Monthly Archives: May 2016

Season 5, Episode 04: Rest in Pieces

Writer: David Brisbin & Laura Innes
Director: Ross K. Bagwell, Jr.
Original air date: June 28, 1991

A few interesting notes about this episode before I get into the review:

1) It’s written by David Brisbin and his wife, Laura Innes (Ted’s English teacher, Miss Andrews). This was the only thing that David Brisbin wrote. It’s also the first of only two things that Laura Innes wrote, the second being a 2015 short called “One Smart Fellow”, which she cowrote and starred in with three other people. Really odd.

2) It has a 1990 copyright. I’m starting to think the episodes were copyrighted according to when they were taped, and then they were aired out of order in mid-1991 (but still all taped in the season 5 batch).

3) This episode is on the DVD after the next episode, “Baby”, in regard to how the files are ordered, but it’s listed in the correct order in the menu. What this means is, if you select Play All, you’ll be seeing “Baby” before this episode.

4) The episode runs around twenty seconds shorter than normal once you remove the closing credits (which are around a minute long).

56-01-gangIn the cold open, Ted expresses disgust at tomato juice (the very concept of it), Jake doesn’t feel good, and Brad isn’t looking forward to mucking out eight stalls. Brad calls Jake gross for attempting to eat one of Mr. Ernst’s homemade bran muffins. Buddy then grosses everyone out by comparing his porridge or whatever to vomit.

56-02-Melody-chipperA chipper Melody comes by with French toast for her fellow “campers”. Everyone digs in. Ted tells “Goldilocks” to shut the fuck up. Brad pisses Melody off by saying they “have to live with” Melody’s morning sweetness (which, if you haven’t noticed, was never even a thing before this very episode). Buddy calls her a sap, which is possibly a reference to “No More Mr. Nice Guy” (season 3, episode 09), even though Melody was supposed to be “a sap no more” by the end of that episode. After Jake says Melody can’t be mean, Melody claims she “can be just as slimy, insulting, pig-headed, and repulsive as the rest of” them. Wow, what a bitch. Regardless, Brad finds it amusing. Ted offers to make it a bet. If Melody can stop being nice until midnight, they’ll make her breakfast for a whole week; if she is nice once, she has to make their breakfast (all month, Danny adds). Brad likes it. Melody accepts. Ted fakes a leg injury, and Melody rushes off to get him some ice. Ted yucks it up. Brad finds it funny, too. Melody says the bet is on and then struggles to call them “jerks”, which they’re “shocked” by. Jake asks Melody to get him a side order of bacon.

56-03-listening-inAfter the credits, Ted, Jake, and Buddy rest while working and overhear Lucy, who’s on the phone…in the tack room. Odd place to have a phone line. Did you know this is the first time that Ted and Lucy have been in the same scene since “Take Me to Your Leader” (season 2, episode 13)? No joke. Anyway, Lucy’s on the phone with a Doctor Johnston, and the guys automatically assume she’s talking about Mr. Ernst having a possibly fatal condition. Lucy leaves her notes sitting around for anyone to read instead of taking them with her. Jake doesn’t want Buddy and Ted to read it, but Buddy does.

56-04-Ernst-illMr. Ernst comes by, feeling not so hot. We learn he put jalapeños in his bran muffins. Y’know what? Fuck the risk of discomfort. I wanna try that shit.

Anyway, Mr. Ernst’s been feeling tired lately, goes to take “some of that pink stuff”, and wants to know if anyone hears from Doctor Johnson, because he’s expecting the test results from his physical today.

See the problem? Well, our heroes don’t.

Jake grabs Lucy’s pad, and Ted calls him out on his hypocrisy. Jake is shocked. Ted grabs it back. According to Lucy’s notes “from the doctor”, Mr. Ernst has “gastrothrombosis”, which doesn’t seem to be an actual condition as far as I can tell. If it is real, it would seem to have something to do with the formation of blood clots in blood vessels in the stomach. Anyway, it could be fatal unless the following “precautions” are followed precisely for the next 24 hours: keep warm; feed only mashed carrots; hose down if agitation, biting, and kicking occur; keep on feet; don’t let sleep. After some discussion, Jake decides they’ll do whatever they have to do.

56-05-Danny-TedLater, they hold a meeting. Danny, who is skeptical, is on blanket detail. Brad is going to boil carrots in the kitchen. Jake and Buddy will keep Mr. Ernst awake. Ted will organize “the hose-and-bucket patrol”. Danny is further skeptical over the whole “kicking and biting” possibility, but Ted puts him in his place. Brad, all too sincerely, suggests investing in hard hats and gloves, because, y’know, there are absolutely none to be found on a dude ranch.

14-31-Ernst-works-208-12-Brad-hay08-31-Ted-LucyBuddy is in disbelief, because Mr. Ernst has “always been healthy as a horse”.

56-06-Melody-smarterMelody comes by and asks about it, having overheard them talking. Jake tries to break the news to her, but Melody believes they’re setting her up to lose the bet, so she’s a complete bitch regarding the news of Mr. Ernst’s illness and also insults her friends. Oh, she also says Mr. Ernst always said they wouldn’t appreciate him until he was dead and gone, but we’ve never heard this before. “Mean Melody Hanson” also volunteers to drown Buddy in the swimming pool. Look for Jake to pat Buddy, his cousin, on the shoulder in support. Nice touch.

56-07-Melody-laughsMelody laughs at the “suckers” and leaves. Danny guesses they created a monster.

Mr. Ernst opens his office window and tells them to shut the fuck up, because he’s not feeling well and wants to take a nap. He tells them to keep an eye on the front desk. The gang springs into action.

56-08-Brad-tickles-ErnstUp first is a lengthy scene in which Brad secretly enters Mr. Ernst’s office and tickles his nose with a feather to prevent him from falling asleep. Also, the guys whisper instructions to Brad (she finally just closes the window), which doesn’t wake Mr. Ernst up.

What does wake him up, though, is a sneeze. Brad is forced to bullshit a “dusting” explanation (cleaning seems to be her go-to excuse), which Mr. Ernst is too tired to argue about. Really, what was her plan? Just keep Mr. Ernst barely conscious with the feather?

56-09-Brad-loitersBrad hangs around for a while after being told to leave. The guys mime to her through the window, and she abruptly leaves. Mr. Ernst decides to not even think about it and tries to go to sleep.

56-10-Ernst-jolted-awake56-11-drummers-156-12-drummers-2Jake and Ted take over, marching around Mr. Ernst’s office and drumming loudly (this was totally Jake’s idea) under the pretense that they’re “practicing for the Young Buckaroo Parade tomorrow” (which Ted made up). They leave, still drumming. Mr. Ernst decides to go and do the grocery shopping.

56-13-gang-watches56-14-Ernst-groceriesLater, the gang’s secretly observing as Mr. Ernst arrives back at the ranch with the groceries. He’s agitated over everything that’s occurred today, including the grocery store running out of pork rinds, the door to the Jeep not closing (he kicks it closed), his heartburn, and a candy wrapper stuck to his boot. He drops his groceries and bites onto a bag of snacks. Having seen all of the signs, the gang springs into action after Jake blows a whistle.

56-15-Ernst-hosedAfter ordering his assault, Jake tries to get his uncle to calm down and congratulates his co-conspirators.

56-16-Ernst-towelAfter the commercial break, they go into the main lodge, and Mr. Ernst demands to know what the fuck is going on.

After some stumbling for words, Ted just has Mr. Ernst read the pad, which they should have brought to him in the first place. Mr. Ernst is shocked. He decides to call Doctor Johnson and starts looking through the phone book, but Jake shows him the phone number on Lucy’s pad.

56-17-Ernst-phoneThe doctor is gone for the weekend, but the woman on the phone checks the file. Mr. Ernst thinks it’s a filing error (and seems to have experience with it, but he’s interrupted before he can get into it), but the test result was positive for gastrothrombosis. Mr. Ernst freaks out. The woman says “Don’t worry. Sometimes, it’s for the best.” One of the teens gasps when Mr. Ernst repeats this, but I can’t tell who it is. Mr. Ernst gets pissed and slams the phone down.

56-18-Brad-comforts-ErnstMr. Ernst goes into his office “to be alone for a few minutes”. He tries to comfort Buddy and says he won’t take this lying down.

56-19-Ernst-officeInstead of going in for just a few minutes, Mr. Ernst holes up in his office with a bowl of mashed carrots (there’s no scene transition, by the way; it’s an abrupt cut). He’s decorated his office with a ton of candles and blocked peering eyes out with a bunch of drapes, completely isolating himself. There’s some kind of silly New-Agey musical score going on, though I can’t tell if he’s meant to actually be listening to it or not (it stops around the time that he hits Record on his recorder).

Anyway, Mr. Ernst dictates a message for Buddy on a portable audio cassette recorder (did he borrow it from Jake?). Mr. Ernst makes a reference to masturbation or sex (I can’t tell which; maybe both). He talks for a while.

Melody knocks on the door, scaring Mr. Ernst. As he tries to shut off his recorder, there’s a voice that I guess comes from it, but I can’t tell what it’s supposed to be. Mr. Ernst lets Melody come in.

