Writer: Judy Spencer
Director: Ross K. Bagwell, Jr.
Original air date: October 27, 1989
In the cold open, Mr. Ernst is napping in his office, and Ted and Danny walk in on him. After they have a bit of fun, Danny wakes him up. Mr. Ernst bullshits something about meditation. The boys want an advance on their pay. Why? Dates.
After the credits, Melody stops a little girl that’s running by the pool. The girl is played by Stacy Linn Ramsower. This is her first of several appearances on “Hey Dude”. She didn’t have much of a career. Four years after “Hey Dude” ended, she was in three movies. She played the young version of Sharon Stone’s character in “The Quick and the Dead”. She was also in “Tank Girl” and “The Baby-Sitters Club”. The following year (1996), she was in a TV movie called “Terminal”. That was her final role.
The guys come by the pool, and Ted has Danny check for loose change. Danny says they should get to the corral, because it’s almost 1:00 PM, but Ted says Danny’s watch is fast, and they’ve got plenty of time. Danny brings up Lucy and the possibility of horse poop detail. Ted says he can handle Lucy. He explains to Melody that he’s looking for some extra money, so he can take a girl that checked in this morning on a “truly memorable date”. Melody asks Danny why he’s helping Ted. Apparently, the girl has a “friend” that Ted says is “cute”. Ted sends Danny to look elsewhere in the pool and tells Melody that this girl won’t go out with him unless he gets a date for her friend, who he hasn’t seen. Melody decides to stay out of it but also brings up that some guy seems to be staring at her.
Lucy comes by and gets the guys to go to work. Ted says his watch stopped and blames Danny for not telling him that it’s late. Danny tells Ted that he wants pictures of the girl. Melody again tries to get the little girl to stop running. Lucy wishes Melody luck and leaves. Melody looks and says the guy is staring at her.
The man comes by and offers Melody a towel. Melody asks about the staring. He’s been watching her swim and says she’s pretty good (apparently, Melody has had a few opportunities to dive in the pool and rescue people). He asks if she’s ever thought about competing.
He introduces himself as Coach Daniels and says he’s trained some of the women on their Olympic team. He tells Melody that she has a lot of potential. Melody agrees to let him time her for speed – in a half-hour.
Yeah, Cassie’s still around and happily panting away. I had noticed Cassie was still being mentioned in the closing credits this season, but I figured it was something that they’d simply forgotten to remove. So, yeah, Cassie lives, but she’s definitely been demoted to guest status.
Where the fuck was I?
Oh, yeah, Buddy tries to show Melody his new card trick (callback to season 1, episode 07). Melody thinks she messed up at the speed timing earlier.
When Coach Daniels arrives with Mr. Ernst, Melody apologizes, but Coach Daniels tells her that she has natural ability. He’s given Mr. Ernst a training schedule and tells her that there’s a regional swim meet at the university in two weeks. If she trains hard and does well at the meet, he’ll talk with her about her future. He also thanks Mr. Ernst and says he’s enjoyed his stay.
After Coach Daniels leaves, Mr. Ernst starts talking to Melody about how he’s going to use her non-existent fame to draw tourists to the ranch. We learn Melody’s last name is Hanson. Mr. Ernst sends Buddy to make copies of the training schedule, and he goes off to order a large poster to advertise Melody. Buddy points out to Melody that she’s to get up at 5:00 AM, which doesn’t please her.
At the lake, Danny counts the change: $1.48. Ted is upset. Danny suggests they “take the girls to Fun ‘N’ Stuff and treat ’em to a couple rounds of the Whack-o-Willy”. Ted insists they need to make quick cash and take the girls on a “truly memorable” date. Danny brings up a metal detector, but Ted dismisses it after learning the rough cost. Danny’s having second thoughts about the date due to the lack of information on the girl.
Ted walks off, but Mr. Ernst intercepts him and tells him to grab a schedule. Time for a team meeting! Basically, Mr. Ernst hypes up that Melody begins training for the Olympic swim team. To paraphrase Coach Daniels from earlier, don’t get ahead of yourself, Mr. Ernst. But, yeah, this is the theme of the episode: Melody might one day be an Olympic champion. Considering all that she does in this episode is train for a regional swim meet, that’s quite a stretch. Anyway, Melody is training in the 100-meter freestyle. Mr. Ernst recruits the others to help Melody train, and then he has Melody get to the pool right fucking now. Oh, and run everywhere for the next two weeks.
Do I even need to summarize the rest of the episode? You can tell how it’s gonna go.
Once everyone else leaves, Ted lets Danny in on his plan to exploit Melody for date money.
Okay, so there are nine more days until the swim meet. Ted continues to evade Danny’s inquiries about the girl, whose name is Ludmilda.
Melody has had nothing but salad for six days, and she’s sick of it. Brad tells Melody that she has to watch her weight. Melody asks if it’s so Mr. Ernst can book more rooms or Ted and Danny can make more money. Brad is sick of Melody’s whining and says the guys are cutting her in for 50%. Melody says she has no free time, she’s tired, she’s hungry, and everyone’s getting on her nerves. She doesn’t think she wants to do this anymore. Brad says she’s just nervous and says she used to be as well on the night before a riding competition and couldn’t even sleep. That’s a nice tidbit of info on Brad. Melody doesn’t want to do this anymore and is thinking about telling Mr. Ernst, who walks in at that moment and asks about it, catching Melody off-guard.
