Writer: Alan Goodman
Director: Ross K. Bagwell, Jr.
Original air date: September 29, 1989
They go into the main lodge, where Ted already is. Melody greets Ted, and…
He’s starting an “employee of the week” policy. The winner gets her/his name on the plaque. Ted asks about a bonus. Brad asks about more goof-off time (a surprise, coming from her, but I like it). Danny asks about a nice letter home to parents. Melody asks about double desserts. No, the winner will get the “honor and respect” of fellow staff members. No one is enthused. Ted falls asleep on Melody again.
After the credits, Brad joins Melody for breakfast and talks about some dumbass guest on one of her rides. Melody brings up the employee of the week thing. Brad is surprised and claims to not care about it. Apparently, Brad has a lot of friends back home (inviting all of them down would be her idea for winning).
Danny arrives and claims to not care about the employee of the week thing. Nevertheless, he has an idea: he could invite his Indian friend, Bob Twilight, to perform tribal dances and tell old stories for the guests.
Ted comes by and claims to not care about employee of the week, but the girls know better. Ted’s plan is to take inspiration from some guy that he saw on a western once: do knife tricks for the guests.
Melody’s finally had it and lets them know. She also tells them to not put down Mr. Ernst’s idea and not pretend they don’t care. The other three decide to take Melody on in the employee of the week contest.
On another day, Brad sorts the mail, so Mr. Ernst won’t have to do it. However, she doesn’t read the names; in the interest of time, she just gives everyone roughly the same amount with the idea that they’ll trade later. Mr. Ernst has a pretty funny response to this.
Brad remembers a package came for Mr. Ernst. Noting the kids’ lack of enthusiasm for the contest, Mr. Ernst has decided to “sweeten the deal” by having the winner pose with a bowling trophy. When Brad points out the congratulatory message on the trophy, Mr. Ernst lets it slip that he had ordered it removed but then tries to cover his ass by pretending to be shocked it’s used.
Later, Melody hides cake in her drawer when she hears Brad coming into the girls’ bunk house. Brad concedes. She apparently has never bowled, never will bowl, and can’t allow anyone to think she ever would bowl. Okay, so Brad hates bowling. I guess this is supposed to tie into her quasi-snob persona. They discuss the contest for a bit, and Brad observes Melody is beginning to sound like Ted. She wants to “show” him, and she’s signing thank-you cards for the guests.
Mr. Ernst had ordered a “king-style crown” for the winner to pose with in the picture, but they’re out of stock, so the company sent him a substitution of “beauty queen tiara”. Mr. Ernst decides to roll with it. Danny has a funny “supportive” line. Mr. Ernst goes to call the company and straighten this out.
Danny goes to Ted, quits the contest, and tells him about the “girly crown”. Ted says they can talk Mr. Ernst out of it. Danny says competing isn’t good for them and adds it’s even changing Melody. Ted takes delight in the prospect of himself against Melody, but Danny silently disapproves. Ted mounts Sylvester for the afternoon ride and leaves.
Ted and two guests return from a ride, and Ted praises their riding. Ted asks someone named Bill (presumably an employee but probably one of the actual handlers on the series) to take Sylvester up for him.
Suddenly, the recurring, light-hearted music in this episode gets a “dark” treatment worthy of scoring a showdown.
After the commercial break, on another day, Melody is pissed that Ted is following her and re-cleaning (disinfecting instead of dusting) stuff. They argue over it. Melody tells Ted that being nice means doing something “unexpected” that will “surprise” people and “fill them with warmth and gratitude”.
Buddy lets Melody have it over what she did to his “vicious killer”. After Buddy leaves, Melody and Ted talk about it for a bit. Melody has to “run an errand” down at the corral and doesn’t want Ted to go with her. Ted presses her for information, but she refuses to answer.
That evening, Ted finds Melody and teases her about the horses incident. They argue for a bit, and then Ted lets on that he did something unexpected for someone.
Mr. Ernst arrives with some bags, and Melody and Ted each offer to help him, but he declines. He says he has two “prime candidates” for employee of the week. He alludes to an old proverb (but most likely the version in the 1980 movie, “The Shining”).
After Mr. Ernst leaves, Melody wonders what Ted is “all smiles about”. Ted reveals he waxed Mr. Ernst’s floor and gives a hilarious play-by-play that ends (unexpectedly for him but totally expectedly for us) with Mr. Ernst slipping and falling.
Ted finally tells Melody to just “disappear off the face of this Earth forever” and leaves. Melody, surprised, can do nothing except sit down.
Danny comes by and informs him of the situation with Ted and Melody. Mr. Ernst is surprised, because he had created the contest to formally recognize hard work, show his appreciation, and show the guests his pride in his staff. He decides to end the contest. He regrets only that he can’t do anything with the crap that he ordered, but Danny has an idea.
Later, Ted’s sitting in the main lodge, and Brad walks by and casually greets him, and he greets her back. I like this. It’s something that’s completely unnecessary, since it has nothing to do with the rest of the scene, but it adds a touch of down-to-Earth realism.
Melody comes by. Ted apologizes. Melody admits what she did without actually apologizing (a recurring thing on this series, it seems) and makes a funny joke about Ted bringing out the worst in her. She tells him to not work so hard at things, especially being nice, because “you’re a pretty nice guy as it is already”. Aaawww. I wonder if this will go anywhere.
Danny summons them to the front desk for the presentation.
Mr. Ernst gets some applause, and the kids seemingly ad-lib some lines, which is a nice touch. Also, props to wardrobe for keeping almost everyone in the same clothing throughout the day but changing Ted’s shirt.
The pre-credits scene at the end involves Danny pretending to be Mr. Ernst and holding a meeting to give the kids (including Danny) the things that they had asked Mr. Ernst about in the meeting at the beginning of the episode. I hadn’t mentioned it, but Brad and Danny had repeated all of these things as guesses when Mr. Ernst had opened his two packages (yeah, I know, makes no sense), so I guess you could call this a subplot, but that’s only a guess. All of the rewards are hilariously restrictive (except Danny’s, which is just the letter home, albeit Ted cautions him to not go over the top with his reward). Apparently, the ranch has a wishing well. “Mr. Ernst” is a bit mean toward Melody, calling her “largely responsible” for the “nonsense” of this past week.
This episode was nice. We learn some interesting things about the characters. I can’t really relate to the competition aspect, though. I’m naturally non-competitive, so I really wouldn’t care about becoming employee of the week or month or whatever. I just don’t care. I realize there are really competitive people in the workforce, though.
Whether Lucy’s one of them or not is unknown, because she doesn’t show up. It doesn’t matter, though, since the award was seemingly meant for only the four teens.
Here’s a fun drinking game: take a shot whenever anyone says “nice”, “nicer”, or “nicest”.