Writer: Graham Yost
Director: Ross K. Bagwell, Jr.
Original air date: November 10, 1989
Mr. Ernst is hopelessly lost in trying to install a new automatic sprinkler system. He dismisses Ted’s (and the instructions’) notice that professional installation is required as a racket between the plumbers and manufacturers.
Mr. Ernst goes on a tirade about his manufacturer-plumber racket theory, but Ted cuts him off when he hears – and then sees – a low-flying plane that’s about to crash. This is some impressive production for a children’s/teen series.
Ted seemingly puts out a fire in the engine (we don’t see it), and Mr. Ernst goes to check on the pilot. The guy wakes up and is instantly worried about where his bag is. Mr. Ernst suggests they get away from the plane, but the guy says he crashed, because he ran out of gas. Mr. Ernst suggests getting him medical attention. The guy says he’s fine and gets a funny line in, and then he falls to the ground. Ted and Mr. Ernst talk for a bit about whether it’s safe to move accident victims or not.
As Mr. Ernst and Ted help the pilot back to the ranch, Mr. Ernst mentions the mine shaft is thirty feet deep, and he keeps meaning to have it covered over. They seem to be insinuating this is the same mine shaft that Melody fell into in “The Competition” (season 1, episode 05), which was also written by Graham Yost, but there are differences:
Anyway, the pilot is played by Mark Lang in his first or second acting gig. I really can’t tell. He voiced Ryoko’s father in an English dub of “Area 88: The Blue Skies of Betrayal”, but IMDb lists anime titles in a person’s filmography by original release year, regardless of who voiced what when. Anyway, this is his first of two appearances on “Hey Dude”, each time playing (presumably) different characters. He didn’t have much of a career. He played four different characters from 1990 to 1991 on “The Young Riders”, and he was in a 1991 direct-to-video movie called “The Black Crystal”. Oddly, he was a production driver for a 2009 movie called “Wild About Harry”.
The pilot puts his hand in his pocket and makes a pointing motion, insinuating he has a gun, and has Buddy put the money back in the bag. At no point during the entire episode do we see this alleged gun.
Also, there’s a gag where Mr. Ernst is having trouble getting through to anyone on the phone, and he’s oblivious to what’s going on until…
There’s a funny bit where the pilot gets frustrated that they don’t know who he is or what he’s done, because they don’t have a television, don’t listen to the radio, and don’t read the newspaper. Basically, yesterday, at 2:47 PM, in Flagstaff, he landed his plane on Main Street in the midst of traffic and robbed the First State Bank of $80,000. He took off in his plane before police arrived. He holed up overnight, got the morning paper, and set out for Mexico. Mr. Ernst and Ted aren’t impressed, and the pilot makes fun of the ranch. Mr. Ernst says everyone should be back for lunch at noon, so the pilot has to figure out where to put them until he can get clear of here. Mr. Ernst suggests the tack room, but Ted stupidly says Brad will find them when she gets back from her morning ride, which is what Mr. Ernst had been counting on.
The pilot has Mr. Ernst, Ted, and Buddy climb down into the mine shaft. He drops down a canteen of water for them and leaves. Buddy immediately starts calling for help. Mr. Ernst says they’re “in the middle of the desert”. Maybe so, but the plane didn’t seem to go down more than maybe a few yards from the ranch area (at least, judging by the way that the crash sequence was edited).
Yeah, even the interior of the mine shaft is different. For one thing, it’s a lot more cramped. See for yourself:
After the commercial break, Melody leaves the girls’ bunk house, goes over to the corral, and asks if she’s seen Ted. She hasn’t. Apparently, Ted was supposed to ride herd with a bunch of Young Buckaroos. Brad asks Melody if she’s seen Mr. Ernst. She hasn’t. He was supposed to meet her at the tack room to pick out new saddles for the riding school. Melody says Mr. Ernst is always on time.
