American Dreams

NBC (ended 2005)
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683 votes
  • Episode Guide
  • S 3 : Ep 17

    It's My Life

    Aired 3/30/05

  • S 3 : Ep 16

    No Satisfaction

    Aired 3/23/05

  • S 3 : Ep 15

    California Dreamin'

    Aired 3/16/05

  • S 3 : Ep 14

    The Commencement

    Aired 3/9/05

  • S 3 : Ep 13

    Starting Over

    Aired 1/30/05

  • Cast & Crew
  • Virginia Madsen

    Rebecca Sandstrom [Ep. 1 - 14]

  • Gail O'Grady

    Helen Dolan Pryor

  • Tom Verica

    John "Jack" Pryor

  • Brittany Snow

    Margaret "Meg" Pryor

  • Vanessa Lengies

    Roxanne Bojarski

  • Photos (14)
  • show Description
  • This evocative drama, which won two Emmy Awards, is set against the memorable music, the cultural clashes, and the Vietnam war during the 1960s. The third-year drama depicts the American landscape -- as seen through the youthful Pryor family of Philadelphia as they brace for the cultural turbulence ahead that still resonates in this contemporary era. Seventeen-year-old Meg Pryor (Brittany Snow, “Guiding Light”) is shedding her “good girl” image as she and her outspoken best friend Roxanne (Vanessa Lengies, “Popular Mechanics for Kids”) continue to pursue their dreams of making a difference as they struggle through the transition from teenager to adult. While they continue to dance on Dick Clark’s locally produced “American Bandstand,” they find -- as seniors at East Catholic High School -- that the world around them is growing ever closer with issues of the war, racism, feminism, and even teen marriage and pregnancy. At the same time, Meg’s mother Helen (three-time Emmy nominee Gail O’Grady, “NYPD Blue”) continues to face the challenge of the era’s modern woman, working and holding the family together. The family’s patriarch, Jack Pryor (Tom Verica, “Providence”), braces himself for the sociological and economic changes as he prepares to run for city councilman, and JJ (Will Estes, “7th Heaven”), a U.S. Marine fighting in Vietnam, struggles to find his way home to his family and his ex-fiancee, Beth Mason (Rachel Boston, “The Andy Dick Show”), who is pregnant with their child. In addition, adolescent Will (Ethan Dampf, “Collateral Damage”) tries to fit in at school after successful polio surgery, and smarty-pants Patty (Sarah Ramos) tries to find a balance between her brilliant mind and social acceptance among her high school peers. African-American father Henry Walker (Jonathan Adams, “The American Embassy”) remains hopeful that his partnership in Jack Pryor’s electronics store is a sign of positive social changes to come. However, the politics of the time continue to show him that the needs of the black community are not being met. Meanwhile, his son Sam (Arlen Escarpeta, “The Shield”) has mixed feelings concerning the evolving events as he starts his freshman year at the University of Pennsylvania on a track scholarship which forces him on a path of self-discovery. The drama embraced contemporary musicians as guest stars who portray classic 1960s icons on “American Bandstand.” Last season’s guest stars include Kelly Clarkson (as Brenda Lee), Nick Lachey (as Tom Jones), Alicia Keys (as Fontella Bass), and Hilary and Haylie Duff (as The Shangri-Las).moreless

  • Trivia & Quotes
  • Quotes (68)

    • Roxanne: We studied the Battle of Bull Run and the first six weeks of the Civil War. (Meg looks at her) Good lies are all in the details.

    • Roxanne: What? You ain't never seen a bra before? Turn around.

    • Meg: Haven't you ever wanted something so bad it hurt?

