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 probably second only to later offering One World, which gave us a multiethnic adopted family and the Aesops that each show had when it wasn't doing very special episodes as a result.
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.
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
Broken Pedestal: In one episode, Jake gets a chance to meet and write for his singing idol, who was making a comeback. How does he repay Jake? By stealing his song and claiming it as his own. Even after Jake goes to his press conference to confront him, he still denies everything and being the bigger man, Jake walks away, leaving him with his reclaimed glory.
Sly: "I'm not ___________, It's just that __________"
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?!
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.
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.
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 was Tiffani. His shoulder devil, and get this, was none other than Sly — yeeaahh, because NO ONEtotally saw THAT one coming...
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?
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.
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.
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).
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?"
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 hilariouslynightmarish 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.
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."
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.