Season 1, Episode 09: Rainmen

Writer: Mark Cerulli
Director: Ross K. Bagwell, Jr.
Original air date: September 8, 1989

Before I begin this review, I need to state I know nothing about Native American culture, so I won’t be able to judge the accuracy of what’s portrayed in this episode.

09-01-Ernst-showerIn the cold open, Mr. Ernst is taking a shower while singing “The Nut Song“, a silly folk song. The water stops running, and Lucy comes over and informs him that, due to the seasonal drought and maximized water usage, they’re out of water.

After the credits, at the front desk, Mr. Ernst is concerned about the 28 guests that are just waking up and wanting cold water to drink. Oh, and also about the ranch not getting a 5-star rating due to this.

09-02-Ernst-Ted-hairTed comes by and makes fun of the shampoo still in Mr. Ernst’s hair (which he should have just wiped off with a towel), so it becomes a recurring gag in this scene that guests stare and laugh at Mr. Ernst’s hair, and he has to hide it with his hat (but also keeps taking it off).

It turns out that Ted just hooked up their reserve water tank of 3,000 gallons, which Lucy claims she’s been trying to tell Mr. Ernst, but there were plenty of opportunities, and she didn’t say anything.

Lucy goes to feed the horses, and Mr. Ernst gets the phone book to look up wells. I like how Ted just smiles in amusement at Mr. Ernst’s hair predicament, which annoys him. Mr. Ernst names Ted “Ranch Water Marshall” until this “crisis” is over, because “the future of the ranch is at stake”. I guess Melody and Brad never informed him of the situation in episode 05. The lesson: don’t put Ted in charge of anything.

Mr. Ernst calls The Happy Water Well Diggers and gets someone to come over to give an estimate for a well extension. While Mr. Ernst is distracted, Ted switches his hat with a fake plant and excuses himself, and…

09-03-Ernst-plant09-04-truck 09-05-Satkina-Ernst-wellMr. Satkina (played by Robert Morningstar in his only role) says it’ll be $5 per foot, and they’d have to go down 500 feet or more.

09-06-Satkina-DannyAs Mr. Ernst gets out an adding machine to run some numbers (which is a nice detail but isn’t necessary for something so simple), Danny comes over, and he and Mr. Satkina talk in some language (Hopi?). I’m afraid that I have no way of figuring out what they’re saying (much like I don’t know if a Native American well-digger would say “coaxing water from Mother Earth”).

Mr. Ernst says it’s not in the budget. When he makes a counter offer of $1 per foot ($500 cash plus lunch), Mr. Satkina gets upset, and he and Danny talk back and forth. Mr. Satkina leaves, and Mr. Ernst doesn’t see what he did wrong. We learn, back in New York, Mr. Ernst’s mother always told him: “Never buy until you bargain.” Danny explains Mr. Satkina thought Mr. Ernst was questioning his price. Apparently, “to an Indian, that’s a major insult”, because it’s like questioning his honesty. Okay, sure, but there’s also the fact that $1 per foot is insultingly low. According to Danny, a hundred years ago, Mr. Satkina would have challenged Mr. Ernst to a fight to the death.

As Brad serves some guests, one of them talks up the breakfast ride to Sabino Canyon (a nice callback to episode 02).

09-07-Ted-takes-waterTed comes by and takes away the guy’s water (Brad violated his “no water” rule), so Brad can serve it to another customer, which Brad rightly says is disgusting. Ted tells her to get smaller cups. Brad brings up the fact that, according to her waterproof watch, Ted allowed her a 2:35 shower this morning before he turned off the water. She tells Ted to lighten up.

09-08-Ted-fills-waterTed, you fucking hypocrite.

09-09-Danny-classLater, Danny is teaching about Native American beliefs to three girls (two of which were two of the people that laughed at Mr. Ernst’s shampoo hair earlier) and Buddy. Melody catches the end of the presentation, which is about kachina dolls being representations of spirits.

09-10-Melody-interested Melody admires it all (including something that Danny’s uncle gave him that’s been in the family for generations), even though she doesn’t know the meaning behind everything.

09-11-Danny-rattle 09-12-Melody-rattleAfter Melody comments that the sound of a rattle (used in ceremonial dances to ward off evil spirits) sounds like raindrops, the Water Marshall gets an idea.

09-13-Ted-ideaBy the way, I like the sign that Ted put up on the board. It’s a subtle furthering of Ted’s subplot, and it shows someone in set design gave a damn.

Ted wants Danny to do a rain dance. Danny dismisses the idea. Danny has seen only one rain dance – on a TV nature show. Ted grabs the rattle and…

09-14-Ted-danceDanny and Melody are pissed. Danny says it’s not the right time of the season; the rain spirits are gone. Ted is persistent in trying to get Danny to do “a little rain dance”, and Danny walks off. Melody points out Ted’s stupidity to him through a hypothetical situation. Ted apologizes, but Melody sends Ted to Danny.

09-15-Brad-laundryBrad arrives with her laundry. She was unable to do it, because Ted turned off the washer, which leaves Melody out of luck as well. Brad is really concerned, because Mr. Ernst and Lucy have been in his office for over two hours, going over budgets.

09-16-Buddy-canBuddy is collecting cans – whether all of the contents have been drunk or not.

