Remember that one day when you could wake up without an alarm? When you would get your favorite bowl of cereal and sit between the hours of 8 and 12? This is a blog dedicated to the greatest time of our childhood: Saturday mornings. The television programs you watched, the memories attached to them, and maybe introducing you to something you didn't realize existed. Updated every weekend.
Some people dream about starting a band, these kids
went and did it.
Richard, Sly, Tony, Gail, Matt, Dennis, Jenny and Tiffani.
California Dreams was created
by writers Brett Dewey and Ronald B. Solomon. The sitcom
had a dual focus on the Garrison family and their children’s band, which shared
its name with the series. The Garrisons had moved from Iowa to Southern
California. Guitarist Matt Garrison (Brent Gore) had, at some point, formed the
band with the friends he made in his new home and his younger sister, Jenny
(Heidi Noelle Lenhart), who played keyboard. The other band members included
Tiffani Smith (Kelly Packard) on bass and vocals, Antoine “Tony” Wicks (William
James, who got his role by sending in an audition tape) on drums, and the
“ba-boom!”-exclaiming Sylvester “Sly” Winkle (Michael Cade, whose agents
initially passed on the series to hold out for something better), who served as
the band’s obnoxious and constantly scheming manager. Also featured were Matt
and Jenny’s parents Richard (Michael Cutt) and Melody (Gail Ramsey), and their
younger brother Dennis (Ryan O’Neill). The show would blend real-life issues
with zany adventures, juggling between the typical family situations of the
Garrisons and the Dreams’ attempts at making something of their potential
musical careers in between classes and homework.
Although the series didn’t sit well with critics, who considered it an
unoriginal blending of Saved by the Bell, The Partridge Familyand
Beverly Hills 90210, it did gain a loyal following as evidenced
by the packed houses the cast experienced when they would go on mall tours in
between filming. Despite its respectable ratings, the show had come around in a
time when NBC was shifting focus to more teen-oriented programming after the
massive success of Bell, which was in
its final season when the show debuted. As a result, NBC dumped all its
animated programming and reworked its Saturday schedule to include more teen
sitcoms similar to Bell. To that end,
NBC asked for some changes to be made to the show in order for it to be more at
home in its new Teen NBC (TNBC)
New members, same sound.
The Garrisons were phased out in order to focus solely on the band and
the antics of its members, with Richard reduced to a recurring character and
Gail only being a guest-star. Matt remained for the rest of the second season,
but Jenny was sent off to an Italian music conservatory after the third
episode. The first episode introduced the band’s second guitarist, bad boy Jake
Sommers (Jay Anthony Franke, singing voice by Barry Coffing), whose image
initially led to the band to consider him an ill fit for the group. The fourth
episode introduced Samantha Woo (Jennie Kwan, who actually auditioned for the
role of Tiffani the previous year), a foreign exchange student from Hong Kong
that stayed with the Garrisons. While staying in Jenny’s room, she eventually
took Jenny’s place as the band’s new vocalist and keyboardist.
The Dreams with Jake, Lorena, Mark and Sam.
For season 3, the last vestige of the original premise was removed
entirely when Matt was written off of the show, the in-story explanation being
that the Garrisons had moved once again. In reality, Gore had conflicting
notions about how his character should be portrayed with the producers and left
the show as a result. In his place came Mark Winkle (Aaron Jackson, singing
voice by Zachary Throne), Sly’s cousin from New York who was his complete
opposite in personality. Samantha was taken in by the Costa family, which was
headed by a wealthy land developer. Their daughter, Lorena (Diana Uribe) became
a groupie and occasional benefactor of the group when her lack of talent
prevented her from joining them outright.
The band members would undergo the standard trials and tribulations of
high school as they struggled with grades, money, getting gigs and romance
(usually between each other), in between hanging out at the beach or Sharkey’s.
After five seasons, the series ran its course. The final episode, “The Last
Gig”, was set months after the band graduated from Pacific Coast High School.
Jake wanted to keep the band going and tried to get his band mates recording
contracts, but each of them wanted to embark on a new journey: Tiffani went to
study marine biology at the University of
Hawaii; Sam went to study physics at Oxford
University; Mark returned to New York to attend Juilliard; Tony went off to study acting;
and Sly and Lorena stayed in town to study at Pacific
University. Jake takes the recording deal on his own with his friends’
blessings. Upon the conclusion of the series, the entire cast and crew received
a special 2-disc collection of all the songs from the series.
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