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).
In 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.
A 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.
After 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.
Mr. 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.
Later, 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.
Buddy is in disbelief, because Mr. Ernst has “always been healthy as a horse”.
Melody 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.
Melody 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.
Up 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?
Brad 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.
Jake 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.
Later, 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.
After ordering his assault, Jake tries to get his uncle to calm down and congratulates his co-conspirators.
After 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.
The 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.
Mr. 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.
Instead 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.
Melody thinks it’s a real knee-slapper (literally).
Melody’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.
Melody 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.
“Mean Mel” laughs evilly as she leaves. Mr. Ernst starts biting air and quickly eats mashed carrots and splashes himself with water.
Tape damage or an encoding error.
That night, they’re hanging out in the main lodge, laughing and telling jokes.
Ted doesn’t get one of Jake’s (obvious) jokes, so Danny and Jake explain it to him, but he’s still clueless.
Time to break out the pillows. Ted claims he’s just kidding.
Brad 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.
A 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.
Mr. 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.
Melody 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.
Lucy 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”:
That 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.
Mr. Ernst is left all alone – well, except for the sounds of wildlife in the background.
The 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.
Brad 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.
A 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.
The “one Melody” is the practical joker. She cooked hot peppers into the pancakes. Y’know what? I wanna try that.
Melody’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