Melody had brought Mr. Ernst some receipts but then is all “What the fuck?” when she sees the candles. She’s initially concerned but then starts getting suspicious and wants him to spit it out. He tells her.

56-20-Melody-laughsMelody thinks it’s a real knee-slapper (literally).

56-21-Melody-haMelody’s a total bitch to her boss (my favorite line is “you better sue your brains for non-support!”), but she at least provides a hint that she believes this is a set-up over a bet.

56-22-Melody-honks-ErnstMelody honks his noise, and there’s even a “Honk, honk!” voice, but I can’t tell who’s supposed to be saying it.

Melody continues insulting Mr. Ernst and then just flat-out calls him stupid. Mr. Ernst feels himself getting agitated and tells her to leave for her own safety.

56-23-Melody-ha-2“Mean Mel” laughs evilly as she leaves. Mr. Ernst starts biting air and quickly eats mashed carrots and splashes himself with water.

56-24-damageTape damage or an encoding error.

56-25-jokesThat night, they’re hanging out in the main lodge, laughing and telling jokes.

56-26-Ted-denseTed doesn’t get one of Jake’s (obvious) jokes, so Danny and Jake explain it to him, but he’s still clueless.

56-27-pillowsTime to break out the pillows. Ted claims he’s just kidding.

56-28-Brad-bowlBrad doesn’t let Mr. Ernst have popcorn (look for Buddy to swipe some before she takes it away), giving him the bowl of mashed carrots instead. She’s kind of being a mother to him in this scene.

Mr. Ernst praises them and then asks them if they’ve seen Melody. Brad thinks she went to bed. He brings up Melody’s strange behavior, and the look on Brad’s face lets us know she immediately knows what he’s talking about. He worries if Melody caught what he has, but Jake says no. Mr. Ernst feels great and thinks the worst is over.

56-29-Ernst-loses-itA while later, the worst is at hand.

Hey, it’s nice to see Mr. Ernst’s Sylvester slippers from “Dan the Man” (season 2, episode 09) again. That episode also involved fears for Mr. Ernst’s health and the gang monitoring his activities. I wonder if Brisbin watched that episode prior to writing this one and threw in the slippers as a bit of continuity.
22-13-Ernst-sneaks
56-30-Ernst-chows-downMr. Ernst cries out for his “Carrots!”, so Brad helps shovel them into his mouth. My dad, who was an old-fashioned guy that grew up in Poland during World War II, liked this series, but he absolutely hated this scene – especially Mr. Ernst pigging out on the carrots. He found it disgusting.

Mr. Ernst says it’s getting dark, and he wants to lie down, so Ted and Jake pull him to his feet to walk him. Ted suddenly wonders if “this gastro thing” is contagious, despite the fact that Mr. Ernst brought up the possibility earlier. They drop him. Buddy says it doesn’t matter, because they all would’ve been exposed anyway. He wants them to keep walking his dad. Ted and Jake lift Mr. Ernst to his feet. Brad cries “You can’t give up now!” She really does care about her boss – a lot. Danny suggests fresh air, so they all go outside.

56-31-Melody-pissedMelody comes out of the girls’ bunk house, informing them that it’s after midnight, and she’s won the bet. Brad hits her with the cold, hard truth, and Melody realizes what a total fucking bitch that she’s been. As Mr. Ernst goes under, Melody takes charge of the fight to save him.

56-32-Lucy-WTFLucy comes by and demands to know why the fuck they’re making Mr. Ernst skip around and force-feeding him carrots after midnight. They let her know. Brad demands to know where the fuck Lucy has been and why the fuck she hasn’t been helping them save Mr. Ernst.

Lucy informs them that she’s been down in the “lower corral” (I think), taking care of a sick horse. Uncle Albert came down with gastrothrombosis, not Mr. Ernst. Uncle Albert is the same horse that got sick in “Dan the Man”:

22-22-Danny-AlbertThat settles it. Brisbin definitely watched that episode for “inspiration”. It makes this episode feel like a sequel to “Dan the Man”.

Anyway, Lucy reminds them that gastrothrombosis is very common among horses of Uncle Albert’s age. If any readers know anything about horses, would you please let me know if this is an actual horse affliction?

Anyway, Lucy brings up an interesting point. How did no one realize gastrothrombosis is a horse condition? Especially Brad and Danny.

Lucy remembered the instructions that Doctor Johnston had given her, even though she’d (inexplicably) left them in the tack room. Jake realizes they got the doctor’s name wrong. Danny calls Ted stupid, but Ted shifts the blame to Jake. Really, they’re all at fault. I get them mishearing the doctor’s name, but how is it that Lucy wrote down the vet’s phone number but (presumably) didn’t write down the vet’s name? Also, the receptionist conveniently didn’t mention the name of the business and left out the patient’s name while giving Mr. Ernst the test results.

Lucy smiles and shakes her heads like “You silly kids”. The gang argues. Brad insists she tried to tell Ted (we saw no evidence of this; it was Danny that was the skeptical one), but Ted says she didn’t. Everyone walks off without apologizing to Mr. Ernst.

56-33-Ernst-aloneMr. Ernst is left all alone – well, except for the sounds of wildlife in the background.

56-34-breakfastThe pre-credits scene at the end, in the morning, has the gang eating breakfast. Jake and Ted claim they were suspicious from the start. Danny doesn’t buy it.

56-35-BradBrad comes by and asks what’s for breakfast. She decides to pass on the raw carrots, carrot omelettes, carrot muffins, and carrot juice to wash it down.

56-36-Melody-pancakesA chipper Melody comes by with “real food” (pancakes), and the guys dig in, but Brad is cautious, asking if she’s “the Melody from Satanville”. I guess she can’t say “Hell”, but “Satanville” is awkward (at least, Mr. Ernst’s “What the Devil?” was okay). Also, the lack of cursing was really apparent during Mean Melody’s insults.

Melody assures her that the bet is over. We learn Mr. Ernst is fine (I guess it really was just heartburn, but that doesn’t explain his other “symptoms”), Uncle Albert’s fine, and “there is only one Melody”. Ted questions why Melody made breakfast for them if she won the bet, and Brad seconds this. Melody says she just felt like it, and that’s all of the convincing that the gang needs. They chow down.

56-37-Brad-hot56-38-Melody-peppersThe “one Melody” is the practical joker. She cooked hot peppers into the pancakes. Y’know what? I wanna try that.

56-39-Melody-poursMelody’s then an asshole by pouring a bunch of extra crushed red peppers all over their otherwise edible food.

So ends another day at the Bar None.

This episode was pretty ludicrous. It relied on a constant and all-too-convenient lack of communication.

There were some funny moments. I enjoyed seeing Ted and Jake team up. Mean Melody was loads of fun.

However, this is basically a rehash of “Dan the Man” – with some reheated “No More Mr. Nice Guy” tossed in. I don’t want to knock Brisbin and Innes, but this episode wasn’t needed.

It’s the final countdown!: 9

Season 5, Episode 03: Incredible Shrinking Ted

Damn it, I forgot to make a note of something at the end of the previous episode. “The Legend of Jed” (season 5, episode 02) is the first episode with a 1991 copyright:

54-62-1991-copyrightI have three theories as to why:

1) It was the first episode taped in 1991, meaning season 5 was taped roughly in winter-spring.

2) They forgot to update the year on the copyright notice for “Miss Tucson” (season 5, episode 01).

3) “Miss Tucson” was taped in the season 4 batch but held over until season 5.

Anyone know for sure?

Anyway, on to the current episode:

Writer: Patrick Maguire
Director: Ross K. Bagwell, Jr.
Original air date: June 21, 1991

55-01-Buddy-ErnstIn the cold open, Mr. Ernst initially appears to be working at his computer, but he’s quickly revealed to be reading a mystery novel, “The Necktie Murders”. Buddy comes in, unintentionally(?) scaring his dad, who throws his book away in fright. After some banter and Mr. Ernst talking about the novel, Buddy brings up an advance on his allowance, eventually admitting he lost the money that Mr. Ernst had given him on Tuesday. Mr. Ernst keeps a computer file of all of the things that Buddy has lost, which include skateboard (yeah, it’s been a while since we’ve seen it), wallet, dental retainer, one sneaker, and, now, this week’s allowance. Mr. Ernst refuses to bail Buddy out, saying he has to learn financial responsibility. Mr. Ernst tries to return to his novel, realizes it went out the window, and awkwardly excuses himself. Buddy hacks into his dad’s computer and alters the file to say his dad owes him money – and then calls out his dad on his “mistake”, basically announcing his hack. Does he seriously expect this deception to work?!

Anyway, he gets carried away with modifying the file, and…

55-02-computer-burns-outYeah, bullshit. At most, he might freeze up the program, which would require a reboot. Rest assured, though, that the “burned out” computer is never referenced again, and Buddy seemingly never faces the consequences. Hurray.

55-03-Jake-readsAfter the credits, Jake is reading the novel, and…Hagatha Mistie? Seriously? I know they can’t use a real novel (for a reason that will become clear near the end of the episode), but couldn’t they have come up with a fake author name that wasn’t so obviously fake?

