Season 3, Episode 17: “Tiffani’s Gold”

We open at Sharkey’s to discover that Tiffani suddenly has an interest in volleyball that she claims she’s had her entire life. Yeah, fuck that surfing thing she talks about but we never actually see her do. Volleyball is her thing for the purposes of this episode, and she’s determined to make the “national volleyball team,” which I assume has something to do with the Olympics since she wants to earn a gold medal. In any case, she’s been so busy she hasn’t spent much time with the band and shit because her coach is working her so hard, and blah blah blah!

Meanwhile, after Sam and Lorena oogle some random volleyball guys, Sly, Tony, and Mark get the idea they should have a “studliest man contest” to be judged by Sam and Lorena. I’m more confused by why no one’s acting like they’re dating people and this doesn’t piss someone off.

And then Jake gets a couple of random girls as he says fuck the contest. This is a stupid out of order episode, isn’t it? As usual, the order placement sucks ass and they placed an episode that belonged near the beginning of the season as the season finale. Damn it, Engel-verse, can you never get this right?

In any case, a studliest man contest between Sly, Tony, and Mark is like an intelligence contest between Dustin Diamond and Tony Dillon: I guess there’s a winner, but does anyone even care?

In the girls’ locker room, Tiffani finds Lorena and Sam peeking through a little hole at the guys naked in their locker room because they need to do something to occupy themselves this episode.

They’re soon caught by Coach Hardaway and fuck off without consequences because no one actually cares what they’re doing, and so we can get on with our plot.

The coach lectures Tiffani on her performance and how she might not make it and shit and puts the stereotypical pressure on her to outperform since she’s the shortest one out there and shit.


Geez, I wonder if this is going to be a very special episode about steroids? I blame this girl’s random talking about steroids if Tiffani gets addicted this episode.

Back at Sharkey’s, the girls get to give the boys their first challenge: they have to pick up a girl with a single line. But it’s not just any girl!

No, the boys have to pick up Fergie. Yes, seriously, that’s Fergie, as in former lead singer for the Black Eyed Peas, long before she was famous. She has no time for Tony and Sly, and Mark’s so far out of his league that he doubts any guy could attract Fergie with just one line.

But then Jake comes in and tells Fergie she left her lights on, which is enough to get her horny and shit I guess because Jake Sommers is the only one on this show who can possibly compete with Fergie. And thus ends Fergie’s very brief stint on California Dreams before she went on to become about a million times more famous than any of the main cast.

Tiffani comes in with a hurt arm after having a girl spike a ball back down at her because that’s apparently enough for a serious injury on this show. Selfishly realizing how much making the team will help the band, the others start putting pressure on Tiffani, telling her she sucks ass if she can’t do it and shit because this episode wants to put as much undue pressure on Tiffani as possible.

This makes her take Sly aside and tell him she needs steroids and shit, rightfully assuming that, since he’s a shithead, he has drug dealing connections. Sly gives her the whole “drugs are bad for you!” speech before ultimately agreeing to help Tiffani get the steroids as long as she promises she’ll stop taking them after she makes the team and shit.

They apparently work, too, because, by the end of the commercial break, Tiffani’s suddenly Supergirl, super hyper and able to open stuck windows in a single bound. Steroids helped Tiffani make the first cut and instantly compensated for all her shortcomings and shit.

Now it’s time for the boys to see who can dress the studliest.

Tony’s dressed as his best “working on my car in my driveway” look.

Mark dresses in a tuxedo because he’s Mark.

And Sly dresses in nothing but his boxers. Naturally, none of this impresses girls in this universe because this is the one place where personality matters more than looks, so everyone throws shit at the three and a gaggle of girls goes off with Jake for a pre-dating Lorena orgy.

As Tiffani leaves, she promises Sly that, now that she’s made the first cut, she’ll stop taking steroids and shit.

At school, Tiffani’s surrounded by…adoring fans who want her autograph. I’m pretty sure that’s not how student athletics work in any universe. And Tony calls her the Nancy Kerrigan of PCH. Um, Tony, I hate to break it to you, but you know Nancy Kerrigan is a figure skater, not a volley ball player, or could the writers not be bothered to distinguish between Olympic sports, assuming it’s just all one mash-up of sports?

Tiffani’s beginning to show irritability from her steroids because she’s been on steroids for a week and, in the Engel-verse, that means a decade. Sly comes in and says he booked a television interview for the band once Tiffani makes the team, and it literally just occurred to me that no one realizes that, if Tiffani made the team, she’d no longer have time for the band as she’d have to practice all the time so she’d go the way of the Garrisons, unless we’re going by Saved by the Bell-style unlimited time for stuff as long as the plot doesn’t call for otherwise. So tell me again how Tiffani’s athletics benefit the band?

In any case, we’re really hammering home this anti-steroids message, so the pressure gets to Tiffani and she takes more steroids

In the girl’s locker room, Sly tries to sneak into Sam’s locker to see who’s winning the contest, but finds a mouse trap and a note because they predicted his behavior.

