Retro Television Reviews: California Dreams 3.14 “Boyz R Us” and 3.15 “Junior Achievement”

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!

Let’s see what was happening in California back in 1994.

Episode 3.14 “Boyz R Us”

(Dir by Patrick Maloney, originally aired on December 17th, 1994)

When Tony’s old friend Darren comes to visit, it’s revealed that Tony and his family are apparently form South Central.  Over the course of nearly three seasons, this has never once been mentioned by Tony or anyone else on the show but, in this episode, everyone acts as if they’ve always known that Tony comes from the hood and that his family moved away to keep Tony from falling in with the wrong crowd.  In fact, it’s treated as being such common knowledge that it actually seems a little bit offensive, as if everyone just assumed that Tony grew up in a crime-ridden neighborhood because of the color of his skin.

Darren comes bearing grim news.  Their friend, JR, has fallen in with the gangs.  When JR is ordered to rob a liquor store, he refuses to do it.  The gang retaliates by beating him up and leaving JR with permanent brain damage.  (We don’t actually see JR.  Instead, Tony just spends the episode answering questions about how JR is doing.)  Tony thinks that he and Darren should go to the police.  Darren thinks a better solution would be to kill the guys who beat up JR.  Tony returns to South Central and literally stands in front of two gang members to keep Darren from shooting them.  The gang members say that they’re going to repay the favor by killing Tony and Darren.  But then a bunch of older people show up in the alley and announced that they’re taking their neighborhood back.  The gang members run off and apparently, that’s all it takes to deal with the gang problem.

I have no doubt that this episode was written, directed, and acted with the best of intentions but Peter Engel-produced sitcoms were always at their worst whenever they tried to deal with the issue of race.  The need to neatly wrap everything up in 22 minutes did not exactly lend itself to examining serious issues.  The whole episode felt a bit heavy-handed and I didn’t buy the episode’s conclusion for a second.  The episode suggested that the best way to deal with gangs was to just stand up to them as you would to any other group of bullies.  It worked in this episode but that’s because there was only two gang members and neither one of them was armed when they were confronted.

In the B-plot, the Dreams were broke so they got jobs delivering singing telegrams.  Lorena got a job as well because, even though she was rich, she wanted to see what it was like to be poor.  Lorena was so cool.

Episode 3.15 “Junior Achievement”

(Dir by Patrick Maloney, originally aired on December 24th, 1994)

For their Business class, the Dreams set up a corporation and attempt to make a profit.  Jake and Mark try to succeed by giving music lessons.  The rest of the group decides to exploit Sam’s cold remedy, which has apparently been in her family for centuries.  At first, Sam is reluctant to sell out her heritage but then she’s told that she could become a millionaire so….

If this sounds familiar, that’s because this is the same basic plot as the Saved By The Bell episode where Zack and the gang try to sell Screech’s Spaghetti Sauce.  For that matter, it also has a lot in common with the infamous “buddy band” episode.  Just as Zack did for the spaghetti sauce, The Dreams even air a commercial for the cold remedy on public access TV.  Tony directs the commercial.  Sly plays a cold germ.  Sam plays her grandmother.  The commercial seems like it runs way too long but whatever.  Jake and Mark make no money teaching music while the other Dreams initially make a fortune.  But then, in order to save on production costs, Sam cuts a few corners and the medicine goes from curing colds to causing hiccups.  Sam tells the teacher the truth about what happened and is praised for being ethical.

So, in other words, there’s no actual consequences for anything that Sam may have done wrong.  That’s the advantage of being one of the main characters, I suppose.

This wasn’t a bad episode as much as it was just a totally silly one.  The storyline was predictable but the cast certainly seemed to be having fun.  This is one of those episodes that worked almost entirely due to chemistry between the actors.  Though the episode focuses on Jennie Kwan, Michael Cade also gets his share of good lines.  Any episode that features Sly being totally immoral and greedy is usually a good one.

Next week, Tiffani gets hooked on steroids!

Retro Television Reviews: Hang Time 3.15 “Teen Mom” and 3.16 “Midnight Basketball”

Welcome to Retro Television Reviews, a feature where we review some of our favorite and least favorite shows of the past!  On Mondays, I will be reviewing Hang Time, which ran on NBC from 1995 to 2000.  The entire show is currently streaming on YouTube!

The saga of Indiana’s greatest basketball team continues.  I’ll always remember me and my friends at Hang Time….

Episode 3.15 “Teen Mom”

(Directed by Patrick Maloney, originally aired on November 1st, 1997)

Danny’s latest girlfriend, Sarah, is a teen mom!  Danny decides that, since he loves Sarah and he loves her son Max, he wants to marry her.  Sarah turns him down and Danny says that if she ever needs a babysitter, she knows who to call.  Then he leaves her house, alone.

