Season 3, Episode 11: “Family Tree”

We open at school where Mark is still prowling for a girl who will like him despite his bad acting. Mark’s written  poem to try and convince her to be his girlfriend, and it goes something like this I think:


Sly thinks Mark’s poem is lame, and proves it by trying it on the girl, who proceeds to slap Sly, although that should be a frequent occurrence. I think being rejected by girls should be second-nature by now.

Their teacher comes in and assigns them their project: researching their family trees. She says they’ll hear reports over the next week, which leads me to believe the writers know nothing about how notoriously difficult genealogy can be, especially if you have no records within your family. But that’s not going to stop a bad rip-off from a Saved by the Bell plot from moving forward, especially since Tony’s excited to find out who he’s descended from since he’s got a main plot that doesn’t revolve around a hallucination.

At Sharkey’s, Tiffani complains about how hard it is to sort through all the Smiths while Lorena slams a giant book down on top of Jake’s notes just to piss him off.

Meanwhile, Tony’s hallucinating that his family is sitting with him so Sam runs off to get some psychotropic drugs. After she’s gone, Tony speaks to himself about his shock to discover he can’t find any information about his family beyond slavery. Tony, even if information exists about your family before they were brought to this country against their will, it’s going to take a lot more research than a single book on African-American genealogy to find your roots, which is another reason I call bullshit on this being a week-long project.

At school, Tony confides to Jake that he’s upset about his project because everyone has an amazing family heritage except him because of his one book. He says he’s looked in all the books and even talked to his parents and grandparents, which I call bullshit on. He read all the books? I’m not mad at Tony for this one. I’m mad at the idiot writers who think researching family trees is this easy.

Lorena gives her report in which she’s related to nineteenth century Mexican politician Benito Juárez, which no one in class gives a shit about because they’re all Trump fans apparently. But they love that she’s related to Mario Lopez, which makes me wonder now if California Dreams actually exists in the same universe as Saved by the Bell, does that mean Mario Lopez and Slater both exist simultaneously?

While Sam has a rich heritage of having ancestors who were involved in every stereotypical event in China’s history, because that was apparently easier to research than Tony’s ancestry according to this episode which doesn’t understand how to research family trees.

In the hallway, Tony exaggerates his family tree while even Mark think he’s acting like an idiot. He tells them one of his ancestors was king of the African nation because Saved by the Bell and Sarah Palin apparently get their geography from the same source.

In class, Mark’s still smitten with that random girl. Sly tells Mark they’re related to Casanova, which automatically makes them great with the ladies because stuff so Mark goes over, makes a fool out of himself, and asks the girl out.

Jake gives his report, which involves making fun of Slovakian culture because implying an entire country has stinky food is automatically funny if kids don’t know where the country you’re talking about is. And Tiffani gets an extension on her project because her grandmother’s last name is Jones.

Now, we get this. I have to admit, it’s still not as offensive as “Running Zack,” but that would be hard to do. Tony claims his ancestor was Malawian Mansa Musa. Now apparently the writers are showing how little of a clue they have. “Mansa” is a term meaning king, not part of Musa’s name. Second, the few images we have of Musa don’t depict any sort of garb even remotely resembling what Tony’s wearing. Our writers have slapped something on Tony that looks vaguely like what teenagers who don’t know any different would think traditional African clothing looks like, because kids are stupid and accuracy is only important if they care. Tony gets a round of applause as the teacher says most African-Americans can’t trace their ancestry beyond slavery and Jake glares at Tony for his stupidity. When the hell did Jake become the voice of reason?

Shit’s getting ridiculous in the hallway as football players offer to carry “King Tony.” What? It doesn’t work that way. Jake tries to talk sense into Tony as more people talk about Tony being royalty.

At Sharkey’s, Mark’s suddenly turned into a playa since he found out he was descended from Casanova. Okay, Tony being royalty is no longer the most ridiculous plot of this episode. It’s the idea that this many girls would have interest in Mark.

The other plot amps up its ridiculous factor by having Tiffani and some extras ask Tony to royally bless their surfboard. Okay, this is getting fucking ridiculous. I’m descended from William the Conqueror. So are estimated millions around the world. It doesn’t make me a monarch anymore than Tony would be if he were descended from Musa. And, even if it did, do you expect me to believe people would be acting this idiotic with regards to his royalty?

Jake tries again to convince Tony to tell the truth so Tony loudly yells at Jake that he’ll never tell everyone he’s not really descended from Musa, marking perhaps the lamest revelation of a lie I’ve ever seen on television.

At the loft, Tony continues telling the truth and shit, and everyone tries to convince him to come clean to the class because there’s nothing wrong with his heritage and shit.

In bed that night, Tony has a dream…

…and he sees his great-great grandfather picking cotton in Sharkey’s because this isn’t the most ridiculous thing that’s ever happened on the Sharkey’s set. It’s not even in the top ten. Tony’s dream convinces him not to be ashamed of coming from slaves, which apparently was what this was about all along.

At school, Tiffani gives her report. Evidently she’s related to every Smith and Jones who ever existed because that’s how common last names work, right?

Sly and Mark give their report, with Mark dressed as a snitch from Miami Vice. Sly reveals their ancestors are liars and he’s not really related to Casanova because he wanted to fuck with Mark, and he lies about a whole bunch of shit. The girl who didn’t know they were related to Casanova apparently gives a shit about this as she breaks up with Mark, realizing he’s a really bad actor anyway.

Tony asks to address the class, and tells them the truth: that he made up the part about being descended from Musa as Jake gives him a Fonzie thumbs up. And our episode ends with Tony giving the real report about his ancestors as slaves, because even the episode doesn’t give a shit what Tony’s real family history is apparently.

No songs this week.

Season 3, Episode 10: “Daddy’s Girl”

We open directly on this creepy shot of Sly without any context at all because this is the face you want to see when you’re a teenager waking up on Saturday morning to watch your cheesy Peter Engel shows. Turns out Sly’s just in the process of getting slapped in the face, as usual, because he’s a fucking classless douche bag. Turns out he’s been using some sort of compatibility software Mark has to date girls but lied on his test because of course he did. Of course, this raises so many questions about why Mark just has random girls’ info in his computer and makes me wonder if he’s a stalker. After all, this is way before the age of internet dating when actual web sites could set you up with people.

We meet Tiffani’s father through an awkward interaction where Mark introduces himself. “MARK AM I. SLY’S COUSIN BE ME. I AM BAD REPLACEMENT FOR MATT.” Tiffani’s father consoles Mark for having the bad fortune to be on a Peter Engel show and proceeds to exposit about how he’s a marine biologist and shit. He takes his lunch and promises to go surfing with Tiffani.

After her father is gone, Tiffani says she worries her father is lonely. Jake suggests that maybe bad writing will have a woman randomly show up who’s right for her father, and, wouldn’t you know it, woman walks in who’s eating the same thing as her father. It’s such a coincidence it’s like a bad writer thought up the whole scenario. Tiffani suggests Mark should run her through his compatibility software…

…so Tiffani randomly walks over and asks if the woman is married. This is what passes for social interaction on this show. Peter Engel better just be glad lesbians don’t exist in his universe or he may have had someone believing a teenager was hitting on them.

At the loft, Jake, Lorena, Tony, and Sam brag about how they know they’re right for each other and don’t need any compatibility software to tell them otherwise despite how deeply flawed we’ve seen both relationships are within the last couple of weeks. They even talk about the “thump factor,” which I have to assume means Jake and Tony’s boners go thump. Sly and Mark walk in and announced that neither pair is compatible, so guess what this week’s subplot is going to be.

Meanwhile, turns out the random woman’s name is Ariel and Mark’s software says she’s right for Tiffani’s father. She decides she needs to get her father with Ariel, and Lorena suggests she invite her father to Sharkey’s at the same time Ariel stops in for lunch.