    • Michael: Is your friend Meg Pryor there with you? Her mother said that she might be. Roxanne: (to Meg) He wants you. Meg: I'm not here. Roxanne: (back to the phone) She's not here. Can I take a message? Michael: Yes you can. You can tell Meg that there is no excuse for what she did today. Because for every kid that dances on our show, there are a thousand - no, ten thousand - kids who wish they could. Roxanne: What did she do? Michael: What did she do? She walked off the set right in the middle of the show. So you can tell Meg that if she plans on coming back to our show, she better take it a little bit more seriously next time, ok? Even if her best friend didn't get a chance to come back this week. Roxanne: I'll tell her. And you can count on her to take it very seriously from now on. In fact, I can guarantee that she'll be here next show. Oh, and so will I. Bye, Mike. (hangs up)

    • Meg: Um I have to leave the show. Michael: What? Meg: The only reason I'm on American Bandstand is because my best friend Roxanne Vidorsky got us on. So I can't be on the show unless she is too. So if you want her to dance the show, that would be really great, but you have to call her and ask her. Or else I can't be on the show. I just can't. (hands Michael phone number and walks off)

    • Will: So anything could happen. Helen: That's true. Will: So someday there might be satellites with bombs and lasers? Helen: There might be. And there might not be. Anything could happen. Will: I know, that's what's so scary. Helen: That's what's so exciting. Come here. Come sit with me. Come up here. It's a big adventure. Like the first time you rode the roller coaster at Willow Grove. You were so excited. Remember what it was like when the car was going up? And you kept asking, "What's it gonna feel like when we go down? How fast are we gonna go?" You were so excited. Because you didn't know what was gonna happen. Well, that's what the future's like. Except there are no tracks. That's what makes it an adventure.

    • Jack: You can go. But you take the bus... Meg: I love the bus! Jack: And you're home by 10. Meg: 10? Jack: Ok, 9:45. Meg: 9:45? Jack: 9:30. Wanna try for 9? Meg: Ok, ok. Thank you dad! I'll be home by 10. Jack: 9:30!

    • J.J.: Do you ever feel like the whole world has a plan, except nobody told you? Meg: Yeah. All the time. (looks up) Looks like snow. (silence)

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    Notes (124)

    • The theme song for the show is "Generation" written and performed by Emerson Hart, lead singer of the band Tonic.

    • Songs w/Artists (in tonight's episode) * Uptight (Everything's Alright) - Stevie Wonder - 3-2/12/66 * Heat Wave - Martha & the Vandellas - 4-9/21/63 * The Shoop Shoop Song (It's In His Kiss) - Betty Everett - 6-4/11/64 * Stay - The 4 Seasons - 16-4/04/64 * Let's Dance - Benny Goodman - [not charted] * Turkey in the Straw - Bill Monroe - [not charted] * Everybody - Tommy Roe - 3-12/07/63 [Roy Ayers cover] * Don't Worry Baby - The Beach Boys - 24-7/04/64 * He's So Fine - The Chiffons - 1-3/30/63 * Dancing in the Street - Martha & the Vandellas - 2-10/17/64 * It's All Right - Maurice Williams - [not charted] * Amazing Grace - John Newton - [not charted]

    • An article in Star Magazine claims that the show is based on former Bandstand dancer Fran Giordano.

    • Songs w/Artists (in tonight's episode) * Amazing Grace - John Newton - [not charted] * Taps * Christie - Aqua Nites - [not charted] * America - Julia Ward Howe - [not charted] * Change is Going to Come - Baby Huey - [not charted] * The Loco-Motion - Little Eva - 1-8/25/62 * Up On the Roof - The Drifters - 5-2/09/63 * Stars and Stripes Forever - John Philip Sousa * Blowing in the Wind - Bob Dylan - [1963 Album cut] * These Arms of Mine - Otis Redding - 85-6/01/63 * Blue On Blue - Bobby Vinton - 3-7/06/63 * Little Deuce Coupe - The Beach Boys - 15-9/28/63 * You Don't Own Me - Leslie Gore - 2-2/01/64 [Michelle Branch cover] * Change is Going to Come - Baby Huey - [not charted]

