Ug: It's "I hope we never part"! Now get it right or pay the price!
~Excerpt from the opening theme
Airing on Nickelodeon in the early/mid nineties, Salute Your Shorts was a network contemporary of such shows as Clarissa Explains It All, The Adventures of Pete & Pete, and Are You Afraid of the Dark?, and like those three tends to be among the more clearly and fondly remembered pieces of the era (making it a prime candidate for the Nostalgia Filter). A sitcom centered around a group of kids at summer camp Annawanna. The title of the show comes from a common prank in initiating new campers. Older, jerkier campers would loot their luggage, steal their underwear, and run them up the nearest flag pole to let them flap in the breeze. Seeing how there's no way to un-steal it, the appropriate response is to "stand at attention, click your heels, and salute your shorts!"The first episode introduced Michael Stein, the Na´ve Newcomer, to the existing ensemble cast, which was set up as a Six Student Clique. The other campers included:
Budnick: The Schemer and resident Jerkass, Budnick is a con artist and more than a bit of a bully, preferring to use manipulative ploys more often than outright coercion, though he has Donkeylips to back him up in that department as well. His attitude initially repulsed most everyone at camp, but as time went by his hostile veneer started to rub off.
Z.Z.: the wild one - Granola Girl and Cloudcuckoolander, very conscientious about the environment but less conscious of just about everything else.
The only authority figure in sight is Kevin "Ug" Lee, the dim-witted loser guy counselor. Dr. Kahn, his superior, is only heard through loudspeaker.In season two Erik MacArthur left the show and accordingly Michael left camp, (ostensibly due to chicken pox), and was promptly replaced by Ronnie Pinsky. Pinsky, in his debut episode, is established as a wise-cracking Ferris Bueller-like character (Michael's polar opposite, really) and immediately becomes the most popular kid in camp (except with Budnick). Later in the season, however, he becomes much more restrained and fallible (though still with his moments of Bueller-like mischief), and his popularity is significantly lower.
This show contains examples of:
The Ace: Pinsky in his introductory episode. He's rich, athletic, handsome, immediately popular, continually gets away with pulling stunts, and — most obnoxiously as far as Budnick is concerned — almost completely unflappable, easily laughing off all of Budnick's insults and pranks. Clearly, "cheesing Budnick off with his mere existence" is Pinsky's greatest skill set, which seems to have been the entire point. In later episodes Budnick's dislike of him is completely forgotten, and likewise Pinsky's ace status seems to fade away, leaving him a more ordinary and flawed High School Hustler type.
Adults Are Useless: Well, only one, really...Camp counselor Kevin "Ug" Lee. But he's still useless.
Amusing Injuries: Nine times out of ten, Ug, but "Budnick Loves Dina" had so many characters suffer accidents that by episode's end those two were the only people not on crutches.
Anticipatory Breath Spray: Michael does this repeatedly in the "Cinderella Play" episode when he's cast as the male lead (who thus gets to kiss Dina). When the actual moment does come, however, he winds up chickening out and shaking Cinderella's hand instead.
Cool People Rebel Against Authority: The reason for Pinsky's enormous popularity in his debut episode (see also: The Ace). Of course, throughout the remainder of the series, this attitude backfires on him at least as often as not.
Crosscast Role: Almost happens in-universe with the Cinderella play. When Dina claims she lost her voice (she really got stage fright), Cinderella is nearly played by the only other person that knows all the lines: Sponge, who is briefly shown in costume.
Economy Cast: Now and again there will be some extras milling around, or even an additional speaking role, but for the most part as far as the show was concerned there could have been only seven kids and one counselor in the entire camp. This could be justified as it's repeatedly suggested that Anawanna is a really crappy camp.
Fake-Out Make-Out: After sneaking out of camp to go to the theater, Sponge and his date manage to avoid detection from Ug by kissing passionately in the phone booth they'd been trying to hide in. Ug (who's being dragged out the door anyway) reasons it can't be Sponge if he's getting some action... meanwhile, in the booth, Ug has been long since forgotten and the episode ends with them still kissing.
Fire-Forged Friends: Maybe friends is too strong a word, but after "Budnick and Michael Fake Being Sick," the two get along much better and pretty much have each other's respect.