The real reason he’s in the locker room, though, is to witness Tiffani talk to herself about how she’s out of steroids and shit. She slams Sly up against the lockers when he tries to lecture her and demands he comply with more drug dealing. Now, normally Sly would deserve to get slammed up against the locker, but it’s not convenient for the plot so fuck that shit. When he won’t help her, she says she’ll get the drugs herself and shit.

In the hallway, the stupid subplot continues. Sly’s disqualified since he’s not in a random place at a random time, so the girls ask Tony and Mark when it’s appropriate for a man to cry. I’ll tell you when: after watching the Dustin Diamond porno!  They naturally both fuck up that test…

…but Jake comes in at that very moment telling a girl about how he cried at the movie they saw. Sam and Lorena are all, “Fuck this subplot! Jake wins because he’s obviously the only male character on this show worth anything! Besides, he kissed Fergie!” And thus ends the stupid subplot.

Sly comes in and tells the band that Tiffani’s on steroids. Though they don’t believe him at first because, come on, it’s Sly, her cranky pants behavior as late eventually convinces them and they look somber as they contemplate how preachy they want to go on this show.

At Sharkey’s, Tiffani’s carried in by a random bunch of admirers and shit after making the team because, once again, Peter Engel doesn’t understand student athletics.

The band are all preachy and shit about steroids and Tiffani’s all, “It’s all the writer of this episode’s fault for putting so much contrived pressure into the script!” The band continue preaching to her and tell her they turned down the television interview.

Tiffani gets mad and, in what’s obviously intended to be this show’s take on Jessie’s caffeine pill freak out, she knocks a bunch of shit off a table and then breaks down crying in Jake’s arms, because using steroids for a couple weeks definitely affects you this much!

At the loft, Tiffani tells the band she’s sorry for everything she’s done and she quit the volleyball team since she really doesn’t give a shit about that sport anyway. She’s going to counseling and that instantly helped her get off the steroids.

And our episode and our season ends with the band embracing in a big hug as Peter Engel puts his name on-screen in pride at another half-assed preachy episode.

You know, for an episode that’s supposed to be California Dream‘s answer to “Jessie’s Song,” this sure as hell was a boring episode. “Jessie’s Song” is classic because it’s so ludicrous you can laugh your ass off at it. The only thing that stands out to me from this episode is the lingering question of how the hell Fergie ended up on a Peter Engel show in the 1990s? I mean, seriously, I thought Jamie Kennedy and Mr. Belvedere were the most famous we were going to get, and then she goes and shows up. I mean, shit!

No song this week.

Season 3, Episode 16: “The Treasure of PCH”

We open…directly on a song! I guess this is the show’s attempt to make up for the dearth of songs in the last few weeks: by throwing one at us right off the bat. For a show about a band, there’s sure not a lot about the band going on any longer, is there?

Well, it turns out the band is playing a series of concerts on the pier, and the promoter, Billy Buckman, loves them so much he’s going to book them again and inexplicably give them $1,000. He also seems to have hearing problems from sitting next to an amp so he screams a lot, but this is never featured again in this episode so fuck it.

This leads us into a fantasy sequence because the band suddenly are having visions of what it will be like to be rich and making $1 million a gig, because a million is right around the corner when you just made a thousand, right? You can imagine that Sly is paying girls to kiss him.

Jake has a menu of motorcycles and a butler to show them to him because why not.

Mark and Tiffani bet on tennis games with vacation homes on the line because they have nothing better to do.

Tony and Sam just complain about their photo being misidentified. Yeah, everyone has really bad fake posh British accents, because that’s the first thing you gain when you get right, right? Our band seem to have really limited ambitions of what would happen if they got rich. I get they’re going for the Saturday morning TNBC crowd, but still…

Well, we’ve wasted six minutes with a song, a fake plot point that has nothing to do with the rest of the episode, and a pointless fantasy sequence. I guess it’s finally time to get the episode started before we completely run out of time! Lorena’s suddenly become the voice of reason about money, even though she’s the worst person on the show to lecture about how money corrupts, and believes that money’s changing the band for the worst and will ruin their friendship. Jake is convinced that butterflies and unicorns and rainbows and shit, and that the band’s friendship can’t be corrupted by the likes of the evil MONEY! They make a bet that the least little sight of money will tear them apart, and decide that a kiss is good enough payment because fucking with your friends is only worth doing stuff you’d be doing anyway.

So the plan is that Jake hides a fake letter in a book supposedly written in 1953 that details a guy hiding his $4 million from space aliens or some shit. After token resistance, the band nearly instantly accept that there’s $4 million randomly sitting around out there for them. Tony quickly decodes the first clue as being about the movie theater…

…and they quickly rush over to their cheap ass mall movie theater looking for the next clue under a specific seat. Maybe you should, instead, be looking at a movie theater or under a chair that, I don’t know, existed in 1953! Our band is really stupid this episode. I know it’s a plot point in a minute, but, still, the fact that they didn’t put these pieces together just make them look idiotic.

