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Series: California Dreams
Top: Seasons 1 and 2 cast. Bottom: Seasons 3-5 cast

Part of NBC's TNBC programming block in the 90's, California Dreams was another Peter Engel "sitcom for teens" much like his most popular creation Saved By the Bell. Starting out as a fairly formulaic sitcom for the first season, it eventually became more like Engel's previous hit with the focus shifting to the teens and their lives. The show is notable for having an almost anviliciously multi-ethnic lead castnote  and the Aesops that each show had when it wasn't doing very special episodes as a result.

This series provide examples of:

  • Abhorrent Admirer: What Sly Winkle was to Jenny.
    • Mark picked one up in one episode in a grungy rival band manager. Of course she and Sly make a bet, but Sly weasels out of it...by promising her a date with Mark.
  • Achievements in Ignorance: In one episode, Sly and Tony get a television gig through sheer dumb luck. Their TV show, "Goo-Goo Ga-Moo Guys", which was initially nothing more than a school project for television class, actually got picked up and was aired by television executives in spite of having no coherent premise at all. But after fighting in front of the cameras, it got cancelled.
  • Adorkable: Mark
  • All-Cheering All the Time: One episode had three cheerleaders bid on a dating auction this way. As a Running Gag, they reappear a few more times in the episode; cheering whenever they speak to or interact with anybody
  • Big Eater: Jake
  • Big Brother Mentor: Matt
  • Broken Pedestal: In one episode, Jake gets a chance to meet his singing idol, whose career was in trouble. The two apparently get close and they even collaborate on a song, which ends up rejuvenating said career. How does the idol repay Jake? By claiming it as his own. Even after Jake goes to his press conference in denial that his idol would do that, he flat-out tells him that he did and there was nothing he could do. Knowning he is right and being the bigger man, Jake leaves the conference, leaving him with his reclaimed glory.
  • Catch Phrase: Sly's "Ba-boom!" is this.
    Jake: "Jake Sommers doesn't do X."
    Sly: "I'm not X, It's just that Y."
  • Compressed Vice: Tiffani's one-episode steroid addiction... Wait, does this sound familiar? If you guessed it, yep: Jessie Spano of Saved by the Bell also had a one-episode (and an infamous one, at that) drug addiction - caffeine pills, to be exact. Both characters were under so much pressure to succeed that they took quite some desperate measures; and later in the episode, they would have a major meltdown. The differences being that for the former it was sports-related, while for the latter it was academic-related... and the addiction was quite G-rated in comparison. Not to mention, Kelly Packard's (Tiffani) acting here wasn't nearly as over-the-top and hammy as Elizabeth Berkley's, ironically.
    • Mark has one too, namely in the episode, "The Graduation", which saw him driving while drunk after having a few too many drinks during a pre-graduation party at Lorena's where he tried to impress a girl named Sarah. Consequently, he gets into an accident in which Sarah gets hospitalized for. Cue in My God, What Have I Done?!
  • Defrosting Ice Queen: Lorena, who became less snooty and pretentious and more compassionate and loving especially to Sly as time went on.
  • Demoted to Extra: Before being Put on a Bus (see below) the Garrison family, except for Matt and Jenny, had this happen to them between the first and second seasons.
  • Disabled Hottie: One Girl of the Week. Very Special Episode topic was the focal character's discomfort with his date's disability, and getting over it. Saved by the Bell had a similar episode but with a different angle.
  • Drill Sergeant Nasty: A cooking class teacher acts like this. In a later episode, she becomes the vice principal.
    • Tiffani was this too in one episode where she was made student principal for a week. And how...
  • Earworm: The theme song. "Surf dudes with attitude, kinda groovy, laid-back moods..."
  • Embarrassing Middle Name: Sly's name is Sylvester Leslie Winkle.