    • Songs w/Artists (in tonight's episode) * Come See About Me - The Supremes - 1-12/19/64 * Do You Love Me - The Contours - 3-10/20/62 * The Birds and the Bees - Contours - 3-3/20/65 * Summer Place - Andy Williams - [1962 Album cut] * Crying In the Rain - The Everly Brothers - 6-3/03/62 * One Fine Day - The Chiffons - 5-7/13/63 * Mashed Potato Time - The Ventures - [1962 Album cut] * Fingertips Pt 2 - Little Stevie Wonder - 1-8/10/63 * UCLA Fight Song

    • Songs w/Artists (in tonight's episode) * The Way You Do the Things You Do - Temptations - 11-4/11/64 * Bama Lama Bama Loo - Little Richard - 82-8/08/64 * Please Mr. Postman - The Marvelettes - 1-12/11/61 * Somewhere Over the Rainbow - Chet Baker - [not charted] * Up on the Roof - The Drifters - 5-2/09/63 * Tonight's The Night - Frankie Lymon and The Teenagers - [not charted] * Do Wah Diddy Diddy - Manfred Mann - 1-10/17/64 * Watermelon Man - Mongo Santamaria - 10-4/27/63 * Keep On Pushing - The Impressions - 10-7/18/64 * Times They Are A-Changin' - Bob Dylan - [1964 Album cut]

    • Songs w/Artists (in tonight's episode) * Money (That's What I Want) - Barrett Strong - 23-3/07/60 * Louie Louie - Kingsmen - 2-12/14/63 * Hold On Me - The Miracles - [not charted] * Lonely Teardrops - Jackie Wilson - 7-2/09/59 * Ahab, The Arab - Ray Stevens - 5-8/04/62 [not listed by NBC] * Twist and Shout - The Beatles - 2-4/04/64 * Baby It's You - The Beatles - 67-4/22/95 * Rhythm of the Rain - The Cascades - 3-3/09/63 * He Don't Love You (Like I Love You) - Tony Orlando & Dawn - 1-5/03/75 * The Nitty Gritty - Shirley Ellis - 8-1/11/64 * Just One More Day - Otis Redding - 85-12/25/65 * U.S. National Anthem * UCLA Fight Song

    • Songs w/Artists (in tonight's episode) * Boys - The Shirelles - [not charted] * Tell Him - The Exciters - 4-1/19/63 * Tell Her I'm Not Home - Ike and Tina Turner - [not charted] * Come A Little Bit Closer - Jay & the Americans - 3-11/21/64 [Nick Carter cover] * California Sun - The Rivieras - 5-2/29/64 * She Cried - Jay & the Americans - 5-5/19/62 * Walk Like A Man - The 4 Seasons - 1-3/02/63 * Since I Fell For You - Buddy Johnson - [not charted] * On Broadway - The Drifters - 9-4/27/63 * Don't Be That Way - Benny Goodman - [1956 Album cut] * Hello Stranger - Carter Family - [not charted]

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    Trivia (55)

    • Jack refers to "Ara Parseghian and Notre Dame". However, the pilot is set in November of 1963 while Parseghian was hired by Notre Dame in December of that year.

    • Though the pilot depicts the timeline of American Bandstand in Philadelphia during November 1963. Bandstand had already left Philadelphia's WFIL TV Studio for Los Angeles by August 1963.

    • This episode goofed on just a few songs they played during the show. First it takes place at the end of 1963 but three songs that were played didn't come out until 1964. The song Keep on Pushing by The Impressions was released in late Spring 1964. The song The Way You Do The Things To Me by The Temptations came out in February 1964 and the song Do Wa Diddy Diddy by Manfred Manns came out during the British invasion in September of 1964.

    • In the previous episode, J.J.'s dance thing was on a Sunday night. In this episode he said it was on a Saturday night.

