Retro Television Reviews: California Dreams 4.11 “Heal the Bay” and 4.12 “Woo-oops”

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!

Retro Television Reviews: California Dreams 4.9 “Operation Tony” and 4.10 “Community Service”

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, California Dreams is Saved By The Bell!

Episode 4.9 “Operation Tony”

(Dir by Don Barnhart, originally aired on November 18th, 1995)

Tony needs to have shoulder surgery and he’s so worried about dying that he not only practices laying very still but he also requires Sam to practice mourning.  The night before the operation, he has a dream where he sees his own funeral and, upon waking up, he tries to sneak out of the hospital and …. wait a minute.  This seems familiar.  The exact same thing happened to Zack Morris on Saved By The Bell!

Yes, this episode is pretty much a remake of Operation Zach.  The California Dreams version works a bit better than the SBTB version because Tony is a more sympathetic figure than Zach Morris and, unlike Zach, Tony didn’t have the power to stop time whenever he felt like it so Tony has no way to magically put off the operation.  Plus, this episode has a B-plot where Lorena volunteers as a candy striper in an attempt to catch the attention of a handsome doctor.  Unfortunately, the doctor explains that he doesn’t date people with whom he works.  (I would hope that he also doesn’t date teenagers.)  It was a predictable storyline but I still always like episodes that focus, even if just partially, on Lorena because Lorena is who I was always relate to whenever I watch this show.

Anyway, this was a good episode, even it was a familiar one.  Let’s move on.

Episode 4.10 “Community Service”

(Dir by Don Barnhart, originally aired on November 25th, 1995)

In this episode, the members of the California Dreams do community service!

Now, I know that I always complain whenever this happens on City Guys but that’s because City Guys usually features Ms. Noble ordering her students to do stuff during their free time.  On California Dreams, everyone actually volunteered of their own free will.  It is true that Tiffani guilted them into volunteering but still, there’s a big difference between Tiffani looking sad and Ms. Noble telling all of her students what they’re going to give up their weekend just because she says so.

Sam volunteers for the blood drive.  Jake volunteers for Meals on Wheels and eats all the food himself.  (In 1995, this was played for laughs.  You can only imagine how it would be portrayed today.)  Mark helps to clean the beach and ends up smelling like a toxic waste dump.  Lorena gives some things to the Goodwill.  And Tiffani and Sly end up working at the Teen Help Line.  Tiffani tries to sincerely help people while Sly orders pizza and hits on all the female counselors.

Uh-oh!  The school is cutting its budget and the Teen Line is going to be closed down!  Sly comes up with an idea!  Maybe the Dreams can play a benefit concert.  I mean, it worked on Saved By The Bell …. TWICE!  Sly organizes the concert and basks in everyone’s attention, even though Tiffani is upset that Sly is doing the right thing for the wrong reason.  (Calm down, Tiffani.)  Fortunately, during the concert, a teen calls in and says he wants to run away from home.  Because Sly is the only person in the office, he’s forced to help the caller and he discovers that joy of doing the right thing for the right reasons!  Yay!  Of course, I imagine this lesson will be forgotten by the next episode.  We’ll find out next week!

As a general rule, the best episodes of California Dreams are the ones in which Sly is let loose to be his sleazy but ultimately good-hearted self.  Though the story was familiar, Michael Cade did a good job playing the two sides of Sly.  Plus, the Dreams performed that “To the End” song, which has a really rocking guitar solo.

Next week, Tiffani tries to heal the bay!  Hopefully, she’ll have better luck at it than Mark did during this episode.

Retro Television Reviews: California Dreams 4.7 “Secret Admirer” and 4.8 “Old”

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, Sly breaks hearts and hurts feelings!  And maybe he learns a lesson.

Episode 4.7 “Secret Admirer”

(Dir by Don Barnhart, originally aired on November 4th, 1995)

This episode opens in Pacific Coast High’s state-of-the-art computer lab!

After accidentally deleting a love poem that Mark has spent weeks working on, Sly spots a student named Lynn awkwardly asking people to come to her sweet sixteen party.  Realizing that Lynn comes from a wealthy family, Sly decides that the Dreams have to play that party!  The only problem is that Sly has known Lynn since kindergarten and he’s spent that entire time making fun of her weight.  Lynn cannot stand Sly.