Anyway, Tiffani chases away a random guy who growls at her by getting him to do his worst impression of a Looney Tunes dog, and the clue is right there where it’s supposed to be, because, of all the cheap ass movie theaters in all the world, it just happens to be in this one.

At Sharkey’s, the band read the next clue and Mark realizes that it’s pointing towards somewhere at the pier because he needed something to do this episode. The band agree to wait and go searching tomorrow, making Jake think Lorena’s wrong about how fragile the band’s friendship is and everything. So Lorena suggests Mark go by himself, which instantly sets off a fight of not trusting anyone because I guess their friendship was really that delicate.

So they all sneak down to the pier hoping not to run into each other, all the while yelling at everyone else for being devious and underhanded and shit, and they finally find the next clue under a bench which I’m pretty sure didn’t exist in 1953. Hell, that pier doesn’t look like it existed back in 1953! Logic and reality isn’t going to stop our band of raving idiots, though, as they figure out this clue is point them towards PCH.

Jake and Lorena come out of the shadows and realize their little trick has worked too well because all of their friends are complete morons. They decide they have to tell them the truth the next day, deciding they’re going to be mad about this shit I guess.

At PCH the next day, our band slept on the sidewalk in front of school all night so none of them could sneak in and find the money, and you can tell because their hair is messed up and that’s a tell-tale sign of stress I guess. Oh, and I guess Principal Blumford let them sleep outside because he doesn’t give a shit about their safety now that he’s not going to set a stupid world record. Well, Tony finds the next clue and a reference to Jaws, a movie from the 1970s, pointing towards Sharkey’s suddenly causes Sam to grow a brain cell as they realize all the places they’ve visited are newer than 1953. No shit you fucking idiots! Next you’re going to realize that the sky is blue.

In any case, they decide Jake and Lorena must be playing a trick on them since they’re the only two not acting like fucking morons this episode, just fucking assholes. They decide to play a trick on the two of them and nominate the least valuable player of their brain trust, Mark, to set up the plan.

Jake and Lorena come in and try to tell the others about the bet, but they pretend to not believe them, with Mark turning in an even worse acting job than usual. So they rush over to Sharkey’s…

…and pretend to tear the place apart looking for the money. Jake and Lorena reiterate they were lying to the band, and they finally pretend to believe them and suggest the way they can apologize is to clean the place up, because that’s great revenge.

No, the actual revenge is Jake and Lorena finding a planted bag of fake diamonds in a surf board on the wall and then getting their turn at playing idiot for the last minute or so as they fight over it, proving they truly were assholes without a high ground to stand on.

The rest of the band stand around and shake their heads judgmentally as they apparently snuck back in the side entrance just to watch Jake and Lorena act like assholes. They exposit the moral of the episode being about money changing people and shit, it’s the root of all evil, but they still have a thousand dollars to waste on Sharkey’s food when no one appears to be working that night so it’s all good. Sharkey’s must really be doing bad in sales lately when they’re allowing the random kids who hang out there to just trash the place to teach their friends a non-lesson. Oh, to live such a charmed life that there are never true consequences for your actions.

Mark singing

This is an odd song for California Dreams as it has a very reggae-inspired beat to it, and this was long after the eighties reggae revival that saw horrible bands like UB40 emerge on the scene and bastardize old pop songs that didn’t do nothing to deserve the treatment they received. At least it’s an original song with halfway decent lyrics that fit the theme of the episode, but that’s about all I can say about that.

It’s not that it’s a bad song. It just feels odd here, but I don’t know why I would expect any different from a show that still has yet to present an honest to goodness rock song from our “rock” band. You know, the one that was supposedly influenced by The Beatles. In any case, it could be much, much worse, and I’m glad we were spared what might have been from this show.

Season 3, Episode 15: “Junior Achievement”

We open in class, where a sick Tony sneezes all over everything. Sly tries to kick Tony out of “his” seat, but Tony tells him to suck a wet one and fuck off. Oh, the non-existent days before assigned seating! They were so glorious, weren’t they? Seems there’s a cold going around. I sure hope this doesn’t factor into the plot in any way as they’re beating it into us!

Meet Mr. Parrot, the band’s economics teacher! This week, he’ll be showing us how the writers of this show have no fucking clue what an economics class is as, yes, this is a cheap rip-off of Saved by the Bell’s “The Friendship Business”, which also had no idea what an economics class is. See, Mr. Parrot, who I’m assumed is named as such because he’s ripping off Mr. Tuttle, is going to give his students $500 to start up businesses because it would seem that schools in L.A. were really rich in the ’90s. It appears the writers also don’t understand how business works as the money has to be paid back or they will attend summer school. Um, I’m pretty sure that’s not how developing products works and it’s a horrible message to send for your class project.

