Season 3, Episode 07: Dueling Ranches

Before I start this review, I feel I owe you, my loyal readers, an explanation for why this review is a day late. It’s a combination of factors:

1) I got a late start, but that’s typical for me. I often put some distance between finishing one review and starting another, so I can do other things. Still, if I had started writing a bit earlier, it wouldn’t be late.

2) My work schedule is currently crazy. I’m in my second of three consecutive 40-hour weeks, where I work 7-4 five days each week. Not only does this take up most of my day, but it requires me to go to bed earlier than usual.

3) I was watching a special one-hour edition of ABC’s “World News Tonight” last night, covering the mass shooting in California. Yeah, I’m a child of the ’80s, and I still watch the news on television. I had grown up watching it with my dad. I really loved the theme music.

4) There was also this heartbreaking story that occurred in my town.

Anyway, on to the show:

Writer: Mark Cerulli
Director: Ross K. Bagwell, Jr.
Original air date: May 18, 1990

33-01-Ernst-phoneIn the cold open, Mr. Ernst in on the phone with Cacti Ticket Agency (*rolls eyes*), trying to buy a ticket for this Saturday’s Wildcats-Tornadoes game. I can’t find evidence of any team with either of these names ever existing in Arizona, much less a baseball team. Anyway, they’re totally sold out. Disappointed, Mr. Ernst hangs up but looks forward to catching the game on “the old radio” (which I don’t think we’ve ever seen before). He goes to check the mail.

33-02-radio-ball33-03-radio-destroyedUnfortunately, at this moment, a baseball enters his office, hits the radio, destroys it, and is then violently expelled by said radio!

33-04-oopsIt turns out that Melody had hit the ball into the radio (Jake failed to catch it) while she, Danny, and Jake were playing baseball.

33-05-bullshitMr. Ernst returns with his mail. The guys bullshit about admiring his office. Melody wants to tell the truth but is silenced and pulled away.

Mr. Ernst accidentally sits on the baseball and radio dial and discovers what happened to his “poor radio”. The radio turns out to be possessed by Satan:

33-06-radio-ruinedMr. Ernst goes over to his window and screams out after the kids.

After the credits, Mr. Ernst brings his “poor radio” into the main lodge. He’s seemingly given the kids until Saturday to fix it, or they’ll be in big trouble. How does he expect teens to fix his radio? Why not just dock their pay and take his radio in for repair or buy a new one?

33-07-Lucy-ErnstLucy comes by. She was just at the lake, taking a measurement. It’s down another two inches (which makes four inches this week). Mr. Ernst thinks it’s due to evaporation.

33-08-Lucy-mapLucy explains that “those bozos next door” are damming up Creedence Creek (the only mention that I’ve found of a Creedence Creek in Tucson is in a novel available at Google Books). The fact that they have a creek is news to Mr. Ernst. Lucy points out on the map where the creek feeds into their lake and estimates they won’t have a lake by next Tuesday.

33-09-Ernst-noteLucy shows Mr. Ernst a note that she’d found stapled to their (unseen) road sign out front: “The Bar-None is CLOSED! So stay at the SNAKE EYES RANCH just 2 miles down the road.” Wait, wait, wait. There’s a competing dude ranch two miles down the road from the Bar None, and we’ve never heard of it before?! When did it open?

Anyway, Lucy guesses Karl and Lonnie Vleck, the two sons of Snake Eyes owner Vic Vleck, did it. Mr. Ernst is upset. Lucy says, once, they built a road block at the end of the Bar None’s road and told people that they were having an earthquake, so no one would stay here. Lucy’s wording is a bit vague, so it’s not clear whether the plan worked or not, but I certainly hope not. Also, being only two miles away, wouldn’t the Snake Eyes lose business, too?

33-10-Ernst-BettyOh, look who’s on desk duty: the female staff member from “Sewn at the Hip” (season 3, episode 05). She was sorting the mail as Lucy and Mr. Ernst were walking to the map, so I guess she was the one that gave him his mail earlier.