    • In Episode 5, "The Fighting Irish," Dick Clark is seen in archival footage talking about how Brunswick Records is awarding a gold record for the million-selling song "Lonely Teardrops," and at that moment Jackie Wilson comes out on stage to sing his hit. Except that "Lonely Teardrops" was released in 1958, which suggests that the song took five years to sell a million copies, if Brunswick Records was awarding the gold record in 1963. Perhaps if the there was a cutaway from the footage, where Dick Clark could redub the words "Baby Workout" for "Lonely Teardrops" (which was a huge hit in 1963), then the actor playing Jackie Wilson could sing "Baby Workout" on stage.

    • In Episode 1.06, "Soldier Boy," Meg and Roxanne are excited to hear that Jay and the Americans will be on American Bandstand. The band is heard in rehearsals performing "Come A Little Bit Closer," which Meg tells lead singer Jay Black that she has heard on the radio and loves, but that she also loved his voice on "She Cried." Roxanne says that she's more into Carl, the group's drummer.

      Except that "Come A Little Bit Closer" wasn't written until mid-1964, nine months after the timeline for that episode. Since Jay and the Americans were a vocal harmony group, with the exception of guitarist Marty Sanders, none of the group's members would be playing an instrument (at the time, their lineup included Jay Black, Sandy Yaguda, Kenny Vance, Howie Kane and Marty Sanders; there was no member of the group named "Carl"). Also, Jay Black would not appreciate Meg applauding his vocals on the song "She Cried," as that was sung by the original "Jay" of Jay and the Americans, Jay Traynor (Jay Black was born David Blatt, and changed his name for the group). If the group had performed their hits "Only In America" or "Come Dance With Me," it would have fit in the timeline.

    • Meg Pryor has an argument with Luke Foley, the cashier at the Vinyl Crocodile record store. Meg is furious because Luke has substituted the Angels 45 that she originally purchased with a Bob Dylan 45. She says to Luke that Dylan's lyrics are not enjoyable, referring to his song "Mr. Tambourine Man." Luke later gives Meg the Dylan 45 of "Mr. Tambourine Man," which she listens to at home.

      Except that Mr. Tambourine Man was written two years after the December 1963 timeline; it was never commercially released by Dylan on a 45 (the Byrds did have a hit with it, though), and the record on Meg's turntable had a purplish label; Dylan's Columbia 45's were red labels with black print. Granted, Bob Dylan's second album, "The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan," was released in 1963, and any track from that LP (including the eventual 45, "Blowin' In The Wind") would have made timeline sense in that episode.

    • The show timeline for this episode is December 1963. Except that the song Wishing and Hoping by Dusty Springfield was not released until June/July 1964; King Curtis' song Soul Serenade was released in early 1964; And Aretha's version wasn't even recorded until 1967 on her debut Atlantic LP. Willie Mitchell's hit was in April 1968.

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    Allusions (4)

    • Patty Pryor: I'll bring Nancy Drew. Nancy Drew was a series of books that came out in the early 1900's. The books were about Nancy Drew going out and solving mysteries. The series was for girls while The Hardy Boys another mystery book came out for boys.

    • Title: The title of this episode refers to the classic 1963 hit by the The Beatles of the same name.

    • Great Expectations The title of this episode is based on the Charles Dickens novel.

    • Luke says Mr Greenwood is "he went on tour with some friend he used to play with," likely a tongue in cheek reference to the fact that he's play by Art Garfunkel, of Simon and Garfunkel.

  • Fan Reviews (65)
  • A True American Gem

    By Pacar27, Dec 15, 2012

  • One of my all time favorite shows, and in many ways it died way too soon (although it did get three seasons) It was a true family drama that any person of any age could watch and enjoy.

    By AleroRatking, Aug 12, 2007

  • This is how TV should be.

    By lisgirl978, Mar 23, 2008

  • A wonderful little show, cancelled before it should have been.

    By SierraNichole, Jan 11, 2008

  • There are no words to describe how good this show was. I wish it could have gone on forever.

    By CATG80, Nov 21, 2007

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