At Sharkey’s Ariel isn’t on Tiffani’s schedule, so the band try to distract Tiffani’s father to keep him there. They ultimately get him to tell Tony random stories about whales as he’s a marine biologist and shit so that’s all he knows about I guess so that’s his entire personality.

As soon as Ariel comes in, they shuffle him off to the bar so they can talk about whales and, since whales and eccentric diets are apparently enough to build a relationship off of, they instantly fall in love and want to fuck.

At Tiffani’s house, as Tiffani prepares for a night in with her father watching football, Sam and Tony stop in and Lorena calls to complain about how they’re fighting with each other since they found out they’re not compatible. This is great since it’s much better to talk about fighting rather than showing it. The rule about showing and not telling is bullshit anyway.

Just when she thinks Jake is calling, turns out it’s Ariel, and Tiffani’s father forgot about football night to go on a date with Ariel. He’s all, “Sorry for the forced plot progression,” and she slumps back on the couch to pout about this stupid story.

At the loft, Tiffani is so pissed about that hussy Ariel taking her father away on the sacred night of the football that she asks Mark to dig up any dirt he can on her as she chops vegetables very angrily. Why is she cooking in the loft again? We never find out. I can only assume Lorena’s about to starve since she can’t do shit for herself.

The subplot continues with Jake and Lorena & Tony and Sam fighting about shit that has nothing to do with them so they can act like they now hate each other.

Tiffani randomly falls asleep on the couch in the loft and has a dream that Sharkey’s is a mad lair. Of course, Sly is a hunchback that they call a humpback so we can have more stupid whale puns. Also, when you rub his hump, he has an orgasm. Eww.

And Ariel is a mad scientist.

Turns out they’re performing surgery on Tiffani’s dad to put his brain into the shark over the door to Sharkey’s. Really, this might be the most bizarre dream sequence in the history of the Engel-verse. I get Tiffani’s jealous, but, so far, the stuff she’s been mad abou has been her father’s fault, not Ariel’s. The moral that’s obviously being forced couldn’t be worse.

Tiffani wakes up and, after trying to murder Sly and, unfortunately, failing, Mark gives her the result of his background check, which I’m not sure how he accomplished in the days before the world wide web was popular. He found some criminal convictions in Ariel’s history, but, before Mark has a chance to use the power of bad acting to tell her what the convictions are for, she rushes off.

She barges in on their date and pulls out the police record and discovers Ariel hasn’t paid two parking tickets. Humiliated, she runs out so they can continue this plot thread after a commercial break.

Tiffani arrives back to discover her father waiting for her while bad nineties products were being hawked, and her father tells her he’s not happy about the stunt she pulled. I have to say, the actor playing Tiffani’s father is a really bad actor, like worse than Mark. He says that Ariel doesn’t want to come between Tiffani and her father and Tiffani’s bipolar-like mood swings, so she broke it off with him so she won’t cause a stupid Peter Engel plot, and they agree to go back to the status quo.

At Sharkey’s, the couples are still fighting, so Tiffani tries to intervene, and it leads to lots more fighting.

Meanwhile, Ariel comes in and Tiffani tells her that she’s sorry things didn’t work out. Ariel says she really liked Tiffani’s father and thought their mutual appreciation of whales might have been enough to base a long-term relationship off of, making Tiffani suddenly realize the moral of the episoe is that she’s a selfish dumb ass who got jealous and over-attached over football.

The couples hear this and suddenly realize how stupid this subplot is. They kiss and make up and the audience has a collective orgasm as they tell Mark to fuck off as he’s not contributed anything good to this show thus far.

That night, they play a random gig at Sharkey’s so Tiffani can sing a love song to her father. EEW!

Luckily, she’s not getting incestuous but is using the song as a ham-fisted excuse to get her father and Ariel back together as she serenades them while the rest of the audience looks on, confused as to why this band always has shit going in the middle of their songs.

Tiffani apologizes for being an inconsistent cry baby, and our episode ends with her vowing never to get between their love again, especially sine we’ll never see either Tiffani’s father or Ariel again.

“Someone to Hold Onto”
Tiffani singing

This is your standard California Dreams love song, with lyrics about, “Gonna hold you in my arms” and shit. They may actually be slightly better than the usual on this show. The beat is what makes this song and actually makes it feel like it could be actual early nineties adult alternative. I’d rather listen to this than some of the shit that made the pop charts that year any day of the week. Not much more to say other than it’s nice to actually see Tiffani singing again. It happens so seldom, which is a shame because I prefer her singing voice to Sam’s.

Season 3, Episode 9: “Winkle/Wicks World”

We open at school where the band’s taking a television class. Yeah, it’s going to be as painful as it sounds. The band wants to recreate Beverly Hills, 90210 and Mark wants to be Dylan, but the others tell him nobody likes him and no girl’s ever kiss his bad acting face.

The teacher comes in and I’m not going to make fun of the concept of a television class My school had vocational television. What I will make fun of is that the teacher’s so incompetent that, without giving any instruction, he assigns them on the first day of class to break into groups and film their own show. And, since Tony and Sly are suddenly best friends since the start of this episode, they’re going to work together.

At Sharkey’s, Tony and Sly can’t think of a good idea for a show so they decide to litter the floor with lots of paper, as if they would write shit down. It’s a good thing whoever the hell owns Sharkey’s now is the most permissive business owner in the world! The rest of the band come in, declaring they’ve thought of shows that will revolutionize television. Tony and Sly check out a some girls and go, “Goo-Ga-Moo!”, which leads Sam to call them the Googa Moo Guys, giving our brain trust an idea I guess since they wish they could make the sounds of infants and cows.

Now it’s time to see the shows the band came up with in less than a day and how revolutionary they truly are. First up, I wonder what this one will be?

Oh, it’s just Tiffani and Mark ripping off Mister Roger’s Neighborhood. How original of them. I guess they didn’t learn about plagiarism in school. Also, why s Mark more convincing as a brainless surfer mailman than he is as himself?

Oh, Hall Monitors, this is gripping shit okay.

Yes, watch Lorena and Sam wear skimpy outfits and bust Jake for chewing gum. This will truly revolutionize television: a really bad Cops rip-off.

Finally, we have Sly and Tony ripping off Wayne’s World. And it starts with them making out with themselves, because that makes them really sexy and shit I guess.

They even hangout with a cardboard cutout of Elle Macpherson, because if there’s anything that makes for good television, it’s hitting on a giant photo of a woman you probably masturbate to.

Back in class, the teacher thinks Tony and Sly suck ass so he gives them a F. Don’t get me wrong: they really do suck ass, but no worse than any of the other shows. Plus, I mean, YOU DIDN’T FUCKING TEACH THEM ANYTHING, YOU FUCKING MORON! In any case, by pure contrivance there happens to be a television producer in class who decided to stop by and give the class tips because he has nothing better to do, and he loves the chemistry Tony and Sly have had together the last eight minutes that he decides to offer them their own show and shit because why not. This is already turning out to be one of the most ridiculous episodes of the series. Why not continue the trend?

So, Tony and Sly start recording their first episode.

It’s about as stupid as you would think, with jokes that aren’t funny and reasons to watch the show that aren’t compelling. This is painful to watch, and I don’t know what idiot thought this was a good idea for an episode. Probably the same idiot that thought last season’s western was a good idea.

Well, the whole band is there to support Tony and Sly just as Mr. Producer Guy comes up and tells them this is going to be a hit with the kids just as much as The New Class so they should drop everything else non-school they’re working to do this fucking show, because actors never have control over their personal lives apparently, leading Tony and Sly to decide to take leaves of absence from the band.

Back at Sharkey’s, Lorena’s taken over as manager of the band and the only gig she can get them is one that will try but fail to deliver laughs in the final scene: a dinner/dance for a historical society. She’s reluctant at first as the band are suddenly all gross and shit and Lorena’s classist attitudes want to make her think she’s better than them, but she finally gives in, saying she’ll give the etiquette lessons or some shit.

