Writer: Alan Goodman
Director: Ross K. Bagwell, Jr.
Original air date: July 14, 1989
Before I get started, thanks goes to Chris the Geek at “Saved by the Bell…Reviewed!” for linking to and promoting this blog and for creating the banner art. Thanks, man!
The series premiere opens with Ted (David Lascher) arriving at the Bar None Dude Ranch for the summer. He thanks Mr. Wilson for the lift. Mr. Wilson tells Ted to have a good summer. Ted tells Mr. Wilson to watch out for Dennis the Menace.
Ted picks up a paper off the bulletin board and yells to “Joe” that he’s back. Ted reads the paper, realizes he’s been made senior staff, and believes his hard-working days are over.
Just then, a limo arrives, and a girl gets out. Ted gets a boner and wants to handle her bags, but she wants to handle her own bags thankyouverymuch. Ted brags about how he’s senior staff and, when asked to explain what that is, bullshits his way through it and hypes it up as more than it probably is. Notably, the girl has a reaction when Ted mentions riding lessons. Ted is so eager to impress that he doesn’t look where he’s going and falls into the watering trough.
The opening theme song (which lasts a bit less than a minute), sung by Dale Jarvis, starts, and I like how it’s done. The series’ logo appears over the end of the cold open, and then each actor is credited in turn as a horseshoe flips. This is followed by the series’ logo again, and then the sequence fades out.
Anyway, let’s meet the characters that we’ll be spending the next year-plus with:
David Brisbin was in about eleven different things and acting for four years prior to landing the role of Mr. Ernst, the ranch owner, on “Hey Dude”. He has since had many other roles (including a stint as a doctor on “ER”) and continues acting to this day.
Kelly Brown was a model for four years in the U.S. and Europe, appearing on the covers of “Young Miss” and “Seventeen” magazines, prior to landing the role of Brad. “Hey Dude” was her only acting gig. She is now a successful business owner.
Lucy on “Hey Dude” was Debrah Kalman’s only acting gig. She was a full-time teacher but then retired in June of 2014 and had a demo reel put together in a desire to get back into acting. I wish her success.
David Lascher was in a TV movie in 1988 before landing the role of Ted on “Hey Dude”. He was on a short-lived sitcom called “A Family for Joe” (which I have vague memories of watching) in 1990, during the run of “Hey Dude”. After “Hey Dude”, he’s been in a shit-ton of other stuff (including substantial roles on “Blossom”, “Clueless”, and “Sabrina, the Teenage Witch”) and even got a handful of writing, directing, and producing credits in. He’s busy with acting work to this day.
Melody on “Hey Dude” was Christine Taylor’s first role. She has since been in many other things (including playing Marcia Brady in the two theatrical Brady Bunch movies), beating David Lascher in roles but not sheer content. She is married to Ben Stiller.
Danny on “Hey Dude” was Joe Torres’ only acting gig. It’s unknown what became of him. It’s been suggested on his IMDb page that he works as a sales consultant for Toyota of Runnemede in New Jersey. However, someone else cast doubt that it’s really him on the site and said Joe has tattoos now and looks like Danny Trejo. Someone else mentioned seeing him in a dive bar in Tuscon. A blogger showed a picture of himself with (presumably) Joe (he doesn’t looks like Danny Trejo), explicitly said he doesn’t sell cars, and said Joe is not online.
Josh Tygiel was one of 120 Tuscon-area boys that auditioned for the role of Buddy on “Hey Dude”. It was his only acting gig. He made the decision in college to not pursue acting. He prefers to live a quiet life.
Cassie was provided by Critters Of The Cinema, the same group that provided Louie, who portrayed Duke in the live-action sequence on “Captain N: The Game Master”.
Some kind of handshake. I dunno. The dialogue leads us to believe it’s from last summer. Danny brings Ted some fry bread (old family recipe). We learn Danny is Hopi. After a bit of casual banter, Ted brings up Brad and also the senior staff thing. Danny asks what that is. Ted bullshits about it.
Melody arrives, asking if everyone is decent. Ted tells Melody to hold on, hides behind the door, and tells her to come in. Um,…what? Melody comes in, and Danny and Ted close in on her, saying “Sandwich!” Melody laughs it off, saying they’re not going through another summer of that. Considering Melody’s earlier question about decency, I wonder if we’re watching merely the G-rated version of the “Melody sandwich” that they engaged in last year.