Can you feel the hatred?

Sly, having learned nothing from being put on trial last week, steals one of Mark’s love poems and slips it into Lynn’s locker. “Wow, a secret admirer,” Lynn says.  Then Sly pops up and starts trying to flirt with her.  At first, Lynn refuses to believe that Sly is being serious but, slowly, he wins her over.  And what happens here is kind of interesting.  As Sly eventually figures out, it’s not that Lynn believes him as much as she wants to believe him because she has absolutely no self-esteem.  Even after Lynn hires the Dreams and pays them $2,000, Sly still feels guilty.  He feels so guilty that he gives up the money.

This was not the first Peter Engel-produced show to figure its lead character going out with a someone who weighed a bit more than Tiffani-Amber Thiessen.  Saved By The Bell actually used that plot a few times.  On Saved By The Bell, Zack got sold in a date auction to a girl who wasn’t his type and the audience screamed in shock.  But this episode of California Dreams is different from Saved By The Bell in that it is more on the side of the girl than on the guy pretending to like her.  Sly does a terrible thing and, when he realizes it, Michael Cade does such a good job of playing Sly’s guilt that the viewer really does feel like Sly is probably never going to forgive himself.

That’s a good thing.  That said, this still isn’t a particularly strong episode.  The actress playing Lynn delivers all of her lines in the same flat manner and there’s a rather annoying B-plot about everyone thinking that Mark’s love poem was written for them.  (That’s another plot that was used and reused on Saved By The Bell.)  Sly learned a lesson about making fun of people but I doubt it will last….

Episode 4.8 “Old”

(Dir by Don Barnhart, originally aired on November 11th, 1995)

Sly makes fun of a bunch old people and then has a dream where he’s old and all the members of the band make fun of him!  He then wakes up and visits an old man in the hospital.  So, basically, Sly learned the same lesson that he should have learned in the last episode and in the episode before that.  Some people just don’t ever learn!

That said, by the time this episode aired, Michael Cade had really grown as an actor and he’s convincing as both an old man and an obnoxious teenager.

Next week, in another story borrowed from Saved By The Bell, Tony gets an operation!  The fun never ends when you’re surrounded by surf dudes with attitude and feeling mellow.

Retro Television Reviews: California Dreams 4.5 “Fallen Idol” and 4.6 “Defending Sly’s Life”

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, Jake learns an important lesson about how ruthless and heartless the music business actually is.  Meanwhile, Sly is forced to defend a lifetime of bad ethical choices.

Episode 4.5 “Fallen Idol”

(Dir by Don Barnhart, originally aired on October 14th, 1995)

Never meet your idols!

Jake learns that lesson the hard way when his hero, faded rock star Zane Walker (Julian Stone), wanders into Sharky’s.  Jake is stunned to see Zane.  Jake is overjoyed when Zane agrees to listen to the Dreams play.  And Jake is stunned when Zane steals Jake’s latest song and releases his own version of it.  The song becomes a hit in record time.  (Apparently, it only took about a week for Zane to steal the song, record it, and then release it.)  Jake and the Dreams crash Zane’s press conference, with Jake still convinced that Zane is going to give Jake credit for writing the song.  Instead, Zane smirks and takes all the credit for himself.  Tiffani and Sly suggest suing Zane.  Jake replies that it’s not about the song.  He can write a hundred good songs.  But he’ll never get another idol….

Wow, what a depressing episode!  I mean, Jay Anthony Franke really poured his heart into his performance and it’s good that the show taught kids about the importance of copyright laws but still…. let’s move on to something happier.

Episode 4.6 “Defending Sly’s Life”

(Dir by Don Barnhart, originally aired on October 21st, 1995)

The episode opens in a court room.  All of the Dreams are in costume.  Sam is a court reporter.  Jake is a judge.  Tiffani and Tony are lawyers.  Poor Mark and Lorena are forced to wear unflattering bailiff’s uniforms.  Meanwhile, Sly is wearing an orange jumpsuit because apparently, he’s on trial for being the most greedy, selfish guy on Earth.  Tony is his lawyer.  Tiffani is the prosecutor.