Also, Jake can’t understand why Tony and Sly’s show is so popular because even the script is self-aware they’re ripping off Wayne’s World.

At school, Lorena confirms she got them the gig and tells them they’ve got to laugh at bad jokes, which I guess means I should be laughing at most of this episode, but I’m not going to because I don’t give enough of a shit. Also, they’re going to be performing instrumental because high class and shit.

Meanwhile, suddenly Tony and Sly are at each other’s throats over new ideas for the show because they needed to continue the trend of writing the characters really badly and shit this episode. Sam tells them their friendship is important and shit so they briefly reconcile.

But then someone tries to interview them for the school newspaper and they go crazy and shit.

On the set, they continue fighting but appear they’re going to be professional for the show…

…until they start hitting each other with props and shit. The producer instantly cancels their show, declaring no one wants to watch them fight. Tell that to Jerry Springer.

Back at school, Tony and Sly still won’t talk to each other. Tiffani’s all, “Your friendship is special and shit!” Seriously, they spent the first two seasons showing Tony barely tolerating Sly. Remember when Sly crashed Jake’s motorcycle last season, injuring Tony and leading to Tony trying to murder Sly? Well, apparently the writers don’t because we got this stupid shit. What’s all this about special friendship and shit?

Turns out the historical society dinner/dance is at Sharkey’s because when I think a high class event, I think a surfer-themed diner, that’s for sure! They play an instrumental version of the theme song…

…and reveal Tiffani even knows how to play the harp because plot.

Sly and Tony come in and initially fight over how horrible this episode has been but then make up over how stupid this has all been. And our episode ends with Tony and Sly vowing to maintain their forced friendship forever, or for as long as it’s convenient to the plot.

No song this week other than the instrumental version of the theme.

Season 3, Episode 8: “The Princess and the Yeti”

Oh god no. Tell me they’re not going the way of The New Class and introducing some wacky away from home adventures in exotic places. Please tell me, just when I’m rid of the scourge that plagued me for three years, California Dreams is going to try and take pointers from them. Please tell me it isn’t so..

Well, it does turn out that we’re at the ski lodge from seasons two and three of The New Class, which does bode ominous for my chances of getting away from shit having to do with that awful series. Turns the ski lodge is in Colorado this time and owned by Lorena’s father, who’s invited the band composed of his daughter’s friends to randomly come out and play a show for them because it must be a slow season. I’m not completely sure why Lorena’s father owns a lodge in Colorado, but we get plenty of exposition to tell us about it.

Oh, but Lorena promised to work in exchange for the trip and is now having buyer’s remorse because work is for poor people apparently. But he insists that she has to uphold her end up the bargain, and apparently her help is going to be paramount to the resort being able to stay open since people aren’t coming there anymore, apparently, and he wants to build a new ski slope.

In the boys’ room, Mark and Tony pretend to have muscles and shit because they’re going to go after the lady’s and hope for some pity sex. The fact that Tony’s so obsessed over girls in this episode makes me think it’s out of order since he doesn’t seem to be with Sam. I assume Mark just wants to get with girls in the hopes one of them will touch his winkey dink.

Sly shows off his minor subplot of the episode: pretending to have a broken leg so girls will give him pity sex since he’s apparently already over his blind ex-girlfriend, what’s her name…

And a random old man shows up to warn the boys to watch out for his Yeti traps. Yes, that is the plot of this episode. Tell me, what would you do if you were staying in a ski lodge and some guy knocked on your door talking about Yetis? I’d call security, but Tony has to pretend to be afraid, and barricades himself in as soon as the other boys leave to go skiing because, as usual, he has to be the butt of all jokes.

Meanwhile, Sly chats up a girl who wants to give him sympathy sex, for some reason. Tony comes around still raving about a Yeti and, after Sly utters some nonsense, the girl runs off, realizing suddenly how sleazy he is.

Jake, meanwhile, went on a skiing trip without the proper clothes for the experience, and apparently froze as a result. Rather than take him to the hospital, his friends just drop him and hope he doesn’t die.

And Lorena wants to ski rather than work, but her father is all, “Don’t be a dick,” so she cries like a spoiled brat and goes to work.

The band go in for their gig and play an old song while Lorena skips working to watch them because we’re apparently just going to dig into the ground how unlikeable she really is.

Her father comes in and is upset at her for not working, but he’s even more upset because the Yeti rumor is scaring off his customers since only idiots come to stay there. He makes an announcement that they all need to stop being such fucking dumb asses because there is no such thing as a Yeti.

Just then, the doors fly open and a guy in a really bad Yeti costume comes in and scares off all the customers. Even Tony runs immediately outside to get away from a creature that, if it were real, would live outdoors. This is going to be a rip-off of Scooby-Doo instead of The New Class, isn’t it?

The rest of the band go out looking for Tony, with Jake borrowing a pink coat of Lorena’s (haha, gender norms, isn’t it funny, isn’t this a great payoff to that scene?), and they start talking about hot girls to locate Tony.

They soon find him caught in a net, and get him down. Geez, you’d think he’d be calling for help more than when he hears talk of girls if he was caught outdoors. I also have to point out the fake snow on this set is really horrible. If you watch the characters walk, you can see that there’s obviously bad rugs covered in fake snow when the rugs run under the steps of the actors. That’s some grade-A set design there.

But they soon run into a cabinet to keep warm and find it’s inhabited by the guy who was ranting about Yetis earlier. Turns out this is Mr. Guthrie, who’s not mad at all that people randomly broke into his cabin, and he’s the most socially adjusted hermit ever as he invites the band to get warm by the fire as he tells them all about how Lorena’s father plans to tear down his home to build the new ski slope. Lorena completely overreacts and decides to storm off…

…but can’t tell the difference between an exit and a closet, so she discovers what the audience realized the minute the bad suit came in: it’s a really bad suit being worn by the guy who was tapping on their bedroom door earlier. Jesus, this really is a bad Scooby-Doo rip-off plot.

The band find their way back to the lodge, where Lorena tells her father about Mr. Guthrie Her father decides he wants him arrested as he’s pressing charges. What the hell are the charges? What Mr. Guthrie did was a civil offense he could be sued for, but I don’t think there’s a thing the criminal courts can do. This really is a really bad Scooy-Doo plot: old man dresses in a monster costume to scare people off, is exposed and arrested, and would have gotten away with it, too, if it weren’t for those meddling kids and their Mark.

Lorena won’t defend Mr. Guthrie so the rest of the band suddenly decide she’s selfish and shit, and every person in this episode is just an asshole I swear. Lorena decides to go night skiing to get away from her judgmental friends…

…skiis downhill in footage obviously not her…

…and ends up falling down and injuring herself while yelling about superficial things because she really is that shallow.

Luckily Mr. Guthrie is around to save the day and gain a redemption, and Lorena can’t figure out why he’s help her since she’s even more superfluous to this show than her, but he tells her it’s just the right thing to do, and he’ll risk getting arrested to save her life, even though he really shouldn’t

He brings her back to the lodge, and, though Lorena’s father is grateful for Mr. Guthrie saving his daughter’s life, he still wants Mr. Guthrie arrested on his phantom charges, and doesn’t want to listen to the pleas of Lorena and the band.

Lorena begs him to reconsider and even offers to work and give up money for Mr. Guthrie. Lorena’s father is finally moved to not tear down Mr. Guthrie’s house, probably because he wants this episode to end as much as me so he can never come back, and our episode ends with Lorena’s father promising to find a way to save Mr. Guthrie’s house and shit.

“Must Be Love”
Mark singing

You may remember that this is actually the second time we’ve heard the song. It was the love song Jake wrote for Jenny way back in “Ciao, Jenny,” and it’s honestly not the song from the first two seasons I would have expected to pop back up. But it is interesting to compare it with Mark on vocals verses Matt. The verdict: Matt actually sounded like he was putting effort into the song, whereas Mark’s vocal actor sounds like he just wants a paycheck for his small contribution to this episode. All in all, I still like Matt all around a hell of a lot better than Mark.

