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Series / Hey Dude!

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Ted, Brad, Buddy, Melody, and Danny.
Better watch out for those man-eating jackrabbits... and that killer cacti!

Hey, Dude! was a sitcom that aired on Nickelodeon from 1989 to 1991. It followed the misadventures of the teenage summer help at the Bar None Ranch in Arizona, as well as its owner, the rather clueless Benjamin Ernst. Mr. Ernst, after years of being a nebbish pencil-pusher, gets the urge to be a cowboy; so he buys the Bar None and becomes its manager. Since his only qualifications (if you can call them qualifications) are his enthusiasm for bolo ties and ten-gallon hats, he's quickly in over his head. Consequently, he has little time to supervise the young staff, who leap on the opportunity to romance each other and concoct schemes... in the most wholesome possible way, of course. The staff are:

  • Brad, the horseback-riding instructor. She comes from money and has occasional snobbish tendencies, but also works hard and can take care of herself.
  • Ted, who does most of the scheming, and constantly tries to hook up with Brad.
  • Danny, a Hopi Indian who is always on hand to warn Ted that he's proceeding down an unwise path.
  • Melody, a bubbly blonde lifeguard. She isn't exactly The Ditz, but is generally more innocent and trusting than the rest of the staff.
  • Jake, Mr. Ernst's nephew, who appears when Ted leaves for a brief interval, and remains for the rest of the series' run. Jake is a surfer, a drummer, and a general space cadet.
  • Kyle, a late-run addition who is a bit lunk-headed, but possesses more cowboy-like qualities than any of the other staffers. Also likes Brad.
  • Lucy, the only other visible adult, who makes up for what Mr. Ernst lacks in managerial skills. A bit of a tough customer.
  • Buddy, Mr. Ernst's son, who is not part of the staff but usually is a part of the plot. He is basically a younger version of Mr. Ernst, except he didn't want to move to a dude ranch and would much rather go back to New York.

Although it didn't have a Laugh Track, Hey, Dude managed to use many well-known sitcom tropes in the short time that it was on. Its first season was released on DVD on July 19th, 2011.

This show provides examples of:

