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 attitude, kind of groovy….
Episode 2.13 “Schoolhouse Rock”
(Dir by Miguel Higuera, Originally aired on November 27th, 1993)
Sting is performing in California and it’s the hottest show in town! Unfortunately, because Sly is an idiot, he spent all of the Dreams’s money before he could buy tickets for the band. However, Sly has a chance to redeem himself! Sting’s opening act has had to cancel and Sly decides that the Dreams should audition for the gig….
Would Sting really have such a hard time finding a new opening act that he would be forced to hire a garage band that no one outside of their high school has ever heard of? According to this episode, he would! All the band has to do is find a way to get into the office of Sting’s manager. And what better way to do that than for Tiffani to pretend to be a Swedish massage therapist while Tony and Jake pretend to be window washers and….
No, I’m not lying! That’s how they get in the office. Tiffani speaks in a Swedish accent while Tony and Jake slip through an open window. Sting’s manager is impressed with their moxie and he says he’ll give them an audition. The only catch is that it has to be at 3:00 pm and the Dreams cannot be a minute late.
Unfortunately, Ms. McBride, the insane home economics teacher, has been promoted to vice principal and she’s an insane disciplinarian. She’s a former Marine who will not tolerate laughter or a messy locker. Tiffani and Jake end up in detention! Can they break out of detention and make the audition? Will Sly be able to trick to the manager into coming down to the the high school so the band can perform in the gym? And will the show end with the manager praising the band but saying that Elton John has already agreed to be Sting’s opening act?
Yes, yes, and yes.
This was a dumb episode that basically recycled an old Saved By The Bell plot but, at the same time, it’s also a good example of why California Dreams is so well-remembered after all these years. Yes, it’s dumb but the cast really gives it their all and they’ve got enough chemistry that they can get a chuckle from even the lamest of jokes. Ms. McBride is a cartoonish villain but then again, that’s the way most teenagers view their vice principals. Finally, the song that the Dreams perform at the audition is actually pretty good. For once, their music has a bit of an edge to it. The Dreams are rocking instead of just popping! (Don’t ask me what that means, it just came to me and I liked the sound of it.) Add in an enjoyably weird subplot about clog dancing and you’ve got an pretty entertaining episode of California Dreams!
Episode 2.14 “Save The Shark”
(Dir by Don Barnhart, Originally aired on December 4th, 1993)
Sharky’s, the band’s favorite hangout, has been sold! Tony is the new manager! The Dreams are playing every night! Matt is dating the new owner’s daughter. However, the new owner is a land developer who is planning on tearing down Sharky’s and replacing it with condos!
Whatever is the band to do? How about staging a protest? Maybe they can occupy Sharky’s! They can’t tear the place down if the Dreams are inside of it, right? Well, maybe not. Tony’s presence doesn’t seem to be stopping that wrecking ball.
Fortunately, Matt figures out that Johnny and the Himalayas, a band that he loves, got their start at Sharky’s and, as result, Sharky’s is declared a historical landmark. Take that, land developer! The land developer not only agrees to not tear down Sharky’s but he also allows his daughter to continue to date Matt. His daughter was a terrible actress so hopefully, this was the only appearance of her character.
The episode ends with the ghost of Johnny Himalaya appearing and congratulating Matt. Matt is surprised but happy. Personally, I would be worried about the fact that Sharky’s is haunted! What have you done, Matt!?
Like the episode that preceded it, Save The Shark was dumb but it was saved by the chemistry of the cast. It took them a while but, towards the end of the second season, the Dreams ensemble really stared to click.
Next week: Jake hooks up with an undercover cop!