Mr. Ernst calls her Betty, which makes her the same character from “Hey Cinderella” (season 3, episode 02):

28-12-BettyAnd, yeah, it seems to be the same girl. I never noticed it before, probably because of the different hairstyle. Betty is the first recurring staff character (unless you count Lucy). So…welcome to the Bar None, Betty. Despite getting a line in this episode, the actor still goes uncredited.

Anyway, Mr. Ernst has Betty call the Snake Eyes Ranch for him. While Betty does that, Lucy explains the Vlecks want to flood three acres of their land to build a monster truck mud bog race. She knows this, because she’s good buddies with their head wrangler. Mr. Ernst doesn’t like the idea of a mud bog race here. Betty gives him the phone, and he speaks with Vic Vleck. Mr. Ernst starts to talk about Vic’s boys, and Vic threatens to come down here and “wail” on Mr. Ernst, which Mr. Ernst interprets as crying. Interestingly, we actually hear the other side of the conversation, which is a rarity on this series (or any series, really). Vic abruptly hangs up. Mr. Ernst hands the phone back to Betty and is confident that Vic Vleck is “a reasonable man” and “sensitive”.

33-11-Vleck-truck33-12-Vlecks-truckSoon, the Vlecks arrive at the Bar None in their piece-of-shit pick-up truck.

33-13-dumbassesVic’s boys are dumbasses that are either unwilling or unable to exit the truck through the passenger door, so they get “trapped” inside when their dad closes the driver door after getting out, and then the door opens, and they fall out. Hilarious.

33-14-VlecksOh, look, Paul Secrest is back. You might remember him as the ranch critic in “Superstar” (season 2, episode 10):

23-50-critic-directionsHere, in his second appearance, he makes his first of three appearances as Vic Vleck. Vic is the owner of the Snake Eyes Ranch, and he comes across as a typical redneck.

Karl Vleck (right) is played by Don Wyllie. “Hey Dude” was his sole acting gig. This is his first of two appearances.

Lonnie Vleck (left) is played by Paul D. Olmer. “Hey Dude” was his first of two acting gigs, the other being, strangely, a 2013 short called “219 Gates”. This is his first of two appearances.

Mr. Ernst shows the note to Vic, who dismisses it as a joke.

33-15-ball-truck33-16-Vic-ballSuddenly, a baseball lands on Vic’s truck. He gets pissed.

33-17-gangMelody and the guys come by, looking for the baseball. Melody’s excited, because she “just hit [her] first home run”. Mr. Ernst is upset, because he told them to not play around the buildings. Danny says they weren’t, and Jake calls Melody a “power hitter”. Mr. Ernst tells them to get the radio fixed by Saturday for the big game. Upon hearing this, Vic asks if Mr. Ernst likes baseball. Sensing where this is going, Mr. Ernst bullshits, claiming he’s into ice hockey (which he might be, because he mentions Wayne Gretzky just as he’d done in “Rehearsal for Romance” (season 1, episode 06); come to think of it, Gretzky was also recently mentioned in “Superstition”). Vic challenges Mr. Ernst to a baseball game (loser pays for the hood and any other damage to Vic’s piece-of-shit truck). Melody and Danny (but especially Melody) want the game. Mr. Ernst declines. Vic says Mr. Ernst will hear from his lawyer tomorrow, and he and his boys start to leave. Melody is incredulous. She and Lucy encourage Mr. Ernst to accept the challenge, much to Lucy and the teens’ excitement. Jake gets especially gung-ho about it. Lucy gets Mr. Ernst to raise the stakes: if Vic’s team loses, they stop damming Creedence Creek. Vic agrees. He and his boys leave without working out any details whatsoever, not the least of which being the date and time of the game. Mr. Ernst feels uncertain.

33-18-preperationSome undetermined time later, the staff is setting up the baseball field (such as it is) while Mr. Ernst spews random baseball facts.