Fool's Map: Happens when Budnick finds directions from a long-dead camp counselor, in dance steps, to where she supposedly hid a fortune. Since the original was hard to read, he types it out and gives copies to the other kids in exchange for their boomboxes. The directions lead them to collect a bunch of junk, but they find something that makes him think they were very close to it, so he and Donkeylips start trying to get the directions back. In this case, the player gets played, as the directions he gets back were fake as well, written by the other kids to lead Budnick to dig a hole in the middle of the softball field that Ug had been meticulously trimming.
Friend in the Black Market: Budnick sells candy to campers at sizable prices. Given the "No Outside Food" rule, no one complains too much.
Full House Music: Considering the general tenor of the show otherwise, it can be a bit surprising when this gets played completely straight, most notably in the episode where Budnick and Michael play sick to get out of Instructional Swim, and in the "Budnick Loves Dina" two-parter.
In the episode "The Radio Call-in Contest", Eugene "Sponge" Harris quite clearly says "I'm pissed off because I'm not as smart as I thought I was!" The profanity was never removed from the episode. Also, several mentions of flipping the finger are made in "Budnick and Michael Fake Being Sick".
In "Budnik Loves Dina":
Pinsky (re: Budnick's crush on Dina): I don't know what you're thinking with, but it is certainly not your brain.
Budnick:(to Dina) You know, before we met the only time I used the word "bull" is followed by another word.
In "Brownies for Thud Mackie"
Budnick How many fingers am I holding up? Michael: How many fingers am I holding up?
In "Budnik and Michael Fake Being Sick":
Donkeylips (in an outhouse): Hey! There's this thing on the wall that sells balloons!
In the first episode, Ug offers a milkshake and a pizza every night for the rest of the summer to the person who reveals to him who set up the trap that got him Covered in Gunge and feathers:
Budnick: And rat on our friends? Sorry, Big Bird, go pluck yourself!
In "Cinderella Play", when auditioning, Budnik sings the "Beans, beans" song (both the "Good for your heart" and "musical fruit" versions) and gets cut off before he can say "fart" or "toot". Which is odd considering the word "fart" was said in the theme song.
Gold Digger: Budnick's favorite thing about Dina is her rich father.
Generally Ug is portrayed as dim-witted, kind of lazy, and a bit of a loser, but he has moments of scarycompetence, usually sees through most of the kids' schemes, and is a certified athletic trainer. He may seem a little high-strung sometimes, but dealing with those kids would drive someone to drink.
Donkeylips showed he had some decent wrestling chops in one episode. He is also a very clever strategist as shown in "Capture the Flag".
High School Hustler: Pinsky on his better days. His Zany Schemes backfire, he often promises more than he can deliver and some of the stuff he gets away with is only by virtue of having no shame, but he did get Sponge a girlfriend and helped Donkeylips live out his dream of championing a game of "Capture the Flag."
More than a few elements of the show harked back to M*A*S*H. The most obvious were the frequent establishing shots of the camp overlaid with some bizarre news or orders from Dr. Kahn's PA. Ug's general character as the erstwhile but hapless authority figure drew inspiration from Colonel Blake, down to wearing the same hat.
Ug also draws parallels from Frank Burns, Sponge sometimes channels Radar, and Pinsky fills in the Hawkeye role once he comes to camp.
Spoofed via Shaggy Frog Story in "Bunk Chief Elections", when Z.Z. can't decide between Dina or Telly as bunk chief, and Budnick's initial advice leaves a bit to be desired.
Budnick: It's like when Solomon King had to make his decision. Z.Z.: You mean King Solomon when he had to cut the baby in half? Budnick: No, I mean Solomon King. I went to school with the guy. He had front-row tickets to two incredible concerts on the same night, he had to make a decision. Z.Z.: What'd he do? Budnick: Well, he came down with the chicken pox, so he couldn't go to either one of them. Z.Z.: That... doesn't help me much.
In "Counselor Budnick," the trope is played straight: Dina and Z.Z. have a dispute over the ownership of "Wartbreath", a frog Dina found (but initially wanted to squash) that Z.Z. had trained into a champion jumper, when it turns out the frog jumping contest actually has a prize for winning. When the old Let Him Choose method fails, Budnick has them both grab the frog and tug-of-war for it. Of course Z.Z. immediately lets go ("are you crazy!?") and Budnick declares her the real owner. The elegance of this solution confirms him as a real counselor to the other campers, but Budnick confesses it had been his own idea — the counselor's guidebook would have awarded the frog to Dina.
