Monthly Archives: May 2015

Season 1, Episode 08: The Good, the Bad, & the Obnoxious

Writer: Clifford Fagan
Director: Fred K. Keller
Original air date: September 1, 1989

08-01-Danny-videoOh, dear Goddess. In the cold open, Mr. Ernst is shooting a promotional video for the ranch, and this part involves Danny riding up while dressed as an “Indian” and welcoming the potential guests. He’s talking in stereotypical broken English, and there’s stereotypical “tribal” music playing (as part of the episode’s score). Hmmm, what does this remind me of? Oh, yeah, Zack’s class presentation.

08-02-Ernst-directsThe director isn’t pleased. Danny gets a snappy comeback in that I won’t spoil here.

08-03-Ted-ruins-takeThere’s a humorous bit where Ted ruins the next take.

08-04-Brad-frustratedAfter the credits, Brad is frustrated over having to apologize to a customer that a burger was heated incorrectly. Brad doesn’t like how the food is prepared here. What bothers Brad is serving people, smiling, and apologizing when she’s not sorry. I can totally relate. I’m not in food service; I’m in retail. I’ve heard food service is worse. Anyway, this ties back nicely to episodes 03 and 05.

Brad and Melody discuss this for a while, and then Melody talks about meeting a guy at the mall yesterday. I like this. It indicates these characters have time off the ranch (even if we don’t see it). Melody was demure toward the guy; she was playing it safe, because he might have been a weirdo. That’s a level of analyzation that I rarely see characters do, so I’m happy to see it here – especially since it’s an example of the relaxed, casual dialogue that is usual for this series; it has nothing to do with the story, but it adds to Melody’s character instead of just padding the episode.

08-05-Ted-air-guitarTed comes over, jamming on his air guitar while listening to his portable radio. He wants a burrito.

08-06-KimberlyA girl arrives. Ted (and Melody a bit) is taken by her. Brad isn’t pleased to see her, though. She’s Kimberly Carol, a girl that Brad goes to prep school with. Brad hates Kimberly and wants to see her chopped up into feed for swine (yes, she actually says that).

08-07-Lucy-wipes-TedAfter a three-episode absence, Lucy arrives to tell the girls to get back to work. She also rags on Ted a bit for his crush on Kimberly. She also relays info that Mr. Ernst wants to make Ted a “video star”. Ted goes off in excitement.

Melody offers to take Kimberly’s table for Brad, but Brad declines.

08-08-Kimberly-2Kimberly Carol is played by Kari Ann Kulvinskas. “Hey Dude” was her first acting gig, which was followed pretty soon by her second and last acting gig: seemingly a bit part in the TV movie, “Not Quite Human II”. Remember that series of films with the android named Chip, created by a scientist played by Alan Thicke? Yeah.

08-09-Kimberly-BradKimberly is the stereotypical, snobby rich bitch. She keeps putting down “Bradley” – especially after she finds out that she works in “this horrid little desert pit stop”, which her parents had to bribe her to join them at. This exchange between rich, privileged white girls goes on for over a minute. Basically, they hate each other. Oh, and apparently Brad is “rude”. Punch her, Brad. Punch her hard.

08-10-Danny-servantAt the swimming pool (the first that we see of it, and it’s the actual pool of the Tanque Verde Guest Ranch), Danny is Kimberly’s personal bitch, and Melody is disgusted at Kimberly’s behavior. We learn Kimberly used to sit behind Brad at school, so she could copy her tests. This leads to a cute gag between Melody and Brad that I won’t spoil here. Kimberly also tried to scare Brad’s friends away by telling them that she had a contagious disease (this leads to another cute gag).

08-11-Melody-pissedAfter Melody presses, Brad reveals Kimberly also stole her boyfriend, Mark, which pisses Melody the fuck off.

08-12-Brad-hayLater, Brad is cleaning up some stray hay. Kimberly comes by and says Kimberly shit. She pisses Brad off when she mentions the supposed reason that Mark Johnson left Brad for Kimberly (too athletic, not feminine enough). They get into it, and Brad scares Kimberly off the bale of hay.

08-13-Kimberly-falls 08-14-Kimberly-hay08-15-Ernst-ladderTime for more of the subplot of Mr. Ernst’s promotional video.

Mr. Ernst motivates Ted by threatening his job, which might be illegal, unless there’s one of those awful “and other duties as assigned” clauses in Ted’s contract.

08-16-Ted-Buddy-videoTed and Mr. Ernst get into it over the latter’s decision to stand behind the stake during the horseshoe toss. Guess what happens.

08-17-Ernst-hit 08-18-Ernst-painAfter the commercial break, Buddy is feeling guilty.

08-19-Ted-ideasTed comes by with a bunch of awful, self-centered “suggestions” for future Bar None promotional videos.

08-20-Melody-spills-teaMelody spills hot tea on Mr. Ernst, burning him and ruining Ted’s suggestions (the latter of which pleases Mr. Ernst).

08-21-Ted-BradLater, Ted talks with Brad about Kimberly, and Brad tries to warn him about her.

Kimberly comes by to ride a rose and pesters Brad for information regarding the horse.

