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!
Last week, California Dreams dealt with both racism and misogyny. It was two heavy episodes, featuring important lessons about the problems of the world. Would the trend continue? Let us find out!
Surf dudes with attitude, feeling mellow, let’s get on with it….
Episode 1.9 “Mother and Child Reunion”
(Directed by Don Barnhart, originally aired on November 7th, 1992)
It’s been over a month since the Dreams last had a gig. Maybe they should break up! Matt thinks that they just need to practice more. (Of course, being a music camp kid, he would say that, wouldn’t he?) Sly thinks that the band need to change its image and be less beach-y. Considering what was going on in music in the early to mid-90s, Sly probably has a point. Anyway, Sly goes out and buys a smoke machine so that the Dreams can use it to change their middlebrow image. Maybe they just need a new lead singer. WHERE’S JAKE!?
Now, the smoke machine and the edgy image stuff is actually kind of cute but the majority of the show revolves around Tiffani and her mom. It turns out that Tiffani’s mom essentially abandoned her when Tiffani was only six. For ten years, Tiffani’s mom worked as a dancer in New York. Now, she’s back in California. At first, everyone is shocked by the fact that Tiffani doesn’t seem to be angry at her mom but it turns out that Tiffani is angry and that anger finally comes out at Tiffani’s 16th birthday party when her mom suggests that Tiffany come live with her for a year.
By the standards of California Dreams’s first season, this wasn’t a bad episode. Kelly Packard did a good job of portraying Tiffani’s anger. Plus, this episode did have one good joke, in which Sly tried to rename the band The California Nightmares in an attempt to change their image. They should have stuck with the new name.
Episode 1.10 “Romancing The Tube”
(Directed by Don Barnhart, originally aired on November 14th, 1992)
This was a weird episode. I’ve seen plenty of episodes of California Dreams but somehow, I never knew that Sly and Tiffani were a couple for an episode. Apparently, Tiffany and Sly fell for each other while Tiffany was teaching Sly how to surf. It all led to a “Surf Soul Swapping” ceremony, which was overseen by Peter Tork of the Monkees. However, at the last minute, Tiffani realized that she was just using Sly as a rebound to help her get over her ex. And Sly never really wanted to be in a committed relationship to begin with. So, they broke up and I guess it all worked out in the end.
Meanwhile, Matt, Jenny, and Tony were supposed to paint a room in the Garrison House in return for Mrs. Garrison paying them $300 so they could get a new lighting system. But then they got bored and abandoned the job. Fortunately, the new lighting system turned out to be a bust so they tricked Mrs. Garrison into taking it off their hands. No one learned a thing, which was probably about as realistic as California Dreams ever got.