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: California Dreams 3.10 “Daddy’s Girl” and 3.11 “Family Tree”

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 all about family.

Episode 3.10 “Daddy’s Girl”

(Dir by Patrick Maloney, originally aired on November 19th, 1994)

Tiffani is worried that her father (Rod Arrantis) is lonely being a single man who spends all of his time studying humpback whales.  So, she decides to set him up with Ariel (Kristine Sutherland), who is also a humpback enthusiast.  (Wait, that sounds weird….)  Somewhat distractingly, Ariel is played by the same actress who played Zack Morris’s mother on Saved By The Bell so it’s easy to spend this entire episode wondering if maybe she divorced Derek Morris after Zack graduated from high school and Tiffani and Zack are about to become stepsiblings.

Anyway, things are great at first but then Tiffani gets jealous and tries to break up her father’s relationship by revealing the Ariel has a police record.  Unfortunately, Tiffani doesn’t actually bother to take a look at the record before barging in on her father’s date and it turns out that Ariel only has two unpaid parking tickets.  Today, of course, Ariel would be thrown in prison for the tickets and locked up while the FBI, CIA, and NSA searched her twitter account for any negative remarks about the government’s COVID policies.  However, 1994 was a more libertarian time and everyone on the show understood that parking tickets were no big deal.

After her father ends his relationship to keep Tiffani happy, Tiffani realizes that she was in the wrong.  That means that it’s time to save the relationship by singing a song!

The thing that bothers me about this episode is that Tiffani is a hundred times brattier than Lorena was when they all visited Lorena’s father’s ski resort and yet nobody accuses Tiffani of being spoiled.  That’s a bit of double standard.  That said, there was one funny scene in which a horrified Tony realized that there was nothing that Mr. Smith enjoyed talking about more than humpback whales.  “I’ve got to get back to work,” Tony said.  “I’ll just tell you about them while you work,” Mr. Smith replies (or words to that effect).  It made me laugh.

Episode 3.11 “Family Tree”

(Dir by Patrick Maloney, originally aired on November 26th, 1994)

For history class, the Dreams are investigating their family trees.  Jake reveals that his grandparents were refugees from Eastern Europe.  Sam reveals that her ancestors built the Great Wall of China.  Lorena turns out to be related to both Benito Juarez and Mario Lopez.  Tiffani is forced to research both the Smiths and the Joneses.  Amazingly, it appears the genealogical research is so easy that all you have to do is check out a few books from the library.

Tony is upset to discover that his earliest known ancestor was a slave so he makes up a story about being descended from an emperor.  Everyone is really impressed.  “That’s wonderful, Tony,” the very white teacher announces, “especially since most African-American can’t find anything before the Civil War.”  She said it in such a cheerful and condescending manner that it immediately made me think of the incredibly awkward episode of The Love Boat in which Captain Stubing took it upon himself to explain black history to Isaac.

Eventually, Tony is visited by the ghost of one of his ancestors and he finally decides to be honest about his background.  This episode was well-intentioned and nowhere near as bad as the infamous Running Zack episode of Saved By The Bell.  A bit of the humor was a bit awkward.  For a show that was ground-breaking in the diversity of its cast (at least as far as TNBC shows were concerned), a lot of the humor is still based on stereotypes and the same studio audience that cheered Tony for embracing his identity also laughed whenever Lorena spoke Spanish.  For the most part, though, this episode worked and it gave William James Jones a chance to do something more than just be the goofy comedic relief.

(Incidentally, I love family tree projects.  I’m Irish on my father’s side and Italian/Spanish on my mother’s side.)

Next week, it’s a double dose of Jake as he takes up smoking and considers losing his cool!

Retro Television Reviews: Fantasy Island 2.4 “Best Seller/The Tomb”

Welcome to Retro Television Reviews, a feature where we review some of our favorite and least favorite shows of the past!  On Tuesdays, I will be reviewing the original Fantasy Island, which ran on ABC from 1977 to 1986.  The entire show is currently streaming on Tubi!

Fantasy Island has a desert?  Read on to find out more.