Wow, what a depressing episode!  Give some credit to Chad Gabriel, who gives a good performance and who proves that he deserved to headline more episodes of this series than he did but still, this was definitely not a cheery episode.

Fortunately, there is a comedic B-plot, in which Kristy gets addicted to playing a video game called Killer Klown.  It  causes her to miss a photo shoot but … oh well!  KILLER KLOWN!

Episode 3.16 “Midnight Basketball”

(Directed by Patrick Maloney, originally aired on November 1st, 1997)

In a storyline that was used in not just one but three different episodes of Saved By The Bell, the school starts a teen line!

Coach Fuller takes charge of the teen line and, of course, the operators are the members of the basketball team.  Despite the fact that they went out on a date just two episodes ago, Michael is not sure that Julie likes him and Julie isn’t sure that Michael likes her.  They each call the teen line for advice.  Mary Beth tells Julie to throw herself at Michael.  Danny tells Michael to ignore Julie and “play hard to get.”  It’s terrible advice and it leads to a lot of confusion.  Eventually, Julie figures out why Michael has been ignoring her and they end up kissing while the audience goes wild.  Doesn’t anyone remember how badly all of Julie’s relationships tend to end?

Meanwhile, Teddy befriends a caller named Eric.  Eric keeps getting into fights because there’s nothing for him and his friends to do at night.  Breaking the rules of Teen Line (much as Zach Morris once did), Teddy meets with Eric.  Taking sympathy on Eric, Teddy arranges for a midnight basketball game at Deering High.  Eric and his friends are defeated and thoroughly humiliated by the Tornadoes.  Needless to say, Eric is not happy about that and he trashes the team’s locker room.  To be honest, I don’t blame Eric.  How are you going to invite people to your gym and then humiliate them in the middle of the night?

That said, after a heart-to-heart with Teddy, Eric returns to Deering to help clean up the locker room.  Teddy promises to mentor Eric.  We will probably never see Eric again.

I have to say that, even on a show like Hang Time, Anthony Anderson was already a good actor.  There’s a lot of heart and sincerity in his performance here and it makes the episode work even when it shouldn’t.

Retro Television Reviews: California Dreams 3.12 “Harley and the Marlboro Man” and 3.13 “Rebel Without A Nerve”

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, it’s all about Jake trying to retain his cool.

Episode 3.12 “Harley and the Marlboro Man”

(Dir by Patrick Maloney, originally aired on December 3rd, 1994)

“You can’t hide your smoking behind tic tacs and old spice!”

Yes, it’s time for another TNBC anti-smoking episode.  In California Dreams, Jake Summers starts to smoke after he see his super cool Uncle Frank lighting a cigarette.  Soon, Jake is totally addicted.  He can’t stop!  It doesn’t matter how many times the members of the band make him look at a picture of a cancerous lung.  It doesn’t matter that Lorena won’t kiss him.  It doesn’t matter that no one wants to be a friend with a smoker.  After smoking for one week, Jake Summers is hopelessly addicted.  He’s got the nicotine monkey on his back!  But then Frank shows up and says, “I’m dying Jake.”

Good Lord, this was heavy-handed.  This is actually the second time that I’ve watched and written about this episode and my reaction to episode pretty much remains the same.  I simply cannot believe that Jake Summers, an aspiring rocker who has spent his entire life hanging out with motorcyclists, never smoked a cigarette until he saw his Uncle Frank light up.  The Dreams themselves acted as if smoking a cigarette was the most scandalous thing in the world.  So, I guess no one smoked weed in 1990s California?  No one did cocaine in 1990s California?  None of the other bands at the Battle of the Bands ducked behind Sharkey’s to have a cigarette?  Seriously, there’s a difference between not liking cigarettes and being unbelievably naïve.  At one point, Tiffani says that nicotine is more addictive than crack cocaine.  I’ve seen several David Simon-produced shows and I just don’t believe that.

Anyway, the Dreams deal with this problem in the same way that they deal with everything.  They throw a benefit concert at Sharkey’s.

Episode 3.13 “Rebel Without A Nerve”

(Dir by Patrick Maloney, originally aired on December 10th, 1994)

Jake Summers is afraid he’s losing his cool!