Season 3, Episode 7: “Trust Me”

We open at Sharkey’s, where Sly’s usual over-the-top shenanigans abound. Turns out this time he’s excited about a songwriting contest where he’s going to videotape the band and send it to a radio station because we’re reusing plots now that the band is Garrison-less. The winning band gets to perform at the radio station’s music awards because doesn’t every local pop station have a televised music awards?

Well, he’s naturally over the top as he wants Tiffani, Sam, and Tony to do nothing but practice the skills of their position in the band constantly while Jake and Mark plan on writing a new song at Lorena’s loft. Mark wonders whether he’ll do it because he has to go to an uncle’s house for the week, but then Lorena offers to let Mark stay in the loft so that conflict lasts about five seconds.

At the loft, Lorena drags Sly off so he won’t distract them and Jake and Mark get ready to get down with the writing.

And now is where the plot really starts. Mark is all, “I A GIRLFRIEND REALLY LIKE WOULD!” and Jake assures Mark that he’s sure some girl will put up with his bad acting one of these days.

At PCH, Tony, Tiffani, and Sam all decide they’re sick at this stupid attempt at a subplot and rebel so the writers don’t have to further flesh out this bullshit. Meanwhile, Sly’s upset to discover that Jake left early in the evening so Mark and Lorena stayed up watching movies and shit. Jake’s all, “Lorena, you have a vagina and it distracts me,” which upsets her despite the fact it’s part of her character that she usually likes to be the center of the male gaze. But she’s upset no one wants to do anything with her in the midst of this episode. What I’m really wondering is whether Mark was going to go away for a whole week when he was supposed to be in school that week.

At the loft, Lorena tries to find out if her vagina will distract Jake and shit, and comes out and tells Mark how upset she is that Jake has a life and personality of his own that isn’t completely dependent on her whims. Mark relays to Lorena how sad he is that no girl will touch him, and Lorena assures Mark that she’s sure someone will want to have something to do with him eventually since even Brian and Tony from The New Class had girlfriends.

This is such a pep talk for Mark that he decides Lorena must want him bad, and proceeds to kiss her. Lorena’s shocked that someone would suddenly kiss her like that, and assures Mark she doesn’t find him attractive. Mark assures her he just thought she hated Jake and wanted to get with him, which sounds like an excuse that will really play out. He apologizes for thinking a girl wanted him and they decide they need to tell Jake.

At Sharkey’s, Tiffani acknowledges for the first time that she once dated Jake, and reminds the band that he broke up with her when another guy kissed her because the writers really had no real investment in them as a couple anyway. This leads to the band telling Mark all kinds of shit that fuels some fantasy sequences. A record three in a row, too, which I’m not even sure Saved by the Bell ever managed to achieve.

The first involves Jake and Lorena kissing and, when Mark confesses, in the middle of their wedding, that he once kissed Lorena, Jake walks out on the wedding because he’s apparently an ureasonable human being. What’s worse, they’re getting married in the loft, which I wouldn’t have thought was Lorena’s style.

In the second, Mark tells Jake as he’s about to go off on his motorcycle.

This news is so distressing that Jake’s fingers suddenly start shooting water from between them.

The third, Jake just does a horrible impression of Lon Chaney as the wolf-man, for some reason.

So, with those fantasy sequences done, Mark decides it’s time to confess to Jake that he kissed Lorena, and he’s so nervous that he randomly throws papers around.

He decides to confess via song, and literally talks about kissing Lorena in the lyrics that Jake magically knows the tune for. This leads to him snapping and chasing Mark around the loft in a homicidal rage as he vows to kill this bad-acting moron.

The rest of the band try to stop Jake, telling him there’s no way they’ll be able to find another replacement for Matt so soon, but Jake’s rage won’t be quelled until Lorena comes in and kisses him, because sex always keeps you from murdering people who do you wrong. But, though his anger has been temporarily abated, Jake tells Mark to fuck off because he doesn’t want to be in the same room as this idiot and isn’t writing anymore songs with him.

At PCH, the band decide Mark needs to show Jake he’s overreacting.

So Tiffani comes up with a plan for Sly to kiss Sam in front of Tony and for Tony to get pissed off. They even get all into this, with Tony giving Sly pointers on kissing Sam, which is kind of creepy as fuck, but whatever.

Sam’s obviously excited about this judging by her facial expression, but Jake sees right through this and says it’s one of the stupider plans they’ve come up with. Jake claims Tiffani stole this routine from Gilligan’s Island, but I’m betting the producers just pulled a random classic show’s name out of their ass as an excuse why Jake knew about this. I’m betting there was no such Gilligan’s Island episode.

No, Mark’s real redemption comes when two random muscular guys come in, one of whom only knows how to communicate via stomping his foot and grunting, and Jake accidentally scuffs one of their shoes. The guys want Jake to get down on his knees and wipe off the stompy guy’s shoes. Jake’s ready to fight, but Mark steps in and is all, “JAKE MY PAL IS! YOU MUST ME BEAT UP TOO BECAUSE JAKE SUCH GOOD FRIEND!”

So they do fight them both, and Jake decides that Mark getting a black eye accidentally from Jake punching him is enough to hit the rest button on everything that happened in this episode despite the fact that means he had huge double standards with Tiffani, but, whatever.

They don sunglasses to cover their eyes, and our episode ends with Jake and Mark unveiling their masterpiece to the world about how the hottest couple on California Dreams is actually Jake and Mark.

“Stand Together”
Jake and Mark singing

A song about bromance in the Engel-verse…who would have thought? No, seriously that’s the gist of this song, all about how Jake and Mark will stay together through thick and thin and always be together because of shit. It’s almost homoerotic because, seriously, who writes a song about their best friend? Well, Dionne Warwick I guess, but Jake and Mark don’t really seem the type to be looking to Dionne Warwick for musical inspiration. Oh, and The Beatles sang about getting by with your friends, but that was more about your friends giving you marijuana.

The tune to this song is one of the better they’ve had, but the lyrics are just goofy as fuck. And, on top of that, just two weeks after they plagiarized “How Do You Talk to an Angel?”, they very blatantly put a line from a song by The Hollies in their song: “He’s not heavy; he’s my brother.” How do they get by with this shit, especially thinking this is going to help them win a contest or some shit?

Season 3, Episode 6: “The Long Goodbye”

We open to discover the writers decided to have another episode about Allison, and the basic premise so far is that she and Sly have been dating for two months and Sly’s the perfect, charming, loving boyfriend, because she must be blind or something. Oh, wait…

Meanwhile, the subplot is that Jake and Tony suck ass at being boyfriends because they didn’t hold the door open for Sam and Lorena. First world problems, guys. First world problems.

Jake and Tony take Sly aside and ask him to lose this out of nowhere character development, but he says he can’t help it because he’s arbitrarily in love even though we haven’t had the opportunity to see that love progress.

At PCH, Tiffani gives us the other half of our subplot, in that she’s reading a new romance novel. Jake and Tony think romance novels are for girly girls because gender roles, but Lorena and Sam think they could maybe learn a thing or two if they tried to emulate them. And Mark’s sole contribution to the episode is not wanting to hear the plot of the novel so he can be surprised at the movie. Great contribution there, Mark. Glad you’ve become such an integral part of the cast.

Sly comes up out of breath, apparently having made the track team just so he could get a letter jacket to give to Allison. Well, that came the fuck out of nowhere and makes no sense. I get that Michael Cade obviously lifts weights in real life, but Sly’s never shown any inclination for athletics in the past. He’s turning into a more artificially developed character than Tony Dillon. Okay, so that’s a bit of an exaggeration: nobody beats Tony Dillon except Swiss Brian.

