Season 5, Episode 15: “The Last Gig”

We open at Sharkey’s with Tiffani crying over a hamburger…

…and Tony crying over losing his really crappy job serving his freeloading friends. Yes, it’s the final episode, and our band are preparing to go their separate ways, which means it’s time for info dump about what our heroes are planning to do now that their series, and their only chance for stardom, is fading into the distance.

I’ll sum it up:

  • Tiffani is off to the University of Hawaii to study ocean shit because she’s a surfer and shit and all surfers want to be oceanographers.
  • Sam is going to England to study Physics at Oxford because she’s the smart one. I suppose her Hong Kong accent will suddenly sound like a British one at that point.
  • Mark is going to Julliard because it’s the one music college the writers have heard of. I guess they’ll just take anyone nowadays, even fake multi-instrumentalists with separate singing actors.
  • Lorena and Sly are going to Pacific University because, out of all the couples, they’re the ones who are going to stay together. Why? Also, props to the writers for not getting lazy and creating a fake university for them to go to after “California University.
  • We never find out what’s happening to Tony. I presume he’s going to ride the rails hobo style until he leaves acting.

In the middle of this info dump, Jake comes in, distressed that the band are thinking of college more than practicing for their last gig. See, he’s staying behind in Pacific Coast and is still determined as ever to get the band signed, even if none of those other slackers have their priorities in check.

Also, why isn’t Jake going to college? Are they implying he’s somehow stupider than the rest of the band or something? I don’t get it: this universe is usually so intent on pushing college on all children. It’s a shock for them to reveal that, yes, someone can choose not to go to college AND lead a happy, fulfilling life.

At the gig, Jake tries hard to get a promoter to come see the band, but has no luck.

So he and the band play snippets of a few of their old songs, some we haven’t heard in a long time.

Well, it just so happens there was a record exec there tonight who had nothing better to do that night except go hear some unknown band’s final performance. He says he’s impressed, but he only wants to sign Jake, not the rest of the band. Jake storms off, saying that, unless the whole band is signed, he won’t sign either.

The rest of the band stand there stunned that Jake would do something so stupid, which leads into the series’ final fantasy sequence.

They imagine twenty years into the future, where Sharkey’s is now a franchise and a new restaurant is being opened in Paris, and the old band reunite for the first time to celebrate.

Naturally, Sly and Lorena own it since they’re the ones most obsessed with money and shit.

Mark’s become a drag queen.

Sam’s joined the cast of Star Trek: The Next Generation. Seriously, I’m surprised the costuming department didn’t get sued for this one.

Tiffani comes in, confused she’s a dolphin.

And Tony’s become the first black James Bond because, you know, he loves acting and shit, even though he once told his father that music was his biggest dream.

Jake, though, has a pot belly and is still living with his parents, still trying to get the band signed, even though none of them give a shit about it anymore. This shared hallucination convinces the rest of our cast they have to get Jake to sign that contract.

They find him at Sharkey’s, where he’s convinced the record exec to also sign the band. They all let him know, though, that they’re not interested and are going to college, leaving him to storm out again for the second time this episode.

Tiffani finds Jake at the loft, and it’s actually a pretty touching scene. If they’d had more like this, I might have given a shit about their relationship and not felt like it was manufactured to make up for Jenny’s departure. She tells Jake that the rest of the band’s dreams changed slowly over time, but his has stayed the same since the beginning, or at least since he took the band from a long forgotten character whose show this originally was. He says he’ll sign the contract, but this also leads to the realization their relationship isn’t going to last…again. Yeah, probably something they should have thought about weeks ago, but that’s the Engel-verse for you.

So the band play their last gig…again. Seriously, I thought that other concert was their last gig. They both just happen to be on the pier and have the same extras present? They even play an endangered species this season: a new song! Of course, what could have improved this episode would have been to have the theme song be their final song, just as it was their first.

But, as the concert ends, it’s that time, time to say goodbye.

Mark has to go before people realize he really does suck as much as he seems to, and Sly says goodbye to his cousin using the words that traumatized him years ago, just to remind him how much he does suck ass.