In Lorena’s loft, Tony continues to sneeze over everything as Sam brings him a mug of her great-great grandmother’s cold cure that she guarantees will cure him. Geez, I hope colds don’t factor into this shit at all this week!

Since Jake doesn’t have much to do this week and Mark never has much to do, the writers decided to pair them up giving music lessons for their project, while the rest of the band thinks the idea sounds idiotic. Great, they can teach everyone how to lip sing.

When Tony nearly instantly feels better from drinking the tea, Sly gets the idea of selling the formula for their project. Sam’s against it, though, saying she doesn’t want to tarnish her grandmother’s honor until the writers think of a sufficient way to justify it for her.

At Sharkey’s, the band try to figure out a way to get the formula from Sam. When she comes in with a fresh supply and Sly’s able to sell it all in a matter of minutes because the extras on this show just buy anything that the sleaziest member of the PCH student body offers them. When Tiffani claims that means they could make $4 million in one year, Sam’s all, “I guess greed is a good enough reason for me to compromise my feelings and values!”

Back at the loft, the band get going on the tea, with Lorena in charge of packaging, Tiffani of money, Tony of advertising, and Sly of doing nothing and taking money.

While they’re making the tea, Jake and Mark come in with students, but they’re not able to practice for all the noise going on and it’s not like Jake has a garage where they could go, so, because everyone’s an idiot I guess, Jake and Mark aren’t doing very well on their plan as the students say, “Fuck this shit!”

Tony shoots their commercial in Lorena’s house, with a Chinese stereotyped Sam because that’s what this episode was missing: casual racism!

Also, Sly plays the cold germs because he’s perfect at playing a virus. Sadly, Sly’s the only one of them who knows how to act, but they’re convinced that Tony’s commercial is going to get them lots of sales because they’re going to show it on public access because that’s what the kids at PCH watch.

At Sharkey’s, Jake and Mark try to get into advertising through singing in the doorway, and everyone’s all, “Go the fuck away!”

The advertising worked, though, and Tony and Sly sell lots of the tea because I guess kids at PCH love the conspiracy theories and sports talk of public access.

Back at the loft, Tiffani reveals they broke even on the first batch so their plan is to find a way to cut costs on the secret ingredient because they couldn’t do that by cutting out the advertising or packaging or anything.

So Tony tries the new formula with carnations and it appears to be helping his cold as Jake and Mark talk about getting students but not charging them.


Random extras start pouring in, though, complaining the tea is having the stupid side effect of making them hiccup, because that’s a real thing I’m sure. This includes a young Jamie Kennedy, and I guess now we know why he stars in horrible movies like Son of the Mask: the tea affected his better judgment so he accepts such shit roles.  An angry mob furious at the idea of the tea inspiring really bad sequels of Jim Carey films forms and chases our band out the door…

…and apparently straight back to Lorena’s bedroom because these were some pissed off folks who really don’t like hiccuping. Sam laments getting greedy just because of money and shit while Sly wants to lie and shit.

After they all leave, the tea makes he hallucinate that a picture of her great-great grandmother is talking to her. I’m pretty sure Sam’s great-great grandmother, who would have lived in nineteenth century China, would not be in this high quality of a photo, but who cares about things like facts when you’re writing for California Dreams. The photo tells her the moral of the episode isn’t to not make money off shit, but to be honest in your business dealings, and that she must restore her honor.

In class, Jake and Mark get D’s because they admit to Mr. Parrot that they used the $500 on dates. No, you fucking idiot, this is why you don’t give teenagers unrestricted access to $500. Maybe this is why he was never in another episode: incompetence.

When it’s time for the rest of the band to report on the tea business, Sly tries to lie and shit but Sam admits what they did and says they need to return the money of everyone who bought the tea. This makes Mr. Parrot decide to give Sam an A for integrity because she was able to figure out what the moral of the episode was.

As the bell rings and our episode ends, the tea container congratulates Sam on a job well done and she freaks out, suddenly realizing that pictures are talking to her. Next week, tune in for California Dreams‘s very special look at schizophrenia as the stress of the talking pictures begins to take its toll on Sam as they all begin demanding she do their bidding. She starts abusing caffeine pills as she struggles to maintain the pace of making tea and singing in a shitty band!

No song this week.

Season 3, Episode 14: “Boyz R Us”

We open at Sharkey’s to find Tony trying to have a burger in peace, but his friends all randomly steal his food because they aren’t going to have another gig for a month and apparently their parents don’t feed them at home and Sharkey’s just lets kids hang out who don’t buy anything. Tony tells them they should get a fucking job and quit mooching off him, but Jake insists they’ve looked for jobs but there’s nothing out there.

Of course, Sly comes in, having found a job delivering singing telegrams, and suggests the rest of the band get jobs there. They’re reluctant until Sly reveals they pay $25 per telegram, which seems unlikely since that would mean they’d make no money at all off the things. Oh, well, who cares about believability. We have a subplot.