Not only is there a new kid at school who is talking about Jake behind his back but Jake has twice crashed his motorcycle!  With his confidence shaken, Jake decides that it would be safer to accept Principal Blumford’s offer to join the school safety patrol!  Just as he was in Budget Cuts, Blumford is played Earl Boen.  In this episode, there’s yet another shoutout to Boen’s role in the Terminator films when Boen tells a photographer that some people have mistaken him for Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Anyway, Jake eventually realizes how dorky he looks wearing the safety monitor sash so he decides to challenge the new kid to racing the infamous “Coolman’s Curve,” which is apparently the most dangerous road in California.  The new kid backs down and Jake is once again proclaimed the coolest student at Pacific Coast High.  Yay!

This episode was incredibly silly but, in its way, it worked.  Jake continually crashing his bike made me laugh a little more than it should have.  What made the joke work was that all of the accidents were due to an inconvenient speed dump that had been put in the parking lot by the safety patrol.  Safety Week turned out to be the most dangerous week in California.

The important thing is that Jake did not lose his cool and, as a result, was allowed to continue living his California dream.

Retro Television Reviews: Hang Time 3.13 “The Perfect Game” and 3.14 “Blood Drive”

Welcome to Retro Television Reviews, a feature where we review some of our favorite and least favorite shows of the past!  On Mondays, I will be reviewing Hang Time, which ran on NBC from 1995 to 2000.  The entire show is currently streaming on YouTube!

Having lost the tournament in California, the Tornadoes are back in Indiana!

Episode 3.13 “The Perfect Girl”

(Directed by Patrick Maloney, originally aired on October 25th, 1997)

Coach Fuller finds himself subbing as the teacher of the school’s cooking class.  Thinking that the class will be an easy A, Michael, Teddy, Danny, and Julie all enroll in the class …. which, doesn’t really make any sense as they’re high school students and there are few high schools that will let you randomly enroll in a class halfway through a semester.  Add to that, they’re specifically enrolling in the class because Fuller is teaching it but what are they going to do when the regular teacher comes back?

It turns out that Fuller expects them to take his cooking class seriously and, when they screw around and even try to pass off a Stadium-bought pie as their own work, Fuller threatens to give them all Fs.  Seeing as how they randomly entered the class, couldn’t they just as randomly drop out before getting their final grade?  I’m really not sure how this high school works.  Eventually, the four of them get serious and make a real pie.  Of course, Teddy trips and accidentally smashes it into Fuller’s face.  Strangely enough, Danny did the exact same thing to a rival coach in the previous episode.

Meanwhile, Mary Beth enters a modeling contest and makes it to the finals.  When she doesn’t win, she considers getting plastic surgery.  As someone who was once told that the only thing keeping me from potentially becoming a star was a nose job, I could relate.  And, much like Mary Beth, I did consider getting that nose job.  Ultimately, I didn’t because I actually like my imperfect nose.  It’s a physical feature that I shared with my mom and just about everyone else in my family.  Mary Beth, thankfully, also declines to get plastic surgery, largely due to overhearing Vince talking about how beautiful she is.  Awwwwww!

Episode 3.14 “Blood Drive”

(Directed by Patrick Maloney, originally aired on October 25th, 1997)

Kristy is tying to organize the school blood drive.

Mary Beth is trying to organize the school dance.

Danny helps Kristy because he likes her.  That’s not a surprise since Kristy bears a strong resemblance to Sam, the former team manager who broke Danny’s heart at the start of the second season.  Unfortunately, Danny gets jealous when he meets the handsome doctor who will be helping to draw the blood.  Danny almost ruins everything with his jealousy but then, he somehow convinces an actual NBA star to show up and give some blood.  The audience goes crazy.  Kristy, however, informs Danny that she’s not ready to date anyone.  (Seriously, Kristy, you’re only in high school for a limited amount of time.  You might as well try to have some fun.)

Meanwhile, Vince nearly ruins Mary Beth’s dance because of his inability to find a good band.  Finally, he finds a really cool old guy who plays an accordion.  Woo hoo!  The dance is saved.

Finally, I guess Julie broke up with that Jason guy because now she wants Michael to ask her to the dance.  However, Michael is insecure because he can’t dance.  Teddy tries to teach Michael how to dance and, even though it’s a really silly scene, Anthony Anderson gets so much into it that you can’t help but be charmed.  Anyway. Julie fakes an ankle sprain so that Michael, seeing that she won’t be able to dance, will ask her to be his date and it works.  Yay!  I just hope this relationship works out better than every other relationship Julie has had.  Chris cheated on her.  Josh and Jason both mysteriously vanished.  Michael seems to be a good guy, though.

This was a sweet episode.  Hang Time was at its best when it just let the teens be teens.

