California Dreams

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This article is about the television series. For the company, see California Dreams (company). For the Katy Perry concert tour, see The California Dreams Tour. For other uses of this term, see California Dreamin' (disambiguation).
Not to be confused with California Dreaming (TV series).
California Dreams
Genre Teen sitcom
Created by Brett Dewey
Ronald B. Solomon
Starring Kelly Packard
William James Jones
Michael Cade
Brent Gore (seasons 1–2)
Heidi Lenhart (seasons 1–2)
Michael Cutt (season 1; recurring, season 2)
Gail Ramsey (season 1; guest star, season 2)
Ryan O'Neill (season 1)
Jay Anthony Franke (seasons 2–5)
Jennie Kwan (seasons 2–5)
Diana Uribe (seasons 3–5)
Aaron Jackson (seasons 3–5)
Theme music composer Guy Moon
Steve Tyrell
Regina Crimp
Opening theme "California Dreams"
Ending theme "California Dreams"
Composer(s) Steve Tyrell
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
No. of seasons 5
No. of episodes 78
Executive producer(s) Peter Engel
Producer(s) Franco Bario
Ronald B. Solomon
Brett Dewey
Noah Taft (seasons 3–4)
Camera setup Multi-camera
Running time 22–24 minutes
Production company(s) Peter Engel Productions
NBC Productions (1992–1996)
NBC Studios (1996)
Distributor NBCUniversal Television Distribution
Original channel NBC
Picture format 480i (SDTV)
Original release September 12, 1992 (1992-09-12) – December 14, 1996 (1996-12-14)

California Dreams is an American teen sitcom that aired on NBC from September 12, 1992 to December 14, 1996, as part of the network's Saturday morning block, TNBC. Created by writers Brett Dewey and Ronald B. Solomon, and executive produced by Peter Engel, all known for their work on Saved by the Bell,[1] the series centers on the friendships of a group of teenagers (shifting toward a multi-ethnic makeup beginning with the show's second season) who form the fictional titular band.


The show, whose plots combined real-life issues with zany adventures, centered on the lives of the California Dreams, a group originally consisting of four members – expanding to five in the second season – dealing with their attempts to make it big as musicians, as well as learning lessons about life and friendship. Several episodes of the series covered a range of topics such as fear, drug use (specifically, the use of steroids for a competitive edge), racism, falling for scams, letting greed overtake friendship, dealing with a parent dating after divorce, forgiving others for past wrongs, and other general teen social issues.

Original format and character history[edit]

California Dreams originally was intended to be a family sitcom, mainly centering on the Garrison family, who moved to Southern California (although the location of the series' setting was never specified, it is inferred that the show is set in Los Angeles) from Iowa at an undisclosed point prior to the timeline of the series. In the first season, the show's main characters were Matt Garrison (Brent Gore), the band's leader, and his younger sister Jenny (Heidi Noelle Lenhart), who is the pianist/vocalist of the group. The remainder of the Garrison family included father Richard (Michael Cutt), mother Melody (Gail Ramsey), and their youngest son, Dennis (Ryan O'Neill).

The other main characters were bass player Tiffani Smith (Kelly Packard), drummer Tony Wicks (William James Jones), and the band's teen manager, Sly Winkle (Michael Cade) – all three of which were the only characters who appeared on the show throughout its entire five-season run.

Season 2[edit]

NBC executives did not like the show's original format; as a result, Engel, Dewey and Solomon refocused the show's plotline from balancing stories involving both the band and the Garrison family, to just the teens who formed the California Dreams band for its second eason. Cutt was downgraded to a recurring cast member for that season, while O'Neill was written out entirely before the season began; Lenhart and Ramsey were both written out after the season's third episode "Ciao, Jenny", with Lenhart's character Jenny being the first main character to leave the show with that episode (with the character landing a spot at a music conservatory in Italy).

In the season's premiere episode "Jake's Song", Jake Sommers (Jay Anthony Franke) was introduced as the California Dreams' fifth member of band, acting as the band's second guitarist. Four episodes later in "Wooing Woo", Samantha "Sam" Woo (Jennie Kwan), a foreign exchange student from Hong Kong whom the Garrisons take into their home (staying in Jenny's former bedroom), was added as a main character. When Sam's singing voice is noticed by the band after she auditions for the group later in the episode, she takes Jenny's former place as the band's new vocalist.

Season 3[edit]

By Season 3, the sitcom's original premise was dropped completely when Matt was written out the show (in the third season premiere "The Unforgiven", it is briefly referenced that the Garrison family moved away). In Matt's place, the band hired Mark Winkle (Aaron Jackson), Sly's shy cousin from New York, who is the opposite in personality (depicted as nice but naive, compared to Sly's depiction, which is similar to that of the common manipulative-driven depictions of Hollywood managers). Also added to as a series regular was Lorena Costa (Diana Uribe), the privileged daughter from a wealthy family who takes Sam into their home after the Garrisons' departure.