08-22-Kimberly-over-horse08-23-Kimberly-groundBrad “helps” Kimberly mount the horse and then runs off. When Ted tries to help Kimberly up, she’s a bitch as usual, so Ted lets her sit in horse shit.

08-24-lightningLater, there’s a thunderstorm.

08-25-radio 08-26-Brad-aloneBrad is sitting alone and listening to loud rock muzak while cleaning and polishing a leather bridle. I really love the atmosphere of this scene.

08-27-Lucy-BradLucy doesn’t like it and shuts it off. As she works on whatever she’s doing, Brad pours out her frustrations. She also feels stupid for letting Kimberly get to her – and in front of Ted.

08-28-Lucy-Brad-2Brad also feels she and Kimberly are a lot alike. It also drives Brad nuts that she’s been accused of being spoiled and snobby. Lucy points out Brad’s good attributes and tells her to go easy on herself. She also says this is more about Brad hating parts of herself than Kimberly. We don’t get to see what Brad is like back home, so all that we have to go on is what the characters say in this episode. I don’t really buy it, mostly because I haven’t seen Brad behave anything like Kimberly. Kimberly is just horrible.

08-29-Brad-Kimberly-1Later, Brad catches Kimberly just as she’s about to leave and returns Kimberly’s bridle, despite Kimberly initially not recognizing it. The two of them talk for a bit, and Brad offers up something that’s not exactly an apology (but it’s all that she can give). After a bit of hesitation, Kimberly accepts it.

08-30-Brad-Kimberly-2 08-31-Ted-LucyOver in the corral, Ted is upset that Brad is making up with Kimberly, but Lucy suggests maybe it’s more about Brad losing some anger in order to like herself a little better instead of wanting Kimberly to like her. I’m still not sold on the whole “Brad sees the worst of herself in Kimberly” message that the episode wants me to believe.

08-32-Brad-happy 08-33-Brad-cameraThe pre-credits scene at the end is the culmination of the thrilling promotional video subplot.

Brad doesn’t want to jump, because she doesn’t like to swim (callback to episode 02), and Melody doesn’t want to appear in a video in a bathing suit. Mr. Ernst goes over some video trickery and assure Brad that she doesn’t actually have to jump in. We’re also informed the camera isn’t waterproof, and the whole promotional video could be destroyed. Foreshadowing, perhaps? Also, why does Mr. Ernst keep the entire thing on one tape? Isn’t he going to have it professionally edited later on? For that matter, why isn’t he having it professionally taped?

08-34-Brad-TedTed comes by and pulls Ted shit.

08-35-Melody-pulls-TedMelody takes care of things.

08-36-Ernst-Ted-pool“Unfortunately”…

08-37-Ernst-leak 08-38-Ernst-underwater 08-39-camera-destroyedSo ends another day at the Bar None.

This episode was okay, but Kimberly was way too cartoony, and Brad doesn’t seem the least bit like her. There’s also the confusing message of making peace with your adversary (by offering a non-apology) and letting go of anger in order to like yourself more.

Kimberly stole Brad’s boyfriend, and she’s never held responsible for that!

It’s nice to get a bit of info on Brad’s life from back home, though, and it was nice to see Lucy again. But where was Cassie?

Season 1, Episode 07: Perfect Father

Writer: Graham Yost
Director: Fred K. Keller
Original air date: August 25, 1989

07-01-Melody-packetsIn the cold open, Ted comes over to the picnic area, where Melody is dicking with the sugar packets, but she doesn’t explain what she’s doing when asked.

07-02-Melody-coffeeBrad comes by, and Melody hushes Ted. She pours coffee for Brad. The three of them talk for a bit about insomnia and nightmares.

07-03-coffee-sodaBrad puts sugar in her coffee, and Melody pours herself a soda instead of drinking it out of the bottle.

07-04-Brad-salt 07-05-Brad-napkinIt turns out that Melody put in fake sugar packets containing salt.

07-06-Agent-BuddyAfter the credits, Buddy is playing spy while appropriate music plays. I like this visual effect that opens the scene.

07-07-hands-upThe sequence is pretty cute. Buddy narrates his adventure in voice-over, and a guest or employee plays along.

07-08-Ernst-mapMr. Ernst is checking some points on a map and to make sure that no one’s looking.

07-09-Ernst-dartThere’s a new safe behind the map, but Mr. Ernst can’t remember how to open it. He’s not thrilled by Buddy’s distraction and doesn’t want to play games. He refuses Buddy’s offer of help.

07-10-Buddy-kitDanny interrupts, but then Buddy shows off his spy kit that he got in the mail. Danny seems either in disbelief or to disapprove.

07-11-Buddy-kit-2Melody comes by and relates her salt prank (she got the packets from a joke kit that Buddy got last week).