Retro Television Reviews: Hang Time 3.11 “The Hustlers” and 3.12 “Fuller’s Rival”

Welcome to Retro Television Reviews, a feature where we review some of our favorite and least favorite shows of the past!  On Mondays, I will be reviewing Hang Time, which ran on NBC from 1995 to 2000.  The entire show is currently streaming on YouTube!

The trip to California continues!

Episode 3.11 “The Hustlers”

(Directed by Patrick Maloney, originally aired on October 18th, 1997)

This episode reminds us that it originally aired in 1997 by featuring an entire subplot that revolves around how much the members of the Tornadoes love Mel Gibson.

The Tornadoes are still in California, preparing for their big tournament.  (Coach Fuller mentions that they’ve been at the hotel for a week, which sounds like a really long time to be out of school but whatever.  Maybe they’re on Spring Break.)  When Vince comes across a wallet in the hotel lobby, everyone is excited to discover that it belongs to Mel Gibson.  They’re so excited that they don’t even notice Dustin Diamond standing behind them, providing a painfully unfunny cameo as Saved By The Bell‘s Screech Powers.

(Speaking of Saved By The Bell, remember when Mary Beth made out with a character from that show over the summer, while they were both at Space Camp?  It’s odd that no one brings Ryan up while they’re all in California and apparently close to Bayside High.  It’s almost as if the show’s writers didn’t really pay much attention to what they were writing.)

Danny, Michael, Mary Beth, and Kristy pretend to be members of the cleaning staff and they break into Mel Gibson’s room.  When they step into the room, Mary Beth calls out in an exaggerated Spanish accent to see if Mel’s around because she’s pretending to be a maid.  Those who have been reading my reviews for a while know that I rarely get offended but I have to say that, speaking as both someone who is a fourth Spanish and whose mother took the occasional cleaning job in order to provide a good life for her four daughters, that actually did offend me a little.

Anyway, the group never does find Mel, though they do crash an exclusive Hollywood party that just happens to be taking place at the exact same hotel where they’re staying.  Hopefully, someone did eventually get Mel’s wallet back to him.

The majority of show dealt with Teddy and Julie getting conned by some basketball hustlers.  I didn’t even know that basketball hustlers were a thing but apparently, they were a huge problem in 1997.  After Teddy and Julie get conned out of a hundred dollars, Michael plays with Teddy and Julie to help them win back their money.  Unfortunately, Michael sprains his wrist (what is the deal with Michael constantly spraining stuff?) so Coach Fuller offers to play in Michael’s place.  When the hustlers say that they’ll only play against teenagers, Kobe Bryant suddenly enters the gym.  (According to Wikipedia, Kobe was 19 when he appeared in this episode.)  Being a teenager (assuming that you accept 19 as being a teen as opposed to a young adult), Kobe helps Julie and Teddy defeat the hustlers.  Julie and Teddy get their money back.  But, to be honest, if they really needed money, they could have just borrowed some from Mel Gibson’s wallet and saved everyone a lot of trouble.

Eh.  Between the racist humor and the Screech cameo, I don’t want to talk about this episode anymore.  Let’s move on.

Episode 3.12 “Fuller’s Rival”

(Directed by Patrick Maloney, originally aired on October 18th, 1997)

Finally, it’s time for the tournament!  Deering makes it to the final game against New York.  (New York High School?  I’m not sure how these tournaments work.  Are they representing a state or a school?)  New York is coached by Fuller’s former rival, B.B. Byrnes (Barry Wiggins).  B.B. taunts Fuller to such an extent that Fuller loses his cool and gets kicked out of the game.  Then Michael gets upset and also gets kicked out of the game.  And then the Tornadoes lose!

Fuller apologizes to the team and tells them that good sportsmanship is important.  Then, at the award banquet, Danny smashes a cake in B.B.’s face so I guess the lesson wasn’t learned.  Oh well.

This episode, especially compared to the previous one, was actually pretty good.  Reggie Theus, who could be a bit of a stiff actor, really gets into tearing up the gym when he loses his temper and, for that matter, Adam Frost (who played Michael) finally gets to show a little emotion as well.  Plus, this show often tended to portray the Tornadoes as being unstoppable.  I always appreciate the episodes where they learn a lesson from losing a game as opposed to the ones where they magically pulling off a last-minute victory.

The California story arc may have been uneven but it ended on a good note.  Next week, I assume we’ll be back in Indiana.

Retro Television Reviews: California Dreams 3.8 “The Princess and the Yeti” and 3.9 “Winkle/Wicks World”

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 the Dreams go to Colorado and Public Access Television.  To quote Matt Garrison, “Let’s do it!”

