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.

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2 responses to “Season 5, Episode 01: Miss Tucson

  1. I always thought Brad should have won because her dress was better. Yes, that’s how superficial I am.

    Good catch on Mr. Ernst worried at Brad’s earlier teasing on “Define scandalous” and his inappropriate remark. Also, I can’t believe there wasn’t some snide comment made about his jacket. Because there should have been, even for 1990.

    Also interesting how they talked of rights and I believe this is meta because who would give a crap about some two bit unofficial pageant at a private resort? But obviously the really couldn’t sing anything modern and even in the OTT ridiculous world of Bar None where we are expected to buy this has been one giant long summer, no one would believe Melody would choose “Home on the Range” to sing on her own.

    My only disagreement with your editorial is I always think Brad gives Kyle a dirty look when he outright was praising her after Ted had changed his mind. One thing to point out is Ted is probably the NICEST to Kyle in this episode. He gets very territorial when it comes to him (and it’s not just about Brad). Here he’s able to actually take Kyle joking and kidding very well.

    I really like your thoughts on this really being 3 summers and this would be about the time of the new summer though I think it works better to start it from the episode before last and just say Melody and Ted showed up later because there school year went a bit later or something.

    Michelle, if you are reading my comments, here’s a good episode to show that Ted and Danny certainly are not as close as they were. It’s not even a thing that Danny and Jake wind up on Team Melody. Part of me wishes there had been continuity because Ted and she had a nice moment in the olympic episode and I think it would make sense Melody would remember that and rather have him on her team over Jake who she hasn’t known as long. OTOH, teenagers are fickle, Ted can be a dick and by our realistic timeline that would have been 2 summers before…that’s like 5 years in teenage years. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m with y’all – I totally wanted Brad to win! I thought she was the better contestant. I mean, in Melody’s introduction, she stated she loves saving people from drowning(?)…uh, come on Mel…you couldn’t think of anything better?

    Plus, back in the day, I was super mad at Melody for being so mean to Brad. And, like tripp3235 mentioned, Brad’s dress is better. It’s much more flattering. However, I didn’t like Brad’s hair. Too childish. Why’d you decided to go with the side ponytail? You’re much more sophisticated than that Brad!

    It does feel like Danny and Jake are besties now. It’s almost like Melody knew that they were a package deal. Smart on her part. Kyle actually comes across as nice and supportive in this episode. Well, at least nice and supportive towards Brad. Kyle and Brad had a couple of cute moments together. In particular, I liked their interaction on the porch. They looked so chill.

    One thing I wanted to mention. The scene where Brad decides her talent reminds me a lot of how Sandra Bullock comes up with her talent (playing water glasses) in Miss Congeniality. They have a very similar tone to them. Perhaps one of the Miss Congeniality writers was a Hey Dude fan. Ha Ha! I may be overreaching here.

    Finally, thank you Mark for your final comments on beauty. The world would be a better place if inner beauty was cherished more than outer beauty.

    Liked by 1 person

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