Is this a dream?

No, it’s a clip show.  Each member of the Dreams testifies about how Sly has been both a bad and a good friend.  Why are they in court?  It’s never really explained and I actually appreciated that.  It was a nice break from the usual “Remember that time that we played Sharky’s?” format of most clip shows.  Interestingly enough, we even get clips from the first two seasons despite the fact that there’s no way Sam, Lorena, and Mark could have remembered any of that stuff.  But at least the show is acknowledging that Matt Garrison and his sister used to be members of the Dreams.

(If I may briefly go off-topic, I always found it weird that, after Matt left, the Dreams went on without him.  I mean, Matt started the band.  He named the band!  Was he okay with the Dreams continuing to perform his songs and under the name he came up with even after he left?  Did Jake and the other band members even ask?  After he moved, they could have at least come up with a new name for themselves.  I would have suggested something like Jake Sommers and Funtime Quartet.)

Anyway, after all the Dreams testify about all of the sneaky things that he’s done, Sly testifies about the time that he helped Tiffani get off the steroids that he had previously given her.  Apparently, that’s enough to convince Judge Jake to rule that Sly is not the most selfish person on Earth and Sly is allowed to go free.  What would have happened if Sly had been found guilty?  Who knows?  I just like the fact that this totally weird episode came out of nowhere and will probably never be mentioned again.  This is something that you won’t ever see on City Guys or One World!

Next week, the recently acquitted Sly is rude to multiple people, therefore proving that Jake shouldn’t have been the judge.

Lisa Marie’s Week In Television: 2/19/23 — 2/25/23

With this being the week of Mardi Gras and Ash Wednesday, I didn’t watch much but I did watch some.  And here are my thoughts!

Abbott Elementary (Wednesday Night, ABC)

PESCA …. PESCA …. PESCA …. I’m not really a fan of the whole “the charter school is coming for us!” storyline but I do love the Gregory/Janine storyline.  Some of Tyler James Williams’s line deliveries made me laugh so hard that I nearly fell out of my chair while watching this week’s episode.

Animal Control (Thursday Night, FOX)

I like Joel McHale and I really like animals so I was hoping that I would really, really like this new sitcom but …. eh.  The first two episodes just didn’t work for me.  As tired as I am of the whole mockumentary format, I do kind of feel that maybe that was the approach that should have been taken with Animal Control.  Right now, the show just feels a bit forced and awkward and the frequent lowbrow humor feels cheap.  Despite the presence of McHale, this is definitely not Community.  I did laugh when the weasel set that guy’s house on fire, though.

The Brady Bunch Hour (YouTube)

I wrote about The Brady Bunch Hour here!

California Dreams (YouTube)

Here’s this week’s review.

City Guys (Tubi)

Here’s this week’s review!

Fantasy Island (Tubi)

Here’s this week’s review!

Law & Order (Thursday Night, NBC)

I watched last week’s episode of Law & Order on Monday night.  It dealt with a shooting at a nightclub.  The shooter was stalking his ex-girlfriend but the majority of the episode dealt with the cop who responded to the 911 call and who froze and sat in his police car for 3 minutes before entering the club.  Obviously, this was meant to remind the viewers of both the cowardly deputy at the Parkland shooting and the cops who stayed outside of the classroom in Uvalde.  The show had sympathy for the cowardly cop.  I did not, just like I didn’t have any sympathy for Scott Israel’s deputies.  This was another episode that ended with Price getting his conviction but still getting punched outside the court because all of the bad publicity led to the cowardly cop committing suicide.  Again, the show attempted to put the blame on the tabloid press.  Myself, I put the blame on the cop who let others die.

As for this week’s episode, it dealt with race as Detective Shaw filed a report on two cops who profiled him at a crime scene while the show’s defendant was a real estate guy who was spreading rumors about mostly black criminals in order to run down property values.  This was one of those episodes where the person on trial was definitely a bad guy and he was probably guilty but I still didn’t think Price proved the case beyond a reasonable doubt.  I think the Law & Order revival would benefit from occasionally admitting that even a good prosecutor can lose a weak case.  It would make the show a bit more realistic.  At this point, Price is apparently the greatest prosecutor who has ever lived because he has a 99% success rate despite the majority of his cases being noticeably weak.