09-17-Ted-CassieBack at the boys’ bunk house, Danny isn’t speaking to Ted. Buddy and Cassie come by to collect cans (at 5 cents each, they need 240,000 cans) to save the ranch. This surprises the guys. Buddy says he heard his dad talking. Unless they can come up with $2,500 to make the well deeper, he’s going to have to fire everybody – except Buddy. Okay, but why is Buddy trying to raise $12,000? For $2,500, he should need to collect only 50,000 cans. Ted brings up the rain dance again. Danny and Ted use Buddy to relay messages to each other until Buddy gets sick of it and leaves with Cassie.

09-18-Ted-apologizesTed apologizes to Danny but then tries to get Danny to teach him how to do a rain dance. Danny says you have to be initiated into the kachina way at birth; otherwise, the spirits won’t accept you. Danny also says they’re not on a reservation. Ted is worried about the drought ruining his whole summer. The Water Marshall goes on a “recon mission”, vowing to be tougher.

09-19-signDanny prays to a spirit (I don’t know how to spell it, so I won’t attempt to), never having done so before, and asks for a sign of what to do. The blind that Ted pulled down earlier suddenly goes up. This gives Danny an idea.

09-20-kachinaAfter Danny leaves, the wind blows, I guess signifying the power of the spirit.

After the commercial break, the Water Marshall makes good on his vow.

09-21-sprinkler 09-22-water-reserve 09-23-Cassie-drinks 09-24-Cassie-upset 09-25-Ted-showerLater, Brad is illicitly taking a shower, and Melody is impatiently waiting her turn (listen for Christine Taylor to garble “When’s it my turn?” as “When it’s my turn?”), but the Water Marshall approaches, and there’s this weird bit where Melody tries to cover the illegal showering activity (and the fact that Brad is even in the shower) by spouting a bunch of bullshit about doing “European yoga”, despite the fact that Ted arrived while Brad was still clearly showering. Her bullshitting is kind of funny, but Ted wants to inspect the shower. He sneaks a quick peek under the door and has Melody relay the message to Brad that her next shower is in four days.

09-26-Ernst-chartMr. Ernst and Lucy are still in the meeting. Somehow, a rate increase of 25% (to cover the costs of the new well) leads to both a lower occupancy rate and higher profits. Lucy is against charging the guests any more and pokes holes in Mr. Ernst’s idea to drill for oil. Mr. Ernst is so desperate that he asks if Lucy has a savings account, but Lucy asks if he pays her enough for that.

09-27-Ernst-bottleThings are so bad that even Mr. Ernst’s water cooler is empty.

09-28-Danny-callsDanny calls Mr. Satkina and gets him to come over.

Mr. Satkina didn’t say he’d fix the well, so Danny has a plan to rig up special effects to convince Mr. Satkina that he’s offending nature. The others are naturally dismissive of this plan but go along with it.

09-29-plan-waterMelody hooked up a pipe to the showers and will release some water when Danny gives the signal.

09-30-plan-flowersBrad set up a bunch of fake flowers that will “wither” on Danny’s command.

Ted points out the “cartoon” fakeness of the effects. The debate is cut short as Mr. Satkina arrives. Danny makes a last-second prayer.

Danny “warns” Mr. Satkina about nature and asks if the “natural spirits” have been giving him any signs.

09-31-Cassie 09-32-flowers 09-33-Melody-hits-Buddy 09-34-pipeDespite the others being incompetently late with the effects (Melody even hits Buddy as they bicker) and Danny calling out and giving very obvious signals, Mr. Satkina pretends to fall for it and goes to talk to Mr. Ernst.

09-35-gangThe gang is confused and divisive over what’s going on, but Ted, of all people, seems to convince them of their success.

09-36-Satkina-meetingAt the meeting, Mr. Ernst is appreciative of Mr. Satkina’s return. Mr. Satkina says something moved his spirit, praises the kids, and wants to speak to Danny.

09-37-Danny-summonedOutside, Ted is being all negative (a hilarious contrast to earlier), and Danny being called into Mr. Ernst’s office convinces him that “that’s it”.

09-38-contractMr. Satkina thanks Danny and explains to Mr. Ernst that the contract will allow him to pay what he can when he can; he trusts him. Mr. Ernst goes to make copies.

09-39-Danny-shockedDanny is shocked to learn Mr. Satkina knew it was a ruse all along. Danny, your shit wouldn’t fool anyone. Mr. Satkina explains he saw this kind of thing before in – wait for it – cartoons. He loves cartoons. He was impressed with how much that they love the ranch and the great lengths that they went through to save it. He says, sometimes, when you get older, you forget about things like that. He’ll be back in an hour with his drills.

09-40-Danny-Satkina 09-41-Danny-Satkina-2 09-42-Danny-cheers 09-43-water-stopsThe pre-credits scene at the end has Mr. Ernst taking another shower and singing “The Nut Song” again. The water suddenly stops. Mr. Ernst fiddles with the valve, and it comes off.

09-44-Ted-newsTed comes by and informs Mr. Ernst that the water heater’s broken. Okay, but why did the water stop running? It should just turn cold.

09-45-Ernst-coldSuddenly, the water turns back on. So…the water has good comedic timing?

So ends another day at the Bar None.

This episode was nice, although Danny’s plan made no sense and could have made things worse if Mr. Satkina had decided these kids wasted his time. Ted could have easily been right.

Speaking of Ted, the Water Marshall subplot was funny, but I don’t know if he’d be given that much leeway in real life. He learns a bit about cultural sensitivity, though, which is nice.

I can’t comment on the authenticity of the Native American aspects of this episode, but I’m willing to give them a pass because of this:


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