Danny arrives and asks if the girls have seen Buddy. They haven’t. Buddy owes Danny a chore and was supposed to meet him at the garbage bins. Danny wonders if the three missing guys are all someplace together, but the girls are skeptical due to a perceived lack of common interests. So? They could be doing something work-related. Melody guesses they’re in Mr. Ernst’s air-conditioned office, sipping tall, cold glasses of lemonade, and this line effectively plays over the scene fade to this:
Mr. Ernst is rationing the water (a cap every six hours), but Ted wants to save his rations in order to have a really big gulp a day and a half from now, which is a bad idea. Mr. Ernst starts talking about the effects of dehydration and drives himself crazy until…
Upon “learning” he is, Melody enthusiastically wants to carry his bag for him. Danny doesn’t recognize him, and the pilot says he kept mostly to his room. Melody talks about the various things to do at the ranch, but “Harry Jones” claims he’s checking out, thanks them, grabs the bag away from Melody (again), and thanks her. Brad brings up settling his bill, which some guests “forget” to do. Melody gently chastises Brad for talking to a “guest” that way. Melody, shut the fuck up. The pilot says he settled up with Mr. Ernst, which is enough to convince Melody, because it’s not like the guy could have gotten the name from anywhere (like his office door). The pilot tries to leave, but Danny asks if Mr. Ernst was alone. Melody gets upset and tries to tell them to stop. The pilot says Mr. Ernst’s “kids”/”boys” were with him and confirms the names once Danny brings them up. He tries to leave again, but Brad asks if he has any idea where they went. Melody gets pissed again. The pilot says they’re feeding the pigs. He finally leaves, and Brad and Danny aren’t exactly cheerful in their goodbyes, but guess who is.
Brad says something doesn’t feel right, and Danny agrees. Melody chastises them for their treatment of the “guest”. Shut the fuck up, Melody. The so-called “guest” was getting something from behind the front desk. Even if he was a guest, it was suspicious behavior. And your punctual boss, his son, and a fellow staff member are missing.
Melody dismisses the “brothers” thing and the “pigs” (they don’t have any) thing as honest mistakes. Oh, they don’t have sheep either (Melody momentarily thinks they do). Goddess, this episode is giving Melody a dangerous case of the stupids.
There’s some arguing about it. The pilot overhears it and returns, pointing through his pocket at Melody. Melody tries to explain things to “Mr. Jones”, and they go through the whole bit where the pilot answers Danny’s question of the hand-in-pocket thing by mentioning his gun, and Melody has a delayed reaction to it, and SHUT THE FUCK UP, YOU MORONIC CUNT!
“Oh, the horror! I totally did not see this coming! I feel so shocked and betrayed! What is this world coming to when you can’t trust a stranger snooping around in a private area?! I must question my entire life!”
The pilot finally lets Melody carry his bag as he has them go out to the mine shaft.
Yeah, they seem to be implying the dirt that fell on Mr. Ernst’s face caused him to sneeze, which was just enough force to propel Buddy up. I think. Honestly, I don’t know what the point of it was. Mr. Ernst and Ted fall down, but Buddy hangs on and climbs out.
The pilot holds on with one hand while holding his bag with the other. He claims to have the others covered, but Mr. Ernst points out that he totally doesn’t. Mr. Ernst tells the pilot to drop his bag and grab his hand. The pilot refuses. Mr. Ernst pleads with him. The pilot, dumbass that he is, lets go of his hold on the ground and tries to grab Mr. Ernst’s hand but falls down the shaft. He’s not okay, much to Mr. Ernst’s delight.
The pre-credits scene at the end, on the next day, has Mr. Ernst on the phone with the police department, which is issuing all of them a special commendation. Mr. Ernst personally congratulates Brad, Danny, and Melody for figuring things out.
Mr. Ernst’s watch alarm goes off. While the kids were doing their chores this morning, Mr. Ernst installed that automatic sprinkler system. Oh, I’d forgotten about that “subplot”.
This episode was mostly nice and had some good production values. Unfortunately, Ted was an idiot at the wrong moment, and Melody…Goddess, do I even need to bring that up again? This episode did so much damage to her character.
It’s interesting how the first act was left to Mr. Ernst, Ted, and Buddy, and the girls and Danny didn’t show up until the second act (aside from Brad’s quick cameo in the cold open).
But where was Lucy while all of this was going down?