What’s interesting is that, after basically spending a season and a half as a self-righteous loose cannon who did things like prosecute a pharmaceutical firm just to get revenge for his brother’s unrelated death, Price is now being portrayed as being a pragmatist while the cops are now the social justice warriors.  Of course, who knows?  The next episode could find Price once again tilting at windmills and Cosgrove once again acting like a reactionary.  Narrative consistency is not one of this show’s strengths.

The Love Boat (Paramount Plus)

I wrote about The Love Boat here!

Night Court (Tuesday Night, NBC)

When Abby’s train is delayed, she annoys all of the other passengers with her upbeat personality.  I have no idea to whom this show is meant to appeal.  The only reason I watched it is because I needed to have something in the background for thirty minutes while I did some dusting.

Retro Television Reviews: California Dreams 4.3 “Principal Tiffani” and 4.4 “The Dateless Game”

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!

Surf dudes with attitudes….

Episode 4.3 “Principal Tiffani”

(Dir by Don Barnhart, originally aired on September 30th, 1995)

Earl Boen returns as Principal Blumford!  The last two times that Blumford appeared, he was given dialogue that deliberately harkened back to his days of appearing in the first two Terminator films.  Unfortunately, that doesn’t happen here but Principal Tiffani is still an important Blumford episode because this is the episode where it becomes clear that Tiffani and Blumford are having a secret affair.

Seriously, how else do you explain Blumford’s decision to appoint Tiffani to the role of “student principal?”  In fact, I’m not even sure that there is such a thing as the student principal program, despite the fact that both Saved By The Bell and California Dreams did episodes about it.  It just doesn’t make any sense.  Why would a student be put in charge of the school for a week?  In this episode, Blumford not only names Tiffani as student principal but he also expects her to run the school during mid-terms week.  I mean, shouldn’t Tiffani be studying for her mid-terms?  And why make Tiffani principal as opposed to someone who actually wants the job?

I think we all know the answer.

At first, Tiffani struggles with her new position.  No one will listen to her.  Then her other boyfriend, Jake, gives her a lesson in how to yell at people.  Tiffani takes his lessons to heart and goes mad with power, handing out detentions and forcing troublemakers to stand in the corner of her office in time-out.  Eventually, the entire school rebels and, on cut day, Tiffani discovers that the halls are completely deserted.

The entire school goes to Sharky’s, of course.  The Dreams, minus Tiffani, perform.  I imagine there’s nothing better than getting hired for a sweet cut day gig.  Eventually, Tiffani and Blumford show up at Sharky’s but Tiffani has learned to not be such a martinet so she lies and says that students had her permission to go to Sharky’s.  She then orders all of them to start studying, which they do.

Blumford pretends to fooled by Tiffani but, obviously, he knows what’s really going on.  Technically, Blumford could have gotten in trouble for giving an important role like student principal to someone who was obviously unqualified for the job but the hearts wants what the heart wants.

This was a very romantic episode.

Episode 4.4 “The Dateless Game”

(Dir by Don Barnhart, originally aired on October 7th, 1995)

Speaking of romance, it’s time for Jake and Tiffani’s first anniversary!  They’ve only been dating for 2 episodes but whatever.  Everyone acts like they’ve been together forever.  (Actually, Lorena specifically says that Tiffani and Jake have been a thing for 3 months.)

However, before Jake can celebrate their anniversary, he decides help Sly and Mark out with their plan to take part in a charity dating game.  When the third bachelor fails to show up for the event, Jake agrees to take the stage with Sly and Mark.  Of course, despite his best efforts to pretend to be a shallow burn-out, Jake wins and it turns out his date is scheduled for the night of his anniversary!  Instead of just coming clean to Tiffani, Jake attempts to go on both dates at the same time.  That was a pretty dumb idea on Jake’s part and it helps to explain why Tiffani has been cheating with Blumford.

Needless to say, Jake’s dumbass plan explodes in his face.  Fortunately, the Dreams know how to fix the situation,  They hold a dating game of their own so that Jake and Tiffani can see that they belong together.  Tony is the host and William James Jones totally throws himself into the performance.  For some reason, the fake dating game is held at Sharky’s.  As far as I could tell, no one was ordering food during the dating game.  If Sharky’s goes out of business, blame it on the Dreams and their constant drama.

