What Lisa and Megan Watched Last Night #95: California Dreams 3.10 “Daddy’s Girl” (dir by Patrick Maloney)

I’ve been spending the weekend visiting my sister Megan and her family.  Last night, Megan and I watched yet another episode of the mediocre yet oddly entertaining 90s sitcom, California Dreams.

Why Were We Watching It?

So, last night, after everyone else in the house was sound asleep, Megan and I were awake and doing some sisterly bonding, which — when you’re a member of the Bowman clan — usually concludes with watching something silly.

But what to watch?  Because I have the greatest big sister in the world, Megan happens to have every season of Saved By The Bell: The New Class on DVD and, at first, I was really tempted to suggest that we watch something from the storied history of Bayside High.  But, when I actually thought about it, I knew that we simply had to watch yet another episode of California Dreams.

 Last night, we watched a handful of episodes but I specifically decided to review the “Daddy’s Girl” episode because it was the episode that preceded the Family Trees episode, which just happens to also be the last episode of the show that I reviewed for this site.

(As some of our regular readers my remember, it’s been nearly a year since Megan first introduced me to this show when, during the Christmas holidays, we sat down and watched the 4th season episode, Dancing Isn’t Everything. )

What Was It About?

Future steroid addict Tiffani Smith (Kelly Packard) is worried because her father has been alone ever since her parents got divorced.  (I assume that the Smiths got divorced though it’s never specifically stated, beyond Mr. Smith saying, “Ever since your mother left…”  So, it’s entirely possible that Tiffani’s mom may have joined a cult or something.)  Tiffani arranges for her father to meet Ariel (Kristine Sutherland), a woman who claims to be an expert in dolphins.  Mr. Smith and Ariel hit it off and, at first, Tiffani is super excited!

However, Mr. Smith is soon spending all of him time hanging out with Ariel and a jealous Tiffani ends up having one of those extremely elaborate and plot-specific nightmares that always seem to happen on California Dreams.  So, with the help of Ariel’s criminal record, Tiffani breaks up her dad’s new relationship.

Problem solved, right?

Nope.  Now that Mr. Smith is alone again, Tiffani feels guilty and seriously, you have to wonder if there’s ever been a more wishy-washy character than Tiffani Smith.  So, Tiffani tries to get Ariel and Mr. Smith back together by singing them a song.

Meanwhile, in the B plot, Mark (Aaron Jackson) has come up with a computer program that tells Samantha (Jennie Kwan), Tony (William James Jones), Jake (Jay Anthony Franke), and Lorena (Diana Uribe) that none of them are compatible.  Since this was made in the 1990s, everyone automatically believes anything determined by a computer to be true and, as a result, there are mass breakups.

What Worked?

As soon as Ariel first stepped into Sharky’s, Megan and I immediately exclaimed, “Buffy!”  That’s because Ariel was played by Kristine Sutherland who is better known for playing Joyce Summers, the mother of Buffy the Vampire Slayer!  This, of course, led to Megan and I imagining a scenario where Tiffani’s dad turned out to be a vampire and Buffy had to destroy him.  That was a lot of fun.

I thought it was funny just how terrified Tony was of having to listen to Mr. Smith talk about humpback whales.  It made me smile.

What Did Not Work?

To be honest, this episode really had a pretty bad message and I’m glad that I didn’t see it whenever it originally aired because it probably would have given me a lot of false hope.  Tiffani’s father goes out with Ariel because Tiffani wants him to.  He breaks up with Ariel because Tiffani wants him to.  And then, eventually, they get back together again because Tiffani is really sorry and really wants everything to be better.

This episode takes place in a world where a daughter can heal a broken family just through sheer willpower and desire.  It’s a world where, even if that daughter screws everything up, all she has to do is let everyone know how sorry she is and then sing a pretty song and magically, everything will be better.  It would be nice if that was true but it’s not and that’s one of the hardest lessons to learn when you’re young and convinced that, since everything is somehow your fault, you’re also capable of fixing it all and making everyone happy again.

On a less serious note, do the members of the California Dreams ever do anything other than eat?  Seriously!  Almost every episode seems to feature them whining about how they don’t have any money and yet, they spend all of their time at Sharky’s eating.  If Mark is really struggling financially, maybe he shouldn’t have ordered that expensive desert.