Episode 3.8 “The Princess and the Yeti”

(Dir by Patrick Maloney, originally aired on October 29th, 1994)

The Dreams have left California for Colorado!  It’s on temporary, however.  They’ve been hired to play at the ski resort that’s owned by Lorena’s father, Mr. Costas (Abraham Alvarez).  Lorena is looking forward to skiing and showing off her new outfit.  Her father wants her to work the front desk.  “I’m allergic to work,” Lorena says, which leads to everyone saying that Lorena is spoiled.

Which is not true at all!  Listen, Lorena is on vacation.  You don’t work when you’re on vacation.  At no point does Lorena’s father say that he’ll pay for Lorena to work the front desk.  Instead, he just says, “I need you to work the front desk tonight.”  Nah, old man.  It doesn’t work like that.  I, myself, have been called spoiled enough time to know that everyone is being way too hard on Lorena.  Lorena has every right to expect a chance to ski while on a SKI VACATION!

Anyway, Mr. Costas wants to expand his resort but there’s an old man (Sandy Ward) who lives in a cabin and he refuses to move off his property.  If the stubborn old man wasn’t bad enough, there’s also a Yeti running around the forest.  But what if that Yeti is just a man dressed in a costume?  Who would have the motive?  Mr. Costas?  No, he would be costing himself money by doing that.  How about the Old Man?  Other than the Dreams, he’s the only other person in this episode.

After Tony gets scared by the Yeti, he runs into the forest.  The rest of the Dreams follow him and come across the Old Man’s cabin and his yeti costume.  When Mr. Costas finds out, he wants to press charges but the Dreams are like, “He’s just an nice old man!”  Yeah, and you’re a bunch of high school kids from California.  Your opinion really isn’t that important.

The Dreams get mad at Lorena for not telling her father that the Old Man deserves to stay in his cabin.  (Again, I’m not sure how it’s any of their business.)  Miffed, Lorena goes skiing alone and injures her knee.  The Old Man saves her life and Lorena offers to help pay off whatever money the Old Man is costing her father by working the front desk and not taking an allowance for a year.  Mr. Costas agrees and everything works out …. except, of course, Lorena lives in California so how is she going work the front desk of a Colorado resort?

Also, I don’t care how nice the Old Man is.  He still dressed up like a Yeti and did a lot of property damage to Mr. Costas’s business.  Drag his his ass to jail!

This episode mostly serves to remind us that the California Dreams belong in California and on the beach.  It just doesn’t seem right whenever they appear in a different location.  It’s like one of those weird episodes of Saved By The Bell: The New Class where the gang all ended up working at a ranch.  As much of a misfire as this episode was, I did laugh at the scene where Jake had to wear Lorena’s pink snow jacket while searching for Tony.  A few years ago, in the middle of a torrential rain storm, Jeff informed me that he would rather get soaked and risk pneumonia than borrow my hot pink umbrella.  What do men have against the color pink?

Anyway, let’s move on!

Episode 3.9 “Winkle/Wicks World”

(Dir by Patrick Maloney, originally aired on November 12th, 1994)

Tony and Sly get a show on public access TV!  What was the deal with people in Peter Engel-produced shows always ending up on Public Access Television?  Anyway, The Goo-Ga-Moo Guys becomes a big hit, despite being just a lame Wayne’s World rip-off.  (To the show’s credit, Jake refers to show as being a “Wayne’s World rip-off.”)  Unfortunately, this means that Tony no longer has time to play drums and Sly no longer has time to manage the band.  Lorena takes over as manager and teaches the band how to be classy so that they can play an upper class gig that is, for some reason, being held at Sharky’s.

Anyway, fame goes to Tony and Sly’s heads.  In the end, though, they decide that friendship is more important than fame.  *Yawn*  This is a plot that was used and reused by so many Peter Engel-produced shows that, at times, it seems as if the entire Englverse was an autopilot.

Hopefully, next week’s episodes will encourage us to seek good vibrations and feel mellow.

Retro Television Reviews: Hang Time 3.9 “Not a D’Amata” and 3.10 “Kristy’s Other Mother”

Welcome to Retro Television Reviews, a feature where we review some of our favorite and least favorite shows of the past!  On Mondays, I will be reviewing Hang Time, which ran on NBC from 1995 to 2000.  The entire show is currently streaming on YouTube!

The Tornadoes go to California!  But first, we have to sit through some crap about Vince and his brother….