Yes, all that shit about the jobs was a subplot. So what is the plot going to be about this week you ask?

Well, we find out when an old friend of Tony’s, Darren, comes in. Seems two years ago, Tony lived in the hood because he’s black and all black people originally came from the hood since middle class black people don’t exist. It would have made more sense for this to be about Jake, but we need to play up the urban stereotypes for this episode, so get ready for some stupid shit.

Anyways, Tony was in a band called “Boyz R Us” with Darren and a guy named J.R. They start randomly insulting each other and shit because that’s what people do in the hood I guess, and they’re back to bonding and shit.

In Lorena’s loft, Sam’s super nervous about meeting Darren because…I don’t know. She acts like she’s meeting his parents or something. In any case, Darren comes in and compliments Tony on his choice in bland uninteresting ladies, saying Tony always had a way with the girls. Jake invites Darren to jam with them later, which we’ll never see because why would we in a show about a band…

…and Mark shows his racist side as he assumes all black people from the hood talk like gangsta rappers and throw their arms around wildly. Darren should beat the shit out of Mark for being a moron, but he lets it pass, probably because the producers knew they’d never get Matt back if they let Darren kill Mark.

Sly comes in wearing a stupid costume and reveals the rest of the band are supposed to wear costumes in their job, but Jake is all, “I don’t wear costumes unless it’s dressing up as a bad rip-off of Fonzie.”

Darren is suddenly quiet when Tony mentions J.R. again and, though Darren’s hesitant to talk shit about J.R. in front of a bunch of strangers at first, he reveals that J.R. has been hanging out with a bad crowd because, you know, black people in the hood.

Jesus, no. The Engel-verse has a very bad track record when it comes to handling plots about race. I still have horrible memories of Zack Morris wearing a Native American head dress, Slater caring about his Mexican heritage to get some poon, and Eric doing a white person version of gangsta rap. Granted, the plot about racism involving Tony in the first season was pretty good. Maybe lightning will strike twice.

So Darren knows J.R. will listen to Tony and came to bring Tony to talk to him. Tony is all, “You can spend the night at my house and we’ll go see J.R. tomorrow. Plus, it will give the writers an excuse to show more of my family.”

We get a random interlude with Jake and Mark delivering a singing telegram and having a poor, random customer want to shoot them in the face after they literally suggest he’s never getting laid again in their song…

…and we find ourselves at Tony’s house, where his mom looks over old photos with Tony and Darren and reminisces about the start of their music career. Kudos for continuity: they actually remembered that Tony’s father is a football coach.

After his mom leaves, Tony calls J.R. to find out what time they can come over tomorrow, and finds out that the thugs beat up J.R. because he didn’t want to rob a bank with them. J.R. is unconscious in a hospital and they’re unsure how long he’s going to be.

At Sharkey’s, the band complain about how rude people have been to them and how few tips they’ve made from this singing telegram bullshit. They must be right that it’s just a stupid job they’re not getting tips and not the fact that Jake and Mark are implying people can’t get laid.

Of course, Sly is making lots of money and insists it’s because he’s not afraid to be stupid.

Tiffani proves it by doing stupid shit to Mark so, suddenly, everyone’s into the costume shit.

Tony and Darren come in and tell the band what’s going on with J.R. Darren realizes how stupid Tony’s friends are and decides he and Tony will take care of it all. After the band leaves, Darren insists there’s nothing a bunch of sheltered privileged folks can do in the hood, and they need to pay back the guys who messed up J.R., because I guess all black folks automatically resort to violence to settle the score.

Speaking of things that would provoke violence, Tiffani and Sam randomly show up on someone’s doorstep dressed as gorillas, and, rather than calling the police , he gives them a big tip because the rash of evil iller clown shit hadn’t happened yet.

At the loft, Tony is almost all in for the violence and shit, but the band soon talk him out of it with cliche shit about violence not being the answer. He decides they’re right and he has to talk Darren out of it. The only one making sense in this is Jake, who points out the guys will kick the shit out of him if he does this, which completely contradicts Jake’s characterization last season.

Tony goes back to his house to try and talk Darren out of the fight and says he wants to call the police. Darren says the police don’t do shit for any of them in the hood which, in Peter Engel-lingo, apparently means it’s not cool to call the police. Yeah, that’s exactly it guys. Systematic racism and poverty have nothing to do with it. Simplify it to coolness. Darren says this is bullshit and runs off to settle the score.

At Sharkey’s, the band serenade the owner of the beach club they’re playing at next month dressed as a bad Benny Hill skit. The owner tips them well but, when he finds out they’re the band he’s booked, he fires them, saying he doesn’t need a bunch of idiots committing zany antics in his club. And thus ends the stupid singing telegram subplot.

Meanwhile, Tony finds out that J.R. is paralyzed because why the hell not. He decides to rush off to stand side by side with Darren as they beat the shit out of gang members and expect to have no negative repercussions.