“Oh my God!  Just like me!” Moments

As usual, I related to Lorena because she had really pretty hair and the best fashion sense of anyone on the show.  Plus, I’ve got a weakness for bad boys who wear big, bulky jackets.

As I told Megan last night, much like Tiffani, I also spent a lot of my teenage years wishing that I could sing a song that would somehow make everything better.

“Lisa Marie,” Megan said, “that’s sweet but you know you can’t sing.”

And she’s right.  I can’t carry a tune to save my life.

Lessons Learned

Humpback whales are boring.


What Lisa and Evelyn Watched Last Night #89: California Dreams 3.11 “Family Trees” (dir by Patrick Maloney)

Last night, my BFF Evelyn and I watched yet another old episode of California Dreams.

Why Were We Watching It?

As I’ve explained before, my sister Megan got me hooked on this silly old show called California Dreams last Christmas.  For whatever reason, I continue to find myself oddly intrigued by this mediocre 90s sitcom.  While I was on my vacation last week, it occurred to me that it had been a while since I last shared and reviewed an episode of California Dreams on this site so I resolved that, as soon as I got back, one of the first things I would do would be to remedy that situation.

As for how Ms. Evelyn ended up watching it with me — well, Evelyn’s a very good friend.

What Was It About?

It’s time for another wacky class assignment!  Since the members of the California Dreams all have the exact same class schedule, that means that they all get the same assignment: to research their family trees.

All the Dreams discover that they come from distinguished backgrounds, except for Tony who opens up one book to one random page and, after spending less than a minute reading, announces: “My ancestors were slaves!”

So, Tony claims to be descended from royalty and, because everyone at Pacific Coast High School is an idiot, they’re soon carrying him around on their shoulders and talking about setting up a royal harem.

Things are looking pretty good for Tony but then, as often happens on this show, a ghost visits him during the night and sets him straight.

What Worked?

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m usually pretty lenient when it comes to judging old episodes of California Dreams.  After all, it was made back in the 90s and, especially when compared to something like Saved By The Bell: The New Class, the members of the cast did the best that they could with the material they were given.

But seriously, of all the episodes that I’ve viewed on YouTube so far, Family Trees is without a doubt the worst.  Good intentions aside, absolutely nothing worked in this episode.

Strangely enough, however, the fact that it is so truly bad makes this episode oddly fascinating.  The fact that nothing works is what makes this episode watchable.

What Did Not Work?

Where to begin?

Okay, first off — I understand that this show was probably written with the best of intentions but are we to seriously believe that, before getting this particular class assignment, Tony apparently had no idea about the history of slavery in the United States?

Secondly, who could have guessed that all you had to do to research your family history was check out a book from the library and then open it up to a random page?

Third, Tony getting visited by the ghost of an ancestor reminded me of the fact that, just a few episodes later, Sam would be visited by the ghost of an ancestor!  One gets the idea that the show’s writers were perhaps running out of ideas.

Fourth, what is the deal with the lack of classrooms at the high school?  I swear, every class that they take seems to be located in that same tiny classroom.

Fifth, the Dreams did not perform during this episode.  Couldn’t they have written a special “Be Yourself” song in order to make Tony feel better about himself?  It seems selfish not to.

However, this episode’s biggest problem was pointed out by Evelyn when she said, “Why is everyone at that school so easily impressed?”  And, seriously, she is so totally right.

Let’s say that one day, Arleigh informed me that he was descended from royalty.  Would that cause me to treat him any differently?  Well, of course, it would!  I mean, who isn’t impressed by royalty?  (Myself, I consider Pippa Middleton to be my royal role model.)  However, eventually, I would stop calling him “your highness” and begging him to say stuff like, “I declare him to be an outlawwwwwwwwwww!” and things would get back to normal here at the Shattered Lens.  However, the students at PCHS are so impressed by Tony’s claim to be descended from a king that they immediately form some sort of odd cult of personality.

And why, if they’re so impressed by Tony’s claim to royal lineage, are they not impressed by the fact that Lorena is legitimately descended from power?

Seriously, that school sucks.

“OMG!  Just like me!” Moments

As usual, I related so much to Lorena that I’m tempted to think that my cousin might be Mario Lopez.