After the commercial break, Melody asks if he wants something, and he reveals he’s here to give a scheduled (for 6:30 PM) pep talk. Seriously? Brad excuses herself to look for work. After asking about Melody and giving a very short pep talk, Mr. Ernst asks what Melody wanted to tell him – but then interrupts her with some enthusiasm about her and how he’s training her to be the great athlete that he couldn’t be (nice tidbit of info on Mr. Ernst). Melody doesn’t come clean and instead thanks Mr. Ernst and says she feels guilty over his hard work. Mr. Ernst says she shouldn’t feel that way, and they’re all proud of her. She says she’ll try to not let him down. He tells her to eat her salad and leaves. Brad comes back in, and Melody seems okay. They have a half-hour before bedtime (who actually sleeps for 10 hours?), so the girls look through a magazine to pick out a half-dozen more swimsuits. Do competitive swimmers really need a lot of swimsuits? I’ve read swimsuits should be washed after use to prevent damage from pool chemicals.
The guys host a tour of Melody’s room, because fuck privacy. Ted even invites the tourists to help themselves to Melody’s stuff, such as stuffed animals and perfume. I have a hard time believing anyone would be interested in touring Melody’s room, much less be okay with taking her stuff.
This episode is seriously stretching credibility.
Melody throws everyone out and calls the guys out on their bullshit, but Ted turns it around by saying Melody’s fame has made her temperamental.
She’s a nobody practicing to compete in a local swim meet! She. Is. Not. A. Celebrity!
The guys take the group to the kitchen to get “plenty more of Melody’s training lettuce”.
If this is a work of absurdism, it’s brilliant.
However, Melody’s “stuff is boring”, so Buddy changes her responses. We do get some useful info: Melody started swimming when she was 5 or 6.
She then passes the trainer job off to Danny after a few seconds. Danny doesn’t do anything to help Melody feel better. Finally, he mentions the swim meet is tomorrow, and he talks about how Melody is an inspiration to his young riders; he also says Ted was working the switchboard this morning and told Danny that they’re booked solid this weekend; Danny says it’s all because of Melody.
The next morning, Melody comes to the pool and finds Ted, who’s thinking of an early swim. Ted asks if she’s ready, and Melody is upset that that’s all that anybody talks about and says she’ll go elsewhere. Ted says Melody’s changed and asks if he’s not good enough to talk to anymore. No, no, no, no, no! Melody is not at fault! Everyone else is putting way too much pressure on her or exploiting her. They’re the ones at fault, but Ted doesn’t see it. Melody starts crying, because everyone will hate her after an eventual loss somewhere down the road (this might have been more believable if she’d said she might lose today). Ted says he won’t. He says, from personal experience, her friends will be there for her if she messes up. Melody asks about Mr. Ernst. Ted says he wouldn’t care if he knew she was this upset. Melody asks, after everyone’s been so nice (they have?), how can she let them down? Besides, she kind of likes the idea of being a future champion. Melody says she’s the only one in her family that doesn’t know what she’s doing. We learn she has one brother in law school and another in pre-med. Melody asks what if she never finds out, but Ted says she’ll be “ordinary, old Melody”, which would be fine with him. That’s kind of sweet, but then he says “I miss her”. Fuck you, Ted. Regardless, Melody seems cheered up.
Mr. Ernst asks to join her, and Melody agrees. She asks how the meet was. He says fine. She asks if he told the coach. He did, and the coach was disappointed. Melody asks if Mr. Ernst is disappointed. Mr. Ernst says not with her – with himself for putting so much pressure on her. He never meant to; he just got carried away; he does that sometimes. Melody asks about the ranch and the booked rooms. Mr. Ernst tells her that the rooms were booked because of the swim meet (athletes and families); it has nothing to do with her. He says the ranch is not her responsibility; that’s his dream; she’s entitled to one of her own. Melody says she doesn’t have one. Mr. Ernst says she will have a very special dream, because that’s the kind of person that she is. As he leaves, Melody calls out. He tells her that she would have won easy.
They also made a donation to the Olympic fund in her name. Melody guesses it’s the guys’ date fund. Danny says it didn’t work out, due to a price-expectation discrepancy between the girls and the guys. Apparently, the guys did all of this to try to raise junk-food money. Seriously?! All of that for “french fries”?! Anyway, I’m so glad that this thrilling subplot was wrapped up. Crushes on unseen characters seems to be a thing on this series. Charlene Hamer, Eddie Hammerfink, and now what’s-her-name and Ludmilda.
This episode was very uneven, I love Taylor’s performance, and Brisbin does a great job with Mr. Ernst’s contrition at the end of the episode, but it mostly has a very skewed message, trying to portray Melody as “changed”. Everyone except Mr. Ernst was too stupid to realize the problem was them, not Melody.
Here’s a fun fact. Graham Yost (the executive script consultant on the series) still owns one of the Melody t-shirts: