TITLE: CALIFORNIA DREAMS - SEASONS 1 & 2
DVD Release Date: March 31, 2009 (Shout! Factory)
Number of Discs: 5
Number of Episodes: 31
Running Time: Approx. 690 minutes
Runtime of Special Features: 15 minutes
Languages, Subtitles, Closed Captioning: English
Special Features: Let’s Do It! Reuniting California Dreams; Video Jukebox
It’s time to dream a little bit about living out your musical fantasies with Seasons One and Two of California Dreams! The early 1990s NBC Saturday morning teen sitcom about a group of friends at Pacific Beach High School that come together to form a band is finally on DVD!
The series premiered in 1992 and was created by the same group of people that created the more well-known NBC Saturday morning hit sitcom Saved by the Bell. Initially, the series focused on the Garrison family, where two of the kids in that family (Matt and Jenny) formed a band called (oddly enough) California Dreams. They were joined by other band members that were friends from school, and, in the typical fashion of NBC Saturday morning fare, a diverse group of musicians. The series underwent many changes over the seasons (most notably the fact that the Garrison family eventually completely disappeared from the show, despite being the focus of the series initially), but the band stayed intact with new members as the series developed. The band is managed by Sly, and in addition to the two Garrison siblings (Matt and Jenny), also consists of Tiffani and Tony.
Memorable Episodes / Notable Guest Stars:
The series begins with “The First Gig,” where the band gets their first gig--the same weekend that the Garrison family is planning to go to the Grand Canyon! How will they get out of this mess? Tony quits the band to play football in “Beat of His Own Dream.” Tony has a new girlfriend that happens to be white in “Guess Who’s Coming to Brunch,” so will her father approve? Tiffani teaches Sly how to surf so that he can become a chick magnet in “Romancing the Tube.” In “Where’s Dennis?,” Matt is looking after his little brother, at least until he disappears.
The dream is to be on a pirate radio station in “Dirty Dog Days.” Jenny could be off to Italy in “Ciao, Jenny,” so how will the band survive? You’ll find out how they survive in “Wooing Woo,” when the Garrison family takes in an exchange student from Hong Kong. Sly has a little motorcycle accident in “Sleazy Rider,” on Jake’s motorcycle. Tony takes a trip to the Old West (in his dreams) in “High Plains Dreamer.” In “Bwa Ha Ha Means I Love You,” we find out if Jake is being faithful with Tiffani. Tiffani and Jake try to escape detention to make it to an audition in “Schoolhouse Rock.” In “21 Jake Street,” Sly decides to hook up the band with fake IDs. Good idea or not? Sly gets an A on a test in “Rebel Without a Clue,” so is it real or did he cheat?
We have pretty standard packaging on the set, but it is also very nice looking. The cover art on the box has the entire cast standing in front of the ocean holding a surfboard, with the series logo above them. Inside, we have three slim cases, the first two holding two discs each and the third holding one disc. There are cast photos on the front of each slim case, and the back contains a listing of all of the episodes on the discs inside as well as original airdates and descriptions. The disc artwork is unique for each disc, with various pictures from publicity shots as the artwork on each disc. Disc 1 contains seven episodes, Disc 2 contains six episodes, Disc 3 contains seven episodes, Disc 4 contains six episodes, and Disc 5 contains five episodes.
Menu Design and Navigation:
The menus are pretty nice on this set. Each disc begins with a scene on the beach (kind of like on the opening credits) with the closing theme music playing. Eventually you get inside of a building on the beach where you can see palm and the ocean outside the window, and you have options of Play All, Episodes, and Juke Box. When you select Episodes or Juke Box, you move to another part of the room where you can select what you want. It is hard to describe it, but it is a very nice touch. Chapters are placed appropriately throughout each episode.
