Season 4, Episode 13: Murder, He Wrote

Writer: Patrick Maguire
Director: Fred K. Keller
Original air date: December 14, 1990

52-01-Visiting-MelodyIn the cold open, Melody is hiding under her bed covers. Brad wants her to come out and eat chicken soup.

52-02-Melody-chickenpoxMelody has chickenpox but is worried she might have a fatal disease instead. She warns Brad to get away and not die because of her. Brad says nobody’s going to die (remember this), and she’s had the chickenpox already. Danny adds they all have.

52-03-Ted-flowersTed comes in with some flowers for Melody.

52-04-Ted-storyTed tells a gross (and very likely false) medical story about his Aunt Irma in order to scare them – well, primarily Melody.

52-05-Brad-TedMelody freaks out. Brad isn’t amused. Ted gets Melody to come out. Melody does, and Ted reacts like he’s disgusted by her, which scares her and pisses Brad off. There’s something odd just as the shot changes. Brad yells “Ted!” as Melody covers herself. During the shot change, Brad says “Ted” again in a…surprised tone. I wonder if that second “Ted” was part of an alternate take or something, and it wound up in the episode by mistake.

Ted makes a stupid connect-the-dots joke, but then…

52-06-Ted-chickenpoxRule of Three, motherfucker!

52-07-Ernst-cardAfter the credits, Mr. Ernst is on desk duty. Jake comes by with a get-well card for him to sign for Ted and Melody: “So sorry to hear that you’ve been stricken with lots of pox, specifically chicken.”

52-08-Jake-ErnstJake also brings by the mail, and Mr. Ernst tells him to throw any bills in the fireplace. I hope he’s kidding. There’s also a bill for Jake from Mitzy’s Drum Emporium. Mr. Ernst continues looking through the bills and starts growling like a dog. Jake urges calm and tells him to cut down on the coffee to reduce stress. Mr. Ernst is upset that business is slow. Also, Ted and Melody are in the infirmary in town (probably the same one that the sick girl was sent to in “Lost in the Desert” (season 4, episode 07)), so they’re understaffed. Mr. Ernst decides to double Jake’s workload this week.

52-09-Jake-stressedThis stresses Jake out, so he drinks Mr. Ernst’s coffee. Ha.

Mr. Ernst jokes about selling blood to the Red Cross to raise money, and it’s ironic that a real organization is mentioned in the same scene in which another one is no longer mentioned. The “American” part of “American Express Cards” on the credit card thingy has been blacked out. Compare the above screencap to this one from season 1:

10-02-Ernst-cardJake is surprised, because he thought his uncle was afraid of needles, but Mr. Ernst clarifies he was talking about Jake’s blood.

52-10-Jake-ErnstJake starts looking through a magazine for an idea to raise money. He suggests a murder, and Mr. Ernst is like “WTF?”, but Jake clarifies a murder mystery weekend performed by professional actors. The croup is called Murders R Us. Unfortunately, the complete package starts at $5,000. Jake’s ready to drop the idea, but Mr. Ernst took a Creative Writing class in school and decides to write and direct. The staff will play the parts. He wants to get to work, so they can get it together by this weekend. He thanks Jake and leaves. There’s a loud, unexplained thump just after he exits the shot. Weird.

As Jake walks away, the look on his face suggests he doesn’t have much confidence in his uncle’s abilities.

There’s a “mystery” background score going on throughout this episode. Nice touch – even if it jumped the gun (er, so to speak) by playing at the beginning of the cold open.

52-11-Ernst-typesSo Mr. Ernst is working on (and struggling with) the script, and it is, of course, completely hokey and melodramatic.

52-12-Ernst-types-2Anyway, on to more important things, such as questioning why Mr. Ernst never keeps his water cooler filled.