These two episodes felt very much like they belonged more on Saved By The Bell than California Dreams but no matter!  This cast long ago proved that they had the chemistry necessary to transcend even mundane material and that’s certainly what happens here.  Jake and Tiffani forgive each other and the audiences says, “Awwww!’ but somewhere, Principal Blumford’s heart is breaking.

Lisa Marie’s Week In Television: 2/12/23 — 2/18/23

This week I decided to get a head start on my retro television reviews and I ended up watching and writing up reviews for three months worth of Hang Time and California Dreams.  I am exhausted and I have dueling theme songs stuck in my head.

Here are some thoughts:

Abbott Elementary (Wednesday Night, ABC)

“Fire!”  This week’s episode of Abbott Elementary was a classic and, after two somewhat uneven episodes, a return to form.  I loved Ava’s response to the fire.  I would have done the same.  “Wait, you went to a spa?”  Well, where else should she have gone?

Accused (Tuesday Night, FOX)

This week, the accused was a father-turned-vigilante, on trial for the murder of a man who molested his daughter.  The idea had the potential to be interesting but the execution was flat.  The episode’s big guest star was Malcolm-Jamal Warner, who gave a credible performance but who was also a bit on the dull side.

California Dreams (YouTube)

I watched six hours of California Dreams this weekend.  I will never get the theme song out of my head.

The Devil Next Door (Netflix)

This is a Netflix docuseries about John Demjanjuk, a retired auto worker in Detroit who was accused of being Ivan the Terrible, a notorious Nazi concentration camp guard.  While Demjanjuk was indeed a former camp guard, there’s still some debate over whether he was also Ivan The Terrible.  It was a fascinating and disturbing story.  With Demjanjuk now dead, we’ll probably never know for sure whether or not he was Ivan but that doesn’t change the fact that this rather mild-looking elderly man was a participant in the most monstrous crimes in history.

Fantasy Island (Tubi)

I reviewed Fantasy Island here!

Hang Time (YouTube)

I watched and wrote up reviews for 15 hours worth of Hang Time episodes this week.  I’m exhausted but, on the plus side, I won’t have to watch the show again until June.

The Love Boat (Paramount+)

I wrote up the first season finale of The Love Boat here!

Night Court (Tuesday, NBC)

In this week’s episode, a bunch of children led a protest in Abbie’s courtroom.  My goodness, it was truly an embarrassing episode.  Night Court doesn’t know if it wants to be goofy or edgy and the lack of focus is really becoming an issue.

Night Music (YouTube)

This was a live music program from the 80s.  The episode that I watched on Friday night featured Stevie Ray Vaughn, Van Dyke Parks, and David Sanborn.  The music was great!

The Super Bowl (Sunday Night, FOX)

I watched it for the commercials, as the game didn’t really interest me and I didn’t have any real feelings about either one of the two teams playing.  However, I will say that everyone that I know is pretty happy that the Eagles lost.  And while I don’t have anything against the Eagles as a group of individual athletes, I do kind of resent the Philadelphia Parking Authority, as a result of having watched too many episodes of Parking Wars.

The Watchers (Netflix)

I watched the first four episodes of this Netflix miniseries on Tuesday night.  The mystery was intriguing but, like so many Ryan Murphy-produced programs, it felt like there was way too much padding and I kind of started to lose interest in it all as the story progressed.  Fortunately, both Naomi Watts and Bobby Cannavale were well-cast.

Retro Television Reviews: California Dreams 4.1 “Two Too Much” and 4.2 “My Valentine”

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!

Welcome to season 4!

Episode 4.1 “Two Too Much”

(Dir by Patrick Maloney, originally aired on September 9th, 1995)

I have to admit that I’ve now reached the point where I automatically smile as soon as I hear the opening of the California Dreams theme song.  Over the past few months, I’ve come to appreciate California Dreams with its (mostly) good cast, its occasionally clever writing, and even its inoffensive music.  Of course, compared to City Guys and One World, anything is going to look good but California Dreams is a surprisingly entertaining show.  It has its own enjoyably odd but mellow vibe.