There’s some commotion outside, and they go to check it out, but Ted switches his and Danny’s pillows on the bunk beds before he goes out. I like that. It’s a fun, unimportant detail, but it makes things feel a bit less scripted, even if it is scripted.
Outside, they witness wranglers breaking in a wild horse. Ted takes an intense interest in it. Lucy, the ranch hand, greets her “teen titans”, Danny and Melody, but she knows what Ted’s thinking and threatens him – twice. We learn Ted’s last name is McGriff.
Ted takes issue with the new owner’s strict rule, per Lucy’s suggestion, of hiring wranglers to break in horses. I don’t see what Ted’s problem is. That seems like a pretty damn good idea. How did the old owner do things? Did he let the teen staff break in horses? That would’ve been a lawsuit waiting to happen.
The new owner, Mr. Ernst, and his son, Buddy, arrive. Mr. Ernst’s “western” attire is slightly more authentic than what Marty wore (sorry, will wear) at the beginning of “Back to the Future, Part III”.
There’s a humorous bit where Mr. Ernst keeps insisting the place is beautiful but also keeps thinking of negative things to say as well.
Buddy is a skateboarder and protests the lack of sidewalks. Mr. Ernst notes his boots are tight but believes he just has to get used to them. Mr. Ernst asks Buddy for a suggestion for their first night here. Buddy asks about a video store, because he wants to rent something really bloody. I like Buddy.
Melody comes into the girls’ bunk house and meets Brad. She – as Ted apparently did – believes Brad is a guest, but she’s actually a staff member. We learn Brad’s name is really Bradley. Brad seems to have brought designer clothes to the ranch, and Melody finds them “unranchy”. As they unpack Brad’s stuff, Melody learns of Brad’s run-in with Ted. Melody takes a liking to Brad’s clothes, and Brad allows her to borrow whatever. Melody offers the same, but Brad, perhaps channeling her inner Veronica, declines. Melody seems to be a bit of a slob.
Mr. Ernst is embarrassed that he can’t find his own office. He meets Melody, and we learn she teaches swimming and is a lifeguard.
There’s something odd when Mr. Ernst tries to verify all of the buildings. While he’s talking, an unintelligible male voice is briefly heard. I have no idea what the deal with this is. Maybe it was a crew member talking during the take? It briefly happens again when Melody is describing the office.
We learn there’s a girls’ bunkhouse, boys’ bunkhouse, guest houses, main lodge, and Mr. Ernst’s office. Melody heads to the pool to check on some supplies, and Mr. Ernst is either incapable of asking or too embarrassed to ask where his office is. He’s more determined than ever to find it, though, because Melody mentioned the sweet, blessed air conditioning.
Then, overcome with a sense of adventure, he pets a cactus and gets what anyone else would expect.
Ted and Danny have shown Buddy the ranch, and we meet Buddy’s dog, Cassie (where was she when they arrived?). I swear, even when she’s not in the shot, you can hear her pant. Maybe she’s all hot and bothered after passing through the Tunnel of Ted.
We learn Buddy doesn’t really like it out here, and we learn a bit about Mr. Ernst. It’s not mentioned outright, but he and Buddy’s mom seem to be divorced (or separated), and Buddy lives with her. Mr. Ernst tries really hard, but buying this ranch in Arizona is apparently one of the “crazy schemes” that he sometimes gets. He’s an accountant from New York. His apartment had cockroaches.
Ted sees Brad and ditches Buddy. Danny observes while Ted makes his move. After a bit of banter, Danny comes over, and he and Brad meet.
Ted wants to show Brad “real western riding” and picks out a “tough hombre”, but Brad challenges Ted to ride Rocket, the unbroken horse from earlier. After a moment of hesitation, the thought of possibly parking his horse in Brad’s stable later on overrides Ted’s better judgment (assuming he has any), and he goes into the corral. It’s a fairly well-done action sequence. It’s not David Lascher in some of the shots (a male and female stuntperson are credited in the closing credits), but you really can’t tell. It freeze-frames just before it goes to commercial break, which is a nice touch.
Despite Ted’s nervousness and Danny obviously making this up on the spot (even flubbing “Old West”, which doesn’t even make sense when said correctly, because they’re not in the Old West), Mr. Ernst seems to fall for it. He tells the boys to stop by his office when they can, because he’s posting a new duty roster outside, which they’ll check daily for their work assignments. After trying to allow them to reveal where his office is, he finally asks them. They’re amused but decide to show him.
