June 25, 2016


(NBC, September 12, 1992-December 14, 1996)

Peter Engel Productions, NBC Productions (1992-96), NBC Studios (1996)

Brent Gore – Matt Garrison (season 1-2)
Heidi Noelle Lenhart – Jenny Garrison (season 1 and part of season 2)
Michael Cutt – Richard Garrison (season 1, recurring after)
Gail Ramsey – Melody Garrison (season 1, guest after)
Ryan O’Neill – Dennis Garrison (season 1)
Kelly Packard – Tiffani Ann Smith
William James Jones – Antoine Bethesda “Tony” Wicks
Michael Cade – Sylvester Leslie “Sly” Winkle
Jay Anthony Franke & Barry Coffing (singing) – Samuel “Jake” Sommers (season 2-5)
Jennie Kwan – Samantha Woo (season 2-5)
Aaron Jackson & Zachary Throne (singing) – Mark Edward Winkle (season 3-5)
Diana Uribe – Lorena Marina Costa (season 3-6)

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, and 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, keyboardist Jenny (Heidi Noelle Lenhart). 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. 


Executive produced by Peter Engel through his production company, California Dreams debuted on NBC on September 12, 1992. The series was written by Tony Soltis, Noah Taft, Paul Lander, David Garber, Lynnie Greene, Richard Levine, Robert Jayson, Dawn Urbont, Todd J. Greenwald, Robb Hammersley, Jeffery J. Sachs, Debra Fasciano, Mark C. Miller, Bonnie L. DeSouza, Keith Hossman and Renee Palyo. The opening theme was composed by Guy Moon, Steve Tyrell and Regina Crimp, with Tyrell composing the rest of the series. Each episode would feature the band playing a song somewhat tied into the overall theme of the episode. While many of their performances were on the stage at their favorite hangout, Sharkey’s, or their practice space, some were done like music videos. Although the band members sung their own vocals, they didn’t actually play the instruments even though they could. 

Breakfast at the Garrisons'.

While the series didn’t sit well with critics, who considered it an unoriginal blending of Saved by the Bell, The Partridge Family and 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 try and replicate its success. 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) programming block. 

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 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), was a fan of the band and became an occasional benefactor 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 with 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.

The 10-episode DVD.

The series was nominated for four Young Artist Awards between 1993 and 1994, as well as an NCLR Bravo Award in 1996. In 1992, MCA Records released an album collecting the songs from the first season. Between 2009-2011, Shout! Factory released the first four seasons on DVD, with 1 and 2 together in the same set. Season 3 and 4 were initially offered exclusively through Shout!’s online store. In 2011, Mill Creek Entertainment released a best-of collection, featuring 10 episodes from the first three seasons. On March 4, 2010, Jimmy Fallon hosted a reunion of the teenaged cast on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, with the exception of Aaron Jackson and Diana Uribe, and a special appearance by Bell’s Dennis Haskins (who helped Fallon eventually get a Bell reunion). Together, the cast played the show’s theme for Fallon’s audience.

