Dream On (TV series)

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Dream On
Dream on - screenshot.jpg
Created byMarta Kauffman
David Crane
StarringBrian Benben
Chris Demetral
Denny Dillon
Wendie Malick
Dorien Wilson
Michael McKean
Theme music composerMichael Skloff
ComposerMichael Skloff
Country of originUnited States
Original languageEnglish
No. of seasons6
No. of episodes120 (list of episodes)
Executive producersKevin Bright
John Landis
ProducersDavid Crane
Jeff Greenstein
Robb Idels
Marta Kauffman
Jeff Strauss
Ron Wolotzky
Camera setupSingle camera
Running time30 min
Production companiesKevin Bright Productions
St. Clare Entertainment
MCA Television Entertainment
DistributorNBCUniversal Television Distribution
Original networkHBO (1990–1996)
Fox (1995) (edited)
Audio formatStereophonic sound
Original releaseJuly 8, 1990 (1990-07-08) –
March 27, 1996 (1996-03-27)

Dream On is an American situation comedy about the family life, romantic life, and career of Martin Tupper, a divorced New York City book editor played by Brian Benben. The show distinctively interjected clips from older black-and-white television series to punctuate Tupper's feelings or thoughts. It was created by Marta Kauffman and David Crane, the team who would create the show Friends. It ran for six seasons on HBO between 1990 and 1996.


The show centered on Martin Tupper's (Brian Benben) life in an apartment in New York City with his young son, and relating to his ex-wife, while trying to date other women and succeed as an editor for a small book publisher with Toby, his brassy secretary. Judith, his ex-wife, went on to marry Dr. Richard Stone – the never-seen (until the end of the series), most impossibly successful man on the planet (astronaut, brain surgeon, the fifth Beatle and consultant to the Pope); despite Martin's undying love for Judith, he could never compete with the legendary Dr. Stone.

The opening indicates Martin's mother parked him in front of the TV and he then grew up engrossed in it. It briefly shows a babysitter making out with a boyfriend behind young Martin, hence the association of sex with his memories. The show was notable for its frequent use of clips from old movies and TV shows to express Martin's inner life and feelings, which lent it much of its quirky appeal, reminding viewers about the impact of TV on their consciousness.[1] The show was also significant for being one of the first American sitcoms to use uncensored profanity and nudity.[2]

Dream On first aired July 1990 on HBO, and was cancelled by HBO in March 1996. One season of the show, with language and nudity edited for broadcast, aired in prime time on the Fox Broadcasting Company in 1995: Sunday at 9:30-10:00 p.m. from January to April and Monday at 9:00-10:00 p.m. from June to July.[3] This bowdlerized version was later made available in syndication.


  • Brian Benben as Martin Tupper, a book editor for a smaller publishing house that usually specializes in romance novels and other less prestigious literary fare. Having practically been raised by television in the 1950s, his thoughts are shown to the viewer through clips of classic black and white programming. He struggles to find love (or something like it) while sorting out the feelings he still has for his ex-wife, Judith.[4]
  • Wendie Malick as Judith Tupper Stone, Martin's ex-wife who has since remarried the literal perfect man, Dr. Richard Stone.[4]
  • Chris Demetral as Jeremy Tupper, Martin's teenaged son.[4]
  • Dorien Wilson (seasons 2–6) and Jeff Joseph (season 1) as Eddie Charles, a talk show host and Martin's best friend.[5]
  • Denny Dillon as Toby Pedalbee, Martin's secretary/assistant
  • Michael McKean as Gibby Fiske, Martin's boss (recurring during seasons 2–6)[4]
  • Renée Taylor as Martin's mother, Doris Tupper (occasional during seasons 3–5)


Critical reception[edit]

Time magazine called the show "engaging", noting that its use of old clips was "a clever gimmick [that] perks up familiar material"[6] and later called the second season of the "decidedly adult sitcom...better than ever."[7]

The New York Times had mixed opinions about the show. In their first-season review, John J. O'Connor said Dream On was not "different from ordinary network fare...except for, as might be expected, the more freewheeling language and treatments of sex"; by the season's third episode, the show's protagonist is "already becoming just another nice bachelor father, not all that different from the one John Forsythe played on television several decades ago."[8] About a year later, O'Connor said, while the show "has its weak spots, most notably in a pointless tendency to be smarmy" with "clips... that are sometimes less witty than painfully obvious. But Dream On takes unusual chances and has a habit of turning out to be refreshingly original."[9]


The show was created by Marta Kauffman and David Crane, who also served as producers. Dream On was executive produced by Kevin Bright and John Landis. Landis also directed several episodes of the series.