Karma Houdini: Dina and Telly in "Bunk Chief Elections". They leave the boys to take blame for the mess left in their personal Food Fight, with nary a qualm of guilt, even knowing Ug's been making their lives hell for some time already and is just looking for an excuse to dish out more punishment.
Keep the Reward: Z.Z. can't get the campers to pitch in and help the environment until she creates an incentive to save up for a trip to the water park. At the end of the episode, they decide to surprise her by using the funds to purchase a tree instead.
The "Cursed Skull" episode also becomes this, when Telly and Dina (after constantly bickering with each other over who gets to return the skull to where it belongs) find themselves in a cave full of garbage. A thunderstorm begins, so they spend the night in the cave and reconcile their differences.
Na´ve Newcomer: Michael. Pinsky... not as much, although it is lampshaded once.
Pinsky:(to Dina) Look, I know you're normally a sweet, wonderful kid without an ounce of meanness in you— Telly: You haven't been in camp very long, have you...
Nerd Glasses: Sponge, although Telly had a pair that were never seen past the first episode (she got contacts).
Noodle Implements: The "Awful Waffle" from the first episode, requiring syrup and a tennis racket. The viewer never gets to see what one looks like, and the ingredients list grows longer and stranger each time it's invoked. It probably started off based on the real-life hazing of a bare-skin paddling with tennis racket applied to leave a "waffle-like" bruise pattern. (It also needs to be said that there's another, much more disgusting version of an awful waffle, that would NEVER fly on any show, ever.)
Not so Above It All: Ug. Sure, he dispenses severe and exaggerated punishment, but in the context of the campers actually breaking the rules. Still, whenever given the chance to prank Budnick, he jumps at the chance.
Of all the campers Ug is probably the closest to ZZ (probably because she's, usually, the best behaved) and she's one of the few campers who likes going on his nature hikes.
Oh Crap: The gang groans when they learn that Kahn's niece will be coming back to camp the next summer. And she learned a few tricks from them.
Only Known by Their Nickname: Ug, Donkeylips, Sponge and Z.Z. (Their real names were used very occasionally; as is mentioned in the intro to this article, Ug's real name is Kevin Lee, while Donkeylips' real name is Eddie Gelfen and Sponge's real name is Eugene Harris.)
Budnick and Ug switch places as camper and counselor.
And the girls dressing up as guys and vice-versa. In fact, one of the girls says she looks forward to it because "it's the only time you can see Budnick in a dress." Make of that what you will.
Pet the Dog: Both the kids and Ug have (rare) moments where they show they actually do care about each other somewhat.
Playing Cyrano: Pinsky does this for Sponge, creating a new persona for him to get him with a girl from another nearby camp that's way out of his league. It later turns out that the girl in question was just as geeky, and her fellow campers also were pulling the same stunt.
Playing Sick: A popular ploy for getting out of instructional swim. Budnick has a killer recipe for realistic-looking vomit.
Positive Discrimination: Telly is the most athletic camper, and frequently the most honest and level-headed one as well.
Previously On: At the beginning of "Budnick Loves Dina, Part 2". Donkeylips uses flag signals explaining what happened in the previous episode as Sponge writes them down while cutting to scenes from the last episode. In-Universe: they do this so they can get another merit badge. However, a bee was on Donkeylips and he tries to swat it with his flags, confusing Sponge.
The show's famous classical music soundtrack is used a bit less often in Season 2, with generic stock music being the norm by that time.
Punny Name: Ug Lee. From the first episode, when he introduces himself as "Kevin Lee" only to have the kids start chanting "Ug Lee, Ug Lee, Ug Lee," one might get the impression the nickname "Ug" was actually picked by the kids for exactly this reason, although it's never stated outright.
Rich Bitch: Dina, although she tends to be shallow and ditzy more often than outright bitchy.
Right Through the Wall: Subverted in "Park Ranger Mona" when Ug and Mona start to fight. But they notice they're being watched, so Ug closed the door on the campers, but the door has glass so they can still see.