Series finale[edit]

The series finale, "The Last Gig", found the band on the verge of embarking on new crossroads in life. Set months after the characters graduated from the fictional Pacific Coast High School in "Graduation" (which aired three episodes earlier), the episode deals with the band preparing to attend school separately the following week (with Tiffani planning to attend the University of Hawaii to study marine biology, Sam moving to England to study physics at Oxford University, Tony going to study acting at an undisclosed location, Mark planning to move back home to New York to study at Juilliard, and Sly and Lorena both attending Pacific University). While the other members look forward to start their new lives, Jake attempts to keep the band together. When a music producer offers Jake a record contract, he initially refuses, since the rest of the band was not given one as well. Tiffani convinces Jake that she and the other band members have moved past the Dreams and want to discover new things, convincing Jake to take the offer. The episode ends with the California Dreams playing their final gig, before giving their tearful goodbyes to one another.


Main cast[edit]

  • Brent Gore as Matt Garrison (1992–1994) – The original guitarist of the group, and the oldest member of the Garrison children.
  • Heidi Noelle Lenhart as Jenny Garrison (1992–1993) – Matt's younger sister, who served as the original rhythm keyboardist of the group. She departed from the series in the season two episode "Ciao, Jenny" to attend a musical conservatory in Italy; Jenny initially served as the love interest of Jake upon that character's introduction in "Jake's Song".
  • Kelly Packard as Tiffani Smith – The bass player of the band, who also serves as an occasional vocalist (both lead and backup). Tiffani also surfs in her spare time, even having taught Sly how to surf in "Romancing the Tube". Many episodes depict Tiffani, while not completely perfect, as a stablizing force for the group, often seeing the good in people and being more understanding of the faults of others (as an example, she is the only member of the band who chose not to vote to oust Sly as their manager in "Father Knows Best", when Sly gambles their money and their band equipment while trying to deal with his absentee father). She has an on-again/off-again relationship with Jake during the series, first for most of season two (beginning with "Surfboards and Cycles" and ending with their breakup in "Indecent Promposal") and again starting in season four (in "Two Two Much").
  • William James Jones as Antoine Bethesda "Tony" Wicks[2] – The band's drummer, who originally hailed from Los Angeles' South Central neighborhood. After the two are haphazardly set up on a date by an online chat room in "Blind Dates", Sam and Tony became a couple and remained together for much of the remainder of the show's run.
  • Michael Cade as Sylvester Leslie "Sly" Winkle – The band's manager, who utters the catch phrase "ba-boom!" (either when he gets an idea, in elation or simply at random) in most episodes, who routinely concocts schemes to make easy money one way or another. Many episodes also involve Sly's numerous attempts to get girls, having attempted to win the affections of Jenny (in season one) and Lorena (in season two) through manipulative means (as examples, in "Dream Man", he tries to remake himself into Jenny's idea of the perfect guy by spying on a conversation with her friends during a sleepover; in "Follow Your Dreams", Sly copies the results of Lorena's career aptitude test to make him a fashion designer, the same career that the test states Lorena is suited for); Sly also dated Tiffani in season one's "Romancing the Tube", while the two become closer after she tries to teach him how to surf. After failing at his earlier attempts to attract Lorena, he falls in love with her after having a series of dreams about her in season four's "Dancing Isn't Everything", only for Lorena to not return his affections then; this changes in season five's "Love Letters", at which point the character begins to be depicted as much less obnoxious and somewhat more charming than previously portrayed as. However, the season five episodes "Mop 'n Pop" and "Father Knows Bets" also aid in this shift in depiction as both episodes acknowledge that he has a strained relationship with his businessman father on account of him being unable to spend time with him because of the demands of his dad's duties as a corporate executive, which stems into Sly's gambling addiction in the latter episode.
  • Jay Anthony Franke as Jake Sommers (1993–1996; singing voice performed by Barry Coffing) – The lead guitarist and "bad boy" of the group, who is regularly seen wearing a leather jacket and learned how to fix motorcycles from his uncle Frank (seen in season three's "Harley and the Marlboro Man", played by Eddie Mekka). When first introduced in the season two premiere "Jake's Song", he is depicted as tough and intimidating, although that episode and a few others reveal that he has a sensitive soul (particularly in regard to the lyrics he wrote in "Jake's Song" that helped him land a place in the band). He served as the love interest of Jenny in the first episodes of season two, maintaining a mildly flirtatious relationship, although the two never became an official couple as a result of Jenny's departure in "Ciao, Jenny". Several episodes later in "Surfboards and Cycles", Jake and Tiffani begin dating, when he helps her learn how to fix motorcycles after taking a auto shop class. In the second season finale "Indecent Promposal", Jake declines an invitation to attend the prom with Tiffani; after a misunderstanding that results in a kiss between Tiffani and her replacement date, Jake and Tiffani break up. Jake then begins dating Lorena in season three's "Budget Cuts", before breaking up in the fourth season premiere "Two Too Much", at which point Jake discovers that Tiffani still had feelings for him, and decides to get back together with her.
  • Jennie Kwan as Samantha "Sam" Woo (1993–1996) – Becomes the group's lead singer following her introduction in "Wooing Woo", in which the Hong Kong native moves to America as a foreign exchange student with the Garrisons serving as her initial host family; she subsequently moves in with the family of Lorena Costa in "The Unforgiven". She eventually becomes Tony's girlfriend after the two are unknowingly set up on a date by an online chat room in "Blind Dates".
  • Aaron Jackson as Mark Winkle (1994–1996; singing voice performed by Zachary Throne) – The keyboardist of the group and Sly's cousin, who differs from Sly in that Mark is depicted as less of a schemer and manipulator, and exhibits more of a naivete. In his introductory episode "The Unforgiven", it was revealed that he had been suffering from stage fright since an incident in which Sly yelled "hi-ho, Silver!" and galloped around the stage while Mark played the William Tell Overture (which also served as the theme to The Lone Ranger) during a performance at Carnegie Hall at age 11, which Sly made amends for at the end of the episode.
  • Diana Uribe as Lorena Marina Costa (1994–1996) – The daughter of a wealthy land developer, who serves as an occasional benefactor for the group, although also serves as a groupie, a title that results in her deciding to take a more active participation in the band beginning in "Yoko Oh No!" (when she auditions for a spot as a vocalist, only for the band to discover her lackluster singing ability) and later vies to be the band's co-manager. Beginning with season three's "Budget Cuts", she becomes the girlfriend of Jake, a relationship that lasts until season four's "Two Two Much" due to their inability to find anything in common. Sly, who had made several failed attempts at attract her in season three, renewed his attention towards Lorena, with the two becoming a couple in season five's "Love Letters", remaining together for the rest of the series. Several episodes feature Lorena referring to herself in the third person by her full name, usually whenever she is faced with some sort of challenge or has an idea when deceived.
  • Michael Cutt as Richard Garrison (1992–1993, regular; 1993–1994, recurring) – The father of Matt and Jenny.
  • Gail Ramsey as Melody Garrison (1992–1993, regular; 1993, guest star) – The mother of Matt and Jenny.
  • Ryan O'Neill as Dennis Garrison (1992–1993) – Matt and Jenny's younger brother.