(As far as my family tree is concerned, I am of Irish-Italian-Spanish-German ancestry, with a bit of French mixed in there as well.  If I was in that class, they’d have to set aside an entire week for me to give my full report.)

Lessons Learned

Surf dudes with attitude are kinda groovy.  Especially when they’re feeling mellow…


What Lisa and Evelyn Watched Last Night #82: California Dreams 3.16 “The Treasure of PCH” (directed by Patrick Maloney)

Last night, my BFF Evelyn and I watched yet another episode of the 90s sitcom, California Dreams.

Why Were We Watching It?

As I’ve mentioned in my previous posts about California Dreams, I started watching this show because all of the old episodes of Saved By The Bell: The New Class were taken down from YouTube.

Actually, last night was my fourth or fifth time to watch this particular episode.  For the past few weeks, I’ve been meaning to do a write-up on The Treasure of PCH and each time, I’ve ended up not having time to get it written.  However, since this feature is called What Lisa Watched Last Night, that meant that each day I tried to write this review, I also had to rewatch the episode the night before.  Last night, as I sat through the Treasure of PCH for yet another time, I promised myself that I would not let this day end without writing the review you’re currently reading.

Evelyn was watching with me because I asked her too and she’s the best!  That said, she did say that she’s never going to forgive me for making her watch this episode.  (Then again, she said that after the last episode we watched, as well…)

What Was It About?

Fueled by their mellow take on California reggae (yeah yeah yeah), the California Dreams are rich!  Well, they’re not really rich but they are making more money than they’ve ever made before.  Lorena (Diane Uribe) is concerned that the Dreams are getting greedy.  Jake (Jay Anthony Franke) argues that the Dreams don’t care about money.

Jake’s belief is touching but rather odd, especially when you consider the fact that, in the previous episode, the Dreams dishonored the memory of Sam’s (Jennie Kwan) grandmother in order to make money and the fact that, in the very next episode, Tiffani (Kelly Packard) would be driven to abuse steroids in order to make money.  In fact, just about every episode of California Dreams seems to be about the Dreams doing something weird and/or stupid to make money.

Maybe Jake just isn’t that smart.

Anyway, Lorena bets Jake that greed can tear people apart.  They proceed to come up with a plan to test everyone’s loyalty.  Will the Dreams prove Jake right or will they behave in the exact same way that they behave in every other episode of this show?

What Worked?

I always enjoy the Lorena-centric episodes, just because Lorena’s the character that I tend to have the most in common with.

I actually appreciated the fact that Lorena and Jake’s plan fell apart because they made a fairly believable mistake. Admittedly, it’s a pretty stupid mistake but, for the most part, this episode is about people acting stupid.

“Gotta find the money…gotta find the money…”  I have to admit that I laughed at that.  That said, for someone so intent on finding the money, Sly (Michael Cade) didn’t really seem to be looking as much as he was just randomly running about.

“DIAMONDS!”  Jay Anthony Franke’s delivery of this line was so over-the-top that it was oddly charming.

What Did Not Work?

“Surf dude with attitudes…”  Seriously, the blandness of that song never ceases to amaze me.  (And who is that old guy fishing?)

It’s difficult to take the show’s lesson seriously when that lesson is more or less dependent upon everyone acting like a total idiot.

“Oh my God!  Just like me!” Moments

Since this episode was pretty much dependent upon everyone acting like a total and complete idiot, I would like to say that there weren’t any “Oh my God! Just like me!” moments in the entire show.

However, I do really like diamonds…

Lessons Learned

Greed can tear apart even the best friendships…or something like that.


What Lisa Watched Last Night #81: California Dreams 3.15 “Junior Achievements” (directed by Patrick Maloney)

Last night, as the world froze outside, I battled insomnia by watching yet another old episode of California Dreams.

Why Was I Watching It?

Last night, Texas was hit by a cold front.  So, there I was, wide awake at 3 in the morning, curled up on the couch in my beloved Pirates t-shirt and panties and shivering as the wind howled and the temperature outside plunged into the low 30s.  I figured that maybe watching something silly on YouTube would help me get a little sleep.  So, I figured why not watch a show from sunny, always warm California?

Unfortunately, as I’ve explained in my previous California Dreamsrelated posts, there aren’t any old episodes of Saved By The Bell: The New Class on YouTube so I had to watch California Dreams instead.