55-04-gangMelody, Brad, and Danny come by for dinner. Melody scares Jake. Jake explains about the book, which he’s really into. Apparently, the book hit him as he was walking outside Mr. Ernst’s office, despite the fact that we didn’t see him outside the window in the cold open, nor is it clear that the book went out the window.

Danny brings up that Ted volunteered to set the table. He and Brad are suspicious, but Melody (momentarily) gives Ted the benefit of the doubt.

55-05-Ted-poursTed comes by, “deeply hurt”, and pours grape juice for them. He seemingly doesn’t want anything from them. He claims to have gotten his own date for this weekend. Melody is shocked, and Brad is surprised but also…disappointed, maybe? Or maybe not. It’s hard to tell. After more insults, Ted leaves in frustration. Melody feels bad for Ted. The gang, after a warning from Brad, cautiously start in on their meal, not knowing what to expect. However, their forks, drinks, and plates are glued to the table. Ted comes by and yucks it up. Brad makes a point of trying to lift her glass, but…

55-06-Brad-drinkBrad’s glass wasn’t glued to the table.

This prank makes no sense. Basically, Ted assumed the following:

1) Absolutely no one would touch their food or drinks until the right time.

2) Brad would sit at that very spot.

3) Brad would not attempt to lift her glass until the others had tried lifting their own glasses.

4) Brad would make a show of attempting to lift a glass that she “knows” is glued to the table.

Anyway, Brad and Melody are pissed. Brad is upset that her brand-new shirt is ruined. No one thinks it’s funny. After some discussion with Brad, Ted insists he’d find a practical joke played on him funny, because he has a sense of humor. Ted leaves, conspicuously telling them to not bother getting up. Brad has a “great idea” for revenge, but then she and the others realize Ted glued their asses to the benches. Ted comes back and yucks it up. As the scene ends, Jake (seemingly in a bit of ADR) insists “I gotta get my book! My book!” What’s that about? If he’s referring to the novel, it’s right in front of him on the table. If not that, then what? A book on how to unglue your ass from a bench?

55-07-Ted-scaleThe next day, Jake leaves the boys’ bunk house. Ted puts on cologne for his date and then weighs himself. He’s surprised he’s lost four pounds since yesterday, but Danny dismisses it. Ted worriedly asks Danny about the prank last night, but Danny insists everything’s cool. Ted’s surprised his shoes feel too big for him.

55-08-Ted-fallsThe Calendar of Hell is still on the wall, but there’s a notable difference: no month and no blacked-out year. Did someone finally notice the problem? This isn’t exactly fixing it. What kind of calendar doesn’t label its months? It’d have been better if they’d just removed the calendar.

Danny waits a whole second after Ted goes out the door before inviting the girls in through the same door. Ted didn’t notice them waiting outside?

55-09-Operation-TedAnyway, this is part of Operation: Ted. Brad and Melody stayed up late, picking out Ted’s new wardrobe. Brad replaces Ted’s clothes with larger clothes (including “identical” pants three inches longer than Ted’s). Danny will raise all of the pictures on the walls and readjust the scale.

55-10-Operation-Ted-2Melody also gives everyone (including Jake, who suddenly came back in) lifts for their shoes to make them look taller to Ted. Jake questions the effectiveness of all of this, but the others insist it’ll work.

But let’s look at this prank closely. First, Brad chose a difficult one: convincing Ted that he’s shrinking. Second, they do things that anyone should see through. Scales typically need to be re-adjusted to 0 prior to each weigh. They were counting on Ted not doing this nor noticing it was at -4. Shoes have the size marked on them. Other clothes do, too. They raise the pictures, but the heights of the bunks, the dresser, and other objects remain the same. They look taller to Ted, but Mr. Ernst doesn’t.

55-11-Buddy-ErnstOn another day, Buddy insists Mr. Ernst never gave him his allowance. Mr. Ernst asks Buddy if he’s seen his mystery book, and Buddy gives him a hard time about it – even jokingly asking for hush money to keep it a secret.

55-12-Ernst-JakeSooo close!

Buddy agrees to help his dad look for the book, because Mr. Ernst has to know how it ends.

55-13-Jake-TedTed tries to sit on the swing, but he can’t, presumably because of the big pants. He actually put those on and kept wearing them? If my shoes, pants, and shirt turned out to be too big, the first thing that I’d do would be to check the sizes.

Anyway, Jake gives Ted a hard time.

55-14-Ted-swingAlso, it goes unsaid, but it seems maybe the swing was raised a bit. Ted says “This is weird!” to himself.

55-15-Danny-cardsLater, in the boys’ bunk house, Danny and Jake are playing cards. Ted has explained his worries to them, but they’re dismissive.

55-16-Jake-sticksI like how Jake’s so into drumming that he just likes to hold his sticks, even during a fucking card game.

55-17-guysTed cites the “evidence” of his larger clothes as well as everything being higher. Not everything. The windows, the top of the door, and the ceiling, for example. Anyway, Danny and Jake are skeptical, so Ted weighs himself to convince them. He’s lost eight pounds in the last few hours. Jake suggests it’s a change in Ted’s diet and asks Ted what he’s eaten today. This is what Ted lists: pancakes, scrambled eggs, cheeseburgers, a milkshake, a bowl of chili, corn on the cob, baked beans, and a piece of cherry pie. Yeah, if Ted’s eating like this, he should be gaining weight, not losing it. Also, Danny says it’s only 10:00 AM, but I would have guessed twilight based on the light (compared to the previous scene).

55-18-girlsAnyway, they discuss Ted’s shrinking problem for a bit, Ted trips again, and the girls come in. Brad jokingly calls Ted “Fred Astaire”. She continues insulting him as they discuss his problem. I love Brad.

55-19-Danny-measuresMelody “just happen[s] to have” a tape measure, which isn’t suspicious at all. Danny measures Ted at 5’7″, which Ted says he hasn’t been since he was twelve years old. David Lascher is 5’10”.

Incidentally, while looking up that info, I discovered Christine Taylor is 5’6.5″, slightly taller than Melody’s 5’5″.

Anyway, everyone leaves Ted alone, barely able to hold in their laughter, which Ted must have heard.

55-20-Ted-DannyAfter the commercial break, on another day, Danny is attempting to stretch Ted in a contraption while theorizing what’s causing the shrinking (mosquito bite or hormonal imbalance). We learn Ted (and presumably Danny) has seen the old film, “The Incredible Shrinking Man“, which is the direct inspiration for this episode.

55-21-Jake-DannyJake comes by and asks about the “medieval torture chamber”. Danny claims it’s “Uncle Ivan Running Bear’s stretch-o-matic”, which he supposedly used to get into the army when the draft board said he was too small. It didn’t work. All of the blood rushed to his head, and he thought he was Napoleon. Ted’s upset at the mention of “another little person”, but Napoleon Bonaparte (the most famous Napoleon) was 5’6″, which was an average height for a man of his time.

55-22-Melody-lunchMelody brings by lunch for Ted. She claims the only stuff that they had in the kitchen were shrimp salad, tiny tot potatoes, and strawberry shortcake with miniature marshmallows. Ted insists Melody’s doing this on purpose. Perhaps the fact that she emphasizes the “little” words tipped him off. Melody feigns innocence.

55-23-Brad-readsBrad comes by with info from a medical journal. According to her, Ted has “Microshrinkophemia” (spelling uncertain), a rare disease that affects one in a million teenage boys of Irish descent that live in the desert. If Brad was hoping to blow this entire prank, she couldn’t have done a better job.

Anyway, we learn Ted is (presumably) Irish instead of Scottish (he doesn’t correct her, but maybe he just wanted to play along).

Brad teases a bad ending to the case mentioned in the book. Melody, Jake, and Danny tease Ted. Brad, Melody, and Jake leave, and Ted has Danny measure him again. He shrunk another 1.5″. Danny doesn’t care and leaves Ted by himself.

55-24-Ted-readsUnfortunately, Brad left the medical journal for Ted to read.

55-25-Ted-writesOn another day, Melody finds Ted writing his memoirs as comfort for shrunken people. They talk for a bit. Melody feels guilty and wants to tell Ted the truth, but Ted asks her to be his caretaker (apparently, he likes Twinkies) and accompany him while he does “the talk show circuit”. Overcome with emotion, Melody agrees. Ted then claims he asked Brad first, but she doesn’t like short guys. After he leaves (why wait?), Melody wishes the “little creep” will “disappear”.

55-26-ridingLater, Danny, Jake, and Brad are leading some guests on a ride (I think). Jake declares it “beats surfing in Lake Benjamin”, which totally sounds like something that Jake would try. Danny declares Brad would win a hypothetical Nobel Prize for practical jokes. No, she wouldn’t. This prank has way too many holes in it. Regardless, Danny and Brad get Brad off. Jake worries about causing Ted serious psychological damage and wants to stop Operation: Ted, but Brad and Danny inform him of some of Ted’s practical jokes that he hasn’t been here for: whoopee cushions, itching powder, squirting ketchup bottle, and putting glue on the toilet seats. After more debate, Brad agrees they’ll tell Ted tonight.