Episode 2.4 “Best Seller/The Tomb”

(Dir by George McCowan, originally aired on October 14th, 1978)

Fantasy Island can be a strange place.

Just consider the fantasy of Neville Marlowe (Barry Sullivan).  Marlowe is an archeologist who has devoted his life to seeking the tomb of a lost Egyptian pharaoh who is believed to have been King Tut’s twin brother.  His fantasy is to finally find the tomb and to explore it with his wife (Shelley Fabares) and his associate (David Opatoshu).  He wants to do this even though the tomb, if it does exist, is said to be cursed.

Mr. Roarke informs Marlowe that he’s in luck.  There’s an archeological dig currently taking place on the island and there’s a good chance that it might finally lead to the discovery of the tomb….

Now, this brings up some interesting issues.  First off, the dig is taking place in the desert.  Since when has Fantasy Island, a tropical paradise, had a desert?  Secondly, even if you accept that idea that Fantasy Island is home to a large desert, why exactly would it also be home to the tomb of an Egyptian pharaoh?  Though the show always kept it a bit vague as to just where exactly the island was located, it’s always been suggested that it’s near Hawaii.  The actual natives of the island (as opposed to Mr. Roarke and Tattoo) all appear to be Polynesian.  When the guests get off the plane at the start of each episode, they’re given a lei and a tropical drink.  My point is that there’s never been anything about the show that would suggest that Fantasy Island is anywhere near Egypt.  Certainly, it’s possible that an Egyptian ship may have landed at Fantasy Island at some point in the past, just as it’s possible that ancient Egyptians also landed in South America.  But still, there’s no reason why a pharaoh would be buried on Fantasy Island as opposed to along the banks of the Nile.

It makes no sense but, for whatever reason, the tomb is indeed on Fantasy Island.  Entering the tomb leads to Marlowe’s wife having several nightmares about being wrapped up like a mummy.  It’s nicely creepy but it doesn’t lead to anything.  Because Marlowe decides to send the artifacts to Egypt as opposed to sending them to a British museum. he is spared the curse.

Meanwhile, Barney Hunter (Desi Arnaz, Jr.) is a bookstore clerk who suffers from crippling shyness.  His fantasy is to be a best selling author so Mr. Roarke informs him that he is now the author of the world’s most popular book about sex and, as a result, hundreds of his fans are coming to the island to meet him.  The problem with that, of course, is that Barney is a virgin.  So, you have to wonder why Mr. Roarke would make Barney the world’s leading expert on sex when he doesn’t know anything about it.  My guess is that Mr. Roarke thought it would be funny but it’s actually kind of mean-spirited.  Anyway, Barney meets Angela (Maureen McCormick), who is also a virgin.  They fall in love but Angela’s mother (Gloria DeHaven) refuses to allow Angela to see a man who has written a “filthy book.”  Again, it’s hard not to feel that Roarke is having a little fun at Barney’s expense.  Fortunately, things work out in the end and that’s good.  Arnaz and McCormick were a cute couple.

Finally, Tattoo entered a jingle contest and won!  Unfortunately, it turned out that first prize was a trip to Fantasy Island.  Mr. Roarke had a good laugh about that one and I have to admit that I did too.  Fantasy Island just has a way of sweeping you up in all of its silliness. 

Retro Television Reviews: California Dreams 2.13 “Schoolhouse Rock” and 2.14 “Save the Shark”

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!

Retro Television Reviews: City Guys 2.9 “Big Brother” and 2.10 “Over the Speed Limit”

Welcome to Retro Television Reviews, a feature where we review some of our favorite and least favorite shows of the past!  On Thursdays, I will be reviewing City Guys, which ran on NBC from 1997 to 2001.  The entire show is currently streaming on Tubi!

Let’s return to Manny High, with the neat guys who are smart and streetwise!

Episode 2.9 “Big Brothers”

(Directed by Frank Bonner, originally aired on November 7th, 1998)

It turns out that the students at Manny High are required to take on “community service projects!”  I mean, it’s not bad enough that they already have to deal with bullies, drug dealers, and gun violence.  They also have to do give back to the community.  While Dawn signs up to spend time with a grouchy old man, Jamal and Chris are assigned to be big brothers to a 10 year-old delinquent named Ernesto.

