Writer: David A. Litteral
Director: Ross K. Bagwell, Jr.
Original air date: January 26, 1990
Before I start on the episode, I have an interesting note about the writer, David A. Litteral. This episode of “Hey Dude” was the only thing that he ever wrote. I guess Litteral isn’t that literary. Thank you, I’ll be here all night. He was also an assistant director on the series for around a third of the episodes. In 1992, he was a second assistant director on a movie called “Netherworld”. And that’s it. That’s his entire career.
In the cold open, Buddy is using a metal detector to search for…buried treasure? Loose change? I don’t know. He finds junk. Wait. Danny had suggested using a metal detector back in “Our Little Champion” (season 2, episode 03). Where the hell did Buddy get one? Anyway, he eventually comes across…
At 45 seconds, that’s the shortest cold open so far. Well, I’ll give the episode this: it doesn’t waste any time in setting up the premise.
After the credits, Mr. Ernst, Lucy, and the teens have been searching the area but have found nothing. There’s a humorous bit where Lucy claims she can track a road runner doing sixty in a sandstorm (look for Mr. Ernst laughing and nodding behind her). After some banter about weird guests, Mr. Ernst says the problem is the weird comic books that Buddy’s been reading. Ted defends the comics, and he and Danny talk about a particular series (likely made up) for a bit. Buddy runs off in frustration. There’s a recurring “joke” in this episode that starts in this scene: the characters constantly increase the height and number of arms of the alleged aliens in their descriptions. It’s not particularly funny.
Later, Melody finds Buddy throwing rocks in the lake and checks up on him. He claims to be fine. Melody tries to come up with an alternate explanation (a bad dream), but Buddy insists it was real. He gets upset and runs away. Melody theorizes maybe it was a desert mirage.
Melody has a stereotypical idiot-moment as seen in horror films. She runs down to the dock and realizes she has nowhere to go before she runs back up the stairs, pauses for a moment to look at the alien, and then runs away. This kind of behavior really pisses me off. Rule #1: put as much distance between you and the bad guy as possible. You’re not going to do that by running down to a large body of water!
Later, Ted insists Melody made the story up to not make Buddy seem like an idiot, but Brad warns him as they approach Melody, who’s visibly upset. Brad says Melody wouldn’t make it up. Ted asks for proof. Keep in mind that all of this is said within earshot of Melody. Ted then tries to pass himself off to Melody as the believing one (in opposition to disbelieving Brad). Do television and movie writers not understand the power of the human ear? You can’t just expect the audience to believe “the character didn’t hear that”.
Ted then yells support to Buddy (who’s on the other side of the lake with his dad) and then turns around and laughs.
Danny and Lucy come by (on the other side of the lake). Danny asks Lucy for her opinion. Lucy thinks it’s a big practical joke by Buddy and Melody (which is a reasonable conclusion, based on their personalities). Danny says he’d like to meet an alien and then jokes for a while. Mr. Ernst comes by and asks if they’ve found anything. Lucy makes a joke and guesses Danny is about 5’7″. Mr. Ernst suggests splitting up. He sends Buddy back to the lodge, Brad and Ted to the south side of the ranch, and Lucy and Danny to the north end. He momentarily thinks someone is next to him. Not Buddy, because he’d already sent him off. And Melody is by the dock on the other side of the lake. He really is absent-minded, isn’t he? Anyway, he’ll cover the east and the west. He guesses aliens would be peaceful emissaries, nothing to be scared of. As if on cue, Ted scares Mr. Ernst by calling out to him. Ha. They apparently didn’t hear which side that Mr. Ernst wanted them to check. Ted jokes for a bit as the scene ends and quietly says “Well, it beats working.” I like this. It’s perfectly within Ted’s mindset, and it also demonstrates not saying aloud what you don’t want others to hear.
Ted is surprised that “Bradley” is agreeing with him about this being a waste of time and makes a big deal about it. He claims this is the first time all summer that she’s agreed with him. I’m pretty sure that there have been more times, but I don’t recall anything specific offhand.
Here’s an error that I picked up on immediately back in the day: Mr. Ernst calls Brad “Kelly”. I’m surprised they didn’t do a retake or at least ADR the shot. Heck, maybe no one caught it until it was too late (if at all).