55-27-doctorHowever, Melody comes by and informs them of a vacationing doctor that Ted called for an emergency exam. Fearing they’ll get stuck with the bill and doing the explaining, they rush over to…the corral, I guess, to park their horses, leaving Melody to run to the boys’ bunk house. We learn Jake’s riding a horse named Elmer.

55-28-examAnyway, the others eventually join Melody in the boys’ bunk house, where the “doctor” is conducting an “exam”. Yeah, this is just Mr. Ernst doing a stereotypical German accent (appropriately enough, since “Ernst” is a German, Dutch, and Scandinavian surname), but no one sees through it. To the others’ shock, the doctor diagnoses Ted with Microshrinkophemia, which makes Brad think he’s a quack. The doctor says there’s a cure.

55-29-Ted-moneyTed pulls out his “savings” ($1,000) and hands it to the doctor in exchange for some pills. This should be a big clue that this is staged, because Ted previously blew all of his savings in “Mr. Moneybags” (season 4, episode 12). Ted’s “friends” don’t immediately blurt out the truth. The doctor leaves, no one making an attempt to stop him.

After some insistence (and a hit) from Melody, Brad confesses. Ted acts surprised and gives them a hard time. He looks out the door and says the doctor is “gone” (never mind searching for him, I guess). Ted had written down the doctor’s name, which he says he can’t pronounce, so he spells it out: E-R-N-S-T.

55-30-gotchaHere’s where things get a bit confusing. Brad asks “You knew all along?” Ted says “Of course, I knew, Brad.” He seems to answer her in the affirmative, but he doesn’t say he knew “all along”. He then brings up “Microshrinkophemia”, seemingly implying that’s what tipped him off. Unless he was keeping up his act even when by himself, the episode suggests he was fooled until Brad pulled that fake condition out of her ass. Personally, I would have liked it better if Ted hadn’t been fooled for a second, because, really, no one would be.

55-31-pillow-fightAnyway, Danny starts up another instance in this series’ tradition of using pillows as weapons.

55-32-confusionThe pre-credits scene at the end has Mr. Ernst seemingly just now getting dressed up as a doctor. He gets confused when the gang comes into his office and congratulates him on his performance. Melody’s upset that Ted always gets them, but Brad tries to get her to admit it was funny. It’s nice that Brad appreciates Ted’s pranks – in certain situations (meaning when her clothes aren’t ruined).

In a nice bit of continuity with the cold open, Mr. Ernst now has a new computer on his desk. We’ll see if it sticks.

Anyway, Mr. Ernst had lent Ted the $1,000. Mr. Ernst informs them that he hadn’t left his office in three hours and was just on his way over to the boys’ bunk house. Apparently, Buddy had called a “doctor” when he heard Ted was sick, and it turns out that he was a crook. Buddy observes the “crook” is driving away in a taxi. Mr. Ernst calls out for his money, and the teens (sans Buddy) rush outside.

55-33-fiveNo sooner than they leave the office does Mr. Ernst share a congratulatory five with Buddy and reveal they pranked them. This seems to be a recurring thing on this series: characters reveal the truth that they’d hidden from other characters while those same characters are still within earshot.

Anyway, Buddy had used the name of the doctor character from “The Necktie Murders” (who Mr. Ernst had mentioned in the cold open) as the name of the crook, which is why a real novel couldn’t be used (someone else’s character). Considering Jake’s been reading this novel throughout the entire episode (or at least carrying the book around, including in this final scene, when he puts the book down on Mr. Ernst’s desk, finally returning it to him), you’d think Jake would have realized Buddy was bullshitting them.

Mr. Ernst guesses the teens will be playing no more practical jokes around here. Buddy doesn’t exactly agree; he just says “You bet.”

55-34-teensIt’s nice that the teens run past Mr. Ernst’s office window. It reminds me of how Ted and Melody didn’t walk past the open front door of the girls’ bunk house prior to arriving outside the window in “Murder, He Wrote” (season 4, episode 13).

55-35-confusion-2Anyway, Mr. Ernst is excited to see his book and wonders where it came from. He’s eager to finish reading it. He thanks Buddy for holding onto the money for him and wants it back, so he can put it back in the safe before the teens come back. Say what? Why did he give Buddy the money? He certainly had enough time to put it back in the safe himself. Or he could have put it in his desk drawer. Why was Buddy holding on to $1,000?

Anyway, Buddy is “confused”, because he thought he was supposed to give the money to the “real doctor”. Apparently, Buddy had “just” given it to the guy that’s driving away in the taxi. When would this have been? Was Buddy out of Mr. Ernst’s sight for a while after Mr. Ernst handed him the money? Also, who’s in the taxi that Buddy had the gang chase after? Anyway, Mr. Ernst rushes out.

55-36-Buddy-winsBuddy returns the money to the (unlocked) safe and repeats his dad’s proclamation that they’re “so incredibly gullible”.

So ends another day at the Bar None.

This episode was kind of funny, but it makes absolutely no sense and wouldn’t work in the real world. Hmm, I feel like I’ve said that before. Oh, yeah, last week. We’ve now had two episodes in a row featuring dubious deceptions that anyone can see through. I hope this doesn’t become a theme this season.

Season 5, Episode 02: The Legend of Jed

Writer: Paul Budra
Director: Ross K. Bagwell, Jr.
Original air date: June 14, 1991

54-01-Ernst-fishingIn the cold open, one morning, Danny meets Mr. Ernst, who’s ready to do some fishing.

54-02-Ernst-bitesHe’s really excited about it.

Then his tackle box falls behind the front desk, so he bends over to pick everything up.

54-03-Melody-Jake54-04-Jake-dummyJake and Melody come by. Jake’s annoying Melody with a “stupid” (Melody’s term) ventriloquist’s dummy that seemingly a guest had left here. It’s not clear if the guy’s coming back for it or not, but Jake guesses “maybe next week”. In the meantime, Jake’s having way more fun with it than any teenager would actually have in real life, and he’s not even good at it. His lips constantly move.

54-05-Melody-spars54-06-Melody-whyMelody starts verbally sparring with the dummy until she realizes it’s a fucking waste of her time.

Anyway, Jake takes this as a sign that he’s getting good at this (he’s not), and he proceeds to use the dummy to insult Mr. Ernst. Melody cautions him, but…

54-07-Melody-oh-shit54-08-Ernst-dummyMr. Ernst is hella pissed and threatens to fire Jake if he acts up just one more time.

54-09-gang-dockAfter the credits, at the lake, Melody is relating the incident to Brad, Ted, and Danny. Danny and Brad are unconcerned (Danny once saw Mr. Ernst bawl out a fence post). Melody declares this is the maddest that Mr. Ernst has ever been at Jake. Really? What about the various instances in “New Kid on the Block” (season 3, episode 04)? Brad says Mr. Ernst is not the type to hold a grudge, and Danny agrees. Ted guesses Mr. Ernst has forgotten about it by now.

54-10-Jake-dunce-cap54-11-Jake-kick-meNope. Mr. Ernst is making Jake wear a dunce cap and a “Kick Me” sign, the latter of which has gotten him “a lot of nice attention from the guests”. Ugh, I can imagine. My yellow vest at work gets me attention from customers and coworkers. Also, back when I worked at Kmart, the manager hand-drew a sad face and taped it next to my name on my badge, because I didn’t get enough reward card or credit card sign-ups.

Also, Jake has to clean out Mr. Ernst’s boat, so he can go fishing. Brad is surprised Mr. Ernst goes fishing here, and Melody hits her. Jake explains Mr. Ernst stocked the lake. Wait, the girls and guys went fishing at the lake way back in “Battle of the Sexes” (season 1, episode 2). Why would Mr. Ernst need to stock the lake? Did the guests catch all of the fish?

54-12-Jake-toasterAnyway, Jake finds a bunch of shit in the boat, including soda cans, candy wrappers, and a toaster. Yep, this is typical guest/customer behavior: throwing their shit wherever, because they’re “always right”. But why is Mr. Ernst’s boat just sitting out on the lake? Why wouldn’t it be in the boat house?

Jake removes something against Danny’s advice, and…

54-13-Jake-fucks-upOops.

Jake runs off to get a bucket. The others laugh.

54-14-Ernst-arrivesMr. Ernst arrives, talking up his supposed fishing skills to the gang.

54-15-boat-sinking54-16-girls-ErnstMr. Ernst is pissed and demands to know who did this. Melody abruptly blames “the new kid”. Mr. Ernst and Brad are confused. Melody clears her throat, and Brad instantly gets in on the act, which isn’t a dead giveaway at all. Melody says it’s the new kid that Lucy just hired today. Mr. Ernst instantly disbelieves it. Melody passes along a fake apology. Mr. Ernst tells them to tell the new kid to get to his office to sign the payroll forms. He also asks for the kid’s name. I don’t understand what the girls say (because they speak simultaneously), but Melody then nervously comes up with “Jed”, which isn’t suspicious at all. Danny nearly fucks up their deception by betraying his ignorance of Jed – and then overcompensating with talk of their closeness, which isn’t a dead giveaway at all. Also, Jake’s come back with a bucket.