Ernesto, incidentally, is played by Brandon Baker who would later go on to play Cray on One World.  On One World, Cray was a fairly annoying character but that had less to do with Baker’s performance and more to do with the fact that he always got the worst lines of every episode.  While the scripts for City Guys were often full of cringey dialogue, they were still marginally better than the scripts for One World and that works to Baker’s advantage.  He’s actually not bad Ernesto.

Of course, Jamal and Chris totally screw up being big brothers.  Is there nothing that those two didn’t screw up?  However, eventually, they realize that Ernesto is an aspiring artist.  Meanwhile, Dawn’s old man is former architect.  The three of them decide to have Ernesto hang out with the old man.  Problem solved!

Meanwhile, L-Train is somehow assigned to be a teacher’s assistant for Driver’s Ed.  L-Train turns out to be a harsh and demanding teacher but it turns out that it was all for the best as everyone passes, including Al and Cassidy!  Yay!  Everything works out for everyone!  That’s what happens when you roll with the city guys.  As improbable as it may be that L-Train would end up teaching a class, the episode does give Steven Daniel a chance to show once again that he probably had the best comedic timing of the entire cast.

Episode 2.10 “Over The Speed Limit”

(Directed by Frank Bonner, originally aired on November 14th, 1998)

Cassidy gets hooked on speed!  Well, it’s not really speed.  It’s diet pills that also provide a burst of energy but they also lead to Cassidy missing class and generally overacting and …. what?  Yes, you are correct.  This is indeed the same basic plot as the I’m So Excited! episode of Saved By The Bell.  Cassidy says that she needs the pills because she’s both starring in a play and going to school.  Of course, she ends up having a speed-induced meltdown during the premiere of the play.  It was, needless to say, totally unrealistic.

Meanwhile, Al and L-Train got a radio show of their own and started to become more popular than Chris and Jamal.  However, Al and L-Train’s egos got the better of them, allowing Chris and Jamal to continue to dominate the airwaves or whatever the Hell it is that they’re supposed to be doing in the school radio station.  To be honest, I’ve never quite understood how the whole radio station thing works.  I mean, are they hosting the show during class time or are they showing up at school super early in the morning so that they can entertain everyone before the bell rings?  Or are they hosting their show while everyone else is eating lunch?  Add to that, it seems like Al and L-Train had a point.  Why should Chris and Jamal be the only people hosting a radio show?

Perhaps that question will be answered next week.  Perhaps not.  We’ll see!

Horror On TV: The Real Ghostbusters 1.8 “When Halloween Was Forever”

Halloween forever?

That sounds like a great idea to me!

It also sounds like a great idea to the Spirit of Halloween.  After escaping from a prison that’s been holding it for centuries, the Spirit attempts to stop time and it’s up to the “real” Ghostbusters to stop him!

Until I started to search YouTube for Halloween specials, I had no idea that the original Ghostbusters film was also turned into a cartoon, though I guess it makes sense.  Just judging from this episode, it seems like the cartoon did a pretty good job of capturing the feel of the movie.  I’m not really sure what to make of Egon’s hair but whatever.  This is a fun little episode and I hope you all enjoy it.

Happy Halloween!

Retro Television Reviews: Hang Time 2.3 “Harvest Moon” and 2.4 “The Sure Thing”

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!

Season 2 continues with the search for victory on the court and love off of it!

Episode 2.3 “Harvest Moon”

(Directed by Patrick Maloney, originally aired on September 21st, 1996)

It’s time for the Harvest Moon dance, which I guess is an Indiana thing.  Danny is all excited because Sam is going to be coming home from college so that she can attend the dance with him.  But then Sam sends Danny a letter, telling him that she’s fallen in love with an anthropology student and that they are heading down to Mexico!  Danny gets whiny, which is kind of annoying to watch.  Honestly, why would you want to date someone in high school when you’re in college?