What Was It About?

It’s flu season in California.  Instead of doing the smart thing and staying home and resting, the very sick Tony (William James Jones) continues to go to school and work.  Fortunately, Tony’s girlfriend Sam (Jennie Kwan) is from China and therefore, using typical California Dreams logic, is capable of brewing a magical tea.

Meanwhile, the economics teacher at Pacific Coast High School is handing out $500 to his students and demanding that they use it to start a successful business.  While Jake (Australia’s Jay Anthony Franke) and Mark (Aaron Jackson) struggle to sell music lessons, Sly (Michael Cade), Tiffany (Kelly Packard), and Lorena (Diana Uribe) go into business selling Sam’s magic tea.  However, their greed angers Sam’s ancestors.

Naturally, lessons are learned.

What Worked?

The commercial shoot was amusing.  Anyone who has ever appeared in a student film will be able to relate to it.  I especially liked the fact that Tiffany’s response to Tony’s direction was to repeat the line in the exact same way as before.

I liked the way that Jake’s student delivered the line, “A public debut might be a bit premature…”

What Did Not Work?

Wow, California Dreams — ethnic stereotype much?

I have to admit that I’m a bit confused about PCHS.  In some episodes, it’s portrayed as being this school where there’s little to no discipline and the student body is absurdly powerful.  And then, in an episode like this one, it’s suddenly full of teachers who just randomly hand out money, demand that their students start and run a successful business, and sentence people to summer school on a whim.

As well, you have to wonder how the teacher could punish Jake and Mark for not charging for their lessons while then giving Sam an A just because she was pretty much forced, by a random set of circumstances, into doing the right thing.  I mean, how exactly is that integrity?

Seriously, California must have a really powerful teachers union.

“Oh my God!  Just like me!” Moments

Back when I was in college, I had a role in a student film where I was required to spend a lot of time in bed while wearing a black negligee.  The script didn’t call for me to cough but I did so anyway because I felt that’s what my character would do in that situation.  “Lisa, don’t cough,” the director said.  I glared back at him and said, “Well, excuse the fuck outta me for trying to give a good performance.”  Everyone laughed and assumed I was joking so I just went with it.

Lessons Learned

Back in the 90s, you could do a lot with $500.

What Lisa Watched Last Night #79: California Dreams 3.14 “Boyz R Us” (dir by Patrick Maloney)

Last night, I watched yet another episode of the mid-90s sitcom, California Dreams.  That episode was entitled Boyz R Us.

And yes, it was a very special episode.

Why Was I Watching It?

As I’ve explained in my previous California Dreams-related posts, I’ve been watching episodes of this 90s sitcom because all of the episodes of Saved By The Bell: The New Class have been yanked off of YouTube.

This was actually the third time I had watched the Boyz R Us episode.  I previously watched it last week with my BFF Evelyn after we saw Tyler Perry’s Temptation.  However, the next day was a busy one and I didn’t get a chance to write about it.  Therefore, in order to maintain the integrity of this feature, I rewatched Boyz R Us yesterday so that I could honestly say that it was what Lisa Marie watched last night.

What Was It About?

In this episode, we discover that Tony (William James Jones) is from “the hood.”  This isn’t surprising since, in the world according to mediocre sitcoms, every single black man on the planet was born in the hood just so he could eventually leave, befriend a bunch of white people, and then be accused of “selling out” in a very special episode.

Tony’s cousin, Darren, drops by for a visit and explains to Tony that “Some changes are going down in the hood.”  When an old friend of Tony’s is crippled by gang members, Tony is forced to choose between being a snitch and going to the police or seeking violent revenge on his own.

Meanwhile, the other members of the California Dreams are all broke and get jobs delivering singing telegrams.  To be honest, compared to what’s happening in the hood, the problems of a bunch of affluent white teenagers seem rather trivial indeed.

Incidentally, I was born in Oak Cliff, Texas which is the Dallas version of the hood.  Just saying…

(Of course, my mom also got us all out of there when I was 14 months old and I wouldn’t know a real gangsta if he came up and stared straight at me but that said, I’m still technically from the hood.)

What Worked?