Season 1:
“The First Gig” (9/12/92) – Matt and Jenny must decide between going to their first gig or going on a trip with their family.
Song: Into the Tube
“Battle of the Bands” (9/19/92) – The band convinces Matt to go out with one of the judges of the upcoming battle of the bands so she’ll vote for them, but he soon develops feelings for her.
Song: It Wasn’t For You
“Beat of His Own Dream” (9/26/92) – Tiffani gets a secret admirer while Tony quits the band to join the football team to appease his father.
Song: Rain
“Double Date” (10/3/92) – The band gets a gig the same night Tony planned to throw a luau with money he “borrowed” while watching Sharkey’s restaurant.
Song: Heart Don’t Lie
“Dream Man” (10/10/92) – Matt must figure out how to tell Tiffani he doesn’t like her new song while Sly tries to make himself to Jenny’s dream man.
“Friends First” (10/17/92) – A man comes between Jenny and Tiffani just as a big audition comes up.
Song: If You Lean on Me
“Guess Who’s Coming to Brunch” (10/24/92) – Tony falls for a girl at the country club and her father doesn’t approve.
Song: One World
“It’s a Guy Thing” (10/31/92) – Jenny and Tiffani try to teach Tony and Sly how to treat women while Melody becomes frustrated with the guys “fixing” things around her house.
Song: Into the Tube (2nd Version)
“Mother and Child Reunion” (11/7/92) – Tiffani’s mother comes back for the first time since abandoning her family.
Song: Love is Not Like This
“Romancing the Tube” (11/14/92) – Surfing lessons leads to Sly and Tiffani falling for each other, but Sly soon feels smothered by the romance.
Song: Let Me Be the One
“They Shoot Videos, Don’t They?  (11/21/92) – Sly convinces the band to shoot a music video for a contest, but having Matt kiss another girl in it causes problems with his girlfriend.
Song: Everybody Needs Someone
“This Time” (11/28/92) – Jenny gets back with her ex-boyfriend and he convinces her to skip band practice in order to be with him more.
Song: This Time
“Where’s Dennis” (12/5/92) – Dennis runs away after Matt lets Sly hold a party at the house when he’s left in charge.
Song: Castles on Quicksand
Season 2:
“Jake’s Song” (9/11/93) – Jake wants to join the band but he may not fit their image, and Tiffani becomes Tony’s boss at Sharkey’s.
Song: If Only You Knew
“Ciao, Jenny” (9/18/93) – Jake gets Sly to help him spoil Jenny’s chances at getting into a music conservatory in Rome.
Song: Must Be Love
“Wooing Woo” (9/25/93) – Matt, Tony, Sly and Jake make a bet on who can kiss the new exchange student, Samantha, first.
Song: Mamma Said
“Sleazy Rider” (10/2/93) – Jake lets Matt take care of his motorcycle when he leaves town, and Sly wrecks it on a joyride.
“The Sly Who Came to Dinner” (10/9/93) – Sly stays with the Garrisons and attempts to win over Sam, while Tony and Jake fear Tiffani’s secret admirer is a stalker.
Song: Handle it with Care
“Surfboards and Cycles” (10/16/93) – An argument about what gender-specific classes are tougher sees the boys taking home ec and Tiffani taking shop.
Song: The Way We Are
“A Question of Math” (10/23/93) – Sam tutors her classmates for the upcoming mid-terms while the stress has the band falling apart.
Song: I’m There
“High Plains Dreamer” (10/30/93) – Tony dreams about having a Wild West shootout with his date’s ex.
“Bwa Ha Ha Means I Love You” (11/6/93) – Jake takes an embarrassing job to get Tiffani a present at the same music store where Sly convinces the manager to carry their demos.
Song: Foolish
“Vote of Confidence” (11/13/93) – Jake runs for class president to impress his brother while Tiffani must date his opponent to settle a bet.
“The Year of the Woo” (11/20/93) – Sam must decide to use her money to go back to Hong Kong for Chinese New Year or to help fix the band’s van.
Song: Mamma Said (2nd Version)
“Schoolhouse Rock” (11/27/93) – Detention may keep the band from playing for Sting’s manager.
Song: Welcome to the Low Road (2nd Version)
“Save the Shark” (12/4/93) – Matt’s new love interest is the daughter of the man who plans to tear down Sharkey’s.