Episode 3.9 “Not a D’Amata”

(Directed by Patrick Maloney, originally aired on October 11th, 1997)

It turns out that Vince has a bother named Nick (played by Michael Sullivan’s real-life brother, Billy).  Where has Nick been over the past season and a half?  He has been in Paris, at music school.  When he returns from France, Vince is shocked to discover that Nick has gone from being just like Vince to being someone who wears a beret, speaks fluent French, and writes poetry!  Vince is so upset that Nick has switched from being one stereotype to another, he rejects his brother.  Fortunately, Michael points out that not everyone is a three-point shooter and not everyone is a …. well, he uses a lot of basketball terms.  The important thing is that Vince accepts the new Nick.

(If this episode were made today, it would be about Nick coming out and Vince struggling to accept it.  But, since this episode is from 1997, it’s instead about Vince freaking out over Nick wearing a beret.)

While this is going on, Mary Beth and Kristy throw a fund raiser for the library.  Apparently, they’re going to raise money by having Coach Fuller throw balls through a basket.  Unfortunately, Fuller keeps missing his shots.  It looks the library is going to be closed!  Fortunately, a real basketball player named Gary Payton shows up and goads Fuller into regaining his confidence.  Not being a fan of the game, this whole storyline was weird to me.  I just know the audience went crazy whenever anyone threw a basketball.

Episode 3.10 “Kristy’s Other Mother”

(Directed by Don Barnhart, originally aired on October 11th, 1997)

This episode opens with a shot of the Beverly Hills Hotel….

Wait a minute?  Isn’t this show set in Indiana?

Well, it turns out that the Tornadoes have been invited to compete in a tournament in Los Angeles and, for some reason, they’re saying at a luxury hotel in Beverly Hills.  (Remember when Mary Beth spent a thousand dollars on sports bags and was told that she had spent all the money the team had in its annual budget?  I imagine flying to California and getting rooms for the entire team at a luxury hotel costs a bit more than a thousand dollars.)  Strangely, Kristy accompanies the team to Los Angeles but none of the other cheerleaders come with her.  If you’re already wasting all that money on a hotel in Beverly Hills, why not bring the entire school?  Seriously, if you’re going to get fired for fiscal incompetence, you might as well go all out.

(How much school are the Tornadoes skipping to go to this tournament?)

It turns out that Kristy has a reason beyond cheerleading to go to California.  She wants to meet her birth mother, who turns to be a fabulously wealthy actress who is starring in a movie with Harrison Ford.  (No, Harrison Ford does not make an appearance.)  Kristy’s mom is like, “Move to California!” but Kristy ultimately decides that she prefers Indiana.  Considering what lay head for California, Kristy made the right decision.  That said, Kristy’s decision still doesn’t make much sense.  What teenager is going to choose small town Indiana over a chance to live with a movie star in Beverly Hills?

Meanwhile, Vince, Danny, and Michael appear on a dating game show that’s being filmed at the hotel.  Vince wins a date with a girl other than Mary Beth.  Needless to say, Mary Beth is not amused.  Wisely, Vince gives her a lot of presents.

This was a pretty silly and fairly mawkish episode but at least the hotel looked nice.  This episode was directed by Don Barnhart, who directed several episodes of Saved By The Bell and California Dreams.  It also ends with the Tornadoes still in California so I’m guessing this L.A. tournament thing is going to last for a few more episodes.  We’ll find out if I’m right next week!

Retro Television Reviews: California Dreams 3.6 “The Long Goodbye” and 3.7 “Trust Me”

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!

Do surf dudes still have attitude in 2023?  I was going to suggest watching California Dreams to find out but, then again, today’s episodes are from 1994 so I guess that wouldn’t really answer the question.

Oh well, onward to the reviews….

Episode 3.6 “The Long Goodbye”

(Dir by Patirck Maloney, originally aired on October 15th, 1994)

In a rare nod to continuity, Nikki Cox returns as Sly’s blind girlfriend, Allison!

Sly is being so nice and considerate to Allison that it leads to Lorena and Sam realizing that Tony and Jake are totally inconsiderate pigs who won’t even hold open a door for them!  Instead of changing their ways, Tony and Jake demand that Sly stop being so romantic.  Sly, however, is devoted to Allison and he even joins the track team so that he can give her a letterman’s jacket and ask her to be his “exclusive” girlfriend.  Allison takes her to Sharky’s to pop the question and attempts to convince her that they’re at a romantic French restaurant by having Tony speak with a French accent.  Tony’s accent is terrible.  Allison sees right through him….