In some of the other episodes that I’ve seen, William James Jones had a tendency to overact.  However, I thought he did a pretty good job in this episode.  If he went over-the-top, that was largely because the episode itself — with its heavy combination of melodrama and messaging — didn’t leave him much choice.  In this episode, Jones embraced the melodrama and good for him.

Don’t get me wrong.  I appreciate and respect the fact that the show was made with the best of intentions.  (Though you do have to wonder just how many real-life gang members would have been spending their Saturday morning watching California Dreams…)  However, the appeal of this episode really is that it’s so over-the-top and melodramatic.


For 22 minutes, everything with Tony is a drama.  Every phone call he gets is bad news and you get the feeling that the other Dreams are starting to dread the prospect of being anywhere near him.  And then, at the end of the episode, Tony manages to not only convince Darren not to throw his life away but also rallies the entire community to finally stand up to the gang culture.  You can argue that the episode’s resolution isn’t all that realistic (for one thing, nobody seems to have considered that at least one of the two gang members would probably have had a weapon of his own) but that’s part of the appeal.

Also, was it just me or did it seem that the California Dreams were personally arresting the two gangstas at the end of the episode?

What Did Not Work?

Two words: Singing telegram.

The singing telegram subplot would have been weak under normal circumstances but when coupled with all of the melodrama and heavy messaging of the main plot, it looked even weaker.  Seriously, do the California Dreams not have parents to borrow money from?

I’m also found myself wondering if their final client specifically told Sly, “I want a group of teenagers dressed like keystone cops to sing to my girlfriend.”

Finally, the show’s writers missed a golden opportunity to have Jake announce, “Jake Summers doesn’t do silent film buffoonery.”

“Oh my God!  Just like me!” Moments

“I just want to know what its like to poor!”  That sounds like something I’d say while attempting to be cute.

Lessons Learned

“Two years is a long time to be gone from the hood…”


What Lisa Marie Watched Last Night #77: California Dreams S3E13 “Rebel Without A Nerve” (dir by Patrick Maloney)

Last night, I watched yet another episode of the old 90s sitcom, California Dreams.

Why Was I Watching It?

If you’ve been following this site for a while, you may remember that I was introduced to California Dreams by my sister Megan while we were looking for an alternative to watching reruns of Saved By The Bell: The New Class.  (It’s a long story.)  Since every episode of California Dreams is available on YouTube, I’ve been watching them whenever I’ve found myself in the mood to watch a mediocre 90s sitcom.  Last night, I was in the mood.

What Was It About?

Jake Summers (Jay Anthony Franke) has long been known as the coolest, hottest guy at Pacific Coat High School.  However, that’s about to change because Tommy Keating (guest star Joseph D. Reitman) has transferred to PCH and he’s determined to shove Jake off of his pedestal.  At first, it seems like this could never happen because Tommy appears to be overweight, goony, and about 40 years old.  However, when Jake crashes his bike, Tommy moves in for the kill…

Meanwhile, PCH has gone accident free for several days and Principal Blumford (Dennis Hask…oh wait, that’s Earl Boen in the role of Blumford), is excited about the prospect of getting PCH listed in the Guggenheim Book of World Records.  In order to keep the school safe, Blumford assigns Tony (Williams James Jones) and Sly (Michael Cade) to the safety patrol…

Meanwhile, Mark (Aaron Jackson) remains cute yet strangely underused…

What Worked?

As opposed to the previous episode of California Dreams (in which Jake starts smoking and his Uncle Frank gets cancer), this episode was strictly for fun.    Instead of trying to teach us an important lesson about safety, this episode acknowledged what we all truly know: only losers became hall monitors.

Add to that, any episode that attempts to set Jake up as the California equivalent to Lord Byron (mad, bad, and dangerous to know) automatically has a lot of camp appeal.

What Did Not Work?

Was it just me or did Tommy Keating appear to be a little bit old to still be going to high school?  Seriously, if you haven’t graduated by the time you’re 40, you might as well just drop out and get your G.E.D.

Then again, he did ace that Biology quiz so maybe Tommy had finally gotten his act together…

“Oh my God!  Just like me!” Moment

Lorena and I definitely have a similar fashion sense.  Her 2nd outfit (the one with the super cute black miniskirt) was to die for and it reminded me of what I wore to mass on Ash Wednesday.

Also, I frequently mistake ketchup for blood.

Lessons Learned

Safety is for losers.