52-13-Jake-paperJake comes in and, upset, asks his uncle if he’s going to recycle his wasted paper, which Mr. Ernst either dismisses or rejects (I’m not sure which). Jake wants to become Mr. Ernst’s agent and make him “very rich and famous”, but Mr. Ernst ain’t having it. Jake backs off the offer, anyway, when he reads some of his uncle’s script. Mr. Ernst tells him to shut up.

52-14-Brad-undustsBrad fulfills a request by Mr. Ernst to dust his office – a month late. However, she gets a little too distracted by reading his script, which was her true intent.

Brad brings up her stage experience (yet again). She starred in her first-grade Thanksgiving pageant as a corn cob and stole the show.

52-15-DannyDanny jumps into the office and auditions by way of hammy acting.

52-16-reactionsBrad is less than impressed. Jake doesn’t know what to make of it. Mr. Ernst praises “the best Henry Kissinger impression” that he’s ever heard.

52-17-reactions-2My reaction exactly.

Danny was actually doing an impression of Arnold Schwarzenegger in “Conan the Barbarian”.

52-18-groupKyle arrives, and Mr. Ernst guesses he’s here to audition, but Kyle says he’s not much of a performer (no comment) and prefers to watch. Everyone watches as Mr. Ernst finishes his script.

52-19-BuddyOf course, things wouldn’t be complete without Buddy auditioning via bad overacting.

52-20-reactions-3Brad gets a good laugh out of it.

Mr. Ernst finishes the script and assures them that they all have a part.

The story is about gold being discovered on the ranch and various shady characters plotting to murder the ranch’s owner and steal the gold for themselves. Unfortunately, Mr. Ernst has given his characters stupid names. He’s Rock Lovejoy. Jake is Lovejoy’s “no-good” nephew and heir, Biff. Buddy is Lovejoy’s “ungrateful” son and other heir, Skippy. Danny is “a young Indian brave”, Geronimo Bighorn Jr., who claims Lovejoy stole the land from his father. Kyle and Brad play Ramone and Juliana, “the young couple in love”. Juliana is secretly Lovejoy’s daughter, and he’s forbidden her to marry the “irresponsible and galavanting” Ramone. They plan to poison Lovejoy, elope, and live happily ever after. Needless to say, no one is happy with this – until Mr. Ernst tells Kyle that he’ll have a couple of “love scenes” with Brad.

52-21-Brad-no“Oh, fuck no! Go fuck yourself, Mr. Ernst!”

52-22-Brad-Kyle-rehearseKyle’s acting is very stiff and unnatural. Imagine that. Brad’s not great either. C’mon, Brad, channel your inner corn cob.

52-23-Ernst-directsMr. Ernst’s the only one that’s enjoying this.

Kyle forgets to say a line.

Kyle says he can’t get used to the name Ramone. Brad then says something that I can’t understand.

52-24-Ernst-megaphoneAfter some banter, they try the lines again. There’s something strange. It seems they’re starting the scene from the beginning (we didn’t see the first try from the beginning), so these are different lines, but there’s another revelation by Juliana that her father will not allow them to be married. That means Mr. Ernst is a poor scriptwriter. I wonder if this was intentional on Patrick Maguire’s part. Anyway, Brad gets confused when there’s a typo in her script – and only her script. So Mr. Ernst typed all of the pages of every script on his manual typewriter? What happened to his computer? (See “Killer Ernst” (season 3, episode 10).) Besides, it was established in “Rainmen” (season 1, episode 09) that Mr. Ernst has a photocopier.

Incidentally, Mr. Ernst seems to have the same megaphone, hat, and sunglasses as in “The Good, the Bad, & the Obnoxious” (season 1, episode 08):

08-02-Ernst-directsNice touch. He even calls out “Action!” the same way.

Anyway, Kyle forgets to say his line. Jake suggests using their own names. The other teens agree. Mr. Ernst agrees and reminds them to mingle with the guests tomorrow before dinner, playing out their scenes to give the guests the feeling that something “fishy” is going on at the Bar None. Then he will join them for the “big climax”.