  • Five(ish) Man Band
    • The Hero and Team Dad: Matt
    • The Lancer: Jenny and Jake
    • The Heart: Tiffani
    • The Big Guy: Tony
    • The Smart One: Sam
    • The Sixth Ranger: Mark
      • Jake and Sam do technically count as this since they were newcomers earlier in Season 2. But since Mark is a latecomer, this seems more fitting for him. Lorena, too, could count as this when she made her debut, along with Mark, at the start of season 3, but she is not a member of the band. Moreover, this has more to do with how Mark joined the gang — thus, he fits the description well if you think about it (and if you watched the first episode of season 3) because he is a Wild Card example. Or rather, a milder version of the Wild Card trope, to say the least. Specifically, he did start of as a bit of a loner who was very shy; and at first, he was very reluctant to join the band because their longtime manager was Sly, whom he had not forgiven (at least not until the end of the episode) for ruining his piano recital when they were small kids.
    • The Team Benefactor: Sly and Lorena. They provide resources for the band, and Sly is their manager.
  • Follow the Leader: A pretty clear case, with this one coming directly on the heels of Engel's Saved by the Bell.
    • Albeit with a band who are, you know, actually decent and who consistently band.
  • Fun with Acronyms: Sly and Lorena ended up going to Pacific University, or P.U.
  • Fun with Subtitles: On the episode "Dancing Isn't Everything," Maria tells Sly, "Ah, yo no te besaria ni con los labios de mi perro.", with subtitles reading "I wouldn't kiss you with my dog's lips," although she tells him it means, "We'll kiss after we win. It'll be sweeter in victory." Later on the episode, Sly asks her about the sentence, with the subtitles coming up again, and she says, "I meant every word of it," and points to the subtitles, with Sly reading them and saying, "'I wouldn't kiss you with my...' Oh man."
  • Gasshole: Tiffani is seen belching loudly on several occasions.
  • Good Angel, Bad Angel: In the episode, "Diss-Honoured", Tony struggles with his conscience because he cheated on a trigonometry test just so he can join Sam in the Honour Society since he was afraid of losing her after she was made the president of the club; he becomes even more paranoid of losing her when an extremely jealous member of the club, who covets Sam's presidential role, threatens to expose him in an effort to oust Sam. His shoulder angel, as it appeared in his own mind, was Tiffani. His shoulder devil (again from his personal POV), and get this, was none other than Slyyeeaahh, because NO ONE totally saw THAT one coming...
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: Sly and Tony.
  • High School Dance: The Junior Prom episode as the season 2 finale, and the Senior Prom episode close to the end of season 5.
  • Hollywood Tone-Deaf: Lorena. The ep where she attempts to join the band (and only kept on thanks to Jake) is called "Yoko Oh No!"
  • Homage: Jake's daydream has him playing a bongo drum to Lorena, while Tony and Sam (as his married landlords) listen at a close distance, and the sequence is called "I Love Lorena". Now why does this seem familiar?
  • Large Ham: Sly, of course. Tony also has his moments.
  • Limited Social Circle
  • Lovable Rogue: That would have to be Sly. Most of the time, he's known for being slimey, obnoxious, and money-hungry; but, he has his moments where we can actually sympathize with him and where he has shown that he actually does care about his friends more than he lets on. Also, when he begins a relationship with Lorena, he actually becomes less obnoxious and, surprisingly, a little more charming than before.
  • Motor Mouth: Sam starts out as this to combat her own insecurity toward life in a foreign land. She drops it eventually.
  • Mr. Fanservice: Every guy on California Dreams counted as this, but Sly was the arguable strongest example (especially whenever he was shirtless.)
  • Official Couple: Jake and Tiffani (being the most popular pairing in the show), Sam and Tony, and Sly and Lorena.
    • The first 2 pairs listed are examples of inter-band dating.
    • And just before getting back together and giving their relationship a second go, Jake and Tiffani were exes working together for a while.
  • Parental Neglect: Sly virtually has no relationship with his father, who spends much more time in the office than he does with his son. Not only that, but his father literally ignores him and makes no effort. But then... we see the episode, "Father Knows Bets".
  • Put on a Bus: The entire Garrison family, though not all at the same time.
  • Recap Episode: Two, actually.
    • Season 4 episode 9, "Defending Sly's Life". A dream-sequence (or was it?) episode where the gang puts Sly on trial for being the most selfish and greedy person in the world. Tony was his defense lawyer, Tiffani was the prosecutor, Jake was the judge, Sam was the court-recording monitor, and Mark and Lorena were the bailiffs; and the gang were also the witnesses. The episode uses a series of flashbacks of previous episodes and seasons (including the ones with the Garrisons).