Lorena thanks Tiffani and Sam for being her best friends when the script called for it.

Tony and Sam say goodbye, but Tony breaks down in tears when he realizes his only other major acting gig will be on USA High.

Jake and Tiffani say their goodbye.

And, finally, Jake and Sly say goodbye, realizing they really do love each other for some reason, even though I still maintain Sly is an irredeemable jackass.

And, god damn it, just fuck this scene right here. No, this isn’t a tear in my eye as I watch Jake left alone on the stage. No, my eyes must just be dry because I hated the last two seasons of this show. I can’t be crying as I watch Jake left behind, all alone, his friends gone on to their own lives and he doing his own thing. If I’m crying, I can’t be living up to my reputation I’m gaining from commenters on Saved by the Bell Reviewed as a beta cuck SJW pedophile who over-analyzes decades old shows! No, god damn it, you’re not going to tell me that, out of all the Engel-verse shows I’ve reviewed, this is the one that did a really good finale that got me all emotional and shit! Not the forgotten step-child of Saved by the Bell!

This episode honestly deserves its 9.6 rating on IMDB.

Oh, Ronald B. Solomon, I take back the mean stuff I’ve said about you. You do know your way around a script! Seriously, other than the info dump at the beginning, this episode is nearly a perfect ending to the series. I’m actually shocked after the shitty ones I’ve had to review in the past. The only thing I might have done differently is sweet talk Brent Gore into coming back and have Matt return to recruit Jake into a new band, bookending the series. Since that was unlikely, though, I can’t complain too much. I mean, damn!

And, as our episode, our season, and our series ends, I’m left in an emotional state of sadness and gladness, something I had no idea I’d be feeling at the end of this project. This show: when it was good, it was good.

“She’s Not You”
Jake singing

A snippet of an old song that’s been seen three times before: once with Matt singing and twice with Jake. If they’re going for a retrospective of songs, this is definitely the right ways to go.

“Tough Love”
Jake singing

Here’s another one we haven’t heard in a while, not since the preachy episode where Jake had to give up smoking. Interesting that they’re choosing songs this old to go back to for the final episode.

“To the End”
Jake, Mark, and Tony singing

And another song we haven’t heard in a while. Geez, if this was any other episode, I’d swear we’re watching an out of season episode. The producers aren’t usually this good about going back and rediscovering old songs like this. I mean, that’s how we got “He’s So Funky” in like four episodes this season.

“So Glad I Was There”
Jake, Mark, Tiffani, Sam, and Tony singing

Good God in Heaven! Miracles do happen! It’s the sole new song for the season! I’m almost in shock it’s such an unexpected occurrence. Good they ended the series with a new song, but it should have happened a lot more over the course of this season!

The song itself is thematically designed as a goodbye, with each member of the band singing a part almost as a goodbye. It was slow but, for once, I’m not going to complain about its speed. I’m not sure a faster rock song would have been appropriate here. It’s a decent sounding song even if the five vocalists sound a bit unnatural since it could have just as easily been sung by one of them.

It’s the last California Dreams song we’ll ever hear, and that does make me a little sad deep down. When it comes down to it, though the writers didn’t seem to have a clue about nineties garage rock, the songs at least had heart.

Most of you know the drill by now, but I’ll have my usual season recap next Friday. The following week, I’ll have a couple of special posts. And, in two weeks, I’ll wrap up this project once and for all and let you know what’s next for me! See you then!

8 thoughts on “Season 5, Episode 15: “The Last Gig”

  1. I wondered what you would think of this episode. I think it is easlily the best finale of the Engleverse since it didn’t take place at graduation like very other show. I also liked how realistic it was in that you didn’t get the usual cliches like Jake and Tiffany saying they’ll stay together for eternity.

    I didn’t see the finale when it initially aired, I watched it after Shout Factory said they wouldn’t release season 5 on DVD so I had no real emotional attachment to it, and the episode got to me. Like you said, short of Brantley Gore coming back, it was a near perfect final episode to the show.