52-25-Ernst-diesMr. Ernst overacts his death scene, and Buddy calls him out on his hypocrisy.

There’s a humorous bit where Mr. Ernst accidentally overacts when he’s really just telling them that he’s going to the lodge. He tells them to rehearse with their partners, because he wants “perfection” tomorrow.

52-26-Brad-KyleKyle’s excited to “rehearse”. Brad hits him and is no longer sorry that Ted and Melody got sick. Kelly Brown accidentally says “get sick” instead of “got sick”. Or maybe Brad’s saying she’s totally over feeling sorry for Ted and Melody whenever either of them get sick.

There are some weird sounds during this moment.

52-27-Melody-TedLater, someone from the Bar None drops Melody and Ted off back at the ranch. Ted says “See you later.” Melody thanks the driver again. Ted offers to “help” Melody with her heavy suitcase by putting his backpack on her left arm to balance her out. Dick. Melody doesn’t put up with that shit. Anyway, she’s glad to be back in the “land of the living”. Ted gets an idea. The others don’t expect them back until next week, and “no one” knows they’re here. Well, yeah, no one except the person that picked you up and dropped you off with the Bar None’s truck! We don’t know who it was (the driver was in shadow), but it couldn’t have been a main character (except maybe Lucy, who doesn’t appear in this episode and therefore isn’t roped into doing the play). That means Ted or Melody called up the Bar None, someone at the front desk answered, and that same someone (or someone else as a request from the first someone) went to pick up Ted and Melody with the Bar None’s truck without letting anyone (especially Mr. Ernst) know. It’s probably someone that works the front desk. Betty, maybe?

Anyway, Ted’s plan is to sneak up and scare the shit out of their friends. Melody loves this “devious, underhanded, sneaky idea” that she wishes she thought of herself. They ditch their luggage and head for the boys’ bunk house.

52-28-Buddy-JakeJake and Buddy are rehearsing their lines, and Buddy’s altering his by adding tough-guy language influenced by Sylvester Stallone. Jake tells him that he sounds “like Rambo with a nasal condition” and also tells him to lose it. Jake wants them to try it without the scripts.

52-29-Ted-Melody-windowTed and Melody arrive at that moment. Guess what happens.

52-30-Jake-gun-152-31-Jake-gun-2Ted and Melody overhear the entire “plan” to kill Mr. Ernst tomorrow (Saturday) night at dinner.

52-32-Ted-holds-MelodySensing Melody’s gonna scream, Ted claps a hand over her mouth and tells her to keep quiet.

52-33-Ted-Melody-discussAfter the commercial break (which comes very late in this episode with, seriously, less than ten minutes of story left), Ted and Melody run over to a bench to sit and discuss this. Ted also does this weird thing where he pulls up his left sleeve a bit, so it kind of bunches up near his neck, which seems like the exact opposite of what someone would normally do. Anyway, they waste some time and question the entire situation. Ted wants to march in and talk some sense into them, but Melody is afraid of the gun. She wants to go right to the police, but Ted would hate to feel responsible for sending Ted and Buddy to jail. Melody’s like “Priorities, motherfucker!” Melody decides they’re gonna talk to Brad.

52-34-Kyle-Brad-rehearseIn the girls’ bunk house, Kyle and Brad are rehearsing their lines. Brad calls him out on having “the emotion of a toaster” and asks for passion. Kyle says the lines are ridiculous, and he’s never used the word “bliss” in his life.

52-35-Brad-Kyle-rehearseBrad decides they’re going to rehearse without scripts and in their own words. Kyle ribs Brad about it, and she tells “Casanova” to shut the fuck up.

52-36-Ted-Melody-windowWhat the fuck? Why’d they sneak over to the window instead of walking in through the door to talk to Brad? By the way, they come at the window from the right, which means we should have seen them outside the door as they approached the bunk house. It’s as if Lascher and Taylor waited just past the window for their cue.

Anyway, since they’re using their own words, I must take issue with the fact that Brad considers “lovemuffin” to be an appropriate term of endearment.