Sly takes Allison out for dinner to celebrate their two month anniversary, and he tries to pass Sharkey’s off as a French restaurant by having Tony do a horrible French accent, but she’s all, “I’m blind, not a dumb ass.” But she doesn’t care because apparently Sly is just that perfect and nothing could ever make him act like an asshole again. But then Allison reveals to Sly that she’s moving to Chicago to go to a prep school so she can be a teacher of the blind, and, since he was about to tell her he loves her, he’s suddenly reserved and shit because conflict. I get he’s upset, but the drastic emotional shift that comes next makes me think he’s just been faking the whole time so he can get in Allison’s pants.

Back at the loft, Jake and Tony get Tiffani to tell them how to be romantic and shit so she tells them there’s a scene in her book where the man throws something the woman gave him into the ocean and tells her that way he’ll always know where it is. Well, until it washes up on the shore and someone else takes it. So, as Lorena and Sam come in, Jake and Tony take the watch and shoes they gave the respectively and throws them into the giant body of water that’s apparently directly under Lorena’s window. Lorena and Sam initially think they’re idiots until they realize they should have known better than to trust Tiffani to know whether something is actually romantic or not, so they make her swear not to tell their idiot boyfriends anything else about the book

Allison comes in and, though Tiffani offers to throw her a going away party, she’s more upset that Sly’s suddenly treating her like shit, because what else would you expect out of such a kind, caring soul? Sly comes in but is recognized by Allison before he can escape, and he swears he’s just too busy for her and not acting like an asshole at all.

At Sharkey’s, Tiffani tries to get Sly to talk about his feelings and shit, but Sly’s all, “Fuck it.”

So the band take Sly to a sad movie hoping to make it put Sly in touch with his feelings and shit, because that’s the way feelings work. By the end, everyone, even the extras, are crying, because it’s apparently hilarious to see men cry, except Sly, who has a very intellectual analysis of the movie. Lorena tells everyone to fuck it, they tried, but Sly was destined to be an ass to the first girl who could actually stand to touch him, and this suddenly makes him realize that Allison might not ever return if the actress playing with her suddenly gets a better gig that makes her forget all about Peter Engel sitcoms.

Sly suddenly has a Saved by the Bell style dream sequence where the entire band are married except him and dressed like the cast of Mama’s Family. Yeah, Mark and Tiffani apparently married because they were the only two not dating anyone, which is a great reason to get married! Solid future there! In any case, Sly’s dream sequence makes him realize he’s scared of being alone so he better find a replacement Allison as soon as possible so he can be even more of an asshole!

Back at Sharkey’s, Tiffani won’t tell Jake and Tony anymore about the book so Jake does the obvious thing and steals the book from Tiffani so they can figure out how to make their women love them.

Sly shows up going on a date on the night of Allison’s going away party and doesn’t intend to tell her, but then she walks in so he tells her all about how much of an asshole she is for daring to move on to bigger and better things than him.

He seems to be feeling bad as his date walk in and we cut to the next scene as the girl’s homing in on Sly’s letter jacket because, in this universe, apparently letter jackets are an aphrodisiac that gets you instantly laid.

At the loft, Tiffani warns Lorena and Sam that Jake stole the book and the last chapter is a doozey just as the two come in dressed as the three musketeers. Their aim is to run around a crowded room, including a blind girl, waving sharp weapons to win the affections of their girls, which sounds fucking stupid and will probably garner them an appearance on Judge Judy when some poor extra gets an eye knocked out.

And I just had to include this screenshot of Tony kissing Sam because Sam looks like she’s turning into a zombie as the extra behind them looks like he’s amazed that people on this show kiss and wishes someone would touch him.

The scene wastes nearly a minute and half and ends with them knocking a cake out of Mark’s hands and into Lorena and Sam’s faces as the girls beg Jake and Tony to just start acting like uncultured assholes again since they apparently have no ability to tell what’s romantic and what’s not.

Sly comes in, begging to talk to Allison, and she finally agrees to go outside with him and talk. He insists the reason he’s been acting like an asshole is he’s just written poorly, and he really loves her and is going to miss her and shit and that his letter jacket is only for her. Because she’s never going to be on the show again, Allison accepts Sly’s apology and says she’s going to miss him and all when she’s off having a more successful acting career.

Sly insists Allison take his letter jacket with her since he probably won’t have any use for it beyond this episode, and our episode ends with Sly and Allison having a tearful goodbye as they vow to never forget each other despite the fact the writers just hit the reset button and will probably never even mention Allison again.

Well, that was a stupid and emotionally manipulative plot. I think it would have been more effective had Allison had more than one episode. If she’d been recurring like, say, Randi Jo, it could have been emotionally effective to have an episode about her departure. As it stands, all we know is what the writers exposit about Sly and Allison’s relationship over the last two months, and it falls flat for me. Something tells me, though, this is the beginning of a “Sly is secretly sensitive inside” thread that will probably run through to the end of the series because the writers finally realized Sly’s kind of an asshole and unsympathetic most of the time.

No song this week.

Season 3, Episode 5: “Yoko, Oh No!”

We open in Sharkey’s to find Jake bizarrely doing a back to back chat with some random guy. Yeah, it’s not entirely clear what they’re talking about, especially given how hostile the guy will seem in just a moment.

Sly and a girl named Rosie come in and announce that they’ve signed their bands up for the Battle of the Bands contest. Yeah, turns out the guys Jake was talking to behind him are another band, and Rosie is their manager. We have all the usual and expected cliches: Sly and Rosie act exactly alike but hate each other and the other band, Total Defiance, talks about how much the California Dreams suck ass. Rosie claims Total Defiance are so much edgier than the sugar coated bull shit California Dreams puts out, which made me wonder if the writers were having a moment of introspection, but then they reveal the lead singer’s name is Flava Dave, which sounds like a mascot for Pizza Hut chicken wings.

Lorena tries to defend the honor of the band, telling Total Defiance that the California Dreams do not suck ass, but Rosie’s all, “You’re not even a member of the band, you dumb ass! You’re just around because the writers needed a female character more interesting than Tiffani and Sam!” This depresses Lorena, who feels like a useless groupie who really isn’t needed on this show, but Jake assures her she is needed.

At school, Rosie assaults Mark from behind, and this will be a running gag throughout the episode: she’s sexually attracted to horrible actors like Mark.

She proceeds to dis the band some more, and I never thought I would find an episode that would make me root for Sly by comparison. Sly bets her money that the California Dreams will win the Battle of the Bands, and Rosie tells Mark she’s going to fuck him five ways to Sunday when she wins that money.

After the band goes to practice (apparently band practice is a reason to leave school in what appears to be the middle of the day), Lorena comes up and starts whining about not being a real part of the band. She tells Jake she wants to become the band’s fourth singer, and I guess threatens to withhold sex if he doesn’t give her an audition. He promptly agrees, and our plot is ago.

At her loft, Lorena does her best impersonation of Jessica from Who Framed Roger Rabbit as she sings “Stop in the Name of Love,” admittedly much edgier than anything this show has ever done, except she sucks ass at singing. But Jake likes the idea of continuing to have sex, so he can only see a great singer that he’s sure won’t cause conflict for the rest of the cast.

At Sharkey’s, the rest of the band try to figure out how to get Lorena the hell out of the band.

They volunteer Sly to tell Jake that Lorena sucks ass, but he can’t be bothered to actually listen to her singing, and they decide to try other methods.

At the loft, they try to teach Lorena how to sing, and she’s doing great but, for some reason, Tiffani and Sam randomly come up and start shaking her, which makes her think singing involves randomly moving in spastic attacks. They decide that teaching her to sing has been a failure even though she was doing just fine and just needs to me told not to have self-induced seizures, but the plot must go on!

Back at Sharkey’s, they resort to plan B, having Jake listen to a tape of Lorena singing under the guise this is someone who wants Sly to manage her. Without the possibility of sex hanging over him, Jake hears how horrible it is and realizes it’s Lorena when she says his name. He wants to give her singing lessons, but they’re all, “You missed that part of the plot and we’re not going back because we’re going to just assume she sucks ass!”