  2. Back in 97, I thought the Graduation episode was the final episode, and thought it was such a dumb way to end the series. I didn’t see “The Last Gig” until some years later. As someone who thought the show went down the shitter after the second season, I was pretty damn impressed with the series finale. It actually made me tear at the end! It was extremely well done, especially for a cheesy Saturday morning Peter Engel show.

    I agree that it would have been awesome to have Brent, and possibly Heidi, come back for the final episode, and maybe sing the theme song one last time. Slight tangent here, but I always thought it strange that they never fully rerecorded the theme song; you can still hear Heidi’s back vocals in the theme song, and her voice is pretty prominent there too.

  3. The episode was really good. One of the best in the series. And very somber.

    Like real life finishing HS is the end of an era. Some go to college, others have to find a 9-5 job. More then likely you’ll never see your friends from HS again. Other times they still follow you in college.

    Most still have no idea what they want to do with the rest of their lives. No matter how much they tell you they do.

    Since SBTB: TCY was a bust, the crew knew this was the last episode. And you saw that on screen. Everyone is going off into an uncertain future and it reflects that in the last scene. Jake doesn’t know if he’ll succeed in the world of music. And he’s on his own now. We saw what might be the best four years of his life. Playing music with his friends. Now what?

    Very different attitude from SBTB and his other shows.

    BTW, it would of been good to see Matt back. He was missed in the last two seasons.

  4. Oh and my only nitpick was, I would of loved to saw a revamped version of the theme song music video from S1. Kind of like a book end to the series this time with all all the characters. Not just the band.

  5. I don’t remember this episode too clearly, but the pot-bellied Jake in the dream sequence seems kinda familiar. This does seem different and somber for an Engelverse series. I just might have to rewatch this one, and I haven’t watched any CD since, well, the ’90s, I guess.

    I can’t say I really relate to the characters in the episode, though. Then again, I wasn’t really involved in anything in high school; it was just something that I was required to attend. When I graduated, I knew I’d be attending the local community college in the fall, so it was just another summer vacation for me. In college, I saw a fair amount of the same people that I attended high school with (and even someone that I hadn’t seen since middle school). I had acquaintances more than friends, so I wasn’t particularly emotionally attached to anyone. I had one actual friend, and we saw each other on a regular basis for five years after graduation, when he moved away, but we still see each other online. The real “Oh, shit, now what?” moment came after college graduation. Even today, I’m not really sure which era of my life that I prefer. They both have their good parts and bad parts.

    By the way, due to the timeline of this series (with the gang graduating in 1997), that means the series started in the summer of 1995 and lasted only two years. There’s really no reason that the entire gang couldn’t stay in contact via e-mail and chat.

  6. When I saw this episode again last year for the first time in who knows how many years, I was surprised how good it was. I mean actually good not the dumb-good that characterizes most Engelverse shows. As other people have said, this episode captures the uncertainty of graduating from high school and the realization that the people in your social circle have very different ideas about what they want to do with their lives, ideas that may not intersect with yours. I think the reason why California Dreams is remembered more than the other non-SBTB TNBC shows is because it retained the mix of dumb-bad and occasionally actually good episodes that SBTB had without the constant moralizing found in the later episodes of TNC or Hang Time.

    Per the CD reunion that happened a couple of years back, the actor who played Tony is now a psychologist, which is pretty neat. I have more respect for former child actors who decide to quit the business and do something useful than ones like Dustin Diamond who are obsessed with being in the public eye even if it’s for all the wrong reasons.

  7. You know I rewatched this episode this morning and was really shocked by how good it was. It’s so realistic and hits on what graduating high school is really like. Everyone knows that it’s time to move on and one person can’t. Then, when he decides to move on too, he faces an uncertain future. Honestly it’s probably the most realistic episode that the Engleverse ever produced.

    I think you could really see the emotions of the cast and as a viewer it gets to you, as you could see how much the cast was struggling to say goodbye.

    I agree though. When the show was good, it was really good and it still made me sad just watching it.

  8. If people want to see if here is the last episode on youtube. Just think how more heartfelt it would be in syndication when they add the theme song instrumental and the California sunset. And not a Men Behaving Badly commercial.

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