Anyway, Danny gets a rebound date with girl named Veronica.  Veronica has red hair, just like Sam.  Amy even mistakes Veronica for Sam, despite the fact that Amy wasn’t even on the show last season.  Everyone talks about how much Veronica looks like Sam while Veronica is standing right there.  It’s kind of rude.

Meanwhile, Teddy DJ’s the dance while Julie and Josh find excuses to abandon their dates and dance with each other.  Vince and Mary Beth also end up poking fun at each other’s dates and then they end up soulfully staring at each other when Teddy announces the last dance, which leads me to worry that Vince and Mary Beth are going to become a couple.  Don’t do it, Mary Beth!  You deserve better!

Danny steals the team bus and tries to drive it to Chicago.  For some reason, Julie and Josh go with him.  They talk him out of driving to Chicago and then they kiss while Danny drive them back to Indiana.  So, Danny is heart-broken but at least Julie and Josh are happy.

Finally, during the dance, another real-life basketball player drops by to visit with Coach Fuller.  I have no idea who the guy was but the audience went crazy as soon as he showed up.  Fuller, however, kicked him out of the gym for scuffing the floor.

Josh and Julie seems like they’ll be a cute couple and I guess I should accept that the Mary Beth/Vince thing is going to happen because opposites attract.  Danny is now single and kind of whiny so hopefully, that will only last episode or two.  As far as school dance episodes go, this one could have really used either the Zack Attack or the California Dreams.

Episode 2.4 “The Sure Thing”

(Directed by Patrick Maloney, originally aired on September 28th, 1996)

The Tornadoes have lost six straight games so Fuller demands that the members of his team carry basketballs around with them everywhere that they go.  If that doesn’t work, I guess the season’s over and Fuller’s out of a job.

Teddy is more concerned about asking out Tracy, the new cheerleader.  However, as Teddy explains to his new friends, he’s never asked a girl out before because he’s always been “the fat kid who is everybody’s friend” and you know what?  Anthony Anderson totally sells it!  “You don’t know what it’s like to ask someone out and have them laugh and then you have to laugh too!” Anderson says at one point and my heart was totally breaking for him.  Seriously, watching this episode, you fully understand why Anderson went on to have the busiest career of the many actors who appeared on this show.

Vince and Danny decide to help Teddy out by stalking Tracy and discovering everything that she’s interested so that Teddy will feel confident talking to her.  Couldn’t Teddy just mention that, as was established during the first episode of the second season, his father is an NBA superstar and probably has a lot money?  That’d be a good icebreaker.

Meanwhile, Josh and Julie are dating but Josh is tired of the cutesy way Julie talks to him.  I don’t blame him as, up until this point, there’s been absolutely nothing about Julie’s personality that suggests she would talk to her boyfriend in baby talk.  Eventually, Julie reveals that she’s only been talking that way because she thought Josh liked it and she actually hates doing it as much as Josh hates hearing it.

During this week’s game, the Tornadoes are losing but Teddy finally asks out Tracy and gets the confidence he needs to lead the team to a comeback victory.  Yay!  It was kind of sweet.

Horror On TV: The Halloween That Almost Wasn’t (dir by Bruce Bilson)

Oh no!  Halloween might be canceled because people just aren’t scared of the old monsters!  Dracula (Judd Hirsch) calls all of the classic creatures to a meeting in his castle (where they all happen to be freeloading) and give them an ultimatum.  Be more scary!  It turns out to be easier said than done.

This originally aired in 1979 but, for people of a certain age, it achieved a certain immortality thanks to regular airings on the Disney Channel.  It’s a cute show.  It might seem a little bit corny today but that’s a large part of its appeal.  It’s a reminder of a more innocent time.

Warren the Werewolf, by the way, was named after Warren “Werewolves of London” Zevon.

Horror on TV: Halloween Is Grinch Night (dir by Gerard Baldwin)

So, we all know that the Grinch once tried to steal to Christmas and then his heart grew a few sizes but did you know that apparently, the Grinch also tried to steal Halloween?

Until a few years ago, I did not.  I was going through YouTube, searching for horror films that I could share here on the Shattered Lens, and guess what I came across?

A TV special from 1977 entitled Halloween is Grinch Night!