Anyway, General/Commander/Whatever Ernst addresses his “troops”. He was up at “0600 hours” this morning, in contact with the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marines (he first called the president, but the White House doesn’t accept collect calls). They all hung up on him. There’s a lot of time wasting (Danny asks if he called the Coast Guard; Ted asks if he called Ted’s Uncle Wilfred, Kalamazoo’s recognized authority on anything strange or weird).
Lucy interrupts to appeal to logic and say they’re letting their imaginations get out of hand. The gang starts arguing. Mr. Ernst settles them down and starts to go over the threefold plan (consisting of three barricades), but the plan falls off the easel, and the gang starts arguing again.
After the commercial break, Danny and Melody have set up string and bells. You’ve gotta be shitting me. 1) How is this going to help against the aliens? 2) Wouldn’t the guests complain? Come to think of it, where are the guests during all of this? We never see any. Come to think of it, I don’t think we see any extras at all. Maybe everyone left, because the staff was doing this bullshit instead of their chores. I can picture it now: horse shit piling up in the corral, Brad being a no-show for Brad’s Breakfast Ride, children drowning in the swimming pool. Way to go, Colonel/Major/Whatever Ernst.
Another thing about the bells: it’s not covering anywhere near the entire grounds of the ranch – and not even the entire grassy area. To come back to my original point, what good are string and bells against aliens from another planet?!
Anyway, Melody says they have to check the empty rooms (which likely means all of them at this point) and brings up Mr. Ernst’s “safety first” rule. After some arguing over who goes into the room first (Melody doesn’t want to have her head bitten off first; I guess she wants the satisfaction of seeing Danny’s decapitated corpse before she dies), Danny goes in to check a room, and this leads to a “hilarious gag” of Melody missing an alien walking right behind her, panicking, and pulling Danny out of the room. It’s so hilarious that they do it twice. They discuss Melody’s fear for a bit, and then Danny pulls her into the room with him. Melody quickly leaves the room. Ted and Brad come by. Ted pats Melody on the back, scaring the shit out of her. Unfortunately, Danny is standing in front of her and blocks most of her reaction. Brad questions the necessity of the ropes and asks about going to the bathroom (which should have been addressed back in “Ted and Brad Get Handcuffed”). Ted pulls Brad close to him and says “Safety in numbers, Brad.” Very risque for a children’s series. Brad threatens him. How did Brad agree to be roped together with Ted, anyway? It’s unclear whose idea that the ropes are, but Ted seems to take the credit for it. Unfortunately, like the earlier shot, this moment is ruined somewhat by Danny (and Ted’s big stick) blocking it.
After some banter, they go off to search elsewhere (fuck the guest rooms, I guess). They come across Buddy, whose gas mask is stuck. Yeah, Ted is ordering gas masks for everybody in case of germs or deadly diseases. So he ordered only one for Buddy so far? Or went into town to buy it? Or found it lying around the ranch somewhere? And is he paying for these masks himself or using ranch funds?
Melody panics and has Brad feel her forehead and check for spots. After Brad insults Ted a bit, Ted says they got a call (or maybe gotta call) about barbed wire to circle the ranch and “stop the invasion – or at least slow it down a little”. For fuck’s sake, Ted – and Mr. Ernst. The Bar None is not the “first line of defense”. The aliens could simply go outside the ranch grounds to start conquering the planet. Brad points out the futility of protecting themselves from advanced aliens with “jingle bells” and barbed wire. Ted ignores her. Melody sides with Ted.
Later, the gas masks having arrived (same-day delivery?), Ted and Brad are digging a hole. Brad complains. They’ve dug 35 holes. Ted says they have “only 29” left. They get in a brief sand fight. It’s unclear whose idea that the holes are. Ted repeats what Mr. Ernst had said about Ted’s order being Mr. Ernst’s orders, but he also says Mr. Ernst wants the holes, so…beats me. Brad points out the stupidity of the holes. Ted says they’re camouflaged, and he’s made a map. While he mentions the map, Brad says something that I can’t understand. It looks like Kelly Brown is speaking with someone off-camera.
Mr. Ernst comes by, and there’s a gag where Ted and Brad can’t understand him, and Brad tells him to take his mask off. Mr. Ernst compliments them on the “alien holes”, but he can’t find any. Ted says they’re camouflaged and has him consult the map.