Song: California Dreams (2nd Version)
“21 Jake Street” (12/25/93) – The band plans to get fake IDs in order to play a 21+ club, a new girl is drawn to Jake, and Tony and Matt use Tiffani and Sam in their art projects.
Song: She’s Not You
“Can’t Buy Me Love” (1/8/94) – A student auction sees Matt becoming Tony’s boss.
“Rebel Without a Clue” (1/15/94) – Sly’s decision to take schoolwork seriously leads his teacher to believe he’s cheating.
Song: Stand Back
“Dirty Dog Days” (1/29/94) – The guys broadcast their music over an old radio as “The Dirty Dogs”, but nobody believes it’s them when the songs become a hit.
Song: Welcome to the Low Road
“Indecent Promposal” (2/5/94) – When Jake doesn’t want to go to the prom, Tiffani considers going with a friend who promises the band a summer-long gig in return.
Song: What Will I Do
Season 3:
“The Unforgiven” (9/10/94) – The band looks for a replacement for Matt, while Sam’s new roommate gets them a practice space and a gig.
Song: Take it Higher
“Follow Your Dreams” (9/17/94) – An aptitude test’s results feed Jake’s doubts while the others consider their potential futures.
Song: Whenever I Think Of You
“Budget Cuts” (9/24/94) – Sly becomes the program director for the school’s radio station, but budget cuts force him and Lorena to try and save it.
“Blind Dates” (10/1/94) – Sly’s online date turns out to be blind while Sam and Tony try out online dating as well.
Song: The Way We Are (2nd Version)
“Yoko, Oh No!” (10/8/94) – Lorena is determined to become a member of the band, but they’re afraid to tell her the truth about her skills as it might hurt future opportunities.
Song: Sometime
“The Long Goodbye” (10/15/94) – Sly deals with Allison’s leaving by ignoring her, while Lorena and Sam urge Tony and Jake to be more romantic.
“Trust Me” (10/22/94) – The band must smooth things over between Jake and Mark after Mark accidentally kisses Lorena.
Song: Stand Together
“The Princess and the Yeti” (10/29/94) – Lorena’s father hires the band to play at his ski resort, which has been plagues by rumors of a yeti in the area.
Song: Must Be Love (2nd Verison)
“Winkle/Wicks World” (11/12/94) – A class project leads Sly and Tony to land their own TV show which takes time away from the band.
“Daddy’s Girl” (11/19/94) – Tiffani sets her dad up with a woman that starts cutting into their time together, meanwhile a dating program deems the other band members incompatible.
Song: Someone to Hold Onto
“Family Tree” (11/26/94) – A family history project takes interesting turns for Tony, Mark and Tiffani.
“Harley and the Marlboro Man” (12/3/94) – Jake takes up smoking after his Uncle Frank while the band tries to figure out to do with the money they found on the beach.
Song: Tough Love
“Rebel Without a Nerve” (12/10/94) – Jake joins the safety patrol when his title as school tough guy is threatened.
“Boyz R Us” (12/17/94) – While the band delivers singing telegrams, an old friend of Tony comes to him to help get another of their friends out of a gang.
“Junior Achievement” (12/24/94) – An economics project leads the gang to sell Sam’s great, great grandmother’s cold remedy while Jake and Mark become music teachers.
“The Treasure of PCH” (12/31/94) – Lorena and Jake send their friends on a treasure hunt to see if money could destroy their friendships.
Song: Anytime You Need Me
“Tiffani’s Gold” (1/7/95) – Tiffani turns to steroids due to the stress of the upcoming volleyball championships.
Season 4:
“Two Too Much” (9/9/95) – Jake and Tiffani realize they still have feelings for each other, while Tony, Sly and Mark take up ballet to attract women.
“My Valentine” (9/16/95) – Tony and Sam decide to get engaged in order to stay together when she goes back to Hong Kong.
Song: What Would I Do Without You
“Principal Tiffani” (9/30/95) – Tiffani is made the school’s student principal and she soon becomes hungry with power.
Song: To The End
“The Dateless Game” (10/7/95) – Jake ends up winning a charity dating game and has to go out with another girl on the same night as his anniversary dinner with Tiffani.