The fourth season gets off to a good start with a ballet class!  Yay!  Of course, Sam and Lorena are in the class.  But so are Mark and Sly, largely because they both think it’ll be a good place to pick up girls.  And so is Tony, due to Sam ordering him to take the class.  Jake, however, thinks that ballet is stupid and doesn’t understand why Lorena doesn’t want to spend all of her time watching him ride his motorcycle …. uh-oh, I think I see where this is going and I’m not happy about it because I’m one of the few people who thinks that Jake and Lorena were a good couple.

After his fight with Lorena, Jake finds Tiffani at Sharky’s and asks her for advice.  However, Tiffani is on a date with Keith Dell, “the teen radio shrink.”  Keith, who is a hilariously mellow and understanding character, tells Jake that a successful relationship is all about compromise.  Keith then suggests that Jake and Tiffani are still in love.  “Wooooo!” the audience replies.

Determined to try to make it work with Lorena, Jake tries to share her interests.  He takes her shopping for shoes.  Then he shows up for ballet class, having exchanged his leather jacket for a pair of tights and ready to dance.  After Lorena accuses Jake of embarrassing her, Jake has a black-and-white fantasy about being married to Lorena.  Of course, it’s called I Love Lorena.  Jake becomes Desi Arnaz.  Lorena becomes Lucille Ball.  Fred and Ethel are embodied by Sam and Tony.  Even in the fantasy, though, Jake keeps accidentally saying that he loves Tiffani.  It’s actually pretty funny, largely because of the chemistry of the cast.

I’m sure everyone reading this can guess what’s going to happen.  Jake and Lorena amicably break up.  Jake and Tiffani get back together.  Tony becomes dance-crazed and puts together a wonderfully pretentious performance at Sharky’s.  As always, everything happens at Sharky’s.

Despite the fact that my favorite couple broke up, this was a good start for the fourth season.  The cast’s chemistry was as strong as ever, Jake and Lorena’s breakup was handled intelligently, and William James Jones had some funny moments as he went mad for ballet.  And who knows?  I liked Jake and Lorena but Jake and Tiffani have chemistry as well.  Maybe this breakup was all for the best….

Episode 4.2 “My Valentine”

(Dir by Don Barnhart, originally aired on September 16th, 1995)

It’s Valentine’s Day!  Looking to make his first Valentine’s Day with Samantha a special one, Tony writes a love song and has Jake sing it.  After Jake finishes the song, Sly says that it was the perfect gift.  Tiffani agrees that it was very romantic.  “No,” Sly says, “it was free.”

Oh, Sly …. never change!

Tony, however, is worried that Sam will be returning to Hong Kong as soon as they graduate from high school.  Tony’s solution is to ask her to marry him.  Sam says, “Yes!”  The audience goes crazy but the Dreams have their doubts.  Lorena and Jake think Tony and Sam are too young to get married.  Sly agrees but his main concern is whether or not Tony and Sam will hire the Dreams to play at their wedding reception.  I’m not sure how that would work, considering that Tony and Sam are in the Dreams.

Tony and Sam haven’t been engaged for more than a day before they have their first fight.  Sam discovers that Tony hasn’t told his parents that they are engaged.  “If you can’t yell your parents,” she says, “your obviously too immature to get married!”

“I’m not immature,” Tony replies, “I just didn’t want them to ground me.”

Hey, it make me laugh.  I laughed even harder when Sam revealed that she hadn’t told her parents either.

Anyway, Tony and Sam break up but, luckily, they get back together a few hours later at the big Valentine’s Day dance, agreeing to date and putting off marriage for now.  I was glad about that.  Tony and Sam are a cute couple and no one should break up on the most romantic day of the year!  While Tony and Sam are getting back together, Jake and Tiffani are having an O. Henry moment as they realize that they’ve both sold their most prized possessions to get the other a present.  It’s a sweet moment for them.  Meanwhile, Lorena gets to wear a really cute red dress so everyone’s a winner this Valentine’s Day!

I own the same dress!

Next week: Tiffani is principal for a day!  I’m sure this won’t lead to any drama at all….