That night, after the orange moon has risen, Ted has apparently dropped the ropes requirement (Brad probably threatened to take a hacksaw to his dick). His plan is to be in the barricade while Danny and Melody are in the outpost. They protest. Ted points out that he’s second-in-command and wants them to salute him (they don’t).
Buddy arrives, his gas mask stuck again, so Ted and Danny pick him up, turn him upside-down, and shake him, which Melody doesn’t approve of. She’s also shocked when Danny suggests (and Ted agrees to) using the hacksaw. Fortunately for Buddy, the mask comes off at that moment. Danny claims he was “just kidding”. Ted gives Buddy a “direct order” to not wear the gas mask again and asks him for a salute (Buddy stupidly gives it). Ted has them follow him.
This is the barricade. Mr. Ernst calls “Outpost 1” (there’s more than one?) over a walkie-talkie.
This is “Outpost 1”. Danny reports all’s quiet on the western front. It’s dark, and Melody’s scared – especially when someone or something triggers the bells. Danny grins and goes to have a “close encounter”, saying they’ll be back to get Melody. Melody suspects mind control and goes to get help.
Pay close attention to the two barricade screencaps above (and the one a bit earlier). They added two random, nameless female staff members to the barricade, presumably to “bolster the ranks”. They didn’t appear earlier in the episode (to say nothing of earlier in the series). We don’t know who they are. They don’t say anything. They don’t do anything. I wonder what the casting call and director’s instructions were like. Melody did mention “all the other girls in the bunk house” back in “Ted’s Saddle” (season 1, episode 04). I guess these are two of them. Enjoy them while you can. I’m willing to bet we’ll never see them again after this scene. The extras aren’t even credited.
It’s Danny. He seems to be controlled by the aliens, but Ted realizes something’s up when Danny (intentionally?) gives the aliens’ home planet as the one from the comic book series that he and Ted had been discussing earlier. Danny eventually admits he was pretending. Brad claims she knew all along. Melody is relieved.
The “aliens” are really Boyd and Lester. They’re with the government and are conducting “hush-hush tests” on these new spacesuits. Okay, assuming NASA (which isn’t mentioned by name in the episode) tests spacesuits out in the desert (for endurance against extreme conditions or whatever), why would they do it on the property of a dude ranch? Why didn’t Boyd and Lester open their helmets before confronting the staff members to give them an explanation? None of this makes any sense!
Boyd is played by Larry Bennett. “Hey Dude” was his second and last acting gig, the first being a role in a movie called “Beyond Dream’s Door” in 1989. He was also an executive producer on a 2002 movie called “Hip! Edgy! Quirky!”. That’s it.
Lester is played by David K. Young. “Hey Dude” is his only acting gig. This is his first of two appearances. He shows up in a later episode as Bobby Bulp.
No, I don’t know which guy is which.
Danny explains he saw the name of their agency (“Space Agency”) on their backpacks. Okay, this explains everything. NASA isn’t involved. Space Agency is. I bet Space Agency is run by the same guys that run the Alien Task Force on “ALF”.
Danny goes off to change out of the spacesuit that Boyd and Lester had let him borrow. Mr. Ernst tells them that they’re always welcome at the Bar None and then claims to his staff that he “knew what was going on all the time”, and it was a test of their “civil defense preparedness”. Lucy points out how they “almost batted a home run with their friend’s head, because they let their imaginations run wild” and mock-salutes Mr. Ernst before storming off. This might be the single coolest thing that Lucy’s done so far.
The pre-credits scene at the end has Danny returning to the barricade and the gang claiming Mr. Ernst had called the space agency (Space Agency), and they have no one named Boyd or Lester working for them. They get Danny to believe the guys really were aliens but then admit they’re getting him back for the stunt that he pulled earlier.
Melody wonders about intelligent life up there. Brad is open to it up there but worries about it down here. It takes Ted a while to realize she’d insulted him, and he laughs it off. He and Danny talk into the closing credits, but I can’t understand what they’re saying.
So ends another day at the Bar None.
This episode was so over the top. No rational people would behave in this manner. You know how this situation would be handled in real life? “Hello, Tucson Police Department? There are two strangers in what look like space suits scaring people out here on the Bar None Dude Ranch. Please send someone over.”
The only really cool parts about this episode are the nicely “creepy” (in a humorous way) music and shots of the aliens. Like “Ghost Stories”, it’d be a good addition to a light-hearted “horror” marathon on Halloween.