    • And in season 5 episode 8, we had "Letters from Woo" which had the gang talking in front of the camera about their memories together as friends so that Sam can send a video to her uncle in China.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Tiffani and Jenny, respectively.
  • Revolving Door Band: The only original members left in the California Dreams, until the end, were Tiffani Smith and Tony Wicks as the band saw a gradual change throughout 5 seasons. Sly does not count because he is the band manager — even though, yes, the character did remain on the show for all seasons since the beginning.
    • It started with Jake Sommers joining the band in Season 2 episode 1. Then, in the 3rd episode of Season 2, Jenny would leave for Italy and gets replaced by Sam Woo in the next episode. And by the time the 3rd Season began, Matt had left and he gets replaced by Mark Winkle (Sly's cousin). So, in other words, this is the ever-evolving lineup of the show's band:
      • Original lineup: Matt (guitar/keyboards), Jenny (keyboards), Tiffani (bass), Tony (drums/percussion)
      • Second lineup: Matt, Jenny, Tiffani, Tony, Jake (guitar)
      • Third lineup: Matt, Tiffani, Tony, Jake, Sam (keyboards)
      • Fourth and final lineup: Tiffani, Tony, Jake, Sam, Mark (keyboards/piano/guitar)
    • And though he was not the only one singing in the band, Matt was the Face of the Band for a while. That gradually changed starting Season 2.
    • Of course, the revolving door of band members came as a result of a Revolving Door Casting which, again, was gradual and not drastic.
  • Right Behind Me: Tiffany once talks loudly of Matt's most recent break-up to Jenny, unaware of Matt being right behind her and Jenny's more subtle hints until Jenny makes a more obvious one. Jenny isn't happy about Tiffany's obliviousness: "What did you think I was doing — scratch my neck?"
  • Romantic False Lead: Namely the pairing of Jake and Jenny, Jake and Lorena, and the pairing of Sly and Allison (who is blind).
  • Sensitive Guy and Jerkass: Cousins Mark and Sly, respectively. It was even lampshaded by their principal in the episode, "Principal Tiffani", when he referred to them as "Winkle-Good and Winkle-Bad" on the PA system, while calling them and some of the gang down to the office. And episodes before that, the gang was actually quite surprised to see the differences between the two cousins when they first met Mark because earlier, before meeting him, they had hilariously nightmarish images running through their heads of who he might be since Sly recommended him as a replacement for Matt AND mentioned that he was his cousin.
  • Sibling Team: Before being put on a bus, Matt and Jenny Garrison were this in the band.
  • Spoiled Sweet: Lorena.
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute: Mark (Aaron Jackson) is this to Matt (Brent Gore) after the latter left the show.
  • Take a Third Option: A guy Jenny and Tiffany both fall for simultaneously has two concert tickets and offers one of the girls to go with him, causing the jealousy-driven tension between the two girls to intensify. In the end, a decision is made: The girls take the tickets and go with each other instead, leaving the guy wondering what just happened.
  • The Patient Has Left the Building: Tony in Operation Tony. After injuring his shoulder at Sharkey's, Tony faced surgery to repair it and fear got the better of him, causing him to split. After being found hiding out at Lorena's place, he is ultimately convinced to go back by Sly (who accidentally caused his injury):
    Sly: "Tony, don't be an idiot. You have to have that surgery."
    Tony: "Hey, you watch who you're calling an idiot, alright, 'cause I could sue you."
    Sly: "I know and I don't care. I'd rather be sued by you and lose all my money than have my best friend end up crippled for the rest of his life.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: The gang's relationship with Sly.
  • Vocal Tag Team
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Sly was this when he was making rather mean-spirited and unnecessary jokes about Jake's father, who had to take job as a garbage man to support his family. Also, in another episode, when Mark goes around pulling jerkassery practical jokes on everyone, including Tony, who become the butt of them. Very Out of Character moments for both cousins.
  • Wild Teen Party: Considering that the show eventually became a teen-oriented sitcom, this was bound to happen. And so it did — more than once.
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alternative title(s): California Dreams
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