American Dreams was a short-lived but well-loved drama that aired on NBC from 2002 to 2005. Against the backdrop of the Vietnam War, the series focused on the Pryor family and their friends in 1960s Philadelphia. A trademark of the series was its use of present day singers performing as the musical stars of yesteryear on American Bandstand.
Dreams was quite popular initially but its ratings fell significantly in its third season. Though fans mounted a valiant campaign, the series was cancelled in May 2005.
The producers, suspecting that the show might not be renewed for a fourth year, filmed 12 minutes of additional footage that could be appended to the finale to provide some closure for the series. The regular episode showed young Meg (Brittany Snow) and radical boyfriend Chris (Milo Ventimiglia) speeding off to Berkley. The additional footage flashes forward to 1969 when Meg finally returns home.
When the finale aired on March 30, 2005, NBC hadn’t yet decided Dreams’ fate and opted to only air the regular episode. After the series was cancelled, the network planned to run the expanded version of the final episode in August but that never happened. The new segment contained several rock and roll oldies which resulted in high licensing fees and unfortunately NBC wasn’t able to attract enough sponsors to pay for it. The additional footage was never broadcast.
Fans of the show will be happy to know that Dreams Executive Producer Jonathan Prince hasn’t forgotten them. Prince is currently working to release the expanded episode online where music licensing fees are much cheaper. While promoting his new CBS show Cane, Prince said, “We had the rug pulled out from under us. We’re trying to be available again. We’re clearing [the rights to] all the music because there’s an online community that keeps asking for it.” He also joked that, since his new CBS boss, Nina Tassler, revived Jericho, perhaps she might be interested in resurrecting Dreams.