52-37-Brad-evilBrad’s “plan” is to make Mr. Ernst’s “favorite dessert”, coconut cream pie, with “a very special ingredient” – arsenic. I gotta give Kelly Brown credit for selling this line.

52-38-Melody-Ted-windowMelody and Ted discuss this right outside the window and somehow don’t get noticed. Yeah, they’re “whispering”, but c’mon. Eavesdropping outside a window and not getting noticed seems to be a thing on this series. Remember “No More Mr. Nice Guy” (season 3, episode 09)?

35-44-pillow-fight-1Anyway, Melody’s concerned about the plot, but Ted’s considered about Brad’s “feelings” for Kyle. Why? He pretty much destroyed any hope of a relationship with her in the previous episode. Now that he’s no longer “truly loaded”, he suddenly wants her again?

Melody says they gotta warn Mr. Ernst, but a bit of unrelated banter suddenly makes her forget it and wonder what to do again. Short-term memory problems, Mel?

Anyway, Ted suggests they go to Danny. Melody agrees as if it’s obvious, saying Danny will “know what to do”, because he’s “always so calm and level-headed”.

52-39-Ernst-Danny52-40-Melody-Ted-windowSo, of course, the obvious place to look for Danny is…through Mr. Ernst’s office window.

I’m starting to think this episode is contrived.

52-41-DannyI wonder if the writer’s just dicking with me when Danny says “you’ll never see another full moon”.

Who’s this performance for? Is it just a rehearsal? If so, why is Danny in make up?

52-42-Melody-Ted-runMelody and Ted run away and discuss this some more. We learn Melody always thought Mr. Ernst went through a real estate agent to buy the ranch. Ted theorizes Mr. Ernst really did steal the land from Danny’s father, but Melody easily talks him out of it. Melody declares they’re on their own in stopping them. Why? Why not talk to Mr. Ernst or go to the police (both of which you had brought up as possibilities earlier)?

52-43-Ted-plansTed has a plan: stop Mr. Ernst, so they don’t have anybody to kill. Of course.

52-44-dining-area52-45-castOn Saturday night, most of the cast is gathered in the dining area and have already performed their scenes for the guests. They wonder where Mr. Ernst is. Jake observes “the natives are getting restless” – the “natives” being the guests that aren’t from around here.

Anyway, let’s pause and consider the episode skipped over more than 24 hours. That must have been a very uncomfortable and restless (and hungry) Friday night for Ted and Melody. Where did they stay in order to keep out of sight?

52-46-Ernst-arrivesMr. Ernst arrives and apologizes for being late. He got locked in the tool shed and had to dig his way out. He heard two voices but couldn’t make them out.

Mr. Ernst combs his hair before making his grand entrance. Brad tells him to break a leg. He’s shocked, and she has to explain it means good luck. What a dumbass.

52-47-Ernst-entranceMr. Ernst greets the guests and introduces himself.

52-48-Melody-Ted-hideMelody and Ted, having not changed clothes in over 24 hours and having slept Goddess-knows-where (yes, I realize they probably fucked up and considered it to be the same day), hide under a table.

52-49-Ernst-Buddy52-50-Ernst-Buddy-2Buddy “distracts” his father…

52-51-Jake-gun…and allows Jake to come by and make the most telegraphed gun reveal in history.

52-52-Ernst-overactsIt turns out that either Ted or Melody switched the prop gun for a water pistol, so Jake gets Mr. Ernst wet. Ha. The guests love it.

Anyway, despite the hammy acting and the loud discussion about the water pistol, neither Ted nor Melody realize this is a play.

Mr. Ernst apologizes to the guests for the interruption.

52-53-Kyle-BradKyle (wearing a stupid little mustache) and Brad are up next.

52-54-Melody-reaches52-55-Melody-trips-BradMelody reaches out and trips Brad.

52-56-Brad-creams-Ernst52-57-Ernst-upsetBrad creams all over Mr. Ernst.