33-19-BrawlersMelody cutely tosses the baseball to Brad, who catches it. Ooh, Brad. I was wondering where the hell she was. Buddy’s here, too. Why did they miss so much of the episode? Were Kelly Brown and Josh Tygiel available for only a limited amount of time? Or were they simply not written into the script until “needed”?

You’ll notice there are two random girls on the Bar None’s team as well. Are they yet more unnamed female staff members? Who knows? There’s also a random guy that might or might not be a staff member. These extra “characters” are not directly acknowledged by any of the main characters, and they don’t have scripted lines, just going along with everybody else. But guess what. The actors are credited. Seriously. The Bar None Brawlers are played by Jodie Hurley, Lauri Johnson (I don’t know which girl is which), and Steve Johnson. “Hey Dude” was their sole acting gig.

What the fuck, show? You credit these extras that were brought in solely to fill out the team, but you don’t credit Betty’s actor? Fuck you. And why isn’t Betty on the team? Is she stuck doing all of the work back in the buildings while these assholes are playing a baseball game over truck damage and a creek?

In a small bit of poetic justice, though, check out IMDb’s pic for this episode: Mr. Ernst and Betty.

Melody asks (seemingly having heard it before) if Mr. Ernst played on a baseball team while in accounting college (nice consistency with his history as given in “Teacher’s Pest” (season 2, episode 07)). Mr. Ernst is evasive and has them practice fielding for a bit (he can’t catch the ball). He tosses out some more trivia and then has them practice pitching (he can’t pitch). Jake calls a time-out. Mr. Ernst says he’s “a little rusty”. Melody asks which position that he played, and Mr. Ernst admits none. He played one game. His team, the Digitheads, was down by one point in the bottom of the ninth. He came up to bat – under pressure with the whole game riding on him – and choked, striking out. Coach Flubs cut him on the spot in front of Mr. Ernst’s entire family. He loves the game, but he hasn’t played baseball since. On that note, Brad remembers she has a riding lesson, and Melody “just heard” there’s a horned toad in the pool that she has to get out. Danny and Jake are pessimistic, and practice breaks up.

33-20-Ernst-BuddyMr. Ernst is embarrassed that Buddy now knows the truth (apparently, this was an issue, even though this is the first that we’ve heard of it), but Buddy says it’s okay. Mr. Ernst says the whole thing was a bad idea, and he’s calling it off. Buddy asks about the lake. Mr. Ernst is counting on “one good storm” in the place where he’d previously said it never rains.

33-21-Lucy-horseLucy arrives, having just run into her (female) Snake Eyes wrangler friend. Apparently, Vic got his brother-in-law, Bobby Bulp, to play on his team. He’s #49 for the Wildcats, which is apparently a minor-league team. Mr. Ernst says he’s headed for the majors, and he’s a total wild man that apparently once ate a catcher’s mitt on a dare. This suddenly fills Mr. Ernst with resolve, and he vows to play hardball.

33-22-Ernst-jerseyAfter the commercial break, on the day of the big game (I think), Danny and Jake are talking about the legend that is Bobby Bulp. Mr. Ernst says they have jerseys, but the Snake Eyes team doesn’t – as if that’s some kind of advantage.

33-23-BrawlersTo the team’s excitement, Mr. Ernst reveals he used his “connections” to get a “pro” for their team, too: Frankie “Flash” McGuire of the Tucson [Something] Tornadoes. He batted .315 last year. The team’s excited. He’s running a bit late. Mr. Ernst tells the team to go easy on Flash’s right side, because his right shoulder pops out of the joint really easy. Plus he’s got a big game against Phoenix tomorrow. Melody announces Flash’s arrival. Mr. Ernst instructs the team to act natural and not make a big deal about Flash.

33-24-Ernst-FlashThat’s Mr. Ernst’s job.

33-25-FlashFlash is played by Vernon Travis Wilhite. “Hey Dude” was his sole acting gig.

