Welcome to the recap of season 4 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.
Season 4 saw the final contributions of three writers, one of which had been with the series since season 1:
Mark Cerulli (Rainmen, Dueling Ranches, Killer Ernst, They’re Back, Doghouse Blues), the writer responsible for the Vlecks and sports episodes (as well as a good Danny episode), has also written for Nickelodeon’s “Clarissa Explains It All”. He primarily works on documentaries (usually shorts), getting writing, directing, and producing work in from 1995 to 2012.
The writing team of Steven Roth & Deanne Roth (New Kid on the Block, Do the Right Thing, Some Like It Hot) wasn’t so fortunate. Steven wrote for about four other things besides “Hey Dude”, last writing in 1998 after a lengthy gap. IMDb splits his credits among two or three entries. Deanne cowrote an episode of “Designing Women” with Steven. That’s it.
The Second Transitional Season
Season 4 is kind of weird in that it’s another transitional season, albeit to a lesser extent than season 3 was. They brought Ted back – twice. It was weird. It’s as if they were like “Um, let’s try out Ted. Hmmm, what do you all think? Good? Mmmkay, let’s bring him back again.” I’m not saying that’s what happened, but it comes off like it.
Of course, they put Ted back in the opening credits way back in the season 3 finale, so they must have known they were bringing him back soon after they taped it (maybe even during the break between seasons 3 and 4).
The Aloysius restored, the final episode feels like it belongs at the beginning of season 5.
Season 4 had to work in David Lascher’s two returns while still remaining entertaining, and I think they did a good job overall. These thirteen episodes offer a variety of character spotlights and stories (and story quality).
#13: Magnum Ernst
The worst episode of the season. Just really fucking stupid and completely unrealistic. Very few highlights (such as backstory on Lucy). Oh, well. Nowhere to go but up.
#12: Some Like It Hot
A mediocre episode that rehashed past ideas and stretched credibility. Also, Jake and Danny in drag. Gah, moving on…
#11: Secret Admirer
An okay episode, but Kyle was such an idiot.
Brad’s past was explored, which is good, and Kelly Brown gave a great performance, but Brad blamed herself, everyone forgot Brad’s afraid of the water, Jake’s subplot was too outrageous, and the whole reason for the episode made no sense.
#9: Lost in the Desert
A Brad/Kyle episode that tried to cast Brad as the bad guy and made her stupid. Kelly Brown was great, but she couldn’t single-handedly save the episode. Add to that the stupid “pod people” subplot, which makes this the lamest of the “scary” episodes.
#8: Murder, He Wrote
A pretty funny episode based entirely on a highly unlikely series of misunderstandings. I like the Ted/Melody team-up.
A fun episode that explores relationships, but Danny was an ass to his friends, rivaling Ted’s level of cockiness.
#6: Mr. Moneybags
Ted’s back! The balance has been restored! If only someone could have fixed the logic and continuity in this episode. Once you examine it too closely, it collapses like a toothpick sculpture.
#5: Doghouse Blues
We see the Vlecks for the last time. Despite only Vic and Valerie appearing, the regular cast was disjointed. The girls and Buddy barely had any screen time.
#4: They’re Back
It was difficult to choose which of the two Vlecks episodes this season was better, but I went with this one, because we got to see the entire family, main cast members didn’t feel crowded out, and there was more wackiness than just marital problems.
#3: Do the Right Thing
A good Danny episode that tackles a difficult subject. Joe Torres does a great job. The girls and Mr. Ernst were oblivious to Danny’s feelings, blinded by fame, money, and excitement. I can kind of understand this happening to Mr. Ernst, but the girls were way too dense.
#2: Return of Ted
It was great to have Ted back, even if it was for just a visit before he came back for good. This is the better of the two “Ted returns” episodes in terms of making sense.
