Dream On (TV series)

Last updated
Dream On
Dream on - screenshot.jpg
Genre Sitcom
Created by Marta Kauffman
David Crane
Starring Brian 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 producers Kevin Bright
John Landis
ProducersDavid Crane
Jeff Greenstein
Robb Idels
Marta Kauffman
Jeff Strauss
Ron Wolotzky
Camera setup Single camera
Running time30 min
Production companiesKevin Bright Productions
St. Clare Entertainment
MCA Television Entertainment
Distributor NBCUniversal Television Distribution
Original network HBO (1990–1996)
Fox (1995) (edited)
Audio format Stereophonic 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 Network 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.



Critical reception

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.

Awards and nominations

1991 CableACE Award Editing a Comedy Special or Series/Music SpecialJohn Axness
For episode "The First Episode"
1991Comedy SeriesKevin Bright, David Crane, Robb Idels, Marta Kauffman, John Landis, Bill Sanders, and Ron Wolotzky
Actress in a Comedy SeriesWendie Malick
1993Actress in a Comedy SeriesWendie Malick
1994Editing in a Comedy/Music Special or SeriesDavid Helfand
For episode "The Son Also Rises"
Actress in a Comedy SeriesWendie Malick
1995Actress in a Comedy SeriesWendie 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 SeriesChris Demetral


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

International airings

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

Seasons one and two were released on DVD for both regions 1 and 2; seasons three through six have not been released. [10]

See also

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  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 Edition). Ballantine Books. p. 390. ISBN   978-0-345-49773-4.
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  6. "Critics' Voices: Jul. 23, 1990". Time . July 23, 1990. 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. 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. Dream On at TVShowsOnDVD.com Archived 2016-09-27 at the Wayback Machine