Mr. Ernst gets in a canoe and sends the gang to do their chores – except Ted, who’s done with his, but Mr. Ernst tells him to go the fuck away anyway.

Jake whispers thanks to Melody, and he’s the only one that remembers Jed doesn’t exist (seriously?!), so they’ve got another problem.

And it’s not just the fact that a nonexistent person has to sign work papers. What happens when Mr. Ernst decides to talk to Lucy? I mean I know she’s not in this episode, but she must be at the ranch if she “just hired” Jed – unless she and Kyle took off for another rodeo “just after” that.

The scene ends with a gag of Mr. Ernst accidentally throwing his paddle into the water. Ha.

54-17-Ernst-playsLater, Mr. Ernst is goofing off in his office and has to quickly hide his shit and pretend he’s busy when there’s a knock at the door. Oh, look, his computer’s back. I notice it appears and disappears, depending on the episode. That might be a fun drinking game to play: take a shot whenever it changes.

54-18-girls-ErnstThe girls need Mr. Ernst to make an “executive decision”. “The pool man” just came by and is giving them a choice of two different types of chlorine to use in the pool. Is this a lucky coincidence, or did the girls just make this up? If the latter, they’re just digging themselves in deeper and can expect to be fired when Mr. Ernst finds out.

54-19-Ernst-girlsAnyway, the girls hand him both bowls, inform him that Jed is waiting outside, and leave him to make his decision. Brad locks the door on her way out.

So “Jed” is just Jake doing a stereotypical redneck accent on the other side of the door (admittedly, he’s pretty funny). Mr. Ernst can’t unlock the door with the bowls in his hands, and he can’t set the bowls down without spilling the chlorinated pool water.

54-20-Ernst-formsAfter around a minute, Mr. Ernst just takes the forms that Jed needs to sign between his teeth and slides them under the door. Never mind punishing Jed for the boat incident. Mr. Ernst is so exhausted that he decides to take a nap.

54-21-scheduleLater that day, Mr. Ernst posts the new work schedule, which is an odd time to post it. He’s got Jed doing all kinds of stuff.

54-22-gangMelody decides they’ve gotta divide up Jed’s chores and cover them themselves. Why?! How does she expect this scenario to end?! Brad sees this for the stupid idea that it is and proposes telling Mr. Ernst the truth. Jake disputes that – not because they’d be in trouble but because Mr. Ernst would “never believe it”. Melody agrees with this (why?!) and adds Jake will get fired because of the boat. Brad relents and goes with Melody’s plan. Ted’s mostly silent during this scene except for saying “I don’t wanna work”, which is cute. Danny wants Jed’s “bunk time”. I guess he means breaks.

54-23-gang-exhaustedThe next day (I think; they’ve done Jed’s chores for “two days”), the gang is exhausted, and Jake upsets the others by eating, because he gets hungry when he works. Melody wants to kill Jed, the character that she created. Brad suggests a “fatal accident”. Melody dismisses it, because there would be no parents that would show up and no body to claim. Ted suggests a “crippling accident”.

54-24-BuddyBuddy puts in his sole appearance in this episode by informing the others that Mr. Ernst wants to see Jed now. For whatever reason, they brought Buddy in on their deception. He’s about to explain why he agreed to this but doesn’t get the chance. We can guess it’s so his cousin, Jake, won’t get fired.

54-25-gang-ErnstMr. Ernst shows up and asks where Jed is. Melody says he’s in his bunk. Mr. Ernst wants Ted to get him. Ted objects. Mr. Ernst sarcastically asks if Ted was planning to write a symphony or an epic poem. This might be a joking callback to Ted’s saw playing in “Treasure Teens” (season 2, episode 08), although I admit I’m stretching it. Anyway, Melody decides they’ll all get Jed, and the teens – sans Buddy – quickly leave – except Jake, who Danny has to remind to come along (he’s really hungry). Mr. Ernst observes they get weirder every day.

54-26-Ernst-BuddyAs they get lunch or dinner, Mr. Ernst questions Buddy about Jed. These are the biographical details that Buddy pulls out of his ass: he’s from Chicago (who knows what Jake wrote down on the work forms?), he watches a lot of cowboy movies, his mom owns a worm ranch, he mountain climbs, he’s afraid of heights, he plays the guitar, he speaks Japanese, and he’s been to Australia.

54-27-Jake-treeThe gang (sans Jake) arrives with “Jed”, who’s wearing the exact same clothes as Jake. Melody “accidentally” lets Jake walk into a tree and then makes the introduction. She and Danny bullshit a condition called “photophobia”, explaining Jed can’t be exposed to any light for 24 hours. “Jed” is guided over to a table. Mr. Ernst invites him to sit next to him, saying he’s got a plate of food for him and wants them to get to know each other over lunch. The rest of the gang (led by Melody) wants to leave. Jake objects, but Mr. Ernst agrees on privacy.

54-28-Ernst-feeds-JedSo the rest of this scene consists of Mr. Ernst “feeding” “Jed” through the top of the box and questioning him about various things based on Buddy’s bullshit biography. Jake bullshits his way through it (admittedly, he’s pretty funny). Mr. Ernst seals the box up, praises “Jed”, promotes him to “co-senior staff” (a lot more responsibility and a much bigger paycheck), and leaves.

54-29-Jake-mess54-30-Jake-cleansBack at the boys’ bunk house, Jake cleans off with a towel, plays with the dummy, and relates the lunch date to the others, who are incredulous that Mr. Ernst fell for it. Brad is upset that Jed will be her boss. Ted is upset that Jed will make more money than him. Wait, what? Isn’t Ted senior staff? Or was he demoted upon his return? If so, then who is senior staff (if Jed is co-senior staff)? Danny votes to kill Jed. Ted adds Jed will die a horrible death, and Melody agrees. Brad suggests maybe Jed could just “disappear” or “quit and go home”. Ted suggests Jed could “get fired”, unaware of his “genius”. Jake lays out the plan, and the others are on board. Brad gets a cute insult to Ted in.

After the fade to black and silence, there’s some brief audio that sounds like someone talking. Weird.

54-31-Ernst-listens-in54-32-guys-1After the commercial break (which comes very late in this episode with just under ten minutes of story left), Mr. Ernst overhears “Jed” insulting various people to Danny and Jake.

54-33-guys-2It turns out that the guys have a shitty scarecrow-looking thing that…they took the time to make, I guess. Why put this much effort into this deception?! You’re in too deep as it is and just digging yourselves in deeper!

Anyway, Jake’s doing a less convincing job than he did with the dummy (if that’s possible). There’s no way that Mr. Ernst can’t see him supplying Jed’s voice.

Anyway, when Mr. Ernst interrupts, the guys quickly leave to do their chores, seemingly leaving Mr. Ernst confused.

54-34-Brad-horseLater, at the corral, Brad is “begging” “Jed” to stop abusing a horse. She then slaps the horse’s ass, sending him running off and making it sound like Jed took off on him.

54-35-Brad-ErnstMr. Ernst, who has overheard, comes over and questions Brad. To make it sound more authentic, Brad initially covers for “Jed” until pressed about it. She then “admits” “Jed” isn’t such as “great guy” after all. They talk about it for a bit, and Mr. Ernst tells Brad that Jed’s new and has to be broken in like a new pair of cowboy boots. He actually references his “aching feet” subplot from the series premiere. Brad gets a sassy comeback in, which Mr. Ernst takes as a straight (and correct) answer, confounding her. He instructs her to be a little more tolerant, which frustrates her. She asks Jake (who had been sneaking around and observing the situation) for their next course of action. Jake has a “great idea” for Jed to do something “very, very bad”.

Later, Mr. Ernst overhears “Jed” insulting him and goes to investigate, but…

54-36-Ernst-splashed54-37-Ted-takes-glassesAfter “accidentally” splashing him, Ted takes Mr. Ernst’s glasses to dry them, leaving him blind.

54-38-Jake-Jed-fight54-39-Jake-Jed-fight-2For some reason, Mr. Ernst can’t open the door to the tack room, even though it’s not locked at all (maybe Jake was holding it closed), but then Jake and “Jed” come out, fighting. Jake defends Mr. Ernst against Jed’s insults.

54-40-Jake-Jed-fight-3“I love my Uncle Ben!!!”

54-41-Jake-Jed-fight-454-42-Jake-throws-JedJake throws “Jed” over a fence.

54-43-Jed-runs“Jed” then gets up and runs away. Mr. Ernst fires Jed and tells him to be off the ranch by sundown. Mr. Ernst gets his glasses back from Ted, expresses his appreciation to Jake, and tells Jake to forget about all of his chores this afternoon. Jake thanks him.

54-44-gangAfter Mr. Ernst leaves, the gang is happy. Melody says she’s sad to see Jed go, because he was “the best-looking guy on this ranch”. Danny whacks her with his hat, and the guys chase after her.

