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California Dreams - Seasons 1 & 2

4.9 out of 5 stars 37 customer reviews

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(Mar 31, 2009)
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Dealing with the everyday trials and shenanigans of high school is never easy, but it can certainly be a lot more fun when you put together a rock band with all your best friends. Such is life for Pacific Beach High Schools poptastic California Dreams: Matt (Brent Gore), Jenny (Heidi Lenhart), Tiffani (Kelly Packard) and Tony (William James Jones). Throw in the high jinks of their unscrupulous band manager, Sly (Michael Cade), and you have got yourself the hit nbc Saturday morning sitcom California Dreams!

All of your favorite moments from the first two seasons are now available together in one hilarious box set, including the bands first gig, their first music video, the departure of Jenny to Italy, as well as the arrival of Sam (Jennie Kwan) and bad boy Jake (Jay Anthony Franke)into the band.

Bonus Features:

* Lets Do It!: Reuniting California Dreams: An intimate look back at California Dreams with members of the cast.

* Video Jukebox on each disc

Everyone who grew up in the early 1990s can rejoice: California Dreams has finally come out on DVD! In the first season of this Saturday morning sitcom, teenage brother and sister Matt and Jenny Garrison (Brent Gore and Heidi Noelle Lenhart) bounced between their family and their soft-rock band. Their bandmates/best friends included blond surfer girl Tiffany (Kelly Packard, later on Baywatch), would-be smoothie Tony (William James Jones), and their greedy, scheming manager Sly (Michael Cade). Matt was an all-around nice guy, while Jenny had a feminist streak and stood up for herself in the face of casual chauvinism from the boys. But early in the second season Jenny left to study music in Rome and was replaced by Sam (Jennie Kwan), a chatty exchange student from Hong Kong, and a black-leather-jacketed bad boy with a sensitive side named Jake (Jay Anthony Franke) became Matt’s new songwriting partner. The Garrison family receded and the band became the show’s enduring focus. Though it launched in 1992, the first two seasons of California Dreams suffered from a 1980s hangover of baggy jackets, patterns not found in nature, and over-produced pop that would have made Debbie Gibson blush with shame. The plots were usually contrived (when the band gets their first gig, Matt and Jenny’s dad had gotten the whole family plane tickets for a trip to the Grand Canyon on the same day) or resolved way, way too quickly (Tiffany is reunited with the mother who abandoned her years earlier--in 20 minutes, they’re pals!). But such is the stuff of sitcoms; California Dreams can be commended for attempting any emotional depth at all, as well as making some gesture towards girl power. Perhaps most radical of all, the teenagers were mostly portrayed by actual teenagers (at least when the show began). The series may have been prefabricated and woefully square in its attempts to be hip, but that’s part of its appeal: It’s a freshly scrubbed pre-teen fantasy of glamorous high-school life. No wonder the pre-teens who watched continue to hold California Dreams dear. This box set of seasons 1 & 2 includes a brief interview with the grown-up Gore, Packard, Cade, and Kwan, who of course gush with enthusiasm about the show--but the interplay between them shows both affection and exasperation and feels pleasantly genuine. --Bret Fetzer

Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: Kelly Packard, William James Jones, Michael Cade, Jay Anthony Franke, Jennie Kwan
  • Directors: Don Barnhart
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Box set, Color, Full Screen, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 5
  • Rated:
    General Audience
  • Studio: Shout Factory
  • DVD Release Date: March 31, 2009
  • Run Time: 690 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (37 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B001NPK5C4
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #105,375 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "California Dreams - Seasons 1 & 2" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Tony Soltis on April 1, 2009
It's interesting to see how much people liked the later seasons more than the first two, but speaking as a writer who worked on every episode along with Ron Solomon and Brett Dewey, it was the last few shows of the second season when Dreams hit its stride, finding its bizarre, broad tone. I'm not sure any episode is better than the second season's western musical. Admittedly, it's only after the Garrisons depart that we get to see Gary Beach sell used cars or that PCH's transie principal and monomaniacal vice principal appear. I loved the actors, I loved their characters, and the shows are a reflection of the writers room's tomato fights, water guns, and barefoot dance contests late-night atop Hollywood's Gower Studios. There were a lot of NBC-Peter Engel sitcoms going on at the time, but we were the only ones sticking Kick Me tags on Peter Engel's back at run-thrus.
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Its been a long time coming for this series mostly because of musical rights issues. And guessing Shout Factorys record we can only pray that this is put out in its original form. If you are looking for that same comedy as Saved by the Bell this is basically the same thing (in my opinion not as great as bell though), a 90s teen series in a tropical setting. The first two seasons were pretty formulaic ending with a song from the band and having the parents more involved with the kids hijinks. But as later seasons progressed it hit is stride with teen romance abound that only Peter Engel could dream up. Here's hoping Shout Factory follows the formula and puts out seasons 3, 4, and 5 out with in a reasonable time frame. I am very greatful they took the effort to release this series.
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I am a HUGE FAN the California Dreams but seasons 1-2 are not its best material. Don't get me wrong, this 90's style high school sitcom formula is still great to watch, and the songs which this show eventually became known for were always an amazing complement to the emotions of an episode. But I really didn't enjoy anyone in the Garrison family, who were the initial focus of the show in seasons 1-2. In addition to not really relating to the parents or the little brother, I didn't particularly enjoy Matt or Jenny's singing voices either. I went on to grow fondest of the show in the seasons 3-5 when the Garrisons were written out and replaced by Lorena, Mark, and Sam, and the focus of the show was more on the band itself.

The "California Dreams Reunited" bonus feature sounds nice on paper but turns out to be a big dud, only "reuniting" Brent Gore (Matt), Jennie Kwon (Sam), Kelly Packard (Tiffani), and Michael Cade (Sly). I appreciate the effort though. These kinds of special features are really lacking from a lot of DVD's of cancelled TV shows.
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By AL on March 19, 2014
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I loved this show in the 90's and I love it even more now. Looking back at some episodes, I never realized how cheesy some of the plots were, but I loved the characters. They were very friendly & fun loving, the type of friends you would hope to have yourself. Even the theme song is catchy and easy to remember and sing. The show is pure gold in a case. If you want to be nostalgic along with me and remember how great life was a child in the 90's buy this DVD. Not only for yourself, but for your children as well. Great stories to pass on that had messages as much as it had humor. I always found it as a source of inspiration to dream about love, friends, and life. I always had a crush on Jennie Kwan and still want a girl as sweet as she was on the show. I wanted to be her Tony Wicks. In Conclusion, it was a Great show that can be enjoyed by all generations.
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Bucking the trend for cheaply made, poorly sourced, musically replaced, or even incomplete ("Smother's Brothers") treatments of TV series, Shout Factory has an umitigated winner here.

All the Season 1-2 episodes are present and they look great. Thanks to Steve Tyrell, all the original music appears as well. No rights issues here as the music was composed for and one supposes owned by the show.

Extras are sparse - outside of the ability to jump directly to the songs and a winning cast reunion - sans Jay Anthony Franke, Heidi Noelle Lenhart and William James Jones. They are missed, especially since Ms. Lenhart and Mr. Franke are referred to more than once as having conflicts with those present. Given the close relationship between the "Tiffani" and "Jake" characters, it would have been interesting to hear Mr. Franke's take on the relationship - both onscreen and off.

Given challenging economic times, this is one expenditure that is well worth dipping into whatever disposable income fans of the show have left. One can't help but hope sales are brisk enough for Shout Factory to release the remaining 3 seasons.

Speaking of - here's a pre-emptive request for Shout Factory. If season 5 is released - cast commentaries from the principals for the final episode are a must!

As for content - I tend to disagree with most here. I believe the introduction of the romance of the "Jake" and "Tiffani" characters midway through season 2 really propelled the show, though it curiously disappeared for episodes 16 and 17 - the "Jake" character openly chasing after other girls while the "Tiffani" character watched with disinterest - only to reappear in the Season 2 ending cliffhanger (NBC clearly originally aired these epsiodes out of order).
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