Flash wants the team – including Mr. Ernst – to hit the field and go over the basics, but Mr. Ernst, being the manager, sits it out. The team tries some fielding.

33-26-transition-1They have this weird “baseball scene transition” where a baseball graphic suddenly appears and fills the screen, even though we’re meant to think it’s the ball that Flash hit.

33-27-transition-2Also, they clearly used a standard scene fade as well, so I don’t know what the point of this is except “Let’s do a baseball scene transition in a baseball episode”.

33-28-crowdAnyway, the Bar None Ball Club is in operation, the crowd (guests? staff?) is gathered, and it’s almost time for the big game.

33-29-Buddy-concessions33-30-Buddy-concessions-2Buddy is selling hot dogs and peanuts. The Snake Eyes team arrives.

33-31-peanutsLonnie steals a packet of peanuts and bites into it, because the Snake Eyes players are assholes.

33-32-Bobby-VicOther players – including Bobby Bulp – are surprised at Flash’s presence, and Vic calls the Bar None Brawlers “dirty cheaters”.

Bobby Bulp is played by David K. Young, who you might remember as Lester the Alien from “Take Me to Your Leader” (season 2, episode 13):

26-56-Boyd-LesterThe Snake Eyes players are played by Daniel Andre, Bryan Scott Derrick, Stephan Faris, Micheal Morales (or Michael Morales), and Bryce Nielsen.

For Daniel Andre, this is his second of five acting gigs (and his first of two appearances on “Hey Dude”, the second appearance being his third acting gig). Each time, he plays what might or might not (but might as well) be the same character. Amusingly, his first acting gig was an uncredited part as a baseball fan in a “Highway to Heaven” episode in 1985. His latest acting gig was as a cop in a 2011 short called “Transport”. However, he’s also racked up some writing, producing, editing, cinematography, and directing credits – all in the 2010s and leading up to the present day and beyond. Talk about a career resurgence.

The rest of the Snake Eyes players weren’t so lucky. “Hey Dude” was their sole acting gig.

IMDb also lists Henry W. Laster in an uncredited role as a kid guest in this episode. He’ll seemingly make two more uncredited appearances as a guest on this series. This guy seems to have a lengthy (albeit sporadic and largely uncredited) career, spanning 1986-2014.

33-33-Flash-Ernst-VicFlash warns Mr. Ernst about his shoulder. Mr. Ernst is surprised that the Snake Eyes team has uniforms. After a bit of talk, they go to get ready for the coin toss.

33-34-Jake-VlecksJake goes to talk with the Vleck boys, who trash-talk him.

33-35-BradBrad breaks it up and takes Jake away. Lonnie expresses surprise that girls are playing baseball and is shocked to learn from Karl that they’re in the army.

33-36-coin-tossVic calls them over for the coin toss. Vic calls heads. Mr. Ernst is excited that they “win” by getting tails.

33-37-Ernst-anthem33-38-Brawlers-anthemVic wants to get started, but, to his disbelief, Mr. Ernst sings the national anthem and wants the others to join in.

33-39-Bobby-cordBobby does everyone a favor by unplugging the microphone.

33-40-Vic-ErnstVic accuses Mr. Ernst of dragging things out and admits he hates baseball, calling it “the national waste of time”, which I kind of agree with (although, for me, that holds true for all sports). Vic wants to get the game over with, so he can get back to his mud bog project.

33-41-umpireThe umpire (and the baseball graphic coming out of his mouth) signals the start of the montage, er, game.

The umpire is played by Paul Sellars. “Hey Dude” was his sole acting gig.

33-42-extrasOne of the extras gets to do some “acting” by taking off her cap in frustration.

33-43-diamondOoh, a diamond transition. They’re really making good use of their budget for this episode.

33-44-Melody-ErnstIt’s the bottom of the ninth. There are two outs. Mr. Ernst puts an enormous amount of pressure on Melody to get on base and then tells her to have fun.