What Lisa Marie and Erin Nicole Watched Last Night #74: California Dreams 3.12 “Harley and the Marlboro Man” (dir by Patrick Maloney)

Last night, my sister Erin (a.k.a. Dazzling Erin) and I watched a very special episode of California Dreams, “Harley and the Marlboro Man.”

Why Were We Watching It?

If you follow me on twitter, then you may have noticed something last night.   Whether it was just that I was having a long day or the fact that I’ve been somewhat manic since December, I was a neurotic mess.  It all started when I tried to change my profile pic on twitter and I discovered that apparently, twitter has changed the way that they do profile pics and, as a result, this really great picture of me had to be cropped and then it ended up looking totally tiny on screen and this led to me trying 30 different profile pics in just 15 minutes and none of them looked good in tiny twitter form and I was just getting so frustrated and … well, you get the idea.

Fortunately, my wonderful sister knew how to calm me down.  She suggested that I distract myself from obsessing over my profile pic by watching something either on TV or online.  And what better to watch than an episode of a mediocre 90s sitcom!?  Unfortunately, as much as I tried, I couldn’t find any episodes of Saved By The Bell: The New Class to watch.

So, I watched yet another episode of California Dreams instead.  And since it was her idea, I forced Erin to watch it with me!

What Was It About?

Lead guitarist, motorcycle enthusiast, and leather fetishist Jake (Jay Anthony Franke) is entering a motorcycle contest and his Uncle Frank shows up to help him out.  Frank, it turns out, taught Jake  everything Jake knows about being cool but — gasp! — Frank smokes!

And soon, Jake is smoking too.


What Worked?

This episode is part of a proud television tradition.  Every show that’s aimed towards younger viewers has to have at least one episode where one of the characte’s takes up smoking and ends up getting ostracized as a result.  This episode of California Dreams is almost a prototypical anti-smoking episode — i.e., the character is inspired to smoke by an older role model, all of his friends are shocked and scandalized to discover that he would even think of smoking, a lot of statistics are awkwardly stuffed into the script (“Did you know that 89% smokers started smoking between the ages of 15 and 27?”), and the older role model is eventually punished with lung cancer.  This episode of California Dreams hits all of the expected notes and it does so far more efficiently than Saved By The Bell: The New Class did.

To be honest, Jake is a pretty silly character with his heavy leather jackets and his perpetual scowl but, in this episode, Jay Anthony Franke gives a fairly good performance.

Up until things got serious with Uncle Frank, this episode had a lot of camp appeal.  There was something oddly endearing about how scandalized everyone was over the fact that Jake was smoking.  I also found it interesting that it only took 6 or 7 cigarettes for Jake to turn into an addict.  Seriously, even I — with my asthma and everything else — smoked more than 7 cigarettes back in high school.  And I never found myself madly pacing back and forth while craving my next fix.

On a personal note, this episode calmed me down and I’m thankful for that!

What Did Not Work?

Hey, it was California Dreams.  Even the stuff that don’t work are a major part of the show’s appeal.

“Oh my God!  Just like me!” Moments

I have severe asthma and it was even worse when I was little.  As a result, my mom was always very protective of me and my poor, little lungs.  If anyone lit a cigarette anywhere near me, mom would always tell them to put it out because, “My daughter can not breathe.”  She also told me that I shouldn’t ever be around people who were smoking and, most importantly, I should never smoke myself.

Of course, that worked when I was little but then, as I grew up and I went through my whole rebellious phase, I found myself fascinated with both cigarettes and the people who smoked them.  Don’t get me wrong — I thought smoking cigarettes was a dangerous habit and I was too obsessed with dancing and too paranoid about my asthma to ever do anything more than take an occasional defiant puff but, at the same time, I still loved to watch certain people smoke and, whenever I dated a smoker, I always loved the way they tasted whenever I kissed them.

So, for once, I found that I could not relate to the character of Lorena in this episode of California Dreams.

Lessons Learned

Strange things calm me down.

What Lisa And Evelyn Watched Last Night #70: California Dreams S3E5 “Yoko Oh No!” (dir by Kevin Sullivan)

Last night, my BFF Evelyn and I watched yet another episode of the old 90s sitcom California Dreams.

Why Were We Watching It?