Now, up until this point, I’d been willing to give this episode a pass. It’s stupid and oversimplifies race, class, and crime issues, but then this final scene happened and I started laughing hysterically. I’m pretty sure this is not a scene that was written to be funny, but it’s so utterly hilarious in its ridiculousness I couldn’t help it.

Tony arrives to find Darren’s pulled a gun on the gang members, ready to pop caps in their asses. He steps in front of the gun and, rather than two people who beat someone up so bad they paralyzed him using Tony as a human shield, they just stand there and politely allow this scene to unfold. Tony talks Darren out of hooting them as the gang members rightfully ask what the hell Darren’s going to do now since they can just come after him and beat the crap out of him.

Just then, Tony’s mom and Darren’s parents show up with a bunch of extras, saying they’ve come to help.

That’s when the band comes in, saying they called everyone after Tony left, proving that white people who know nothing about urban issues can convince a bunch of black people that all they needed to do all along was just stand up to the gangs. Never mind the gangs have really big and powerful weapons, or that these two aren’t the only two gang members in South Central Los Angeles. It was so simple all along! All violence can just be solved if we simply don’t want it.

Right now I really hate this episode, even though I’m laughing hysterically at the Camus-level absurdity on display here. Thanks, California Dreams, for completely trivializing a major societal problem and teaching kids in the hood they’re just not trying hard enough to rid their streets of violent crime! Great message you’re sending there!

In any case, our extras decide to just randomly hold a couple of gang members, and the episode ends with everyone hugging it out, because the Beatles were right I guess: all you need is love!

Seriously, fuck this whole episode.

“You Captured My Heart”
Jake, Sam, Tiffani, Mark, Lorena, and Sly singing

A goofy little singing telegram song with Sly trying to act like a Spanish bull fighter or some shit. It’s, thankfully, very brief and very inconsequential as I really didn’t want to hear much more of it. All I can say is that, when the songs on this show are goofy as fuck, they truly are goofy as fuck.

Season 3, Episode 13: “Rebel Without a Nerve”

We open at PCH with Sly rollerblading through the hallway after a cheerleader because he’s determined no girl will get away from him without being sexually harassed.

Tony stops him in the name of the safety patrol and Principal Blumford is around to kindly explain this week’s stupid subplot to us: PCH is only a few days away from being a thousand days without an injury on school grounds, meaning they will be able to make the Guggenheim Book of World Records. I don’t even know where to begin. Did the Guinness Book not want anything to do with this episode? Seriously? I don’t understand how it’s even possible they’ve gone a thousand days without an injury since shit happens all the time at school.

Tony’s volunteered to be on the safety patrol to ensure this happens because Sam wants to fuck men who wear stupid sashes, plus he’s hoping for his picture in the book.

Principal Blumford wants to recruit another safety monitor and asks Jake since, in theory, he knows how to intimidate people into doing what he wants, but Jake thinks that’s fucking stupid so he picks Sly instead because Sly wants to perv on cheerleaders more.

Our main plot gets underway when Tiffani and Mark come around and tell Jake about a new kid, Tommy Keating, who’s been badmouthing Jake down at Sharkey’s.

At Jake’s garage, they continue talking about Tommy Keating and shit because that’s apparently all they can talk about, and Mark and Sam even seem to be falling in love with Tommy Keating judging by their praise of him.

Oh, and, as usual, Tony is taking his job as a safety monitor way too seriously by criticizing stacks of newspapers in Jake’s garage because that really has something to do with safety at school.

Tommy Keating himself comes in and taunts Jake, once again proving that the producers of California Dreams have no idea what a teenager looks like. Tommy challenges Jake to a motorcycle race tomorrow to prove who’s the biggest fake ripoff of Fonzie of all, and Jake gladly accepts.

At school, Principal Blumford comes to talk all kinds o shit about earthquake drills so we can waste a bit of time since an earthquake virtually guarantees injuries even if you do all the right things.

A random extra comes in and summons everyone to leave class and immediately proceed to Shakey’s without any penalties or truancy so the band can see Jake’s crashed his motorcycle at Sharkey’s. Seems as if Tony’s being a dumb ass and installed a speed bump right in front of the restaurant which caused Jake to crash through the store front without any worse damage than a few overturned tables.

Tommy comes in to taunt Jake while Sam talks all about how Jake isn’t afraid even if he dies in the process and shit, but Jake wants to back out of the race.

So Tommy starts stealing lockers and bullying people and shit.

They try to get Jake to take on Tommy but he doesn’t want to do anything. Tony and Lorena think the accident’s shaken up Jake and, though he denies it at first, bad writing means he’s definitely afraid. They convince him to get back on the motorcycle…

…and he crashes again because Tony made the speed bump bigger because why the hell not. Jake says he’s not getting back on his bike and he’s going to play it safe from now on because that’s the cliche we’re going with this episode.