Unfortunately, Allison is moving away!  She’s been accepted at a prep school in Chicago, one that will prepare her to teach blind children.  Sly, as usual, acts like a jerk and all of the Dreams gang up on him for being distant with Allison after learning that she’s leaving but honestly, Sly’s reaction was realistic.  That doesn’t mean that Sly wasn’t wrong for 1) refusing to return Allison’s calls and 2) trying to go on a date on the same night that Allison was having her going-away party but people do stupid things when their heart is broken.  And, just like many people do in real life, Sly eventually saw the error of his ways and he had a rather sweet conversation with Allison at the party.  It’s a shame that Allison left the series as Nikki Cox and Michael Cade had a far more believable chemistry than the show’s main couples.

Speaking of which, this episode featured a rather stupid subplot in which Tony and Jake attempted to be more romantic by pretending to be the lead characters of the romance novel that Tiffany is reading.  Needless to say, this leads to Renaissance costumes and fencing.  It’s pretty dumb (though Jay Anthony Franke and Williams James Jones deserve some credit for the extent to which they threw themselves into it) but it’s also an indication of just how different season 3 of California Dreams was from season 2 of California Dreams.  

All that said, this was definitely one of the better episodes of California Dreams and, again, credit for that goes to Michael Cade and Nikki Cox and their ability to bring some much-needed reality to the show’s musical hijinks.

Episode 3.7 “Trust Me”

(Dir by Patrick Maloney, originally aired on October 22nd, 1994)

Sly has entered the Dreams into a music video contest!  The only problem is that Jake and Mark have yet to finish writing the lyrics for the Dreams’s newest song.  Maybe they should give Matt Garrison a call and ask for his advice.

Not wanting to visit his creepy uncle, Mark spends the weekend at Lorena’s loft.  He and Jake are supposed to be working on the song but Lorena would rather have fun and watch movies!  Jake accuses Lorena of being a distraction.  Jake and Lorena fight and later, after Jake has gone home for the night, Mark kisses Lorena.  Uh-oh!

Mark, it appears, misinterpreted the fight.  It turns out that Lorena and Jake fight all the time and it’s actually a huge part of what they enjoy about their relationship.  Feeling guilty, Mark writes and then sings a song about how he kissed Lorena.  Jake loses it and refuses to perform with Mark.  Fortunately, two bullies show up at Sharky’s and try to give Jake a hard time.  When Mark stands up to the bullies, it leads to a brawl and a renewed friendship.  Yay!

But did the Dreams wins the contest?  We never find out.

As for the episode itself, it provided a showcase for the two newest members of the cast and Diana Uribe and Aaron Jackson both did a really good job.  I could relate to Lorena because I’ve had the same “You’re a distraction” line tossed at me and it definitely hurts.  And Aaron Jackson totally sold the scene where he nervously sang Jake the lyrics about kissing Lorena.  All in all, this was another good episode.

Way to go, Dreams!

Retro Television Reviews: Hang Time 3.7 “Julie’s Guy” and 3.8 “Playing With Pain”

Welcome to Retro Television Reviews, a feature where we review some of our favorite and least favorite shows of the past!  On Mondays, I will be reviewing Hang Time, which ran on NBC from 1995 to 2000.  The entire show is currently streaming on YouTube!

I’ll always remember….

Episode 3.7 “Julie’s Guy”

(Directed by Patrick Maloney, originally aired on October 4th, 1997)

Because Julie is incapable of doing anything that doesn’t somehow involve basketball, she is dating yet another basketball player.  You would think that she would have learned her lesson after Chris cheated on her and then Josh mysterious disappeared after the end of Season 2.  Of course, Chris and Josh were both teammates of Julie’s.  This time, Julie is dating Jason Redman, who plays for another team!

Needless to say, the other Tornadoes are not happy about this.  They’re not sure if they can trust Julie to put aside her feelings and play as a member of the team.  This is a pretty stupid concern.  Julie has been the show’s main character for two and a half seasons and we still don’t know a thing about her beyond the fact that she plays basketball and she brags nonstop about winning.

Once again, the Tornadoes play terribly for the first half of the game.  Fortunately, Fuller takes the time to yell at them in the locker room.  Everyone realizes they can trust Julie.  The Tornadoes go on to win by one point.  For all the bragging this team does, continually winning by only one point really isn’t that impressive.  Most good teams can actually win by several points.

Anyway, this one was pretty forgettable.  I have a feeling that we’ll probably never hear another word about Julie dating Jason.

Episode 3.8 “Playing with Pain”

(Directed by Patrick Maloney, originally aired on October 4th, 1997)

Coach Fuller is gone again and Assistant Coach Keelor (Todd Fraser) is in charge of the team.  The last time that Fuller was absent from the show, during the Fighting Words episode, it was explained that it was because he had the mumps.  This time, no explanation is given for Fuller’s absence.  I’m going to guess that Fighting Words and Playing With Pain were envisioned as airing back-to-back but that NBC showed them out-of-order.  This is something that NBC frequently did with its TNBC shows and, as a result, the continuity of these shows were always out-of-whack.  Its almost as if NBC just didn’t care.