Lisa Marie’s Week In Television: 2/5/23 — 2/11/23

I had a cold for most of this week.  Actually, I still do.  Somehow, this did not lead to me watching more TV than usual.

Here’s some thoughts on what I did watch this week!

Abbott Elementary (Wednesday Night, ABC)

It’s Valentine’s Day and we all totally know that Janine and Gregory totally belong together.  The show wasn’t particularly subtle about it as Maurice gave Janine an empty bag while Gregory’s girlfriend was downright rude about Gregory’s present!  While this was going on, Ava was discovering the joy of learning and Jacob was teaching black history.  All in all, it was a good episode.  I always worry that Abbott Elementary is going to be overshadowed by the whole Office-style mockumentary format but the show has definitely established its own identity.

The Bachelor (Monday Night, ABC)

Good Lord, Zach is boring.  I think that’s going to be my review of every episode this season.

The Brady Bunch Hour (YouTube)

I wrote about The Brady Bunch Hour here!

California Dreams (YouTube)

I wrote about California Dreams here!

Fantasy Island (Tubi)

I wrote about Fantasy Island here!

Future Quest (Nightflight Plus)

Future Quest was a show that aired on PBS in 1994.  Hosted by Jeff Goldblum, it took a look at the “future.”  I watched the first episode on Saturday morning with Jeff and our friend Pat McCurry.  It was full of people talking about what they expected the 21st Century would be like and amazingly, they weren’t that far off.  Quite a few of them predicted that we would eventually end up watching movies on our phone, for instance.  Only one person said that email’s popularity would fade and people would go back to hand-written letters.  Sadly, an even larger group of people thought that the future would usher in an era of peace as we moved away from geographic conflicts, political unrest, and terrorism.  With the benefit of hindsight, it was interesting to see what people got right and what people got wrong.  And, of course, Jeff Goldblum was totally charming.

Hang Time (YouTube)

I wrote about Hang Time here!

Hell’s Kitchen (Thursday Night, FOX)

I was not at all surprised when Alex won this season, as he was clearly not only the best chef but the best leader as well.  Still, it was very emotionally satisfying to see him walk through that door.  Alex was one of the many business owners to have their lives upended by the COVID lockdowns.  From the minute this latest season began, he just seemed destined to win.  It just felt right,

The Love Boat (Paramount+)

I wrote about The Love Boat here!

Night Flight (NightFlight Plus)

I watched two episodes of this old entertainment digest on Friday night.  Both of the episodes were from 1990.  The first one was a profile of the band, The Art of Noise, which I liked quite a bit.  The second was a look at some films that were coming out that weekend.  None of the films looked particularly memorable.

South Park (Comedy Central)

South Park is back.  Cupid Ye not only satirized Kanye West but it also showed why his rantings are so dangerous.  At a time when so many people are still treating Kanye West like he’s just some sort of kooky eccentric as opposed to someone using his huge platform to spread destructive conspiracies, South Park has more guts than almost every other show on television combined.

Stolen Youth (Hulu)

I watched this creepy documentary on Saturday morning.  A middle-aged man named Larry Ray stayed with his daughter at Sarah Lawrence College and started a sex cult!  The documentary featured interviews with some of the students who fell under his malevolent sway.  As opposed to the unlikable people in The Vow, the interviewees in Stolen Youth were all sympathetic victims who were preyed upon by someone who knew how to take advantage of their naivety.

Retro Television Reviews: California Dreams 3.16 “The Treasure of PCH” and 3.17 “Tiffani’s Gold”

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!

Season 3 comes to an end!

Episode 3.16 “The Treasure of PCH”

(dir by Patrick Maloney, originally aired on December 31st, 1994)

The Dreams have turned into a reggae band!

At least, that’s the impression that one gets from the opening of The Treasure of PCH, which finds the Dreams performing on a pier at night as a part of the On The Pier Presents festival.  The song’s beat has a reggae feel and it actually sounds pretty nice until the very white Mark starts to sing with what I think is meant to be a slight attempt at a Jamaican accent about how someday “you might need a friend when you least expect it.”  Watching and, in some cases, re-watching these shows, I now realize that, musically, the Dreams actually had a pretty good sound but they were always tripped up by their simplistic lyrics.  “Anytime you need me, I’ll be there….” I mean, if you want to sound like David Hasselhoff, that’s fine but it’s still a bit odd to watch the pier crowd act as if these lyrics couldn’t have been written by a computer program.  In fact, maybe they were.  Was AI around in 1994?