33-45-Lonnie-MelodyLonnie hits on Melody. Melody calls him disgusting.

33-46-Melody-batA sound effect tries to convince us that Melody hit a ball instead of the air. Anyway, Melody gets on first base. Easy-breezy lemon-squeezy.

33-47-Flash-hurtIn his excitement, Mr. Ernst accidentally dislocates Flash’s shoulder. Mr. Ernst is out of options and in danger of forfeiting the game: no time-outs, no substitutes, and can’t recruit a new player from the stands. Melody points out that Mr. Ernst can play, and Jake confirms it. Mr. Ernst finally agrees.

Mr. Ernst strikes out twice, but then…

33-48-Vic-pitches33-49-Ernst-hits33-50-Ernst-runs33-51-Ernst-excited33-52-Melody-runs33-53-Ernst-runs-233-54-Ernst-slides33-55-Ernst-homerun33-56-celebration33-57-handshakeVic shakes hands with Mr. Ernst but tries to make Mr. Ernst a “full partner” (70/30) in his monster truck thing, but Mr. Ernst just wants the creek back. Vic agrees and suggests a rematch. Mr. Ernst agrees. Well, that was a surprisingly amicable ending for a typical sitcom sports rivalry. As Vic and his boys leave, Vic contemplates building the skeet-shooting range that they were talking about last year. Lonnie asks “Daddy” what a skeet is, and Vic is upset that his son is a dumbass.

33-58-celebration-2The second act ends on a freeze frame of the Bar None Brawlers celebrating.

The pre-credits scene at the end has the gang putting Jake’s plan into motion. They didn’t have enough time to buy Mr. Ernst a new radio, due to the game, so…

33-59-Ernst-happyThey provide Mr. Ernst with a pitcher of iced tea to enjoy while he’s listening to the game…

33-60-deception…and feed him a fake “broadcast”. Jake’s the announcer, who’s getting the play-by-play from Buddy, who’s on the phone with…someone. Melody and Danny do the crowd noises. Somehow, Mr. Ernst is fooled for a while – until Jake fucks up by misunderstanding Buddy and getting into an argument with him.

33-61-Ernst-sees-133-62-Ernst-sees-233-63-Ernst-happySo ends another day at the Bar None.

This episode was okay, I guess, but I don’t care for sports, so I tend to not care about sports episodes. It’s nice that we got some background info on Mr. Ernst, though, and this seems to be the first episode of the series that’s genuinely his – with the teens being the supporting characters.

I’m confused over Brad’s less-than-usual participation, though. She’s absent from the cold open and the pre-credits scene at the end, and she doesn’t show up until the first practice scene, partway through the first act. She’s there until the end of the game, though, and all of that taping must have taken a lot of time (probably moreso than usual), so I don’t know what the deal is. Maybe Kelly Brown wasn’t available for a day or two, so they taped the non-field stuff without her. Who knows?

Countdown to the Second Coming of Ted: 13

One response to “Season 3, Episode 07: Dueling Ranches

  1. I give this episode credit for trying something different than it’s usual ranch related fair. The baseball game itself probably took a lot of work to setup and a much larger share of extras then we usually have. And the hokey screen changers in 1990 technology probably was a lot of trouble too.

    What’s weird about the episode though is the main cast feels disconnected. Mr. Ernst depending on an old boxed radio would have been really outdated even in 1990. But what bothers me more is this sudden obsession that everyone has with baseball as Danny, Melody and Jake trying to play their own game (and where on earth on a ranch can one do a pick up baseball game?) The fact that Brad and Buddy don’t show up so late into the episode further makes the episode feel awkward.

    But I do like that Mr. Ernst gets his episode and that’s what this was. I agree Kelly Brown’s lack of participation feels weird. If she couldn’t be available for filming she could have left the ranch for a quick vacation with her family somewhere. But then I guess they didn’t explain Ted’s absence is s03e02 did they?

    Liked by 1 person

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