So Jake joins the safety patrol, replacing Sly on it since he’s just interested in sex.

Lorena tries to talk Jake out of the horrible plot he’s fallen into, but he won’t listen.

And Tommy comes around and taunts people ten years younger than him as he forces Jake to hand over his leather jacket…

…and then hits on Lorena and tries to convince her how stupid of a show she’s fallen into. This is too much for Jake and his two minutes of being afraid of riding his motorcycle are over so he challenges Tommy to a race after 2:00 when safety week is over. Also, people get to tell Mark to shut the hell up trying to be a character this episode, which is always its own reward.

Principal Blumford prepares with the photographer for his fake Guinness Book picture…

…but Jake and Tony come in and resign with only fifteen minutes left because they’ve decided this entire plot is stupid.

Blumford tries to chase after them, but somehow trips over the banner after he blatantly grabs it as everyone, including the photographer, rush to watch the race. He bites his tongue in the process and considers suppressing that this is a horrible injury that means they’re going to lose the record…

…but Sly comes in, having seen the whole thing, and blackmails Principal Blumford, thus ending that stupid waste of time subplot. Seriously, that’s all they do because they don’t have time to actually do anything else in an episode that already seems like it doesn’t have a lot of substance to it.


Jake challenges Tommy to race him at Cool Man’s Curve, which is a stupid name for a curve that apparently is really dangerous despite its dumb name. Tommy’s scared to race Cool Man’s Curve, though, and backs off before they can go since there’s no budget for an actual motorcycle race. Jake demands his leather jacket back as Tommy races to hang out with adults more his age. Jake declares he’s back and our episode ends with him declaring he’s going to go beat the idiotic plot point speed bump once and for all without crashing, and he’ll do it this time since it’s not on camera and it’ll never be brought up again.

No song this week.

Season 3, Episode 12: “Harley and the Marlboro Man”

We open in the Garrison’s garage for the first time this season. Oh, wait, this is supposed to be Jake’s garage now! My mistake since it’s the exact same set used for the Garrison’s house the first two seasons but with different decorations. One thing you can say about Peter Engel: he will reuse a set whenever possible to get his money’s worth.

The rest of the band come in, disturbing Jake as he’s working on his motorcycle, and it’s exposition time as Lorena tries to encourage him to take a break and go to the beach with them. There’s some sort of bike show coming up and Jake’s uncle, who introduced him to bikes, is coming to town just to help him out!  It’s nice of the band to just kind of stop in so Jake has a chance to establish lots of shit in the main plot all at once.

And who does Jake’s uncle turn out to be but Carmine from Laverne & Shirley. It seems that he ended up a motorcycle mechanic instead of a dancer. Things must not have went so well for Carmine following the end of that show. But it’s good of Tiffani and Jake to even exposit who exactly Carmine is. Also, he was apparently listening at the door so he could enter just as they were talking about him and do a really bad Andrew Dice Clay impersonation. And here I thought the Andrew Dice Clay impersonators died out around 1991.

As the rest of the band leave for the beach, Carmine looks over the bicycle, voicing his approval and lighting up a cigarette. I guess losing the one show people will ever know him for made Carmine decide to take up smoking. Jake asks for a cigarette as Carmine is strangely coughing. No. No, this is not going to be an anti-smoking episode! I’ve already dealt with two of these in the Engel-verse and they were both terrible, among the worst of The New Class, and, given some of the horrible shit that show put out, that’s really saying something! Why did Peter Engel insist on trying to end the scourge of teen smoking?!?!

Well, damn. Schlameal, Schlamazel, Hazzen Pfeffer Incorporated.

In any case, Carmine’s also coughing, insisting he just has a cold, and, gee, I wonder what’s going to happen to him, probably near the conclusion, to serve as a ham-fisted conclusion to this episode?

At Sharkey’s, we get our B-plot this week: Sly randomly found $500 on the beach using his metal detector, so they decide what to do with it. While Sly wants to waste it on hookers and blow, Mark insists on putting up fliers, and whoever can identify the box gets it.

Jake comes in smoking a cigarette, and a waitress very loudly tells him to put it out so the rest of the band hear, and the judgmentalism of the episode begins even as Sly and Sam admit they’ve tried cigarettes and thought they were disgusting.

Back at the garage, Carmine takes a break from the bike to watch some television so Lorena comes in wanting to work with Jake, doing the whole “girls can’t work on motorcycles because it’s a guy thing” shtick that wore out sometime in the 1950s. Jake lights up a cigarette in front of her and she proceeds to judge him some more, insisting he read the Surgeon General warnings in a horribly preachy way. Jake promises he’ll quit as soon as the bike is ready for the show so she’ll shut the hell up and get back to her own subplot.


At Sharkey’s, it’s been a week since the band found the money, and no one’s come forward. Sly comes in dressed in Mama’s Family drag hoping to trick the band into giving him the money, but they tell him to fuck off. They decide that, since the money isn’t really theirs, they’re going to pick a charity and donate the money to it, trusting it to Mark in the meantime since his bad acting will scare away potential thieves.