Anyway, the Dreams are totally excited because the Concert on the Pier promoter pays them a thousand dollars.  “We’ve never gotten that much before!” Sam says but actually, I remember them getting paid that much during both the first and the second seasons.  Lorena is worried that the Dreams are getting greedy, which is an easy thing to worry about when you’re already rich and have nice hair.  Jake says that the money won’t change the Dreams.  Lorena and Jake decide to test that idea by convincing the Dreams that there’s a fortune hidden at Sharky’s!

Fortunately, it only takes one forged letter to trick the Dreams.  (As a group, the Dreams appear to have lost several IQ points when Matt Garrison moved away.)  At first, everyone works together but soon, the Dreams are getting paranoid and vindictive.  Lorena was right.  Yay!  Take that, Jake!  However, Jake and Lorena don’t give their plan enough thought and the Dreams — as stupid as they’ve become — still eventually figure out that it doesn’t make any sense that an eccentric oldster would have hidden his fortune at Sharky’s.  So, they turn the tables and convince Jake and Lorena that there’s a bunch of diamonds hidden at …. Sharky’s.  Is there no other place to eat in California?

“DIAMONDS!” Jake yells, in a rare moment of the normally laid back Jay Anthony Franke overacting.

This was a dumb episode but it was also oddly likable.  Sly running around and thinking to himself, “Gotta find the money …. gotta find the money….” made me laugh.  For that matter, so did Tony literally picking up Tiffani when she tried to run off with one of the clues.  The cast had enough chemistry that they were even able to pull off the show’s dumbest jokes.  Of course, the best thing about this episode is that my favorite character, Lorena, was proven to be correct.  Go Lorena!

Episode 3.17 “Tiffani’s Gold”

(dir by, originally aired on January 7th, 1995)

Every Peter Engel-produced sitcom had to have at least one episode where the least likely character got hooked on drugs, had a public meltdown, and then somehow got off drugs with a minimum amount of difficulty.  The most famous of these episode was the infamous episode of Saved By The Bell, where Jessie got hooked on caffeine pills and sang, “I’m so excited!”

When it came time for California Dreams to deal with drug addiction, the end result was Tiffani’s Gold.  In this episode, Tiffani is suddenly a star volleyball player who has a chance to make the national team and bring home a gold medal.  Tiffani, who up until this point has been portrayed as a mellow hippie, is suddenly determined to win and the Dreams want her to win as well. Unfortunately, Tiffani is struggling to keep up with the other girls trying out for the team.  So, she convinces Sly to help her get some …. dramatic music cue …. steroids!

You know what this means.  Tiffani makes the team but she also starts to have mood swings and violent outbursts.  Eventually, she makes a scene at Sharky’s and realizes that she has to stop taking drugs.  What makes this standard anti-drug episode memorable is just how unconvincing Kelly Packard is as a drug addict.  Don’t get me wrong.  She tries really, really hard to capture Tiffani’s anger and moodiness.  In fact, she tries too hard.  Scenes like the one in which Tiffani throws Sly against a locker are meant to be shocking but they actually inspire more laughs than gasps because Kelly Packard doesn’t come across as if she’s ever lost her temper before.  One gets the feeling that she was such a positive person that she didn’t even know how to fake anger.

As for the B-plot, Sly, Tony, and Mark compete to see who is the “bigger stud.”  Despite not being in contest, Jake is declared the winner.  Despite the fact that Jake and Lorena were supposed to be a couple, Jake is seen dating several other girls in this episode and Lorena doesn’t seem to care in the least.  Considering that Sly is wearing the exact same outfit that he wore in the first episode of season 3, I’m going to guess Tiffani’s Gold was filmed and meant to air much earlier in the season but, for whatever reason, it was held back until the very end.

(Incidentally, Christy — who rejects both Tony and Sly before going off with Jake — was played by a young Fergie.)

This rather campy episode was the final one of season 3.  Next week, we start season 4!