As Jake starts talking about how much of an idiot he is for not being able to hear the suckage of Lorena’s singing when she’s directly in front of him, Lorena comes in through the back entrance and, from halfway across the room, hears everyone talking shit about her. Fuck singing. Lorena has super sensitive hearing! She needs to work for the FBI!

Back at the loft, Tiffani chastises Sly for being his usual assholish self and only being able to think of the money he might lose because of Lorena. Jake comes in and reveals he’s not been able to tell Lorena how much she sucks.

But she comes in and tells the band she has laryngitis so she can’t sing in the Battle of the Bands. Everyone’s relieved they don’t actually have to tell Lorena how much she sucks and decide life will go on.

At Sharkey’s, it’s time for the Battle of the Bands, it turns out Roxanne Rubio is the host and one of the judges. You’ll be forgiven for not remembering her. Strange enough, she was the historical society person Matt got to save Sharkey’s in “Save the Shark.” It’s strange she’s now turning up as a judge, but I’m still convinced her actress is having sex with Peter Engel as many times as she shows up in random roles on his show.

Oh, and Sly convinced Rosie to call off the bet, not knowing Lorena wasn’t going to sing. It would be a throwaway line but it will matter in a minute.

Total Distraction is up first and, for a minute, I thought we were actually going to get a song from a band other than the California Dreams so we can see whether they deserve to win or not, but this show can’t be bothered to write a song for another band. As Flava Dave is about to start singing, we cut to a montage of other bands playing that don’t stand a chance of winning because they have various quirks and don’t understand how music works. Plus the writers didn’t want to imply, for once, that Total Defiance and the California Dreams were the only bands playing. One thing is for sure: I don’t see the edge in Total Defiance other than Flava Dave acting like a moron in his bad rhmes.

We finally get to the California Dreams, and they proceed to plagiarize the tune to one of 1994’s biggest pop singles (see below).

They don’t even leave the stage as Roxanne Rubio gives them the only result that this show could possibly have. Yes, of course the California Dreams won because even cheating can’t keep them from winning!

Lorena forgets she’s faking laryngitis and congratulates them on their win. She tells them she wanted to make it easy on them to kick her out, and everyone apologizes to everyone else for their role in this very convoluted and contrived plot.

Sly reveals the way he got Rosie to cancel the bet by agreeing to get her a date with Mark, and our episode ends with Rosie forcing Mark to kiss her because women forcing affections on men is hilarious, no matter what that episode of The New Class tried to tell us.

“Let’s Spend Some Time Together”
Jake singing

So the first time I’m watching Jake performing this song, I’m thinking this sounds like standard ’90s middle-of-the-road schlock. In fact, there’s something very familiar about this song. It’s almost as if I’ve heard it somewhere before. And then Jake gets to the chorus and I realize where I’ve heard this song.

Yes, good god they plagiarized the number one single from 1994, “How Do You Talk To an Angel,” the theme song from the short-lived series, The Heights. But, no, I think. Even Peter Engel wouldn’t be so lazy as to plagarize much more popular music and pass it off as being by the California Dreams, would he?

Well, imagine my surprise when I look up the single on Wikipedia and discover one of the writers of “How Do You Talk To an Angel” is Steve Tyrell, who just happens to be the guy who writes all the songs for California Dreams. In fact, one of the vocalists is Zachary Thorne, Mark’s singing voice. And I think to myself, “Fuck, they seriously just passed off one of the most popular pop songs of 1994 as being by the California Dreams. They must live in an alternate universe where no one listens to pop music stations.”

So there you have it. If you like this week’s song, there’s a version with much better lyrics readily available on YouTube. This week, our show proved, once again, how truly lazy it can be.

Season 3, Episode 4: “Blind Dates”


Romance Dance…Romance Dance…seriously? This is lazy and stupid even for a Peter Engel show. What’s next, the food dinner? The alcoholic alcohol? The shitty Engel-verse show?


We open with Sly super excited because a girl wants to touch him. Mind you, she’s not met him yet or even seen him, but he met a girl on “CompuChat”, which I assume is supposed to be a rip off of CompuServe, and she’s perfect for him and shit. When Lorena asks him if he’s taking her to the Romance Dance, he’s all, “No! She might be ugly and we can’t have that!”


Lorena wants Jake to look all hot and shit for the Romance Dance so she can show him off. Jake reminds her the band is playing this dance so he won’t be dancing, and she gets all pouty and shit. Better watch out, Lorena. It’s this shit that came between Jake and Tiffani a few episodes ago!


Sly invites the guys over to his house so they can see how these new fangled chat rooms work and shit. It’s a good thing Sly lives in Matt’s old bedroom with his kitchen door installed on it. It saves on having to build new sets. Oh, and Sly likes looking at himself so much he has a rip-off of an Andy Warhol painting up.


So Sly teaches the guys how to type on a keyboard…


…and the girl sends over a picture of herself directly to Sly’s computer, which I’m pretty sure was impossible with 1994 technology, but what the fuck ever gets us through the episode. Turns out she’s hot so Sly’s all about her.


The next day, in Lorena’s loft, it turns out the girls got on the chat room to find men too, and Tiffani’s mad no one wants to touch her when everyone wanted to touch her last season. Tony and Sam both find dates, though, so Sam suggests a triple blind date at Sharkey’s


At Sharkey’s, Tony and Sam’s dates stand them up…


…and Allison, Sly’s date, comes in on the arm of an extra. Turns out she’s a blind Nikki Cox, and she conveniently forgot about her disability because she saw how this cliche usually goes in the Engel-verse.



Sly takes her to a mime night at the movie theater and acts like his usual assholish self but, strangely enough, seems a bit toned down since we’re supposed to like him this episode.


At Sharkey’s, it turns out both Tony and Sam’s dates said they each stood up the other. They soon discover they were each other’s blind dates, and everyone laughs because Tiffani says they can’t imagine them dating when they’re each often barely in episodes.


Sly’s happy about his date and says he loves Allison despite her blindness because it’s convenient to the episode.


He even invites her to meet the rest of the band and she fucks with them a bit as the band decide Sly and Allison are perfect for each other. So Sly asks Allison to the Romance Dance, and she’s all, “I’ve got to figure out if it will work out with the plot!”


So, at school the next day, Allison still hasn’t given Sly an answer, so the band are sure to make him feel all insecure about her being blind and shit so he’ll get with the assholish program. They even decide to show him what it’s like being blind by putting one of Lorena’s scarves over each of their faces.


And, I kid you not, we go to a completely black screen as everyone starts talking about how instantly heightened the rest of their senses are! It doesn’t fucking work that way you morons! It takes years for the other senses to sharpen like that and can’t be accomplished simply by putting a scarf over your stupid fucking face! God damn this show! In any case, it’s enough to convince Sly that Allison might walk into a wall and embarrass him so he decides to get out of taking her to the dance.


He goes to Allison’s house, who’s excited about the dance now, but Sly tries to tell her he has corns and shit on his feet. She’s all, “This is just like when this plot was on Saved by the Bell! You’re acting like an ass because I’m disabled!” She tells him to fuck off, that she never wants to see him again.


At Sharkey’s, Sly moves around a bunch of shit as he tells the band he’s not sticking around for the dance.


Tony and Sam do little flirty things and shit so Sly tells them off and tells them they might as well just start fucking and get it over with. They instantly decide to start dating because it’s a strange move to take two characters I was complaining about last season didn’t get enough to do and put them together. That’s one way to take care of under-utilization of characters I guess: put them together. Tiffani tells him he should take his own advice and go get it on with Allison, so he decides to go for it.


Sly apologizes to Allison for briefly relapsing into his assholish self, and she’s all, Okay!” If apologies were always as easy as they are in this universe, no one would ever be mad at each other.