To this day, the static shown on the TV towards the end of the opening credits forms part of the opening credits or introduction for every show made by HBO.[10]

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Title Category Recipient
1991 CableACE Award Editing a Comedy Special or Series/Music Special John Axness
For episode "The First Episode"
1991 Comedy Series Kevin Bright, David Crane, Robb Idels, Marta Kauffman, John Landis, Bill Sanders, and Ron Wolotzky
Actress in a Comedy Series Wendie Malick
1993 Actress in a Comedy Series Wendie Malick
1994 Editing in a Comedy/Music Special or Series David Helfand
For episode "The Son Also Rises"
Actress in a Comedy Series Wendie Malick
1995 Actress in a Comedy Series Wendie Malick
1993 Emmy Award Outstanding Individual Achievement in Directing in a Comedy Series Betty Thomas
For episode "For Peter's Sake"
Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series David Clennon
For episode "For Peter's Sake"
1994 GLAAD Media Awards Outstanding Comedy Series
1993 Young Artist Award Best Young Actor Starring in a Cable Series Chris Demetral


The edited version of the series aired in syndication on Comedy Central in the United States.

International airings[edit]

In Canada, Dream On aired on the cable movie station Superchannel, in late-night timeslots on CBC Television, and later on SexTV: The Channel, The Comedy Network, and with French subtitles on Télé-Québec.

In New Zealand, the edited version screened on TV2, while the unedited version appeared on SKY 1.

The show aired on Channel 4 in the United Kingdom (for the first two series, before the remainder was shown on Sky1 – the majority of the Sky episodes were later shown on ITV4 in a late-night slot around 2006–07), in France, the show aired on Canal Jimmy, in Switzerland on TSR, in Sweden on Canal +, in Germany on RTL2, in Norway on TV3, in Greece on ANT1 (only the first season in 1994 on Saturday afternoons) and on Raisat Cinema, Canale 5, and Rai 4 in Italy. It was also broadcast by Canal + (as one of its first shows) and Polsat in Poland. Also Canal + in Spain had it and was one their main titles.

In Israel, the entire show aired on Bip; it is still aired on a regular basis, usually at night as it managed to retain its popularity.

Home media[edit]

Seasons one and two were released on DVD for both regions 1 and 2; seasons three through six have not been released.[11]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Rosenberg, Howard (July 7, 1990). "TV REVIEWS : 'Dream On' a Sexy, Urbane Comedy Series on HBO". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved July 8, 2018.
  2. ^ Showtime's Brothers and Steambath preceded this show by several years.
  3. ^ Brooks, Tim; Marsh, Earle (2007). The Complete Directory to Prime Time Network and Cable TV Shows 1946-Present (Ninth ed.). Ballantine Books. p. 390. ISBN 978-0-345-49773-4.
  4. ^ a b c d Svetkey, Benjamin (June 19, 1992). "HBO's Dream On is the sauciest show on television". Entertainment Weekly. Archived from the original on November 16, 2020. Retrieved February 2, 2016.
  5. ^ Mendoza, N. F. (July 9, 1995). "Profile : Dorien Wilson's 'Dream' Role". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on 2015-10-16. Retrieved 2016-02-02.
  6. ^ "Critics' Voices: Jul. 23, 1990". Time. July 23, 1990. Archived from the original on December 15, 2008. Retrieved 2009-11-09. A neurotic New Yorker (Brian Benben) copes with divorce, dating and other modern trials, while scenes from old TV shows rattle around in his head. A clever gimmick perks up familiar material in this engaging sitcom series from executive producer John Landis.
  7. ^ "Critics' Voices: Sep. 2, 1991". Time. September 2, 1991. Archived from the original on March 8, 2008. Retrieved 2009-11-09. Book editor and divorced dad Martin Tupper (Brian Benben) is trying to make sense of the '90s. So why do scenes from – '50s TV shows keep popping into his head? In its second season, this decidedly adult sitcom, which makes deft use of old black-and-white clips, is better than ever.
  8. ^ O'Connor, John J. (July 10, 1990). "A Modern Life Lived in 50s and 60s Images". The New York Times. Archived from the original on 2020-11-16. Retrieved 2009-11-09.
  9. ^ O'Connor, John J. (August 2, 1991). "Dream On and Some Other Games People Play". The New York Times. Archived from the original on 2020-11-16. Retrieved 2009-11-09.
  10. ^ https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0098780/trivia?ref_=tttr_ql_trv_1[user-generated source]
  11. ^ Dream On at TVShowsOnDVD.com Archived 2016-09-27 at the Wayback Machine

External links[edit]