54-45-Jake-DannyLater, Jake’s fishing by the lake. Danny comes by and thanks Jake for doing his fence repair work, which confuses Jake, because he didn’t do it. I guess Danny had asked the others about it first. Jake thanks Danny for doing his shed painting, despite the fact that Mr. Ernst told him to forget about his chores this afternoon, so he really shouldn’t know it was done. Also, he assumes Danny did it, which means he must have asked everyone else about it first. Anyway, Danny didn’t do it.

54-46-girls-arriveThe girls arrive, assuming the guys mucked out the stalls for them, which they didn’t.

54-47-damageA bit of tape damage or an encoding error.

Ted comes by, demanding to know who chopped up his wood, because he wanted to try out a new chainsaw. None of them did it. Arguing ensues.

54-48-Ernst-canoeMr. Ernst paddles by and asks why they’re not doing their chores. They explain they’ve all been done by someone else. Mr. Ernst “remembers” “Jed did some of the chores”. He came back and apologized for his behavior, which was caused by breaking up with his girlfriend in Chicago. Mr. Ernst decided to give him a second chance, because “he is the best worker on the ranch”. He leaves, leaving the teens confused. “Scary” music starts playing. Jake guesses they’ve entered the Twilight Zone.

54-49-gangLater, the guys meet in front of their bunk house. Jake goes on about Jed coming to life. Danny guesses Mr. Ernst has gone insane and imagined Jed. But then the girls come by. They’d overheard some guests in the lodge talking about how nice that Jed was. Melody declares “Jed lives!” Panicked arguing ensues. Jake tries to be the rationale one, completely changing his position in less than a minute.

54-50-bunksTed checks inside and asks who’s been sleeping in “his” bunk. So Jed has an assigned bunk? Why? Isn’t the messy bunk Kyle’s? Come to think of it, this is the first episode in which we see the inside of the boys’ bunk house since Ted’s return, so the sleeping arrangements are unclear. Presumably, five people sleep here (Danny, Jake, Buddy, Kyle, and Ted), but there are only four bunks. Was Ted like “Yo, Bud-man! Out!”?

After Danny, Ted, and Jake disavow ownership of the stuff by the bunk, Jake concludes “Jed lives!”, which was his position at the beginning of the scene. What the hell is up with his flip-flopping in this scene?

54-51-Ted-slaps-JakeTed literally slaps some sense into Jake and then apologizes. Jake thanks him. Danny, taking Jake’s side, puts forth various “reasonable explanation[s]”: mass hallucination, hysteria, or a collision with an alternate universe. They all declare Jed doesn’t exist.

54-52-Jed-arrivesOh my fuck, it’s Jed!!!

54-53-gang-WTF-1“Jed” mentions the worm ranch that he worked at, apologizes to Brad for taking off on her horse, and apologizes to Jake for the fight (citing “that thing” with his girlfriend).

54-54-gang-WTF-2Jake asks who he is, and “Jed” declares he’s Jed. Melody is so shocked that she can’t get any words out. Ted casually tells Jed that he doesn’t exist. Jake adds they made him up.

54-55-Brad-looksDuring all of this, Brad abruptly turns her head and looks at the ceiling for no apparent reason. Weird.

Jake finally tells Jed to go back into their imaginations, and Brad cutely agrees with what he’s saying in an “I’m going insane” kind of way.

Despite the fact that “Jed” seemingly believed he was real until a few seconds ago, he agrees to disappear.

54-56-Jed-disappears54-57-gang-staresSuddenly, a flash goes off.

54-58-Andy-ErnstYeah, as you probably guessed, Mr. Ernst was in on it all along, because he knew Lucy would never hire somebody without checking with him first. Brad points at…Melody, I think, as if saying “See? Yeah? Good point!” But shouldn’t they all have known that? Anyway, “Jed” is actually Andy Ryan (the actor is uncredited; fucking seriously, show?!), who works “down at the Double B Ranch” and agreed to help Mr. Ernst after he explained the gang’s deception. Mr. Ernst wanted to play along to see how far that they’d go, and they didn’t disappoint him. Also, he’s got a picture to remember this incident by. Mr. Ernst gives Andy a lift back, and they have a laugh over the gang’s expressions.

Melody says she’s learned a valuable lesson from this:

54-59-Melody-hits-JakeNever save Jake’s skin again.

The others join in the Jake bashing.

54-60-Melody-Jake-dummyThe (very short) pre-credits scene at the end, on another day, has Jake packing up the dummy, because the guy is coming by later today to pick him up. Melody is relieved, because he reminds her just a little too much of “the late, great Jed”. Jake says he doesn’t need to see another dummy as long as he lives. Suddenly, the dummy seemingly talks. Melody and Jake slowly back away in fear.

54-61-Ernst-laughsMr. Ernst waits until they’re barely out of frame before revealing himself. Surely, they would have seen him.

So ends another day at the Bar None.

This episode was kind of funny, but it makes absolutely no sense and wouldn’t work in the real world. In fact, I’d go so far as to question why it exists. Jake fucks up. Melody comes up with a hasty, poorly-conceived cover-up and drags the others into it. Then they just keep digging themselves in deeper, piling up deception after deception. At least, Mr. Ernst was an extremely good sport about it, humorously teaching them a lesson instead of, y’know, firing their asses.

The episode seemed to be going for a “scary” feel near the end. Another episode to add to a Halloween marathon, I guess.

Finally, I want to make an interesting observation: I actually remember a lot of this episode from watching it back in the day – much more than from any other episode. I remember lines of dialogue and visuals. I have no idea why, though.

Season 5, Episode 01: Miss Tucson

Writer: Lisa Melamed
Director: Fred K. Keller
Original air date: June 7, 1991

Welcome to season 5! I’d say more about it if we hadn’t already started season 5 during the season 4 finale. Oh, well. There are no changes in the cast this season, so it’s just a straight thirteen-episode dash to the end of the series.

Okay, I do have more to say about this season before I get into the episode. Assuming the original air dates are correct, this episode aired one week shy of six months after the previous episode. However, there’s still a 1990 copyright on this episode. If you recall, “Superstar” (season 2, episode 10) was the first episode to air in 1990 (January 5), and it was the first episode in the series to have a 1990 copyright. However, it seems the episodes were copyrighted according to when they’re finished, not when they’re aired. This means Nickelodeon sat on this episode for nine months (at least) before airing it. Why? Was it to get viewers to think there were no new episodes – only to surprise them months down the line? I really don’t know. This is the longest gap between any two seasons in the series, and it’s actually longer than the gap between seasons in primetime network series.

The last thing that I want to say is this season aired from early June to late August of 1991, making it the only season to fully air during what would have been the Bar None’s typical season of operation. That’s pretty cool. It’d be tempting to call this the third summer featured on the series, but I’m not ready to make that determination yet. There’s an episode later this season that might cause problems, but we’ll get to that. Let’s dive into season 5!

53-01-footballIn the cold open, most of the guys are playing the manly game of touch football.

53-02-Brad-BuddyBrad wants “Bud” to toss her the football, but Buddy says girls from “Gross Me Out, Michigan” don’t play football. Brad corrects him that she’s from Grosse Pointe. Ted pokes fun at Brad’s rich, privileged upbringing. Brad takes the football and tells them to step aside. The guys are skeptical.

53-03-tire53-04-Brad-football53-05-football-tire53-06-BradMost of the guys are impressed, but Ted dismisses it as beginner’s luck. Brad says “Never assume!”

The cold open really doesn’t have much to do with the rest of the episode – except for a theme of people assuming Brad can’t do something.

The opening theme remains the same as it has since the season 3 finale.

53-07-gang53-08-Kyle-BradAfter the credits, the gang joins Kyle. Kyle asks what’s going on. Danny says Brad was showing them up. Kyle, in regret, says “I had to have the extra donut.” Brad playfully elbows him. I think this is the most affection that I’ve ever seen Brad show Kyle.

53-09-Melody-paperMr. Ernst and Melody come by. Melody had found a notice in today’s paper regarding the Miss Tucson competition next week. Each local ranch is allowed to send one girl. The winner could go on to be Miss Young Arizona and then maybe Miss Young USA. Melody wants to enter this nonexistent competition that might lead to another nonexistent competition that might lead to another nonexistent competition. Anyway, is this an indication that Melody is still underage?

After some jokes by Buddy and Danny, Mr. Ernst talks about how Melody’s potential fame could benefit the Bar None. Is this gonna be another “Our Little Champion” (season 2, episode 03)? Mr. Ernst, unlike Melody, assumes Melody will represent the Bar None, but then Melody is quick to thank him. Ted doesn’t even consider any other candidate.

53-10-Ted-ErnstBrad objects, surprising Ted (who’s amused at the very idea; check out his reaction; asshole) and Mr. Ernst, the latter of which fumbles for words. Ted interrupts, making fun of pageantry. Danny calls it “so un-Brad-like”, which Brad takes offense to.

53-11-Kyle-BradKyle is the only one to support Brad, using the opportunity to put his arm around her, which Brad also takes offense to.