Back at the dance, Lorena tries to make Jake jealous so he’ll randomly stop playing in the band and be shown off with her. He threatens to break the faces of the guys who want to dance with Lorena, though, and she soon learns she can brag about Jake being her boyfriend without him being by her side 24/7. Well, that was a stupid subplot.


Sly soon arrives at the dance with Allison…


…as Mark and Sam sing a new song. And our episode ends with me confused by whether I hate Sly or not. It really seems like they’re toning him down for this season so I have no idea what to think. He’s still an asshole, but I’m not finding him nearly as assholish as last season when he tried to date girls. I’m scared for my sanity that he’s suddenly turning likeable!


“The Way We Are”
Sam and Mark singing

This is a very shortened song, leading me to believe it’s going to show up in another episode. I just have one question: weren’t ’80s easy listening duets dead by 1994? I mean, seriously, this is something that could have show up on the charts in the late eighties, not in 1994. This may be the most dated sounding song this show has ever had.

Really, there’s nothing special about it. Just another cheesy love song and shit. It sounds fine, with Sam’s low vocals and Mark’s singing voice, though it’s nothing to write home about. Just another example of the writers of California Dreams‘s writing staff not knowing what rock music in the vein that Jake is supposed to be into sounds like.

Firsts: Allison, Sly and Allison date, Tony and Sam date.

Season 3, Episode 3: “Budget Cuts”


We open to discover that, rather than Sharkey’s being used as the band’s private performance venue, it’s now being used as a practice area for the theater department’s performance of Hamlet. First of all, what the fuck kind of high school theater department performs Hamlet? Isn’t it usually Broadway musicals and other such modern plays? Second, does PCH not have its own auditorium? Why the fuck do they need to practice at a shitty surf diner?

The one positive thing is the guy playing Hamlet in this scene played my precious Edgar in the first season of Saved by the Bell. In any case, he’s playing an asshole this time who throws temper tantrums over service and shit.


Tony’s mad because he lost out on the role of Hamlet because he’s shown so much interest in acting up to this point. But Hamlet quits because he’s pissed it’s so noisy in a diner while he’s rehearsing so Tony instantly gets the role because plot. Seriously, what did they expect rehearsing a Shakespearean play in a place where people eat?


Meanwhile, Sly’s happy because he bribed the head of the school radio station to leave, giving him the job, because he’s an idiot who thought he could make money off it. He’s initially upset by this turn of events until Mark reminds him that he craves power as well, and the rest of the band are happy we have a plot for them this week as well.


So Sly goes on the air to introduce his new lineup of shows and to stroke his ego.


We have Mark, who has a critic show where he says he’s going to give reviews of all the activities at PCH, but ends up talking about lectures on Lithuanian gardening and the Algebra midterm and shit instead and thinks everything is boring. No, Mark, the thing most boring on this show right now is you.


Sam has an advice show where she advises some girl worried about losing her boyfriend to cross dress and dance like in Mrs. Doubtfire. Yeah, Sam, you’re about as good at advice as Mark is at acting.


Lorena has an advice show where she has such power over the student body she can instantly make them change their dress because I guess everyone wants to fuck her.


Jake has a show called “Shut Up and Listen” where he whines about Principal Blumford having his bike towed after he refuses to move his horribly parked bicycle. So, it’s sad when Lorena is the standard bearer for competent shows in this universe.


In Lorena’s loft, Jake’s proud of the job he did on his show firing up students about serious issues because whining about your principal enforcing parking rules is a serious issue I guess. Lorena tells him he sucks ass and people would rather listen to her advice on fashion.


Tony’s busy randomly performing Hamlet horribly as Sly comes in to tell the band that Mark and Sam have solid ratings while Lorena’s is the most popular show and Jake’s sucks ass. Sly tries to convince Jake to change the format of his show to make it less idiotic, but, when Jake refuses, Sly fires him and goes on with life.


At Sharkey’s, Tony’s distressed to find out Tiffani and Sam think his acting sucks. Tony’s all, “Why?!” and Tiffani’s like, “Because I’m barely in the episode this week and needed some kind of line!” To add even more salt to Tony’s wound, Mark, as usual, reviews Tony’s performance as boring because why the hell not, and Tony decides to kill Mark for having an opinion. Sorry, Tony, but, if your acting in the play was as bad as your acting in the last scene, I agree with Mark.


Principal Blumford comes into the radio station and, I have to admit, this actor has the most amazing voice ever and needed to be in more shit. But he’s here to, halfway through the episode, deliver the main conflict: budget cuts! Yes, in keeping with Peter Engel sitcoms, PCH is having a budget crisis in the middle of the school year, and the only solution is to immediately shut down a program, usually whatever the main characters are into this week. In this case, we’re getting rid of the school radio station because yeah, and the school board doesn’t give a shit about hearing what students think. So Principal Blumford immediately shuts down the radio station to move the conflict along.


At Sharkey’s, Lorena is upset the radio station is off the air. Tony thinks all Mark’s ideas to fight the system are stupid because he’s a petty, petty person. But Jake decides that they need to be rebels like him and shit. He tells they they need to lock themselves in the radio station and broadcast nonstop until the school board agrees to meet with them, even if it gets them horrible torture like detention!


At school, the band find out Lorena did just that, and Jake, for some reason, has to go help her now because she took his advice because doing stupid shit is other people’s fault if they told you to do it.


Lorena mocks Principal Blumford as he tries to get in, and Jake crawls in through a window. They start fighting over who has the biggest penis, forgetting they’re still on the air…


…and we suddenly have a Jake/Lorena romance because the writers want to try to pair Jake with someone more interesting than Tiffani as the listeners get a great soap opera because of people forgetting to turn shit off.


At Sharkey’s, the entire school walked out in protest of the school board and organize protests and shit as Tony mocks Mark some more. He pretends to never want to see Mark again and then reveals he’s been acting about being petty the whole time, which I’m not sure I buy but whatever.


Back at the radio station, Mr. Blumford tells Jake and Lorena that the school board wants to meet with them tonight at a neutral place, and what’s more neutral than Sharkey’s, the place that serves as an extension of PCH. Having gotten what they want, Jake says fuck this shit he’s out because school boards aren’t rebellious and shit. Lorena calls him a moron and he calls her a moron and then they decide they both like each other because they’re both morons and Jake agrees to go to the school board meeting. What the fuck did I just watch?


At the school board meeting, Jake’s late and the school board is about ready to say fuck this shit and go home.


But he comes in, dressed in a suit, and convinces the school board that the radio station is valuable because so many of the students learned a valuable lesson from it and shit. The school board is all, “Okay, we’ll cut a little to all programs and let the radio station survive,” thus meaning PCH has one of the most powerful student bodies on Earth, second only to Bayside. I guess this means that algebra and chemistry will be cut to make room for the whims of our main characters. And I’m sure Jake and Lorena’s alluded to punishment will be detention or some shit.


And our episode ends with Jake and Lorena in love and everyone happy that they have so much power in a world where teenagers truly do rule over adults. That was a pretty stupid episode. I wouldn’t be surprised if we never see the school radio station again, though, given my experience with the Engel-verse, it could go either way.

No song this week.

Firsts: Principal Blumford, Jake and Lorena date.

Season 3, Episode 2: “Follow Your Dreams”


We open in Lorena’s loft to find Jake singing his latest song, which the band all agree sucks ass. Yeah, they’re going to reuse the writer’s block plot Matt had last year that lead to Jake being on the show because shut up. I’m sure it’ll be about as interesting as last time. Also, Sly sent a demo to Crocodile Records, which makes the entire band nervous since, if they make it big at this point, they have to pay Matt royalties since it was his band. Mark drops the main plot on everyone when he’s all, “WE NEED TO COMPLETE THIS PLOT BECAUSE WE HAVE AN APTITUDE TEST TOMORROW!” Because it’s apparently Tony’s thing now since he had trouble with one test last year, he’s nervous because of the word test and thinks he has to go home and study.