Unlike How The Grinch Stole Christmas, Halloween is Grinch Night apparently never became a holiday classic.  Perhaps that’s because Halloween is Grinch Night is not exactly the most heart-warming of holiday specials.  Whereas How The Grinch Stole Christmas tells us about how the Grinch learned the true meaning of Christmas, Halloween is Grinch Night gives us a Grinch who has no redeeming features.  There is no hope for this Grinch.  This Grinch will steal your soul and probably drink your blood.  This Grinch is pure Grinchy evil.

This is the Grinch of our nightmares.

Check out Halloween is Grinch Night below and hope the Grinch doesn’t capture you this Halloween….

Retro Television Review: California Dreams 2.4 “Sleazy Rider” and 2.5 “The Sly Who Came To Dinner”

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!

With Jenny gone and Samantha as the band’s new lead singer, it was time to once again update the opening credits of California Dreams.  Unfortunately, I couldn’t find a separate video for just the revised season two credits.  So, imagine the video below with Jennie Kwan instead of Heidi Noelle Lenhart.

Anyway, let’s get on to the surf dude with attitude….

Episode 2.4 “Sleazy Rider”

(Directed by Don Barnhart, originally aired on October 2nd, 1993)

Jake has spent months working on his motorcycle so that he can win the big bike race.  Unfortunately, Jake has to go out of town so he leaves the bike with Matt.  Because Matt is a wimp who is unable to handle even the least bit of responsibility, he is unable to keep Sly from jumping on the bike, starting the bike, running over Tony with the bike, and then crashing the bike.

While Tony recovers in the hospital, he becomes convinced that Tiffani is falling in love with him.  Meanwhile, Sly tries to get everyone to forgive him for nearly killing Tony.  Strangely, no one gets mad at Matt despite the fact that Matt’s only job was to keep Sly from getting on the bike.

It’s a silly episode but I’ll give the show some credit for the title.  At first, I thought the title (a play on Easy Rider) was kind of a dig at Jake and I was like, “What did Jake do?”  But then I realized that Sly was meant to be the sleazy rider and it all made sense.

Episode 2.5 “The Sly Who Came To Dinner”

(Directed by Don Barnhart, originally aired on October 9th, 1993)

This episode opens with the Dreams playing at Sharkey’s and it’s our first chance to see the new line-up of Matt, Tony, Jake, Tiffany, and Sam.  For once, they actually look like a real band and it’s understandable that an audience would actually pay money to see them.  Of course, it helps that we only hear the end of that radio song from season 1 and then Sam’s “Hey Baby” song.  As Matt would put it, those were two of their better “tunes.”

The Dreams may be hot but Sly is not.  Sam says that she feels sorry for Sly as she watches him get slapped by every girl at Sharkey’s.  Matt says that he feels sorry for Sly in the same way that he feels sorry for monkeys at the zoo.  WHAT!?  Sam dedicates a song to Sly so Sly decides that Sam is in love with him.

Meanwhile, Tiffani is getting cards and flowers from a mystery fan.  Has she got a stalker!?  Who cares?  That’s just the B-plot.  In the A-plot, Sly’s family is visiting his grandmother so Sly ends up staying at the Garrison house.  Sly thinks that this will allow him to pursue Sam.  Sam, however, has a big history paper due and she’s not interested.  Sly offers to type up her paper but instead just steals a college term paper that Mr. Garrison is supposed to be grading.  Somehow, that leads to Sam getting a D-.  Apparently, the high school has very high standards when it comes to history reports.

These two episodes are mostly interesting because they’re the first ones to really take real advantage of Sly’s comedic potential and Michael Cade’s talent for physical comedy.   As I watched these two episodes, I realized that the scheme-obsessed Sly basically was Zach Morris if Zach lived in the real world.  On Saved By The Bell, Zach never had to deal with any consequences for his schemes.  On California Dreams, Sly was constantly on the verge of losing his friends and was often running for his life.  Zach ended up as governor of California.  Sly probably lost all of his money in 2008.  Poor Sly.

Will things look up for him next week?  Probably not but we’ll see.