52-58-DannyHaving no common sense (which should be telling him that the play is ruined), Danny attacks! He actually screams “Prepare to die, white man!”

52-59-Danny-2Wow, Brad is so fucking over this right now. She just wants to crawl under her bed covers and hide.

52-60-Ted-attacks-Danny52-61-Danny-Ted-groundTed comes out from under the table and attacks Danny, making up for his missed opportunity in “Take Me to Your Leader” (season 2, episode 13):

26-52-Ted-attacks52-62-Melody-pleadsMelody makes an impassioned plea, insisting “Murder is not the answer!” The guests applaud.

Oh, and all that Ted could do was chastise Brad for throwing her life away on Kyle.

52-63-The-Bar-None-PlayersAnyway, “the Bar None Players” bow (except Brad, who curtsies), and then Mr. Ernst herds them into his office for some spankings.

52-64-gangThe pre-credits scene at the end, on the next day (Sunday), has Melody discussing what happened last night, but she says stuff about embarrassment and ruining the show, which sounds like stuff that she should have said last night in Mr. Ernst’s office.

52-65-Ernst-fameMr. Ernst is distracted, though. He’d just gotten off the phone with a Hollywood producer that was a guest at the show last night. They want to turn Mr. Ernst’s show into a movie musical, “Murder’s Not the Answer – Oh, Yeah!”

52-66-Brad-happyEveryone gets their hopes up for fame – especially Brad, who sucks up to Mr. Ernst.

52-67-Ernst-pissedBut Mr. Ernst turned him down flat, which upsets Brad. His reason? The producer wanted to recast the main character. Brad laments the loss of their “big break”.

52-68-Ted-BradTed apologizes to Danny for tackling him, which sounds like something that he should have done last night in Mr. Ernst’s office. Brad asks Ted if he really thought she and Kyle were getting married. Ted downplays it, but Brad notes he sounded pretty upset to her. Ted tells her to not flatter herself. What the fuck is your problem?! Why are you sabotaging your chances with her?!

Melody apologizes, which sounds like something that she should have done last night in Mr. Ernst’s office.

Ted shifts all of the blame to her and claims he was the reasonable one.

52-69-Ted-fallsThe episode ends with a gag where Ted thinks he’s holding the water pistol, but he fires it and discovers it’s the prop gun. Ha.

52-70-Ted-BradSo ends another day at the Bar None.

This episode was pretty funny, but it really is an idiot plot. It wouldn’t work in the real world. At all. Still, it’s amusing.

Tune in next Wednesday for the review of season 4.

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2 responses to “Season 4, Episode 13: Murder, He Wrote

  1. I always liked this episode, it was silly but different than usual. Funny it comes at the end of S4, it would have been a rather good opener to S5 (if they pretended time had passed and they would start a new summer working at the ranch). They could have just said Ted and Melody were delayed (their schools ended later maybe?)

    I always took Ted’s attempt to brush Brad off in the previous episode because he was under the assumption Brad had moved on already with Kyle (Even Mr. Ernst says something about it in that episode) so when he returned full time was more for being a big blow hard and didn’t represent his actual feelings for her. The idea that Brad might actually marry Kyle would of course upset him. I half think that Brad wants Ted to admit he has a problem with her and Kyle because she’s missed him too. Ted really is clueless. Ted’s biggest enemy when it comes to dating Brad isn’t Kyle but Ted.

    Very good point on Ted and Melody approaching the cabin from the window, ESPECIALLY given this is Melody’s own cabin. What did they do with their bags. Did they leave them there in the dirt. Did no staff member see luggage sitting around and think that odd?

    Hee, I never noticed Brad grimacing when Danny jumps out yelling “white man” to Mr. Ernst.

    I didn’t think there was a shirt worse then that red shirt with the flowery polka dots that Brad and Melody share, but that thing Brad is wearing at the very end is God awful.

    Liked by 1 person

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