07-12-asshole-arrivesSuddenly, this asshole arrives, repeatedly ringing the bell and demanding the key to his room. His name is Hank Sears (played by Richard Milenkovich in his only acting gig), and I hate him. He’s the no-nonsense, impatient, asshole customer that you want to punch in the face. He even repeatedly calls Mr. Ernst “chief”. I hate when guys call each other by high titles; this is seemingly done in an attempt to “elevate” each other. Anyway, I’d call Mr. Sears over the top, but I once had a right-wing nutjob customer that was talking about Canada bombing Chicago and trying to drag me into it. I ignored him, but he was obnoxiously persistent and later went to the service desk, furious, to complain, so I’m going to give this characterization a pass.

07-13-watchSears shows off his expensive watch and yells at and insults Danny for looking at it (but not Melody). After Danny and Melody leave, Sears complains to Mr. Ernst about teens working for him and about Danny being “shifty”. Mr. Ernst offers the use of the safe for his valuables, but Sears shows off his “friend” instead:

07-14-gunI fucking hate this guy.

Another guy arrives, and, for some reason, they don’t show us his face at first, I guess to be…mysterious?

07-15-camera-safeIt turns out that Buddy had put his spy camera in the safe and set it to take a picture when the safe opens.

07-16-Mel-checks-ErnstThe flash temporarily blinds Mr. Ernst, and he panics, but the newcomer, Mel Trout (played by William Kiehl near the end of a long but sporadic career) calms him down.

Buddy explains his camera to Mr. Ernst and adds he could have rigged it to take the picture without the flash. Mr. Ernst is upset that Buddy knew how to get into the safe and didn’t let him know, but Buddy points out that he tried to, but his dad didn’t listen, never listens, and never has time for him, whether it’s for his spy games, chess, or throwing a lasso. Mel and Buddy bond over the spy kit (Mel’s son had one when he was little), and Mr. Ernst gets a bit insecure. He has Mel fill out a registration card but then chases after Buddy when the camera flash (accidentally) goes off in his face again.

07-17-Mel-smilesThe scene ends with Mel smiling (suspiciously?).

07-18-Brad-Melody-argueIn the next scene, Brad is complaining about the salt in her coffee, and Melody says it was Ted’s idea. As a nice background detail, Buddy is continuing his spy games (he’s behind the plant) with Cassie tagging along.

Melody talks Brad into getting back at Ted, and the two of them go off to plot.

07-19-Mel-lassoBuddy comes out of hiding and talks with Cassie for a bit, and then Mel arrives and offers to show Buddy (and Cassie) how to throw the lasso. We learn his son’s name is Jay. Buddy accepts after initially claiming he has other plans for today (why?).

07-20-Ernst-upsetMr. Ernst witnesses the off-screen rope action and is upset.

07-21-chessLater on, Mr. Ernst has set up the chess board in an attempt to please Buddy, but Buddy wants to borrow matches, because Mel is going to show him and some of the other kids how he used to breathe fire.

07-22-fireThe kids even do the stereotypical “Ooh! Aah!” thing.

Y’know, Mel (and Buddy, second-hand) relates a bunch of amazing stuff that he supposedly did, and Buddy believes all of it. Who knows? Maybe he did do all of this stuff, but this guy seems too good to be true.

07-23-Ted-spitsThe girls get back at Ted by putting cod liver oil in the honey jar on the table. Um, does anyone actually eat cereal with honey? I’m curious.

07-24-missing-watchSuddenly, Sears raises hell over his missing, $7,000, solid-gold watch.

07-25-right-there 07-26-right-there-2After the commercial break, Sears continues to cause a scene and demands to know where Danny is despite being in the same shot as him.

07-27-Sears-ready 07-28-Mel-subdues-SearsSears is ready to get violent with Mr. Ernst, but Mel subdues him and sends him back to his cabin. We get what seems to be some ADR crowd reaction of one guy saying “He deserved that. He deserved that. Way to go. He deserved that.” It’s pretty understated and unconvincing.

Mel apologizes for stepping in, but Mr. Ernst says that’s okay but also claims he could have handled it. He goes to call the police and offers the guests the use of the safe. As the guests are talking about what they’ll have locked in there, one guy says “my ceramic monkey”. I find that really amusing, because, of all of the fucking things to lock in a safe, why that?

07-29-Mel-BuddyAnyway, the incident brings Buddy closer to Mel.

07-30-Ernst-closes-safeLater, Mr. Ernst puts a ring in the safe for a guest. Mr. Ernst wants to go and lie down, and Buddy makes fun of him. Buddy says he was just kidding, but he really hurt his dad.

07-31-Buddy-MelMel comes by and apologizes for stepping in. He and Buddy discuss it for a bit. Mel wants his wallet put in the safe but doesn’t want to bother Mr. Ernst and suggests Buddy open the safe himself.

07-32-Buddy-shows-Mel Buddy points out the push pins on the map and says the numbers in the landmarks indicate the combination.

07-33-Buddy-opens-safe 07-34-Mel-looks Brad and Ted bump into each other, and Ted doesn’t want to be around her. The two of them soon piece together the truth, and Ted declares “Melody is toast”. Melody had declared Ted to be toast back in episode 05 (also written by Graham Yost), so this is a nice turn.

07-35-Brad-Ted-truthAlso, I love how the wind blows Brad’s hair right as it fades to the next scene.