Anyway, at the start of this episode, Keelor announces that a scout is coming from the University of Arizona to watch Michael play.  The scout turns out to be someone named David Stoudemire.  By the way the audience goes crazy whenever he shows up in a scene, I’m guessing he was a basketball player.  Like most of the real-life basketball players who showed up on Hang Time, Stoudemire was hopefully better at playing basketball than acting.

Anyway, Michael really wants to impress the scout but, while practicing with Julie, he seriously sprains his ankle.  (Even though it looks like it was Michael’s fault because of the way he landed, I’m still going to blame Julie.  Julie was so upset over not being the center of attention that she goaded Michael into practicing too hard, knowing that he would end up spraining his ankle.)  Worried that he’ll be benched if he tells anyone that he’s injured, Michael tries to play through the pain.  This is something many pro athletes have done.  From personal experience, I can tell you that this is also something that many dancers have done.  I hurt my ankle so many times when I was younger that it was probably more of a surprise when I didn’t injure it than when I did.  You take a bunch of pain killers and then you do the best you can before passing out in the dressing room afterwards.  However, since this is a TNBC show, Michael dramatically reinjures himself while playing basketball and ends up screaming in pain while everyone watches.  In the locker room, both Assistant Coach Keelor and David Stoudemire tell him that he’s a dumbass.

Bye bye, Arizona!

Retro Television Reviews: California Dreams 3.4 “Blind Dates” and 3.5 “Yoko, Oh No!”

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 is all about romance and total defiance!

Episode 3.4 “Blind Dates”

(Dir by Patrick Maloney, originally aired on October 1st, 1994)

Oh my God, Sly has been talking to a girl on a brand new thing called the Internet!  When he meets Allison (played, quite well, by Nikki Cox), he is shocked to discover that she’s blind.  Allison brings out Sly’s rarely seen good side and Allison appreciates that Sly is too much of a jackass to treat her differently just because she’s blind.  At first, Sly is worried about taking her to the school dance but then he takes her anyway.  Yay!

Meanwhile, Tony and Sam also get on the internet and both of them think that they’ve found their soul mate.  But it turns out that they’ve just been talking to each other.  By the end of this episode, Tony and Sam have begun their relationship.  This is a huge moment in the history of California Dreams because, in the end, Tony and Sam had most (and maybe the only) stable relationship on the show.

Unfortuntely, as we’ll see next week, things wouldn’t last as long for Sly and Allison, which is a shame because Nikki Cox and Michael Cade had tons of onscreen chemistry and they were a sweet couple.  Oh well.  Such is life.

Episode 3.5 “Yoko, oh no!”

(Dir by Patrick Maloney, originally aired on October 8th, 1994)

It’s time for another Battle of the Bands!

In this episode, we meets the Dreams’s rival band, Total Defiance.  We’re supposed to dislike Total Defiance because they’re constantly making fun of the Dreams and their manager is an obnoxious girl named Rosie who has a crush on Mark Winkle.  The thing is that Total Defiance, which appears to be a rap/heavy metal hybrid band, actually does appear to be a lot better than the Dreams.  From what little of what we’re allowed to hear from them, their sound is a bit more interesting than the California Dreams.  I mean, let’s be honest.  The California Dreams did have a few good songs but, for the most part, Rosie has a point when she says that the Dreams are a generic pop band.  Jake may wear a leather jacket and talk about being a rebel but, even after Matt Garrison leaves the band that he founded, the Dreams still specialized in coming up with mellow, feel-good tunes that really could have been sung by anyone.  Total Defiance was all about taking risks.  They were the true rebels!

They were also all about giving the Dreams a hard time.  When Rosie dismisses Lorena as just being a “groupie,” Lorena tries to prove them wrong by auditioning for the band.  The good thing is that she gets to wear a really pretty dress when she auditions.  The bad thing is that she can’t carry a tune.  (See?  There’s something else that Lorena and I have in common.)  Blinded by love, Jake insists that Lorena be allowed to sing with the band.  However, when Lorena hears the rest of the band talking about how bad her voice is, she fakes laryngitis so they’ll perform without her.  As a result, the Dreams not only win the Battle of the Bands but everyone also learns an important lesson about being honest.  Yay!

I liked this episode because it was a Jake and Lorena episode and those are always my favorites.  They were a cute couple.  That said, Total Defiance should have won the Battle of the Bands and if Tony Manero had been there, he would have handed the trophy to them at the end of the contest.