Mr. Ernst’s feet hurt, and Danny recommends he take his boots off and get used to them gradually, but Mr. Ernst insists on looking authentic for the guests.
Buddy is trying to train Cassie to yawn, so he can convince his dad that she’s bored out here. When he demonstrates, Melody drops some popcorn in his mouth, which isn’t dangerous at all.
Melody admits she gets bored around here. She and Buddy have some things in common, such as a secret language and a love of eating contests. Buddy says he and his friends go cutting through other people’s backyards, break things and try to fix them, and sneak up on each other and do surprises. All of this is normal kid stuff; it’s not particularly interesting, but it gives these characters a bit of…ordinariness, which I like.
Ted comes by and wants Melody to hold a rope while Danny holds another rope. When Melody learns Ted wants to try riding Rocket again, they fight over it, and Buddy gets in on it as well. Melody and Buddy suddenly decide to let go of the rope, and…
Melody tiredly agrees to help Ted. When Ted’s trying to get Danny to help, there’s some kind of noise that, I swear, sounds kind of like a pig. Anyway, Danny agrees to help Ted. Mr. Ernst comes by and notices Ted’s wet. Danny continues the bullshit “breaking in his clothes” explanation and, once again, is all too eager to demonstrate:
When questioned about the rope, Ted ties it into the “breaking in” ritual – laying the clothes in the sun and beating them with the rope. This whole “subplot” is the one really weak aspect of this episode, because Mr. Ernst actually falls for it completely instead of calling them out on it. It makes him look like a big idiot.
The scene ends with a gag of Mr. Ernst resting his aching foot on the trough, dropping his hat on the ground, and accidentally stepping into the trough. Haha, stupid city folk, get it?
Lucy comes in, pissed as all hell, and busts all of them. She won’t tell Mr. Ernst, picking out a special punishment for them. Ted asks for preferential treatment for being senior staff (we still don’t know what that is), which Lucy agrees to.
Yep, Ted’s on shit duty (or is that doody?) as they clean the stall. Ted and Brad get into it over whose fault that it is, and I give this show credit for actually calling attention to the lack of communication, although Brad should have just said “I’m a riding instructor, dumbass” before Ted even got on the horse for the first time.
Ted is then given the respect that he deserves:
The pre-credits scene at the end wraps up Mr. Ernst’s “aching feet” subplot. He’s finally had enough and wants to try hoof dressing on his feet. Danny advises against it, but Mr. Ernst tries it anyway and…
The scene fades to the closing credits (I don’t think I’ve ever seen that done elsewhere), which last around a minute. An instrumental version of the theme plays while credits scroll (I don’t think I’ve ever seen closing credits on a TV series) over screenshots from the episode.
So what are my impressions so far? I like this episode. It serves as a good introduction to the characters, and it’s neat that some have a history while others are newbies. It’s interesting that Mr. Ernst shares no screen time with Lucy or Brad.
I’m just pissed that we never learned who Joe is. At first, I thought Ted thought the old owner was still there, and that was his name, but we soon learn Ted knows there’s a new owner. Maybe Joe was an early or placeholder name for Danny (played by Joe Torres), and they didn’t change it. Or maybe David Lascher accidentally called “Joe” when he was supposed to call “Danny”, and they didn’t change it. Who knows?
Then again, it’s possible that “Joe” is just someone that works/worked on the ranch that Ted knew from the previous summer. We see various people handling horses throughout the episode (probably the actual handlers for the series). I like this little detail. It shows there’s more going on “behind the scenes” in keeping the ranch going than just the main characters.
The episode (including themes) is 24 minutes long, which is about normal for a series of its time, but it feels leisurely paced. The characters rib each other a bit and just shoot the shit – like normal teens do. The dialogue isn’t obviously scripted. There are hardly any “zingers”. I think most of the cast having little-to-no acting experience at this point is a strength. It adds to the realistic, down-to-earth feel. These could be your high school friends. I understand this style might not be for everyone, but I like it.
So how does this series compare to that teen juggernaut that started at roughly the same time, “Saved by the Bell”? Well, from what I’ve seen so far, “Hey Dude” (a few audio glitches and tropes aside) is more competently written, directed, and shot. More atmosphere. Less cartoony. Not a boom mic to be seen. This is good, everyone. Sure, it might not be as well-remembered, but I’d sooner hang out with these characters than the Bayside gang.