Welcome to the recap of season 3 of “Hey Dude”. Here, I’m going to give my thoughts on the season as a whole and the characters and rank the episodes from worst to best.
The Transitional Season
Season 3 is kind of weird in that it lacks the cohesiveness of seasons 1 and 2. The first three episodes feel like they belong at the end of season 2 (which would end with Ted leaving). The final episode feels like it belongs at the beginning of season 4 (which would begin with Kyle’s arrival). The “Jake-Only Era” is only nine episodes long.
I haven’t seen many television series get rid of a main character early in the season (“Star Trek: Voyager” comes to mind), and I don’t recall any series introducing a new main character in a season finale. And let’s not get started about putting a departed cast member back in the opening credits, long after he’d left, in an episode that he doesn’t even appear in.
Season 3, due to Lascher’s departure (and the timing of it), had to shake things up. We can argue whether this was a good thing or a bad thing (personally, I think the series wouldn’t have been worse had Lascher stayed), but I think they did a good job overall. These thirteen episodes offer a variety of character spotlights and stories (and story quality).
#13: The Bad Seed
Just an all-around terrible episode. The rest of the gang (as well as Buddy’s own father) take the word of a psychopathic little hell-girl over that of Buddy. On top of that, the characters don’t seem to hear Angie gloating until a resolution is needed. Speaking of the resolution, it makes no sense. Just…gah, fuck this episode.
#12: Stick Around
An unnecessary new (sexist) character. Brad’s character is regressed. Just a really bad episode. The only good thing is the Lucy/Bill subplot.
#11: Dueling Ranches
A mostly boring sports-themed episode, but I find the Vlecks to be pretty funny rivals to the Bar None gang.
#10: No More Mr. Nice Guy
Brad and Danny are assholes to their supposed friend, Melody, but the focus is on how Melody needs to become more assertive. Brad and Danny simply end up realizing they don’t need Melody’s help. Not a good message.
#9: Inmates Run the Asylum
Over the top but also funny, this episode really has no business existing, but I’ll take it just because Insane!Ted is funny.
#8: Killer Ernst
This is the better of the two sports episodes. Captain Lou is over the top.
#7: Hey Cinderella
A rehash of season 1’s “Rehearsal for Romance” that wasn’t needed. Nice background details on Brad, though.
This is definitely a “Jake’s weird” episode, but it’s somewhat true-to-life in that superstition is a thing. A pretty stupid thing but a thing nonetheless. The subplot with the cat was actually funnier than the main plot.
#5: New Kid on the Block
An episode born of necessity, but it managed to introduce an interesting character and be funny at the same time.
#4: Sewn at the Hip
A lot of background info on Melody. A reasonable conflict. This episode shows people do grow and change over time. Even Danny got some love. I only wish Amy had stayed.
A really nice episode in which we learn background info on Buddy, Mr. Ernst, and Melody. While the Buddy and Mr. Ernst stuff was in line with what we already knew, I didn’t expect the Melody info. The subject of parental divorce, which lots of members of the target audience have to deal with, is treated honestly. Sometimes, things just don’t work out as kids want.
A great send-off for Ted. Brad also gets to shine. And the final scene packs an emotional wallop. Kudos to Lascher and Brown. They could have given a better reason for Ted’s departure, though. A family problem (two other episodes this season dealt with family problems). Financial difficulty. Whatever.
#1: Melody’s Brother
The best episode of the season, featuring a great performance by Taylor. Alcohol abuse is a real problem that affects kids, including those that watch “Hey Dude”. The episode struck the right balance: informative without being preachy, hopeful without the problem being magically solved by the end.
Mr. Ernst appeared in 10 of the episodes (11 if you count his voice cameo at the end of “Datenite”). His crazy schemes are downplayed this season (“Killer Ernst” and, as a side effect, “Dueling Ranches” being exceptions). He shines in “Ex-Static”, and his past is also explored in “Dueling Ranches” and “Killer Ernst”. He’s forced to recognize his son is growing up in “Melody’s Brother”. However, he’s a bit dumb in “Inmates Run the Asylum”, and he’s unreasonably untrusting of his own son in “The Bad Seed”. Overall, though, this was a good season for our favorite bumbling boss.
Brad appeared in all 13 episodes. Her highlights include “Hey Cinderella” and “Datenite”. She’s also convincingly worried in “Killer Ernst”. Lowlights include “Inmates Run the Asylum” (worked up over nothing), “No More Mr. Nice Guy” (inconsiderate), and “The Bad Seed” (untrusting). She’s also unwillingly at the center of the conflict in “Sewn at the Hip”. Overall, this season was more bad than good for Brad.
Kyle appeared in 1 of the episodes. As the new guy, he comes across as a patronizing, sexist fuckwit. We’ll see if he improves.
Jake appeared in 10 of the episodes. He got a good introduction, and his personality and relationships with the other characters (most notably Buddy) have been explored, mostly for the better (“The Bad Seed” being an exception, and “Superstition” was kind of pushing it). He’s off to a good start. Do I prefer him to Ted? No, but I definitely prefer him over Kyle.
As before, the season’s least valuable player has to be Lucy. She appeared in 3 of the episodes, which I think speaks for itself. She gave Amy a job and informed Mr. Ernst of the problem with the Vlecks (and the very existence of the creek). The season finale was a surprise, though. Lucy got a genuine subplot about herself, and she was given some backstory. Granted, that backstory is “I’m waiting for my man to give up what he loves and settle down, so I can hang out in a nice house”, but it’s something. It’s no wonder that “Stick Around” is Debrah Kalman’s favorite episode.
Ted appeared in 2 of the episodes. One shows him in a positive light, and the other…doesn’t. Regardless, we eagerly await his return.
Melody appeared in all 13 episodes. She certainly received a lot of attention this season, and she received some astounding characterization. Melody (and Christine Taylor) shines in “Melody’s Brother”, “Ex-Static”, and “Sewn at the Hip”. However, there’s also the problematic “No More Mr. Nice Guy” (which wants us to believe Melody is the problem) and “Hey Cinderella” (a rehash of an earlier episode) and the horrible “The Bad Seed”. Overall, though, I think Melody exits this season as a better character than when she entered it.
Danny appeared in all 13 episodes. He has a romance in “Sewn at the Hip”, and he gets some backstory in “Melody’s Brother”. Otherwise, he’s mostly just there, being part of the group.
Buddy appeared in all 13 episodes. His involvement varies by episode. He has a humorous subplot in “No More Mr. Nice Guy”. Tygiel gives a convincing performance in “Ex-Static”, which is his starring episode, and Buddy and Melody end up bonding over unfortunate similarities. His biggest development this season, however, occurs in “Melody’s Brother”, where he moves out.
That’s it for season 3. Tune in next Wednesday as we head into season 4!