#1: Ride, She Said
The best episode of the season. We learn a lot about Brad, past and present, and she goes through some character growth, overcoming her uneasiness around people with disabilities and learning how to give. A great episode.
Mr. Ernst appeared in 11 of the episodes and was mentioned in the other 2. His crazy schemes continued to be downplayed this season (“Magnum Ernst” and, as a side effect, “Do the Right Thing” being exceptions). He had a lot to do. His past was explored in “Secret Admirer“. He got caught up in a love triangle in “Doghouse Blues“. He had nice moments in “Fear” and “Do the Right Thing” (the latter of which also included bad moments). However, he got power hungry and unreasonably untrusting of his own nephew in “Magnum Ernst”. Overall, though, this was a good season for Mr. Ernst, even if he didn’t reach the heights of last season’s “Ex-Static“.
Brad appeared in all 13 episodes. Her highlights include “Ride, She Said” and “Fear”. Season 4 wasn’t good for Brad, romance-wise. She had a potential romance that went nowhere in “Dudesbury“, and her long-on-hiatus relationship with Ted was quickly destroyed in “Mr. Moneybags“. Not helping matters was the fact that, outside of last season’s “New Kid on the Block“, Ted was never mentioned in a Ted-less episode, making it seem like Brad had largely forgotten him. She had it out with Kyle in “Lost in the Desert“. One problematic episode was “Do the Right Thing”, which made her seem unusually dense regarding Danny’s feelings. Overall, though, this season was more good than bad for Brad – an improvement over season 3.
Kyle appeared in 7 of the episodes – just over half. He didn’t improve, personality-wise, from his sole appearance last season. He had the most to do in “Fear”, “Secret Admirer”, “Lost in the Desert”, and “Murder, He Wrote“.
Jake appeared in all 13 episodes. He had a lot to do. His friendship with Danny was explored in “Do the Right Thing”, and he unintentionally got married (maybe) in “Mr. Moneybags”. However, he was a dick to Brad in “Ride, She Said”, and he dressed in drag in “Some Like It Hot“.
As before, the season’s least valuable player has to be Lucy. She appeared in 5 of the episodes and was mentioned in 1 other, which, admittedly, is an improvement over last season. She put up with the Vlecks in “They’re Back“. She trained Mr. Ernst and gave him advice (to no avail) in “Magnum Ernst”. She tried to set Danny straight in “Dudesbury”. Overall, though, unlike last season, she didn’t get a subplot to herself; she just dealt with everyone else.
Ted appeared in 3 of the episodes, which is a slight improvement over last season. The best of his three appearances was “Return of Ted” (which explored his wants and needs), and the worst was “Mr. Moneybags” (in terms of personality, not performance; he’s a huge dick). However misguided, he genuinely tried to save Mr. Ernst’s life in “Murder, He Wrote”. He and Melody actually make a great team. Now that he’s back full-time, let’s see what he does next.
Melody appeared in all 13 episodes. She had a lot to do, even if she really didn’t have a plot to herself. She had an unseen date in “Dudesbury”. Like Brad, she was very dense regarding Danny’s feelings in “Do the Right Thing”. Compared to last season, season 4 certainly was a step down for Melody.
Danny appeared in all 13 episodes. His starring episodes were “Dudesbury” and “Do the Right Thing”. Danny was a dick to his friends in the former, but Danny’s feelings about his heritage were explored in the latter, and Torres did a good job. Danny’s friendship with Jake was explored as well. Speaking of Danny and Jake, though, why did he ever agree to Jake’s plan to dress in drag in “Some Like It Hot”?
Buddy appeared in 12 of the episodes and was mentioned in the other 1. His involvement varied by episode. One of them was nothing more than some silent cameos. He had a lame subplot with Danny in “Magnum Ernst”, and he sucked his friends into “pod people” hysteria in “Lost in the Desert”. No “Ex-Static”-level performance this season.
That’s it for season 4. Tune in next Wednesday as we head into the home stretch – season 5!