Believe me, I would have much rather have been watching an old episode of Saved By The Bell: The New Class but. unfortunately, YouTube has yanked down nearly every episode of SBTB:TNC that’s ever been uploaded.  However, every episode of California Dreams is available on YouTube.  Why exactly it’s okay to violate California Dreams‘ copyright but not Saved By The Bell’s is a question for which there is no easy answer.

That said, ever since my sister Megan first introduced me to the show last December, I’ve grown to appreciate California Dreams.  For a terrible sitcom, it wasn’t that bad.

What Was It About?

So, in this episode, there’s yet another battle of the bands taking place at Sharky’s.  (I have to admit that there’s still a lot of episodes of California Dreams that I haven’t seen but, seriously, it seems that Sharky’s had a vattle of the bands every other week or so.)  Anyway, the Dreams are looking to win the Battle of the Bands for the 2nd time in a row but they’re going to have to beat Total Defiance, a rap group that’s edgy in a mid-90s, Saturday morning sitcom sort of way.

When Total Defiance’s manager, Rosie, calls Lorena “a groupie,” Lorena (played by Diana Uribe) asks to be allowed to sing with the Dreams.  At this point in the series, Lorena was dating Jake (Jay Anthony Franke), the leader of the Dreams.  So, of course, Lorena is allowed to join the group despite being totally tone deaf.

What Worked?

Though it probably wasn’t meant to be, Rosie’s dismissive description of the California Dreams and their music is actually pretty spot on.

This is a pretty good episode for both the character of Lorena and for the actress who played her.  Though everyone on YouTube seems to disagree with me, I actually think the Jake and Lorena were a good couple and I prefer the episode where she and Jake are together to the ones where Jake is dating Tiffani (Kelly Packard) and Lorena is going out with Sly (Michael Cade).

So, I’ve made my sisters, my boyfriend, my best friend, and my Australian friend watch an episode or two of California Dreams and they’ve all said the same thing: Lorena reminds them of me.  Despite the fact that I doubt that Lorena would ever be a fan of Italian horror, I can see their point.

What Did Not Work?

“Suuuuuuurf dudes with attitude … kinda groovy …. feeling mellow….”  Again, Rosie was right.

“OH MY GOD! Just like me!” Moments

Like Lorena, I’m a good dancer but I can’t sing to save my life.  In fact, my sisters claim that I’m tone deaf but I prefer the term “musically challenged.”

Unlike Lorena, I would never have faked laryngitis to get out of singing.  I would have gotten up on stage and screeched my little heart out.

Lessons Learned

If you want to sing despite having no talent, date a guy in a band.

What Lisa and Evelyn Watched Last Night #68: California Dreams S3E17 “Tiffani’s Gold” (dir by Patrick Maloney)

On Wednesday night, my BFF Evelyn and I watched (via YouTube) an episode of the 90s sitcom California Dreams.  The name of this episode was Tiffani’s Gold and, needless to say, it’s a very special episode.

Why Were We Watching It?

As I wrote back in December, I was introduced to this show over Christmas by my sister Megan.  Ever since then, I’ll be regularly watching old episodes of California Dreams on YouTube.  I’ve seen the members of the Dreams deal with racism, eating disorders, gang violence, body issues, and environmental panic.  When I discovered that the episode Tiffani’s Gold dealt with drug abuse — well, how couldn’t I watch?

As for Evelyn, she insists that I make clear that the only reason she was watching it was because I insisted.

What Was It About?

Tiffani is stressed about making the national volleyball team so she starts taking steroids.  Tiffani makes the team but she also starts to snap at people, beat up her friends, and smash plates at the local hang-out.

Meanwhile, in a totally unrelated subplot, Mark, Sly, and Tony compete for the title of Mr. Stud and Jake continues to insist on wearing a heavy leather jacket to the beach.

What Worked?

As well-intentioned as it most certainly was, this episode had a definite Reefer Madness type of appeal to it.  California Dreams, much like my beloved Degrassi, presents us with a world where not only can the worst happen but the worst will end up happening within the next 10 minutes.  Seriously, how can you not be impressed by the fact that, after a week of taking steroids, Tiffani is literally picking Sly up and throwing him against a locker?

That said, I could relate to Tiffani’s anger in several scenes.  Seriously, sometimes, a girl just needs to be left alone!