Jake comes in, happy to announce he’s done with the bike, and Lorena kisses him and promptly recoils in judgmental horror at the realization Jake’s still smoking and shit. Jake promises he’ll quit after the bike show and Lorena decides he must be addicted at this point. Jake rushes off after Lorena asks him for the cigarettes, declaring, quite reasonably, he doesn’t have anything to prove to her..

At the loft, the band sit around and judge Jake for smoking in his absence. They decide they need to give him some tough love, deciding they won’t hang out with him anymore until he quits smoking because judging your friends and ostracizing them from your social group is the best way to get a person to quit smoking! As usual, the Engel-verse has no idea why kids start and stop smoking.

At school, Sly tricks Mark into giving hi the money to create t-shirts for a band called The Counting Toes so they can double the money. Mark, being not so bright, instantly falls for Sly and gives him the money because they had to do something with this subplot.

Jake comes in and the band continue to judge him as he admits he can’t stop after a week of smoking because that’s how addiction works. I guess it’s possible, but it’s not very likely. So they decide they’re going to help Jake quit.

And they’re going to do this by sitting around and lecturing Jake on the health effects of smoking. Sly rightfully points out that, if Jake is actually addicted to cigarettes, lecturing him on health shit for the sole purpose of shoehorning it into the episode isn’t going to make him quit. I can’t believe I’m on Sly’s side yet again this season. There must be something wrong with me that I’m finding myself agreeing with him so often!

So what do they do but show him n American Cancer Society video about the effects of smoking on lungs, complete with a cancerous lung. Seriously, after Sly just told them this shit won’t make him quit. Jake says fuck this shit and rushes off to have a cigarette to relax.

Back at the loft, it’s the boys’ turn to cure Jake of smoking, so they decide he needs to go cold turkey and Tony makes him give up all his cigarettes.

Within minutes, Jake is pacing and yelling and shit because those cigarettes were apparently laced with heroin. He tries chewing gum and talking funny, but nothing will work so he rushes off, defeated by the power of the most addictive tobacco ever.

At the garage, Jake comes in and tells Uncle Carmine he got first place in the bike show. Carmine has news of his own: he was coughing up blood and went to the doctor, where he discovered he has terminal lung cancer from doing too many bad Andrew Dice Clay impersonations. Seriously, this was his first sign he had terminal lung cancer? This feels very forced. Very.

Jake reacts in the way only Jake can react: by kicking shit and throwing away cigarettes, because the pending death of a former Laverne & Shirley supporting cast member is enough to finally make him kick the habit.

At the loft, Sly revels he lost the $500 because he was stupid enough to print $500 worth of shirts inflating his own ego, thinking people would actually want to plaster his face on their chests. The rest of the band blame Mark for being a moron, but Jake comes in before they can burn him at the stake and beg Matt to move back, saving his death for another day.

Jake tells the band about Carmine’s impending death, and we get some gushy gushy comforting for Jake. Sly suggests a way to make the $500 back for charity. I think that might make this the lamest excuse for a subplot in any Engel-verse episode I’ve reviewed so far. Well, maybe not the worst since I did once have to review a subplot about air conditioner repair on The New Class.

Yes, the band is hosting a benefit concert to encourage teenagers to stop smoking through judgmentalism and shit!

Lorena says they’re going to make more money than they found on the beach and Jake says they’re donating the money for cancer research. They decide that, since they’re there, they might as well play a tonally inappropriate for the episode song.

And you think the episode is going to end with this pensive shot of Jake thinking about Carmine’s impending death…

…but it actually ends with this screen from the American Cancer Society telling you that, if you didn’t die from lung cancer while watching this episode, you’re just damned lucky and could drop over dead at any moment!

I guess this episode was marginally better than the two from The New Class, but that’s not saying much. They at least only had one horribly judgmental scene and actually acknowledge their preachiness isn’t going to keep kids from smoking or cause them to stop. Yes, the only thing that will ever keep you from smoking is an uncle who happens to be a dancer-turned-motorcycle mechanic getting terminal cancer just as you start smoking.

“Tough Love”
Jake singing

I don’t understand this song. It starts off sounding like a love song, and then randomly goes into a tangent about people not being perfect because I guess it’s trying to cram the message of the episode even more down our throats. Out of all the songs on the show to date, this is probably the one that makes the least sense lyrically. Musically, it’s okay, but the words make absolutely no sense in trying to understand the point of the whole thing.

I’m a little disappointed: I was hoping this whole preachy episode would be topped off with an anti-smoking song that would make me laugh hysterically like I haven’t since “Jessie’s Song.” I guess this show had different plans, though. It’s almost as if Steve Tyrell had some random, unfinished song lying around and added some lyrics to try to make it about smoking. A bad song for a bad episode.

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.