Brad goes off on the others for “again” deciding what she should or shouldn’t do (see? the cold open somewhat matters). Mr. Ernst offers Brad the opportunity to enter the competition, which she immediately accepts. However, Melody reminds Mr. Ernst that the rules say “only one girl per ranch”. Ever the opportunist, Mr. Ernst decides they’ll hold a “preliminary competition” (Miss Bar None) at the ranch.

53-12-Melody-upsetMelody thinks it’s a horrible idea and unenthusiastically agrees.

53-13-Brad-agreesBrad thinks it’s a great idea and very enthusiastically agrees.

Mr. Ernst feels awkward when he has to question the girls about any past scandalous behavior that might come to light. Brad says “Define scandalous.” Mr. Ernst nearly pisses himself. Brad claims it was a joke and invites Mr. Ernst to check. Mr. Ernst says “Better safe than dethroned.” So he doesn’t entirely trust her. That’s a lovely impression for a boss to give an employee, isn’t it? I can imagine Mr. Ernst calling various places in Grosse Pointe and learning about various upper-class wild parties that contained orgies that Brad might have possibly attended.

Mr. Ernst takes Jake and Buddy to get to work. Kyle questions how this is going to work, not wanting to take sides. Brad playfully elbows him again and says they don’t have to take sides.

53-14-Ted-MelodyHowever, Ted chooses the girl that’s “probably going to win” over the girl that “really needs it”. What an asshole. Ted has no one to blame for not being with Brad but himself.

The guys leave (Brad even says “Get away”), and then Brad checks with Melody to make sure that she’s cool with Brad competing. Melody doesn’t say she is and then leaves, wishing Brad good luck. Brad wishes her good luck.

53-15-Kyle-TedOn another day, at the corral, Kyle and Ted are arguing, because Ted wants to interfere in the girls’ competition against Brad’s wishes. Brad comes by, amused. Ted is upset that Brad is here instead of doing “pageant work”. Brad mumbles something that I can’t understand. Brad is amused by Kyle’s suck-ups, despite telling him to knock it off in the previous scene. I notice Brad is much friendlier with Kyle in this episode, which doesn’t fit with what we’ve previously seen. Anyway, Brad tells them to stay out of the competition. Ted apologizes about what he said before, but Kyle says he’s just upset at being rejected by “Team Melody”. Brad is surprised to learn about this. Jake and Danny are coaching Melody for the run-off.

53-16-Ted-kicks53-17-Danny-bustedBrad is shocked that she’s being spied on, even though Danny really had no way of knowing she, who doesn’t look like she’s dressed for the occasion, would be at the corral. I guess he just came over, hid under the blanket, and waited, hoping Brad would gives clues to her pageant strategy while…doing work at the corral.

53-18-Team-BradTed declares “Team Melody knows no shame.” Kyle suggests the formation of Team Brad. Brad agrees. Ted declares they’ll “waste the blonde”. Brad declares it’s on!

53-19-Jake-MelodyLater, Jake’s pestering Melody. Hmm, it seems Jake wants to go to Harvard.

53-20-Danny-JakeDanny comes in, and Jake calls for a moment of silence in honor of girls doing silly shit “in the name of girlhood”.

Melody questions Danny, who admits he got caught and expresses doubts over what they’re doing. Jake and Melody convince him, because this competition is really important to Melody.

After some banter, Melody says she wants to do a musical number for the talent portion – something unique. Danny suggests “a medley of songs by dead people”. Melody says more upbeat. Danny suggests “Great Balls of Fire”, which Jake dismisses, because Sam Beckett already did it seven months earlier reasons. Inspired, Melody suggests “The Greatest Love of All“(originally recorded in 1977 by George Benson and later covered in 1985, without the “The”, by Whitney Houston). Jake will call the record company (which would be Arista) about getting permission to perform the song in public, which surprises Melody, but Jake assures her that it’ll be no problem. Jake being in charge of this forecasts Jonathan Galkin’s future career as manager of a record label.

Danny will find out who the judges are and what they like in a contestant. Melody thanks him, and he leaves. Melody reveals to Jake that she has to beat Brad and get into the pageant, but she refuses to elaborate.

53-21-Brad-dissedBrad comes in with some clothes, and Melody disses her by not returning her greeting. Melody contrasts her own seriousness regarding the pageant versus Brad’s supposed game/joke treatment. Brad compliments Melody’s “nice tan”, and fuck you, Brad. I hate it when smartasses “joke” over stupid shit, such as appearances. I have to wear a yellow vest at work (almost everyone else wears a blue vest), and I have to put up with a lot of questions or jokes about it, just because it’s different than the norm.

Melody summons Jake close to her to discuss her clothes for the competition. Brad overhears and…

53-22-Brad-hi53-23-Team-BradOn another day, Brad’s “exercising” with some small weights. Kyle’s reading a book on pageant secrets. Ted gets on Brad’s case for not picking something for the talent portion yet.

53-24-Ted-BradWe learn Brad can’t sing, won’t dance (I guess waltz-waiting is out), and doesn’t play any instruments. Kyle and Ted ask Brad what she does. Brad rides horses, reads a lot, and travels. That’s it. That’s Bradley Taylor. She has one talent, which can’t be used in this kind of competition. Otherwise, she just goes places and/or reads erotic novels. I wonder if she takes those books into the lavatories on airplanes.

Oh, we do learn one more thing about Brad: she apparently wants to go to Boston College, which is a private Jesuit Catholic research university in the village of Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts.

Anyway, it’s kind of unusual for a series to deliberately make one of its main characters into a bit of a nobody. The guys make fun of her for this, too. Ted suggests showing slides. Kyle suggests packing a suitcase on stage. Brad is inspired. Ted tells her to get to it, because he hates to be on the losing side of anything and declares they have to win. Brad corrects him that they don’t have to win; they’d like to win. This provides a contrast to Melody. Brad isn’t competitive (at least, not in this). If she loses, it’s not the end of the world, and she’s aware of that. I’m definitely closer to Brad, because I’m not competitive and really don’t put any value in competition. I’d be a horrible choice to be on a bowling league. “Strike? K, cool. Gutter ball? Oh, well, whatevs.”

53-25-Brad-KyleTed jokes with Brad for a bit and then leaves, and then Kyle goes over stuff in the book, such as putting Vaseline on your teeth to smile easier, which doesn’t sound appealing to Brad (she probably uses Vaseline for other things). Also, walking in high heels with something balanced on your head for perfect posture. Brad asks who would do that.

53-26-Melody-bookHa.

Buddy wants to give it a rest, and Melody agrees.

Kyle asks Melody about the Vaseline thing, and Melody says it makes your lips slide, so you can smile easier. Kyle seems to take Melody’s knowledge as a sign on trouble. Melody asks for info from the book.

53-27-Brad-KyleBrad jokes with her “coach” that that’s cheating.

53-28-Danny-MelodyDanny comes back from finding out who the Miss Tucson judges are. Why is Melody concerned about them and not the Miss Bar None judges, who hold her immediate future in their hands? Anyway, Danny says he’s “working on it” and quickly leaves. Melody tells him to hurry up.

53-29-Melody-BradBrad happily reminds Melody that she’s not in the pageant yet and still has to beat her in the run-off.

53-30-Melody-Brad-2Melody trash-talks a bit and says she’s “gonna beat [Brad’s] pants off”. If she wants Brad’s pants off, she should just ask her – or buy her a new novel and give it some time.

After Melody leaves, Kyle says “I think she wants to win.”

53-31-Brad-KyleBrad and Melody have this in common: they hate it when people state the obvious.

53-32-Melody-dream-153-33-Melody-dream-253-34-Melody-dream-353-35-Melody-dream-453-36-Melody-dream-5That night, Melody has a nightmare that Mr. Ernst announces her at the loser (complete with evil cackle!). This is definitely the most surreal that the series has ever gotten.

53-37-Melody-wakesMelody wakes up, startled.

53-38-Melody-wakes-2Brad just shifts in her sleep a bit, leaving Melody alone in uncomfortable silence.

53-39-Jake-drumsAfter the commercial break, it’s the big day of the Miss Bar None pageant! Jake kicks off the contest by drumming.

53-40-keyboardistThis is followed by a keyboard intro. The Keyboard Musician is played by Connie Alderman. “Hey Dude” was her sole acting gig.

53-41-audience53-42-Ted-intro53-43-Ted-intro-2Ted, ever the seeker of attention, somehow convinced Mr. Ernst to let him do the introduction.

53-44-ErnstMr. Ernst comes out, Wink Wellman-style. He takes the microphone from Ted, who’s being a show-off.

53-45-Ernst-hosts53-46-Buddy-Ernst53-47-judgesMr. Ernst starts to tell a joke, but Buddy reminds him to introduce the judges:

53-48-MelissaA previous winner of the Miss Tucson pageant, who wowed audiences with scenes from “The Little Prince” with sock puppets. Melissa is played by Victoria McGee. “Hey Dude” was her second of three acting gigs in a long but very sporadic career that lasted from 1982 to 2004.

53-49-HarryOne of their ranch hands (even Mr. Ernst doesn’t know why he’s a judge), Harry. Harry is played by John Wareing. “Hey Dude” was his sole acting gig.