Recurring cast[edit]


Season Episodes First air date Last air date
Season 1 13 September 12, 1992 December 5, 1992
Season 2 18 September 11, 1993 February 5, 1994
Season 3 17 September 10, 1994 January 7, 1995
Season 4 15 September 9, 1995 April 6, 1996
Season 5 15 September 7, 1996 December 14, 1996

Cast reunion[edit]

Seven members of the cast (Brent Gore, William James Jones, Jennie Kwan, Jay Anthony Franke, Kelly Packard, Michael Cade, and Heidi Noelle Lenhart) participated in a cast reunion that aired on NBC's Late Night with Jimmy Fallon on March 4, 2010, in which they performed the show's titular theme song following a brief interview with host Jimmy Fallon. This segment of the episode also featured Dennis Haskins, who had attempted to help Fallon organize a reunion for Saved by the Bell (in which Haskins played Principal Richard Belding), in 2009.

DVD releases[edit]

Shout! Factory released the first four seasons of California Dreams on DVD in Region 1. Season 4 was released on January 18, 2011 as a Shout! Factory select title, which was made available exclusively through their online store.

Subsequently on July 19, 2011, Mill Creek Entertainment released a ten-episode best-of set, The Best of California Dreams, a single-disc set that features episodes from the first three seasons.[3]

DVD Name Ep # Release Date
Seasons 1 & 2 31 March 31, 2009[4]
Season 3♦ 17 May 18, 2010[5]
Season 4♦ 15 January 18, 2011[6]

♦ - Shout! Factory select title, sold exclusively through Shout's online store

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Award Result Category Recipient
1996 NCLR Bravo Awards Nominated Outstanding Program for Children or Youth
1993 Young Artist Awards Nominated Outstanding Young Ensemble Cast in a Youth Series or Variety Show Michael Cade, Brent Gore, William James Jones, Heidi Lenhart and Kelly Packard
Best Young Actress in a New Television Series Heidi Lenhart
Best Young Actor in an Off-Primetime Series Ryan O'Neill
1994 Nominated Outstanding Youth Ensemble in a Cable or Off Primetime Series Michael Cade, Jay Anthony Franke, Brent Gore, William James Jones, Kelly Packard, and Ryan O'Neill


  1. ^ Greg Braxton (November 27, 1992). "'Bell' Hearing the Sounds of Success : Television: With a TV movie, foreign broadcasts, syndicated reruns and a plethora of merchandise, 'Saved by the Bell' intends to be noticed". Los Angeles Times (Times Mirror Company). Retrieved October 18, 2010. 
  2. ^ Brenda You (June 28, 1994). "Beat It, Bad Guys". Chicago Tribune (Tribune Publishing). Retrieved October 18, 2010. 
  3. ^ "Best of California Dreams". July 19, 2011. 
  4. ^ "California Dreams: Season Three". Shout! Factory. March 31, 2009. 
  5. ^ "California Dreams: Season Three". Shout! Factory. May 18, 2010. 
  6. ^ "California Dreams: Season Three". Shout! Factory. January 18, 2011. 

External links[edit]