At school the next day, Sly acts really creepy to Lorena, blocking her path and forcing her to resort to calling him names to get him to move, because I wish sexual predators were scared off that easily in the real world. Mark comes up and is all, “WOMEN HATE YOU SLY! YOU SHOULD FIND SOMETHING YOU HAVE IN COMMON!” This leads Sly to think maybe he should do something really creepy to prove his love for Lorena.


So it turns out the band’s guidance counselor is Mr. Belvedere. Who would have thought he’d show up on this show. I’m just going to assume his marriage broke up and the Owens family wouldn’t take him back because they were glad to finally be rid of him and his meddlesome ways. The saddest part is this is Christopher Hewett’s final acting credit. He lived another seven years, but the poor guy who started off a serious actor ended his career on a shitty Peter Engel sitcom. Who would have thought?

Anyway, Mr. Belvedere gives them this over-dramatic lecture about how this aptitude test will be the most important fifty minutes of their lives and will determine their destinies. He even says it’s more important than their birth. Yeah, I remember having an aptitude test that claimed I should be a rabbi. Never mind I’m not Jewish.

In any case, Tony panics because that’s his thing now I guess.


Sly, meanwhile, copies off Lorena’s test so they can get the same aptitude because having the same career track is guaranteed to get you laid.


There’s a quick scene transition and I almost thought Mr. Belvedere instantly graded their tests and told them what they should be. The only thing that gave it away was they’re all wearing different clothes, so either Mr. Belvedere is reenacting the episode where Wesley was inappropriately touched by the camp counselor or this is the next day. Mr. Belvedere gives the band their test results because none of the extras in class matter, and tells them they have to do a report in a week in whatever the hell class this is.

So I won’t waste your time with all the pointless mini-plots about the band’s aptitude scores, most of which only exist to give character other than Jake, Sly, and Lorena shit to do. Suffice it to say, Sam’s a photographer who sucks at getting candid shots, Tiffani’s a veterinarian that’s hated by all animals, Mark’s a guidance counselor because they needed an excuse for Sly to guilt him into keeping a secret, and Tony’s a musician because he studied or some shit.

As for the results that matter to the plot, Jake’s to be a florist, because that’s a career that frequently comes up on aptitude tests for Fonzie wanna-be’s.


Sly and Lorena both get fashion designer and, despite Lorena’s protests, Mr. Belvedere tells them to do their presentation together because it’s the fastest way to advance this lame ass plot.


At Sharkey’s, everyone sucks at their new jobs. Meanwhile, Sly reveals that they’re going to have to say after a while to Crocodile Records. They loved Mark’s music and the girls’ vocals, but they hated Jake’s lyrics.


After a commercial break, I think the wrong show’s come on as I’m now watching an Animal Planet show about crazy cat ladies.


No, it’s just Jake’s job as a florist being supervised by this woman who’s way too into her cat. We do get one of the worst practical effects I’ve ever seen as Tiffani goes to check the cat and, though the cat is clearly in frame and looking content with life, the producers play a really bad angry cat sound effect and have Tiffani claim the cat bit her. Why do I get the idea this cat wasn’t trained at all but belongs to one of the writers’ kids?


Tiffani, Tony, and Mark come in to make fun of Jake for floral arranging because gender roles and to ask him why he’s missed two band practices in a row, but he says he sucks at music now because that’s the plot we’re going with.


At Sharkey’s, Sly pretends to be scouting models to impress Lorena, and that’s when he tells her he’s named his design after her because she inspired it. She invites him over to her house so she can model it.


Sly runs up to Mark and tells him he cheated on the aptitude test to impress Lorena. Mark threatens to tell Lorena, but Sly puts his arm around Mark and, as Mark looks constipated, Sly reminds him of guidance counselor confidentiality even though this isn’t a confidential conversation even if Mark was a guidance counselor. He agrees not to tell Lorena as long as Sly doesn’t try to hit on her, and Sly agrees.


Naturally, he was lying so he goes down to the floral shop to buy flowers to hit on Lorena. He’s really bad at the flower thing, though, and Jake writes a card for her as his boss tells him to change the cat’s litter box because I guess doing chores for your boss falls under “other duties as needed.”


At Lorena’s house, Lorena tells Sam that maybe Sly’s design is really good. Sam’s skeptical any girl would want Sly’s name on her butt, but, you know, plot.


You know it’s starting off bad when Sly comes in dressed as a bad French stereotype. In fact, I think this is the same clothes Screech later wears in the Paris episodes of The New Class. Sam fucks off so she doesn’t have to be part of this plot while Sly tries to make out with Lorena.


Sly revelas the design, a piece of lingerie I think, and Lorena loves it, but realizes he left the price tag on it after he bought it. Lorena tries to grab it, but it tears in her hands. Sly promises to come up with another one of Victoria’s worst kept Secrets.


Jake comes in to break up this stupid scene, delivering the flowers to Lorena, and maybe a cat? I don’t know. That cat looks like it doesn’t understand why these people won’t just let it sleep!


In any case, Lorena loves the card so much she immediately starts making out with Sly as Sam comes in to take a photo, sad that they’re still wearing so many clothes.

And, at the flower shop, Jake quits because the cat makes more bad sound effects.


In the loft, Lorena and Sam continue gushing over the card from Sly, but Mark hears it and decides he has to take action. “SLY LIED TO YOU BECAUSE THE PLOT TOLD HIM TO AND HE CHEATED ON THE APTITUDE TEST THINGY!” She’s pissed off and decides to get the revenge, but the fact that Lorena loved the card so much gives him an idea.


It’s time for the class presentations, and Tiffani brought a pig to class…for some reason…and the pig chases her out of the classroom.


Proving Mr. Belvedere has no control over his class, Lorena convinces Sly to come in dressed as Tarzan because the writers are apparently looking for every excuse possible to show Sly shirtless this season. Mild ribbing from Jake and laughing from the studio audience is apparently enough to make Sly learn his lesson, and that subplot is over.


It’s Jake’s turn, but he says the class needs to take a field trip for his presentation. Since the writers of this show don’t understand how field trips work, Mr. Belvedere goes to Sharkey’s with the band, where Jake tells him he tried floral arranging and it just wasn’t him. He says he’s figured out what he wants out of life and, luckily, Sharkey’s is still catering to the every whim of our band.


The band play Jake’s new song based on the card he wrote for Lorena, and Mr. Belvedere says that, from now on, he’s going to view aptitude tests as guides and not definite indicators of what career someone should go into. What?!?! I was expecting some lame resolution about how the real purpose of the aptitude test was to allow exploring of career options and that Mr. Belvedere knew it wasn’t set-in-stone guides for forty years of a working career. I can’t believe Mr. Belvedere is written this horribly to really believe that the results of an aptitude test are definitive. Did he get his counseling degree via mail order while he was trying to avoid Wesley’s shennanigans?

In any case, our episode, and Christopher Hewett’s acting career, ends with a half-baked declaration from Jake that you can’t stop believing in your dreams. This episode is stupid, and I really struggle with whether the Jake plot or the Sly and Lorena plot were the main plot. If Jake’s plot was meant to be the A plot, it barely got any screen time. In any case, this may have been one of the most boring episodes of this show so far.

“Whenever I Think of You”
Jake singing

I have to make the observation, since this is the first real song Jake’s done lead vocals on, that his voice makes him sound like a ’90s country music star, and it doesn’t help that the song sounds like something any male country singer from that decade could have pulled off. It makes me wonder how well he’ll be able to pull off the psuedo-rock vibe this show tries so desperately to pull off but fails constantly at.

The song itself is not bad, but nothing terribly special either. Cheesy nineties country love ballads were never my genre of choice, so I don’t have a whole lot to say about this song either way. I sure hope this isn’t a sign of things to come with the music on this show, though, or it’s going to be a very painful three seasons.