A guest wants to pick up her stuff. Mr. Ernst relates that this is the first crime that he’s heard of at the Bar None – except for “those brutal murders”. I…can’t tell if he’s being serious or dicking with her.

07-36-safe-emptyOh, shizzle!

07-37-angry-crowdMr. Ernst tells the angry crowd that he’s called the police (again, I guess), who are on their way.
07-38-Sears-watchSears calls for Danny. Danny and Melody arrive at that moment. Sears drags Danny down to the crowd and “finds” his watch in Danny’s pocket. Was he intending to do so earlier when it was “stolen” but held off for whatever reason (perhaps waiting until the safe was robbed)? I’m confused. Anyway, he calls for a rope.

07-39-grillingSomehow, Mr. Ernst gets Danny away and grills him in his office (complete was a rope that isn’t really tied around him) for the sake of the onlookers, who buy it, despite Mr. Ernst’s hammy acting, which, to this show’s credit, Buddy calls him out on after the onlookers leave.

Remember that nutjob customer that I’d mentioned? Well, my bosses didn’t do a fake interrogation of me just to satisfy him, but they took me into a back office long enough to convince him that I’d been removed from the register, so he’d leave the store. Yeah, it was that serious.

07-40-Buddy-planAnyway, Buddy says they’re gonna catch a thief.

07-41-Buddy-surprises-MelMel is packing up to leave, and Buddy surprises him and delays him as long as possible. He finally asks Mel to autograph this:

07-42-pictureOkay, two questions. 1) How did Mel not notice the camera in the safe? 2) Did they really make secret agent toy cameras like this that took pictures? I’d really like to know.

This is where Buddy’s previous explanation of the ability to turn off the flash comes in. What I’m wondering, though, is why Buddy lets Mel hold the evidence and, for that matter, why Buddy was the one to confront Mel instead of, say, Mr. Ernst bringing up some legalese regarding the registration form or an exit survey or whatever. Just bullshit until the cops arrive.

07-43-confrontationMel tries to kidnap Buddy, but Mr. Ernst and Danny come in, and Mr. Ernst informs Mel of the police’s impending arrival.

07-44-Ernst-searchesMr. Ernst finds the loot in Mel’s bag.

07-45-Sears-gun 07-46-at-gunpointSears arrives and has Mr. Ernst fill the bag. It turns out that he’s Mel’s son, and they’re in on it together. Okay, I admit, I had forgotten about this aspect of the episode, so I was pleasantly surprised. I wasn’t quite sure how things were going to play out.

07-47-Sears-baldAnyway, Sears wants to set out on his own and leave his dad behind. They argue about it.

07-48-Sears-blindedBuddy takes a picture of Sears with the flash on, blinding him.

07-49-Ernst-Sears-struggle 07-50-shadowsMr. Ernst uses the opportunity to wrestle with Sears. Mel prevents Danny and Buddy from interfering, seemingly for their own protection. Most of the fight is seen through shadows.

07-51-Ernst-victorious 07-52-surprisedYep, Mr. Ernst is victorious, and no one can believe it. He sends Danny to get rope and tie up Sears (poetic justice). Lest anyone think Mr. Ernst is a badass, he assures us that he got lucky, and Sears knocked himself out, which doesn’t seem to match up with the shadow fight, but whatever. Regardless, springing into action like that was a brave thing to do. Also, Buddy admits he was simply holding his camera tight, and his finger slipped.

07-53-Buddy-fives-dadMel admits he and his son had been doing these scams for ten years. Mr. Ernst rubs their capture in his face, and Buddy is pleased with his dad.

07-54-Ted-sauces-sodaThe pre-credits scene at the end has Ted adding hot sauce to a bottle of grape soda (which Melody apparently never passes up), which he instructs Brad to offer to Melody.

As the others come by, Mr. Ernst explains to Danny that Sears had used an old magician’s trick (holding the watch in the palm of his hand) to frame Danny. When Brad offers the soda to Melody, Mr. Ernst takes it. Ted objects, but Mr. Ernst gets Melody to let him have it.

07-55-Ernst-drinksIt seems for the moment that everything’s okay, but then…

07-56-Ernst-fireMr. Ernst runs off, and Buddy runs after him.

07-57-Melody-laughsMelody laughs at Ted and Brad’s pranking ineptitude, but…

07-58-Ted-pushes-Melody 07-59-Melody-stuckSo ends another day at the Bar None.

This episode was okay but not that great. While I like the father/son story between Mr. Ernst and Buddy, Mel seemed too good to be true (he shouldn’t have been given such an amazing history), and Sears was just way too hammy – even when he wasn’t putting on his act.

It’s interesting, though, how Ted, Brad, and Melody were mostly relegated to the b-plot. They hardly crossed over into the main plot at all, leaving it to Buddy, Mr. Ernst, and Danny. It’s fun when the series plays with different combinations of characters. It’s also fun to see Melody be an asshole for a change.

Season 1, Episode 06: Rehearsal for Romance

Writer: Michael Kaplan
Director: Fred K. Keller
Original air date: August 18, 1989

06-01-Welcome-sign 06-02-meetingThe cold open involves Mr. Ernst assembling the staff (well, except for Lucy, I guess, who’s missing her second episode in a row) for an outdoor meeting.