Video and Audio Quality:
Generally speaking, the video and audio quality is fine. The picture is pretty clear, although it does somewhat show a little bit of age, and the audio is more than adequate for what is necessary (all of the music sounds nice and clear). The only troubling issue, though, is what Shout! Factory left out of this DVD set--closed-captioning. Shout! Factory does such a great job with DVDs, yet they seem to be about the only company out there that I’m aware of that continues to release DVDs without any closed-captioning or English subtitles. That affects not only those with hearing impairments, but sometimes even those that have no difficulty hearing want to watch programs with the sound muted.
It is my assumption that the episodes are unedited, as there is nothing that indicates to me that they would be edited. Some episodes are short, but that is normal for Saturday morning television. Runtimes are as follows:
The First Gig (21:45)
Battle of the Bands (22:25)
Beat Of His Own Dream (22:27)
Double Date (21:47)
Dream Man (22:27)
Friends First (21:42)
Guess Who’s Coming To Brunch (22:26)
It’s a Guy Thing (21:41)
Mother and Child Reunion (22:25)
Romancing the Tube (22:25)
They Shoot Videos, Don’t They? (21:46)
This Time (21:40)
Where’s Dennis? (21:39)
Jake’s Song (21:24)
Dirty Dog Days (21:25)
Ciao, Jenny (22:26)
Wooing Woo (22:25)
Sleazy Rider (22:26)
The Sly Who Came to Dinner (22:25)
Surfboards and Cycles (21:41)
A Question of Math (22:25)
High Plains Dreamer (21:42)
Bwa Ha Ha Means I Love You (22:26)
Vote of Confidence (22:25)
The Year of the Woo (22:26)
Schoolhouse Rock (21:26)
Save the Shark (21:24)
21 Jake Street (22:24)
Can’t Buy Me Love (21:22)
Rebel Without a Clue (21:41)
Indecent Promposal (21:26)
The set has a very nice reunion featurette on it. “Let’s Do It: A California Dreams Reunion” (15:08) reunites four of the cast members (Brentley Gore, Kelly Packard, Michael Cade, and Jennie Kwan) together to talk about their memories of doing the series. From what I can gather in the interview, it seems that everybody really had a great time doing the series and enjoyed their time on the series. In the interview, they talk about the development of the series, the relationships, the music (it should come as no surprise that they weren’t really playing the instruments themselves). There is also an interesting discussion about how Jennie Kwan came to be part of the series after initially being rejected. This is certainly a very interesting featurette to watch!
The other special feature, which can be found on all five discs, is a nice touch but not really worth getting too excited about. It is called “Video Jukebox.” When you select it from the main menu, you get a list of songs that you can play that are from the episodes. That is why it isn’t THAT unique, because each of the songs can be found within each of the individual episodes. Still, it is nice to have the songs organized in this fashion.
It is time for me to be a little bit honest, and fans aren’t going to want to hear this, at all: this show strikes me as being one of the most obnoxious shows in all of TV history. I even find Saved by the Bell more tolerable than this show, and that show is painful as it is. Still, that shouldn’t discourage fans of this series, because every series deserves a DVD release, and there are plenty of fans of this series (it is, after all, a frequently requested series) that will greatly appreciate what is available to them on DVD. The fact is, Shout! Factory did a great job with this release (as they do with so many DVD releases), and this is certainly a great DVD set. It is also nice to have this on DVD since it has had very limited syndication exposure in recent years aside from brief airplay on WGN and PAX a few years ago. Fans of early 90s teen sitcoms (and I know that there are plenty of those fans out there) are certain to love this set. And who knows, maybe if I’m in a really good mood, I could possibly find it in my heart to fall in love with this series too, though I doubt it. But for the many fans out there that are California dreamin’, this set is sure to satisfy that void.
Final Numbers (out of 5 stars - How our point system works)
Video Quality: 4.5/5
Audio Quality: 4.5/5
Special Features: 2/5
Menu Design/Navigation: 5/5
-- Reviewed by skees53 on 02/25/09
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