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:
I 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
In 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…
Yeah, 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.
After 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?
Melody, 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.
Ted 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…
Brad’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?
The 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.
The 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?
Anyway, 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.
Melody 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.
On 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.
Buddy agrees to help his dad look for the book, because Mr. Ernst has to know how it ends.
Ted 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.
Also, it goes unsaid, but it seems maybe the swing was raised a bit. Ted says “This is weird!” to himself.
Later, in the boys’ bunk house, Danny and Jake are playing cards. Ted has explained his worries to them, but they’re dismissive.
I like how Jake’s so into drumming that he just likes to hold his sticks, even during a fucking card game.
Ted 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).
Anyway, 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.
Melody “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.
After 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.
Jake 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.
Melody 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.
Brad 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.
Unfortunately, Brad left the medical journal for Ted to read.
On 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”.
Later, 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.
However, 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.
Anyway, 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.
Ted 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.
Here’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.
Anyway, Danny starts up another instance in this series’ tradition of using pillows as weapons.
The 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.
No 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.”
It’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).
Anyway, 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.
Buddy 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.