Mr. Ernst’s latest scheme to publicize the ranch and “make vast amounts of money” is to sell a bunch of Bar None merchandise:

06-03-sauce 06-04-pickles 06-05-mayonaise 06-06-dressing 06-07-polishIf you think these are lame, he then announces a complete line of Bar None fashion accessories:

06-08-Melody-dread 06-09-bowtie 06-10-bowler-hat 06-11-suspenders 06-12-Melody-dread-2 06-13-dress-socksDuring the presentation, Melody does a hand-waving gesture in front of Ted’s face, seemingly trying to snap him out of a trance or revive him to consciousness. It’s kinda weird.

Anyway, Mr. Ernst expects them to sell this merchandise to the guests and to wear it (presumably, he means just the fashion accessories).

06-14-Ted-crowns-Melody 06-15-Melody-crowns-Ted06-16-Melody-deskAfter the credits, Melody is running the front desk (the first that we see of it).

She gets a lady-boner over a guest…

06-17-Melody-gaze 06-18-Melody-tongue 06-19-Bill-smilesand then turns into a nervous klutz around him:

06-20-Bill-concerned 06-21-Melody-down 06-22-bonk-1 06-23-pencils 06-24-bonk-2His name is Bill, and he’s played by Robert Mammana, our first guest star of the series. “Hey Dude” was his first acting gig, and he’s had a very sporadic career since then (most notably an 11-year gap between this role and his next), having only 27 roles to his name, but he continues acting to this day, curiously often playing an officer, agent, detective, or guard of some kind.

Bill’s here with his parents on his first summer vacation of college, and he hates it. After Bill suggests it, Melody says she’d “love you” show him around the lake after dinner. Hurhur. Anyway, it’s a date, which worries Melody.

06-25-Ernst-mirror-1In his office, Mr. Ernst isn’t convinced the bowler hat says Bar None (figuratively), so it’s time for cultural insensitivity!

06-26-Ernst-mirror-2 06-27-Ernst-mirror-3 06-28-Ernst-mirror-4He decides to stick with the bowler.

There’s a knock before the scene ends, which is weird.

06-29-Melody-magazinesMelody is consulting magazines on how to behave on a first date with an older guy at a lake (seriously), and then Brad comes in, horrified over having to wear Mr. Enrst’s crappy fashion accessories.

06-30-Brad-bowlerMelody shares her problem with Brad, and apparently Brad was under the impression that Melody knew everything that there was to know about guys. Melody’s previous dates have consisted of movies and parties and stuff with guys her own age. Brad inadvertently gives Melody the idea to go to Ted for advice. Brad suggests Melody just be herself, but Melody is “desperate” and convinced being herself wouldn’t work.

06-31-Melody-TedMelody comes to Ted while he’s working and calls him out about not wearing his bowler hat. Wait, Melody wasn’t wearing her bowler hat while working the front desk. Did Mr. Ernst get on her case about that between scenes? Anyway, Ted says some tough talk about doing whatever he wants. Ted is happy that Melody came to him with her problem, because he’s “great at solving other people’s problems”. This might be a callback to episode 04. Ted pauses when Melody brings up her date. I wonder if that’s indicative of anything.

06-32-Melody-upsetThere’s a nice moment of effective acting by Christine Taylor when Melody is hurt over Ted inadvertently calling her being herself “a terrible mistake”. Ted says he likes it when Melody’s being herself. Ooh, I wonder if there’s more to this than the episode is letting on. Anyway, Ted gets Melody to “enroll in the Ted School of Romance”. This involves Melody going on a practice date with Ted. Melody is initially hesitant, but Ted convinces her.

06-33-Buddy-CassieBuddy and Cassie show up after missing the previous episode.

06-34-Cassie-collarBuddy is upset that his dad has made Cassie wear an “awful collar”. They all talk about it for a bit, and then Melody warns Ted that “the Mad Merchandiser” approaches.

06-35-Ted-hypocriteTed, you fucking hypocrite.

Melody tells Mr. Ernst that she doesn’t think the bowler hat is her. Mr. Ernst remedies the situation:

06-36-Melody-top-hat 06-37-Ted-WolverineAfter the commercial break, Ted is reading Wolverine #9 (cover-dated July of 1989, which indicates they taped this episode in the spring), probably a hand-me-down from Buddy that Ted will eventually try to sell to a guest. Danny comes in, upset about his “terrible case of hat-head”:

06-38-Danny-hat-headThe girls come in, and Danny rags on Melody a bit regarding her hat. Ted piles on. After a bit more banter, Ted begins Melody’s “lesson in romance” – with Brad here to minimize the damage.

After a bit of banter, everyone gets seated, Danny giving silent indications of who will sit where. I point this out only because it’s something that you don’t really usually see in a series.

They start with conversation. According to Ted, the most important thing to do is act like whatever Bill says is the most interesting thing that she’s ever heard. Brad says that’s the stupidest thing that she’s ever heard, but Melody says there is some sense to it. No, there isn’t, Melody.