“Fallen Idol” (10/14/95) – Jake’s musical idol agrees to listen to the band while Tony suffers a bout of bad luck.
Song: Too Much to Dream
“Defending Sly’s Life” (10/21/95) – Sly’s friends put him on trial for being a major creep.
“Secret Admirer” (11/4/95) – Sly tries to woo a classmate for a gig while Mark’s love note ends up in the wrong hands and causes problems.
Song: Do Something
“Old” (11/11/95) – After making fun of a group of senior surfers, Sly ends up dreaming about his being old.
Song: Never Give Up
“Operation Tony” (11/18/95) – Tony is scared of his upcoming shoulder operation while Lorena becomes a candy striper to get closer to a doctor.
Song: She’s Not You (2nd Version)
“Community Service” (11/25/95) – The band pitches in on community service, although Sly is doing it to meet girls.
Song: To The End (2nd Version)
“Heal the Bay” (12/2/95) – Tony’s newfound love of the environment leads to his becoming a nuisance.
Song: Do Something (2nd Version)
“Woo-ops” (12/30/95) – Sam must go back to Hong Kong after overcharging on her father’s emergency credit card.
“We’ll Always Have Aspen” (1/6/96) – At Lorena’s family’s ski resort, Mark resumes his romance with a skier he dated before.
Song: Born To Love You
“Lorena’s Place” (3/30/96) – Lorena tries to impress a guy who is only interested in serious poets and ends up losing her father’s special poem to her mother.
“Dancing Isn’t Everything” (4/6/96) – Tony wants to take over the band from Jake while Lorena must consider Sly being her replacement partner in the dance competition.
Songs: Let Me Be the One (2nd Version)”, “Next Big Thing” & “Take it Higher (2nd Version)
Season 5:
“Stand by Your Man” (9/7/96) – Tiffani gets jealous of Jake’s new boss and Lorena and Sam’s spying on him gets Jake fired.
Song: Whenever I Think of You (2nd Version)
“Shaken, Rattled and Rolled” (9/14/96) – Tony wants to move someplace without earthquakes while Sly tries to get a music producer to listen to the band.
Song: She’s Not You (2nd Version)
“Honest Sly” (9/21/96) – Sly sells Sam a bad used car while Lorena tries to help Mark get another girl’s attention by pretending to be into him.
“Mop n’ Pop” (9/28/96) – When Jake’s dad has to take a job as the school’s janitor, Sly’s teasing causes Jake to become embarrassed.
Song: Anytime
“Diss-Honored” (10/5/96) – Sam’s new position as president of the honor society leaves her little time to spend with Tony.
“Reel Teens” (10/12/96) – Jake is chosen to be followed around by a camera crew for a TV show.
“Father Knows Bets” (10/19/96) – Sly takes up gambling when he feels ignored by his father while Tony tries to keep what award Jake is going to win a secret.
Song: Do Something (3rd version)
“Letters from Woo” (10/25/96) – Sam sends a video letter to her family back home.
“Senior Prom” (11/2/96) – Jake and Tiffani and Tony and Sam are tied for prom king and queen, while Sly books the band for a gig on the day of the prom.
Song: Too Much to Dream (2nd Version)
“Babewatch” (11/9/96) – The gang all end up working on a television show and Tony becomes jealous when a crew member takes a liking to Sam.
Song: Next Big Thing (2nd Version)
“Love Letters” (11/16/96) – The gang decides to make up for all the things they regret during high school.
Song: Someone to Hold
“Graduation” (11/23/96) – Drinking at Lorena’s party leads to Mark crashing his car and ending up in jail, while Jake and Tiffani must finish a project in order to graduate.
“A Band Divided” (11/30/96) – Lorena buys the band a new amp in exchange for being the band’s co-manager, which ends up causing conflicts with Sly.
Song: Next Big Thing (3rd Version)
“The Fashion Man” (12/7/96) – Sly takes up modeling, but the agency he signs with appears to be a scam.
“The Last Gig” (12/14/96) – Jake tries to land a recording contract to keep the band together, but the other band members all want to go on to school.
Song: So Glad I Was There

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