53-50-IrmaThe founder of Miss Irma’s Arizona Charm School, Miss Irma. I can’t understand her last name. Miss Irma is played by Liz Kneeland. “Hey Dude” was her second of two acting gigs, the first being as Hide His Medication in a 1990 movie called “Madhouse”. Yeeeaaah, somehow, I doubt this info.

53-51-Ernst-adBefore bringing out the contestants, Mr. Ernst gives “a word from [their] sponsor”, the sponsor being the Bar None Ranch.

53-52-girls-prepareIn the girls’ dressing room (a.k.a. Mr. Ernst’s office), Melody and Brad prepare, and Kyle’s here because…reasons. Was he in here while they were getting dressed?

There’s some odd audio work in this scene. It seems the in-room audio is muted at the beginning and turns on as Melody and Kyle are about to walk toward each other.

Brad tells Kyle to leave. The guys had decided they didn’t trust the girls alone together, so he’s the bodyguard. Melody thinks it’s stupid. Brad sends him away.

Jake arrives with bad news. In a hilarious moment, Melody just assumes the old “piano player” died or something. Jake tells her that she can’t sing “The Greatest Love of All”, because the public performance rights are too expensive. Way to get her hopes up with no real assurance and then dash them at the eleventh hour, asshole. What took him so long, anyway?

53-53-Melody-optionsJake gives her some public domain options: “Polly Wolly Doodle” (originally published in a Harvard student songbook in 1880), “Home on the Range“, “She’ll Be Coming ‘Round the Mountain“, and “The Star-Spangled Banner“. It’s clever of the show to give an in-story reason for why a modern song can’t be performed, and I feel it’s kind of meta, like Nickelodeon couldn’t/wouldn’t pay for a modern song. And here I was hoping for Melody to bust out some Bon Jovi or Guns N’ Roses or “Fuck Tha Police”.

Brad asks who’d want to perform those songs. Wait. Brad just insulted the national anthem. Just thought I’d point that out.

Melody’s upset at Brad, and Brad apologizes. Jake says “It’s a good song”, but it’s unclear which song that he’s referring to. Buddy comes by and lets the girls know they’re on. Brad says “Here goes nothing” to Melody and goes out. Melody says “Here goes everything.” This is another contrast between the two girls and their approaches to this contest.

53-54-Brad-introBradley Taylor is from Grosse Pointe, Michigan. She’s 5’8″ (slightly taller than me). She weighs between 50 and 160 pounds. She loves anything connected with horses – especially the Bar None.

53-55-Melody-introMelody Hanson is from Allentown, Pennsylvania. She’s 5’5″. She weighs between 40 and 150 pounds. She loves children and saving people from drowning.

Irma calls Melody lovely, but Harry points out that her teeth are so shiny. Ha.

It’s time for the talent portion of the show. First up, Melody:

53-56-Melody-singsMelody gives an impassioned (albeit very brief) performance of “Home on the Range”, and I wonder how the keyboard player knows which melody to play, since Melody, in a discredit to her name, didn’t convey the information to her.

53-57-Harry-criesAnyway, the audience likes it, and it brings Harry to tears, but Irma doesn’t agree with Melody’s choice – or does; I really can’t understand what she said.

53-58-Kyle-TedTed and Kyle bring out something for Brad’s “very unusual” performance.

53-59-Brad-reveals“Packing – from Turmoil to Triumph!”

53-60-Ted-Kyle“Thefuckthefuckthefuckthefuck?!?!?!?!”

By the way, I love how, during Brad’s reveal, she just tosses the cover onto Mr. Ernst.

53-61-Brad-packsSo, yeah, Brad tries to turn her experience with packing her suitcases for trips into a thrilling “talent” showcase, set to the opening of Beethoven’s “Symphony No. 5“. A cute, dramatic, upper-class choice.
53-62-Melody-unimpressed53-63-Ted-Kyle53-64-Brad-packs53-65-Ted-Kyle
53-66-Brad-bowsThe audience seems to love it, and Brad even gets some whistles.

The girls go back into their “dressing room”, and Mr. Ernst gives another ad for the Bar None – cleverly mentioning packing suitcases.

53-67-Melody-BradMelody is dumbfounded over Brad’s popularity and the possibility that she could win.

53-68-Melody-melts-downMelody has a nervous meltdown and throws the clothes (including some of her own items).

53-69-Brad-Melody53-70-Melody-surrendersBrad grabs hold of her and demands to know what the fuck is going on.

Melody asks Brad what she looked like as a kid. Brad says like she does now but younger. Melody looked “awful” – fat, ratty hair, dressed funny; she was a “mess”. She spent a lot of time indoors, hiding, watching beauty pageants on TV. Brad guesses Melody pretended she was Miss America, but Melody vehemently denies it, saying she knew by looking in the mirror that that could never happen.

53-71-Melody-BradBrad tries to comfort Melody. Melody says the feelings have stopped but haven’t gone away. She was hoping winning Miss Tucson would “fix something”. She’s never confessed any of this and believes she sounds like an idiot. Brad doesn’t say anything.

Buddy interrupts, saying it’s time to “get grilled” and making them nervous by saying “rumor has it” the scores are “really close”.

53-72-Melody-Brad-2Melody is upset that Brad is giving her “that pity look” and says, if Brad throws this round and lets her win, she’ll never forgive her. Brad doesn’t say anything, and they silently walk out.

53-73-Brad-envelopeIt’s time for the question-and-answer portion of the program. First up is Brad. She has to pick a random question from a basket.

53-74-Melissa-asks“What advice would you give a friend entering a pageant just like this one?”

53-75-Brad-jokes“Comfortable shoes?”

53-76-Ted-no53-77-Brad-answers“I’d tell my friend that…being in a beauty pageant changes…nothing.”

53-78-Melody-thinks“What I mean is, when this is all over, you’re still gonna be the same person that you were when it started. A crown is nice, but it isn’t magic, doesn’t make you different. Whether you win or you don’t win, that’s not what matters. If you’re a good person,…and you are, that’s what matters.”

53-79-Melody-envelopeNext up is Melody.

53-80-Irma-asks“Why do you think you should become Miss Bar None?”

53-81-Melody-answers“I don’t. Really. I…I messed up. I got so caught up in having to win that I – I became a crazy person…and a rotten friend.”

53-82-Brad-smiles“I’d know how to do it right the next time, but…I don’t think I did it right this time, so…that’s my answer.”

53-83-decisionAfter a few seconds of huddling, the judges have reached their decision.

53-84-waitingMelody imagines Mr. Ernst saying “And the loser is” like in her nightmare.

53-85-Melody-confusedThis leaves Melody shocked when Brad explains she (Melody) won. I’ve seen stuff like this happen in real life, so I’ll give it a pass.

53-86-Miss-Bar-None53-87-Miss-Bar-None-253-88-Miss-Bar-None-353-89-Ernst-sings“She’s the winner of the Miss Bar None pageant! Oh, how wonderful it is to imagine it!”

Mr. Ernst abruptly gives up on his song and reminds the guests of souvenir programs available outside for a “nominal fee”.

53-90-Melody-BradThe pre-credits scene at the end has the girls having a heart-to-heart. Brad felt she had something to prove when the others put her down earlier, but she then realized she really isn’t the type of person to enter beauty pageants, and that’s fine with her. Melody thanks her and then asks how she won.

53-91-Irma-girlsMiss Irma comes by and says it was Melody’s “sincere” and “refreshingly honest” final speech that was the deciding factor. Irma tells Melody to kick butt in the Miss Tucson competition. Melody’s given it a lot of thought, and she’s not gonna enter the Miss Tucson pageant.

53-92-Irma-Brad“What the fuck, bitch?! We went through all of this trouble for you!”

53-93-girls-tiaraMelody explains, after Miss Bar None, it’s just not important anymore. She offers Brad her tiara, silently giving Brad permission to enter the Miss Tucson pageant. Brad refuses, saying her “on-stage packing days are over”. Yeah, really, what would have been Brad’s plan had she won Miss Bar None? Anyway, Brad offers the tiara to Irma (instead of, y’know, letting Melody keep it as a memento). Irma says now she’s heard everything and leaves.

53-94-Melissa-Ernst53-95-Melody-BradMelody says “Wow, now I’ve seen everything.”

So ends another day at the Bar None.

This episode was very nice. We learned more about Brad and Melody, and I ended up loving Brad even more than I already had.

But what was up with the title? “Miss Bar None” would have made a hell of a lot more sense.

Personally, I think Brad deserved to win, because she was the most consistently honest and genuine. Plus I can understand Brad’s motive (show up the guys that dismiss me) more than Melody’s (I need validation that I’m no longer ugly). Granted, I care so little of what people think of me that I wouldn’t be motivated to enter a competition at all, but I can understand Brad’s reason better.

I don’t care for beauty pageants. I don’t actively hate them or anything. I just don’t think they’re worth entering. I think too much emphasis is placed on physical beauty in our culture. If you’re not subjectively beautiful, you’re made to feel ugly and worthless. If inner beauty was cherished more than outer beauty, the world would be much more beautiful.