Ted goes over the usual getting-to-know-each-other types of questions. After that, he claims guys love it when girls talk about sports. Um, not all guys, Ted. I don’t give a shit about sports, and there’s no guarantee that Bill does either.

We learn Melody loves to watch figure skating, but Danny and Ted disapprove.

06-39-Danny-blehI haven’t seen much figure skating, but it actually sounds kind of nice.

Ted means the typical, macho dudebro sports, though, and suggests Melody bring it up, let Bill talk, and throw in a random “impressive” line. Danny and Brad disapprove.

Ted wants to move on to lesson #2: walking with a guy. They head to the lake, putting on their hats first, lest Mr. Ernst smite them, and they have fun with the absurdity of it all by doing a little dance.

06-40-danceOn the way to the lake, Ted instructs Melody on how to brush against a guy as if by accident.

06-41-Ted-brushes-Melody 06-42-Melody-brushes-TedI REALLY loved the moment in the screencap above back in the day. I thought Melody looked so sensual. I still love it.

06-43-Brad-pushes-DannyBrad doesn’t take well to Danny trying the same shit on her.

At the lake, Ted suggests Melody suggest she and Bill sit on the rock together, and Melody likes the idea.

06-44-Melody-Ted-rockDanny, Melody, and Brad get into it over the merit of Ted’s ideas.

Danny tells “an old Indian fable” about a fox that wanted to catch a deer. I have no idea if it’s a real fable or not, but a few minutes of Googling turned up nothing. Anyway, Ted makes a racist comment as he dismisses the fable.

There’s an odd skip as Melody says “maybe I could come up with a few [skip] ideas of my own”. I wonder if this is a DVD authoring error or a problem with the master tape.

Melody suggests skipping rocks, which Ted dismisses as childish. Danny and Brad have a bit of childish fun by skipping after Ted and Melody.

06-45-skippingI really love this twilight shot:

06-46-twilight06-47-Melody-Brad-talkAs Melody is about to go and meet Bill, she’s nervous, and she and Brad discuss what Melody should do.

06-48-Melody-hugs-BradI love that Melody runs back to hug Brad, probably for emotional support.

06-49-Melody-meets-Bill 06-50-Melody-Bill-walkMelody meets up with Bill, and they head for the lake, talking about college versus high school. Following Ted’s conversation advice doesn’t work.

06-51-Bill-laces 06-52-Melody-fallsNeither does the arm-brushing.

After a bit of awkwardness, they arrive at the lake, and, awww, a deer!

06-53-deer 06-54-Bill-fallsThe rock idea is a bust.

Melody offers the rock to Bill, but Bill says the ground is softer. Melody’s nervousness leads to a hilarious line: “Ground is great that way.”

I dunno. I’ve always thought it was funny.

Melody unintentionally garbles hockey and baseball, so sports talk is a bust.

06-55-Melody-sorryMelody apologizes. Bill notices the rock in her hands and brings up skipping rocks, which he’s never been able to do. Melody offers to teach him.

06-56-Melody-Bill-skip-rocksThey have a great time.

06-57-Melody-excitedMelody comes back from her date and tells the guys how it went – including a dubious compliment to Ted of doing the opposite of everything that he said. She runs off to tell Brad.

06-58-Melody-Bill-exchangeThe pre-credits scene at the end has Melody and Bill exchanging addresses (no phone numbers?). Ah, the days before e-mail. It was the fuckin’ Dark Ages.

Melody had told Bill the fable and apparently let him believe she had come up with it.

Mr. Ernst comes by and says his merchandise just didn’t sell, so…

06-59-Ernst-crowns-MelodyBill “compliments” the gang, and they all yuck it up.

06-60-gang-hatsSo ends another day at the Bar None.

This episode was pretty good. Ted’s advice was bullshit, and Melody should have ignored it, but being yourself is always a good message.

You know who would have been a good choice to go to for advice? Lucy. It’s too bad that she missed this episode.

We’ll never see Bill again, I’m willing to bet we never hear of him again. Long-distance relationships are difficult to make work, especially in the days before instant global communication.

Overall, a nice episode.

Season 1, Episode 05: The Competition

Writer: Graham Yost
Director: Ross K. Bagwell, Jr.
Original air date: August 11, 1989

The cold open involves Danny and Ted coming into Mr. Ernst’s office for a meeting, which, after a bit of banter regarding his previous (horrible) advertising idea, he finally gets to the purpose of:

05-01-drawingTed says it’s a man on a pig, but Mr. Ernst, upset, insists it’s a horse. His plan is to create an ad in the desert for the ranch, inspired by desert drawings in Peru that people fly in from all over the world to see, viewable from the air. He also blatantly talks about bribing the pilots to call the passengers’ attention to the ad.

Danny, probably in jest, suggests making it big enough to see from the space shuttle, and Ted can’t take it anymore:

05-02-Ted-laughMr. Ernst, however, seriously considers it. He even recruits Danny to work together with him on it. Danny isn’t pleased, and Ted feigns disappointment. Mr. Ernst says they’ll get started right after breakfast.

