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, continuity goes to Hell with the California Dreams!
Episode 4.11 “Heal the Bay”
(Dir by Patrick Maloney, originally aired on December 2nd, 1995)
This episode opens with all the Dreams hanging out at Sharky’s, getting ready to head to the beach. Tiffani blows a conch shell to let all the surfers know that the tide is up. Mark says that he’s bringing his guitar to the beach so he can practice getting girls. Jake and Lorena discuss what they’re taking to the beach. Not surprisingly, Lorena is planning on taking a lot more than Jake while Jake is going to keep things simple….
Wait! Jake and Lorena are going the beach together? And they’re flirting? Didn’t they break up at the start of the season? Yes, they did! But NBC was notorious for showing the episodes of their Saturday morning sitcoms out of order. As a result, shows like California Dreams, Hang Time, City Guys, and One World were notorious for their continuity errors. Of course, as I watched this episode, it didn’t really matter to me because I like Jake and Lorena as a couple and I think they were way too quick to break up. Even though the episode wrecked havoc with the show’s continuity, it was still nice to Jake and Lorena flirting again….
However, I was less amused when Tony started to hit on a girl who wasn’t Sam. I mean, Tony and Sam have been dating forever! This episode was obviously meant to air way back at the start of the third season, even before Jake and Lorena hooked up in Budget Cuts. If it hard aired when intended, it would have set the foundation for Jake and Lorena eventually getting together. And, looking back, Jake and Lorena’s relationship did seem like it kind of came out of nowhere.
As for the rest of this episode, it featured Tony turning into crazed environmentalist after the beach is closed due to pollution. He gets on everyone’s nerves so the Dreams show him the error of his ways by ruining his date with a girl who is not Sam. It turns out that the entire date involves doing or wearing or eating something that was harmful for the environment. Having realized that being an insane environmentalist means never getting laid, Tony apologizes. Good for him! The Dreams then perform at a concert to raise money to “heal the bay.” They do it for free. Poor Sly.
I liked the episode because insane environmentalists are annoying and Lorena and Jake were a cute couple. I just wish it had aired when it was supposed to. Let’s find out if the next episode is any less of a continuity nightmare.
Episode 4.12 “Woo-oops”
(Dir by Patrick Maloney, originally aired on December 30th, 1995)
Samantha’s father entrusts her with a credit card! Yay! Samantha spends a thousand dollars in one day! Oh no! Now, Sam has to work multiple jobs to raise the money to pay off the card or her father is going to make her return to Hong Kong!
If this sounds familiar, it’s because Saved By The Bell did an episode where Lisa Turtle spent too much with her credit card. Hang Time also had a credit card episode. It was a big topic as far as Peter Engel-produced shows were concerned. In this case, Sam fails to raise all of the money but she does raise roughly half of it so her father agrees to let her stay in the U.S, as long as she keeps working to pay him back. That’s a good thing, seeing as how the Dreams didn’t really have anyone who could have replaced her in the band.
As far as continuity is concerned, Jake and Tiffani are a couple in this episode. In fact, there’s a nicely done B-plot where Jake had to find a replacement for a valuable doll that he accidentally destroyed after Tiffani tells him that she’s found a buyer for it. And, of course, Sam and Tony are a couple, just as they should be. Everyone learns an important lesson about spending money, i.e., spend as much as you want and then wait for someone to help you pay it all off. Sounds good to me!
Next week, we return to Lorena’s father’s ski lodge!