Z.Z.: I can't believe they're fighting! This is terrible! Donkeylips: I know! I can't hear a word they're saying!
Romantic Runner-Up: Near the end of "Budnick Loves Dina, Part One," Budnick tells Z.Z. he might have been interested in her if he didn't currently have a thing for Dina.
If a food fight breaks out Ug is always the one to blow the whistle to stop it and always gets hit with something immediately after he blows the whistle.
In "Budnick Loves Dina, Part 1", someone gets their leg broken and ends up in crutches.
Scarily Competent Tracker: Donkeylips can not only track people but determine the kind of sandwich they were eating at the time. Dina, meanwhile, is not good at tracking most of the time but is a crack expert at following limo tracks.
Second Person Attack: In the first season finale, Michael is leaving to avoid a large and very aggressive bully. In the episode's climax, Michael decides to face the bully down. The camera switches to Michael's POV for the confrontation just before the bully delivers an anticlimactic One-Hit KO and the screen goes black.
Budnick forms a secret society in one episode, and the initiation ceremony begins with Sponge, Donkey Lips and Pinskey marching and chanting in a manner similar to the Winkie march in The Wizard of Oz.
Soap Box Sadie: Z.Z. In most episodes this is mild to the degree it is present at all — she is usually among the nicer and more easygoing campers, as well as a bit of a dreamy Cloud Cuckoolander. But she makes up for it with a vengeance in "The Environmental Party", when she is loudly opinionated, pushy, and harshly judgmental to the point that she comes off as less reasonable and likable than Dina, who actually tries to help her out until Z.Z.'s harshness drives even her away. Her hippie folk song about saving the environment eventually devolves into outright, literal yelling at people.
Solar-Powered Magnifying Glass: Done by Donkey Lips and Sponge to get the last merit badge they need (task: start a fire without using matches, lighters, etc.) to go on a camping trip. Z.Z. gets the assist, demonstrating it to the two, with Ug watching.
Teens Are Monsters: Played straight in many instances. Possibly justified, since Annawanna is such a crappy camp.
Thematic Theme Tune: This would be a subversion, as while the song is supposed to be about how great camp is and how strong the friendships are, the obviously forced and insincere delivery of the sappy lyrics really serve to tell the audience how bad it is, while hinting at the flaws that are bound to cause friction in individual character relationships.
"Donkeylips' Crush on Dina" is a type 5: Donkeylips likes Dina, who likes Michael, who isn't interested in anyone.
"Budnick Loves Dina" also starts as type 5: Z.Z. likes Budnick, who likes Dina, who isn't interested; but becomes a type 4: Budnick and Dina are in a relationship, leaving Z.Z. a Hopeless Suitor (who eventually decides she just wants Budnick to be happy).
TV Teen: Played completely straight. Although they evolve/develop a bit during the second season, the characters generally remain married to their respective high school stereotypes.
Michael is somewhat of a subversion, since he's less easily stereotyped than the others. The downside is that he had no real personality to speak of. So maybe, in this case, it would've been better if he DID have some kind of stereotype attached to him!
Probably he's meant to be the "average guy".
Unrequited Love Switcheroo: Seems to have been invoked somewhat unintentionally. A number of episodes of the first season, in particular the Camp Dance episode, indicate Dina is attracted to Michael, while Michael is completely uninterested. But in the "Cinderella Play" episode, Michael is extremely psyched up about getting to kiss Dina and teases her about it constantly, while she acts disgusted by him and has a crush on a boy from another camp.
Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: Budnick is perfectly content to spend an entire night alone in the woods, and laughs loudly and triumphantly at the others' attempts to frighten him. However, he breaks down crying and pleading for help when he stumbles into a large batch of spider webs.
Donkeylips has this reaction while playing Capture the Flag when he sees the other team's flag being protected by a hundred tires (an obstacle he always failed at miserably on obstacle courses).
Why Do You Keep Changing Jobs?: Mona was a mail carrier in season one. She becomes a forest ranger in season 2, because she won't work in a place that put Elvis Presley on a first-class stamp.
Donkeylips: I thought she's the mail lady.
Will They or Won't They?: Budnick had to break up with Dina. But Dina seems to still have feelings for him. He even let Dina keep his Steve Vai guitar pick and says they might be back together someday.