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Part of NBC's TNBC programming block in the 90's, California Dreams was another Peter Engel "sitcom for teens" much like his most popular creation Saved by the Bell. Starting out as a fairly formulaic sitcom for the first season, it eventually became more like Engel's previous hit with the focus shifting to the teens and their lives. The show is notable for having an almost anviliciously multi-ethnic lead cast and the Aesops that each show had when it wasn't doing very special episodes as a result.
This series provide examples of:
- All Cheering All the Time: One episode had three cheerleaders bid on a dating auction this way. As a Running Gag, they reappear a few more times in the episode; cheering whenever they speak to or interact with anybody
- Catch Phrase: Sly's "Ba-boom!" is this.
- Demoted to Extra: Before being Put on a Bus (see below) the Garrison family, except for Matt and Jenny, had this happen to them between the first and second seasons.
- Drill Sergeant Nasty: A cooking class teacher acts like this.
- Embarrassing Middle Name: Sly's name is Sylvester Leslie Winkle.
- Follow the Leader: A pretty clear case, with this one coming directly on the heels of Engel's Saved by the Bell.
- Homage: Jake's daydream has him playing a bongo drum to Lorena, while Tony and Sam (as his married landlords) listen at a close distance, and the sequence is called "I Love Lorena". Now why does this seem familiar?
- Hollywood Tone Deaf: Lorena. The ep where she attempts to join the band (and only kept on thanks to Jake) is called "Yoko Oh No!"
- Motor Mouth: Sam starts out as this to combat her own insecurity toward life in a foreign land. She drops it eventually.
- Put on a Bus: The entire Garrison family, though not all at the same time.
- Right Behind Me: Tiffany once talks loudly of Matt's most recent break-up to Jenny, unaware of Matt being right behind her and Jenny's more subtle hints until Jenny makes a more obvious one. Jenny isn't happy about Tiffany's obliviousness: "What did you think I was doing -- scratch my neck?"
- Spoiled Sweet: Lorena.
- Take a Third Option: A guy Jenny and Tiffany both fall for simultaneously has two concert tickets and offers one of the girls to go with him, causing the jealousy-driven tension between the two girls to intensify. In the end, a decision is made: The girls take the tickets and go with each other instead, leaving the guy wondering what just happened.
- Wild Teen Party: Considering that the show eventually became a teen-oriented sitcom, this was bound to happen. And so it did -- more than once.