Evelyn says the main thing that worked about this episode is that the California Dreams never actually performed.

What Did Not Work?

Evelyn and I totally disagreed with the results of the Mr. Stud contest.  Seriously, Mark looked good in that tuxedo and I didn’t believe Jake for a second when he claimed to have gotten choked up at the movies.  (Oh, and by the way, it’s okay for a guy to cry but he should never sob.  That’s the important thing.)

“OH MY GOD!  Just like me!” Moments

I have now been told, by five different people, that the character of Lorena reminds them of me and since two of these people were my sister and BFF, I’ll take their word for it.  Still, I have a hard time imagining that Lorena would ever have been a fan of Italian horror.

Lessons Learned

Well, duh!  Don’t do steroids!  Though, actually, it seems like the steroids accomplished their purpose.  I mean, Tiffani did make the national team and all.  In fact, it seems like Tiffani’s main problem is that people put too much pressure on her so I guess the real lesson here is that you shouldn’t put too much pressure on your friends when they’re using steroids.

What Lisa and Megan Watched Last Night #62: California Dreams S3E3 “Budget Cuts” (dir. by Patrick Maloney)

Last night, my sister Megan and I continued to bond over episodes of bad sitcoms from the 1990s.  Among those episodes was “Budget Cuts,” from the third season of California Dreams.

Why Were We Watching It?

I’ve been spending this holiday week visiting my wonderful sister Megan in Ft. Worth and, for the past few days, we’ve been bonding over the fact that she has almost every single episode of Saved By The Bell: The New Class and California Dreams on DVD.

(Personally, SBTB: TNC has a lot of nostalgia value for me but Megan claims that California Dreams was a “thousand times better” than either the original Saved By The Bell or The New Class.)

Last night, we watched several randomly selected episodes of both SBTB: TNC and California Dreams and, out of all of them, “Budget Cuts” is the one that really stood out.

What Was It About?

Much like the “Belding’s Prank” episode of SBTB: TNC, “Budget Cuts” is an episode that seems to take place in a high school that has an absurdly powerful student body.  The school also has its very own radio station that broadcasts nonstop over the course of the entire day.  I’m not really sure how this would work, since it seems like this would interfere with things like students going to and concentrating in class but maybe that’s just the way things were in California during the mid-90s.

Anyway, sleazy Sly Winkle (played by Michael Cade) is given control of the radio station and he promptly gives shows to all of his friends.  Mark (Aaron Jackson) is a bitchy critic in the style of Addison DeWitt.  Sam (Jennie Kwan) gives love advice to a caller who, in the opinion of both me and Megan, was just a guy wearing an ugly wig.  Lorena (Diana Uribe) has a show that’s all about fashion.  (Yay!)  And Jake (Jay Anthony Franke) has a show where he tells people to “Shut up and listen!”

Anyway, the school board is making budget cuts and it appears that the radio station is going to be closed down!  After being pressured by Jake, Lorena ends up locking herself in the studio and refusing to come out until the school board agrees to hear the student demands.

Somehow, this works and then, fortunately, Jake shows up at the school board meeting and OH MY GOD!  JAKE’S WEARING A SUIT!  The live studio audience goes crazy at the sight of Jake all dressed up and with good reason.  The boy cleans up well.

But will it be enough to save the radio station?

What Worked?

Every teen sitcom has to have at least one episode where the show’s resident rebel makes an appearance wearing a suit as opposed to his leather jacket.  This, of course, is because we all know that the most important thing about a rebel is that he should be able to clean up well.  In this episode, Jay Anthony Franke cleans up very well.

What Did Not Work?

Four words: “Absurdly powerful student body.”  Seriously.  Between California Dreams and Saved By The Bell, California appears to be a state where teenagers are given the equivalent of diplomatic immunity.


Both Megan and I agreed that we both identified with the character of Lorena, both because of her temper and her sense of fashion.

Though this episode of California Dreams didn’t actually feature the band performing, Megan and I still decided that we should start a band of our own.  We’re going to call ourselves the Cleavage Sisters and we’re going to hire David Foster to write aggressively bland songs for us.  Megan will sing them while I dance around the stage.  It’ll be fun!

Lessons Learned

Sometimes, people don’t like to be told to “shut up and listen.”