05-03-Melody-makes-bedAfter the credits, Melody is making a bed and busts out an impromptu rap, which she subjects Brad to:

“My name’s Cool M. I work on a dude ranch.
People eat so much here, you’d swear it’s a food ranch.
They eat lotsa eggs, they eat lotsa butter,
Enough cholesterol…to make your whole heart flutter.”

05-04-Brad-rolls-eyesBrad rightly tells “Mel” that it’s awful. Melody insists Brad just doesn’t understand rap. She calls Brad “too old” and “outta touch”. Brad takes issue with that. Melody challenges Brad to name two rap artists. Brad names “Run DMV” and “L.L. Cool Bean”, which is pretty funny, but then Melody kind of ruins it by sarcastically guessing who they are.

05-05-Melody-shirtBrad asks Melody if she’s seen her yellow silk shirt, and Melody remembers she borrowed it. It’s “a little wrinkled”. Melody apologizes, but Brad is upset, and they get into it over age, maturity, and taking care of things properly. Brad leaves, upset.

Back at the meeting, Mr. Ernst believes the problem is they’re going to get too many guests. As he does lofty calculations, Ted and Danny are understandably confused. The scene ends with a dumb gag where Mr. Ernst is worried that repeatedly tapping a marker against his chin might have left a spot.

05-06-Ernst-marker05-07-Brad-rosterBrad checks the duty roster on the board outside Mr. Ernst’s office and finds out that she has to wait tables, which she hates. She offers to switch with Melody for bathroom detail. Melody says a “mature person” would do whatever chore was assigned. Okay, I understand Melody is upset, and maybe Brad was a bit harsh, but Melody did screw up. Brad is upset, and Melody basically calls Brad a rich bitch that thinks she’s above serving others, using words similar to those in their discussion back in episode 03 (but mean-spirited). Brad says she’s lousy at it and spills things. Oh, I guess that ballet-waitressing crap didn’t work after all. I’m mildly surprised that Brad’s problem wasn’t hand-waved away. The two of them argue a bit more, and then Ted comes out and gets them for Mr. Ernst.

In the office, Mr. Enrst is looking over the ad with Danny and says they have to use stones, because rain could wash away lines in the dirt. Wait, back in episode 03, Mr. Ernst was certain that it never rains out here. Anyway, Mr. Ernst decides on painted whites, which will stand out and “last for generations, so that, centuries from now, people come from far and wide just to look at the Ernst Line Drawings”. Yeah, um, delusions of grandeur much?

Ted and the girls come in. Mr. Ernst says they need another staff member that is capable of leading overnights. Both girls immediately volunteer at the exact same time and are pissed at each other. Mr. Ernst needs only one. Melody cites her length of experience working here, and Brad cites her age and maturity. Y’know, this got me thinking. Christine Taylor was 18 when this episode aired and 17 when it was taped. I can’t find any information on Kelly Brown’s date of birth. Anyway, Mr. Ernst says they need to be tested, but he can’t do it on account of “creating the next wonder of the modern world”, but Ted has volunteered.

05-08-Ted-pleasedSurely, no problems will stem from this whatsoever.

Ted has typed up a 20-page syllabus, but the first 19 pages are ridiculous, MacGyveresque jokes (at least, I hope he was joking). The first test is in first aid.

05-09-Melody-goodMelody has done a good job.

05-10-Brad-badBrad, however, bandaged the victim’s entire head and amputated her entire arm to stop the spread of poison from a snake bite – and the wrong arm at that. The only thing that she did satisfactorily was the leg. Yeah, Melody wins this round. After Ted breaks up some trash talk between the girls, it’s on to orienteering.

05-11-Danny-toilingIn the desert, Danny is toiling away at setting up the Ernst Line Drawings. Mr. Ernst spots a plane and wants Danny to hurry up and finish, or they’ll “lose customers”. He also waves and calls at the plane as if he thinks they’ll notice. Yeah, no.

Mr. Ernst invites Danny to come up and take a look, and Danny says it still looks like a man on a pig. Danny suddenly spots Brad, waves, and gets off the ladder, shaking it and tipping it over.

05-12-Ernst-ladder 05-13-Melody-needlesDuring one of the tests, Melody gets an assful of cactus needles…

05-14-Brad-ribbonand Brad finds a ribbon.

They’re dead even. The winner will be decided by the final test: a night in the desert – alone. Brad tells Melody to be careful of the cacti. I don’t know if this is related to the cactus gag from earlier or not, but, regardless, Brad’s like “It’s on, bitch!”

05-15-Brad-insults-Melody 05-16-suppliesAfter the commercial break, Ted is listing the things that the girls get to take with them: pack, blanket, compass, canteen of water, length of rope, knife, and match. Ted breaks up Brad and Melody’s trash talk and tells them to get changed, so they can head out.

05-17-Melody-blindfoldTed drops the girls off separately and tells them to count to one-thousand before they take their blindfolds off. Unfortunately for Melody:

05-18-DangerThis is named after executive producer Geoffrey Darby.

05-19-Brad-blindfoldTed sticks a rubber snake in Brad’s pack.

