This is the last gig This is the end of California Dreams.
Episode 5.14 “The Fashion Man”
(Dir by Kevin Sullivan, originally aired on December 7th, 1996)
This episode opens with the Dreams performing at Lorena’s loft, except there’s something off. Everyone looks a year or two younger than they did in the previous episode. Sam is singing that old “Hey Baby” song that we haven’t heard since season 3. Sly is hitting on the girls at the Loft, despite the fact that he and Lorena were a couple the last time we saw them. Later, in the episode, Sam will go crazy over a model named Samson and Tony won’t even raise an eyebrow. And, of course, all of the Dreams are still going to high school despite the fact that we saw them graduate a few episodes earlier.
Yes, this is yet another case of NBC showing episodes out-of-order. In this case, The Fashion Man was filmed for the third season but, for whatever reason, it wasn’t aired until the end of the fifth season. The Fashion Man is silly and a bit derivative of Saved By The Bell and it feels very much like a third season episode. It would be a totally acceptable third season episode but seeing it at the end of the fifth season only serves to remind viewers of how much better most of the fifth season episodes were from the episodes that were made for earlier seasons.
Anyway, in this episode, Sly and the Dreams get conned by a fake modeling agency. The rest of the Dreams figure out that it’s all a scheme but Sly is so desperate that he gives the head of the agency five hundred dollars and ends up with a bunch of useless photographs as the only thing to show for the cost.
Poor Sly! Eventually he does figure things out but only after he spends an additional $250 to cover a fashion show at Sharky’s. The Dreams sabotage the show. They say that they’re doing it to help out Sly but I think they mostly just enjoy humiliating the poor dope. This episode is okay but a bit cartoonish. Let’s move on to …. THE LAST GIG!
Episode 5.15 “The Last Gig”
(Dir by Patrick Maloney, originally aired on December 14th, 1996)
Wipe away those tears. The Dreams are playing their last gig.
This is it. This is the final episode of California Dreams. Everyone has graduated from high school. Everyone is making plans for the future. Many will be going away to college. But Jake is determined to keep the band together. And there’s one last gig on the pier to play!
And wouldn’t you know it …. there’s a producer in the audience! He wants to sign Jake but Jake insists that the producer sign the entire band. The band, though, tells Jake that they are ready to move on and that this is his dream. Even though the producer eventually agrees to sign the entire band, the rest of the Dreams turn down the contract so that they can go off to college and start their lives. With the band’s encouragement, Jake eventually signs.
For the record:
Tiffani went to the University of Hawaii.
Sam moves to England to study physics at Oxford. She and Tony amicably break up. They lasted the longest of any couple on this show and it was interesting to watch their relationship develop.
Mark goes to Julliard to study music and specifically states that he will never have time to return to California. So, I guess he managed to take care of all that community service that he got for nearly killing Tara Reid in the Graduation episode.
Lorena and Sly go to Pacific University together.
And Jake, presumably, goes on to become your grandparent’s favorite rock star.
You know who isn’t mentioned? Matt Garrison, the founder of the band! Oh well. Hopefully, things worked out well for him and Jenny, wherever they are.
Consider just how dismissive I was of this show when I started writing these reviews, I have to say that no one is more surprised than I am about how genuinely touched and moved I was by the final episode. Both the show and its cast really came into their own during the fifth season and it was hard not to feel a bit emotional as they said their final goodbyes to each other. The show ended on a mature and realistic note. Nothing lasts forever, to quote Hang Time‘s Coach Fuller.
Well, that’s it for California Dreams. Next week, a new show will be reviewed in this slot. But I’ll never forget surf dudes with attitude….
I’m going to miss this stupid show.