05-20-Ted-compass
When she doesn’t respond well to his flirting, he takes her compass.

05-21-Melody-dropsMelody drops her stuff while counting, and the bag falls down the mine shaft.

05-22-Melody-screamsShe immediately realizes something’s up and screams at Ted.

Brad hears Melody’s screams and takes delight in them. She skips ahead in her counting and takes off her blindfold early. She finds the snake and freaks out.

05-23-Brad-snake 05-24-Brad-screamsShe screams at Ted.

05-25-Melody-climbs-downMelody ties one end of her rope around a piece of wood and climbs down the mine shaft to retrieve her pack.

She also comes up with a new rap:

“His name is Ted.
It’s gonna rhyme with dead.”

No, it already rhymes with dead, Melody.

05-26-wood-looseUnfortunately, the piece of wood comes loose, and Melody falls.

05-27-Melody-shaft05-28-Brad-concernedMelody screams for help. Brad is checking her pack for her compass when she hears the screams. At first, she’s delighted, but then she grows concerned and runs to find Melody.
05-29-Melody-despairIn the shaft, Melody is in despair over possibly no one finding her. It’s a nice performance where she answers her own question without saying aloud that she’ll die. I just wish it went on longer, because Brad finds her immediately.

05-30-Melody-wristThe girls catch each other up on what happened. I like that Melody doesn’t know exactly why she fell, guessing the knot came undone. She hurt her wrist when she landed hard, so she can’t climb back up.

05-31-Brad-ropeBrad lowers her rope for Melody to tie around her arms and climb up with her good hand.

05-32-Melody-gets-rope 05-33-Brad-tied 05-34-Brad-rescues-Melody 05-35-Brad-wraps-MelodyThe girls make up, and Melody will talk Brad through wrapping her wrist.

05-36-stashLater on, when they stop to rest, Melody admits to stashing chocolate and graham crackers in her blanket, and Brad admits to stashing marshmallows. They decide to make s’mores. Fun fact: this episode (supposedly) originally aired on the day after National S’mores Day in the United States.

05-37-moon 05-38-fireI’m guessing they didn’t want to actually tape scenes in the desert at night, so we get a voice-over of the girls as they’re camping. They chat for a bit, mostly about what to do to Ted, and they get a bit frightened over a howl heard in the distance.

The next day, while hiking, Melody talks Brad into trying out rap.

Brad:
“My name’s Bad Brad, and I work on a dude ranch.
People eat so much, you could call it a food ranch.”

Melody:
“And if it smells so bad, you could call it a crude ranch.”

Brad:
“And if they all went naked, you’d call it a nude ranch.”

05-39-Brad-Melody-hikingYeah, it’s really stupid, but it feels like something that real teens would make up, unlike, say, the Cinderella rap from “Saved by the Bell”.

05-40-Brad-leadsBrad leads the way, unsure, with Melody’s compass. Wait, I didn’t see Melody take her pack out of the shaft with her. Maybe they retrieved it later.

Later, Brad realizes the compass is broken, and Melody remembers she dropped it when she walked into the cactus. If she’s talking about the needle-butt incident from earlier, I didn’t see her drop a compass. She must be referring to some off-screen incident.

Melody realizes the ranch is two miles away. She first explains it by science, amazing Brad, and then she points out the Ernst Line Drawings, which read “The Best Dude Ranch in the West – Bar None”. The girls decide to dick with it.

05-41-girls-mess-adBack at the ranch, Ted tells them that neither of them passed the test, because they helped each other.

05-42-eat-snakeMelody tries to make Ted eat the rubber snake, and Ted says he’ll recommend to Mr. Ernst that both girls take overnights as a team. They agree to it. They also want Ted to do Melody’s bathroom detail and Brad’s turn waiting tables, or he chews rubber. After jokingly considering the snake, Ted agrees to do the chores.

Wait, weren’t those yesterday’s assignments? Were they postponed to today due to the testing? Or was Brad looking at the following day’s assignments?

05-43-photoThe pre-credits scene at the end has Mr. Ernst and Danny returning from a plane ride to check out the Ernst Line Drawings. Ted reads the ad off a photograph: “The Best Nude Ranch on[sic] the West – Bar None”. Brad and Melody laugh, and then Melody excuses them, and they quickly get out of there. Mr. Ernst sends Ted and Danny out to fix the ad.

05-44-nudistsPredictably, a nudist couple shows up, and Mr. Ernst, not thinking anything strange until the man walks right past him, sends them to the front desk to register. He then nervously waves to the woman and goes into shock.

05-45-Ernst-shockedSo ends another day at the Bar None.

This episode was pretty good, silly moments and all, and even the ad subplot proved useful to the main plot in the end. Ted was an ass for taking Brad’s compass, but there’s no indication that he actually knew about the mine shaft.

I love the spotlight on Melody and Brad’s friendship. Christine Taylor and Kelly Brown both give good performances. I wish this could have been a two-parter to more deeply explore the rift that develops between them and give Melody a longer period of hopelessness in the shaft, perhaps exhausting her supplies and having a breakdown.

Overall, a nice episode.