  • Ageless Birthday Episode: The "Guys vs. Girls" episode for Danny, and there was another episode that had an ageless birthday for Mr. Ernst.
  • Alpha Bitch: Brad's a borderline case.
    • Her acquaintance Kimberly Carroll, from "The Good, The Bad, The Obnoxious," was a more clear-cut case.
  • And You Thought It Was a Game: Mr. Ernst, who, in one episode, thinks he's wearing a fake snake around his neck.
  • Anti-Alcohol Aesop: In "Melody's Brother", Melody is forced to cover for her brother when he is shown to have a drinking problem, and she tells him that he needs to stop as their father has such a problem as well and she doesn't want him to turn out like him. He eventually gets the message when he gets into a drunk driving accident a couple of days later.
  • Battle of the Sexes: The title of the very episode, no less. Ted and Danny argue with Brad and Melody over chores and general gender matters, so the group sets out to prove which gender is better by competing in horse racing, cooking, and catching fish. Each contest ends in a draw due to various technicalities or loophole reasons.
  • Belligerent Sexual Tension: Brad finds Ted annoying but they also have a lot of chemistry, so her sniping at him comes across as this.
  • Berserk Button: Don't insult Danny's heritage.
    • Don't call Jake by the nickname his mom gave him, Jake-a-roo.
  • Betty and Veronica: Melody and Brad fit the character types, but without the romantic rivalry. Melody and Ted have more of a Like Brother and Sister thing going.
  • Beauty Contest: One in which Brad and Melody are the only contestants. In the talent portion, Brad's talent is packing a suitcase. Melody begins to have a breakdown when she thinks she could lose to 'packing luggage.'
  • Blatant Lies: In one episode, Melody essentially passes off Brad's entire history as her own to impress a wealthy and snobbish ranch guest.
  • The Bus Came Back: Ted came back to the show after David Lascher's NBC sitcom A Family for Joe, which also starred Juliette Lewis and Ben Savage, was canceled after only nine episodes.
  • Call-Back: When Ted meets Brad, Brad has to save Ted when he tries to take on a wild horse. When Brad meets Kyle, Kyle ends up having to do the same thing with Brad.
  • Captain Smooth and Sergeant Rough: Mr. Ernst is approachable and easy-going, if prone to daffy ideas; Lucy is knowledgeable and the main disciplinarian, but has No Social Skills.
  • Capture the Flag: The ranch's traditional method of choosing the head staff member (Ted) is to have the job go to the winner of the annual game. Yes, really.
  • Chained Heat: Brad and Ted get handcuffed together in the well-remembered "Arm Spasm/Leg Cramp" episode. The episode even discusses the film The Defiant Ones.
  • Christmas Episode: "Ride, She Said" from Season 4. When Brad's parents send her an early Christmas present, Melody gets the idea to throw a Christmas in July party.
  • City Mouse: Buddy, who would love to go back to New York. But his dad is a City Mouse who really wants to be a Country Mouse, so he's stuck.
  • Cooking Duel: In "Battle of the Sexes," Buddy is selected to be the judge of the cooking contest. The 'muffin' served by Ted and Danny is practically inedible, but the girls cook a meal containing fish, to which Buddy is allergic, resulting in a draw.
  • Cool and Unusual Punishment: During the "Capture the Flag" episode, the boys threaten to torture Melody with a Yanni Expy unless she tells them where the girls have hidden their flag.
  • Copy Protection: In the beauty contest episode, Melody plans to sing "Greatest Love of All" for the talent portion, but discovers too late that it's under copyright. As a result, she serenades the judges with "Home on the Range."
  • Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: Mr. Ernst is totally out of his element with the cowboy life. However, he is an effective administrator and financially savvy; it's suggested that his buying the ranch saved it from complete ruin.
  • Demoted to Extra: There wasn't much for Kyle to do after Ted came back. As a result, he only appeared in a handful of episodes before the show ended.
  • Drunk with Power: In the tie-in novel Showdown at the Bar None, the normally easygoing Ted is put in charge of the ranch while Mr. Ernst and Lucy are in a buying trip and is such an unreasonable micromanager and issuer of demerits that Brad and Danny quickly get fed up enough to dunk him in the lake.
  • Embarrassing Middle Name: One episode revealed Ted's middle name to be Aloysius, a fact he was trying to keep hidden.
  • Enfant Terrible: One episode gives us a tween girl who commits some random acts of cruelty and theft around the ranch, pinning it all on Buddy. When he finally confronts her, she briefly gives a Freudian Excuse before sneering that she does it because she enjoys it.
  • Failed Attempt at Scaring: Played with in the episode "Ghost Stories", Brad declares she never gets scared by ghost stories, until Ted tells one that actually does scare her. She spends much of the episode trying to scare him back, but all her attempts fall flat, Ted dismissing them as gags. Then Lucy a story of an unsolved murder that occurred there on the ranch, though she doesn't make any attempt to up the fright factor. But that night, as a storm rolls in, Ted finds himself awake and thinking about the murders as strange noises fill his cabin (which it turns out were caused by yard tools he failed to put away himself, and Lucy and Mr. Ernst putting them away). His imagination runs wild and when Mr. Ernst appears at his door with a pair of pruning shears, he scares himself silly. It turns out the only one who could scare Ted was Ted himself. At the end, Ted makes one more scare attempt on the others... which falls flat.
  • Fish out of Water: Mr. Ernst, despite massive denial on his part. Brad is a milder case.
  • Frozen in Time: During a 2014 reunion panel at ATX, writer Lisa Melamed confirmed that the entire series did, in fact, take place over the course of one single summer.
  • Game Show Appearance: Newly emergent genius Jake does one.
  • Gender-Blender Name: Brad.
  • Hate Sink: The Bar None's neighbors, the Vlecks.
  • Idiot Ball: When Brad and Kyle babysit kids on an overnight camping trip, Brad somehow thinks spitting contests are not a good idea but letting the kids play hide-and-seek in the pitch black desert while she and Kyle are tied up is a great idea.
  • Hypno Trinket: Buddy orders one from a comic book, and tries it on Jake while he's eating a bowl of cereal. Jake pretends that it works, interpreting Buddy's command to pour the cereal "over your head" to mean "over your (Buddy's) head". Later, Buddy demands that he pour it "over my head" and again gets it dumped on him.
  • I Got Bigger: Buddy's actor got progressively bigger between seasons (justified as he was a kid when he was cast and was a teenager when the show ended).
  • Kids Are Cruel: In one episode, a tiny terror named Angie manipulates most of the staff and threatens to use the Wounded Gazelle Gambit if she doesn't get exactly what she wants.
  • Like Brother and Sister: Ted and Melody tend to treat each other like this; they've been friends for a long time and she has a little more tolerance for his shenanigans than some of the others. Notably, when Ted has to leave for a while, it's mentioned that he writes to her frequently.
  • Locked in a Freezer: In two different episodes, if not more... darn that abandoned mine shaft.
  • Long-Lost Uncle Aesop: Melody's visiting brother and his drinking problem.
  • Magical Native American: Danny is actually an aversion (most of the time); while he is Closer to Earth, it's because he's more laid-back than the rest of the staff at the ranch. He even becomes exasperated when Mr. Enrst tries to invoke this for a promotional video.
  • Malaproper: Kyle thinks he is being "chil-lay-vrous" when he is polite to women.
  • Mistaken for Dying: Happens to Mr. Ernst, when the gang thinks he has a fatal disease. In actuality, he's fine; the staffers overheard Lucy talking about a disease contracted by a horse, but all sorts of hysterics go down before the misunderstanding is cleared up.
  • Mistaken for Special Guest: One episode has the staff on the lookout for a guidebook writer who is expected to be coming to review the ranch... only to have them realize that the person in question had just checked out.
  • Most Writers Are Writers: Jake wants to be a writer and can frequently be seen narrating into a hand-held tape recorder.
    • In one episode, Danny gets a comic strip but cancels it by the end of the episode because it causes too much friction between his friends.
  • Never Win the Lottery: Ted wins a substantial amount of money via a scratch-off ticket and starts using his newfound wealth to arrange drastic changes at the ranch, such as adding a water park. It all comes to nothing when the lottery people discover he's not a legal adult and is therefore ineligible for the payout.
  • Nice to the Waiter: Subverted in an episode where Melody falls for a rich guest. She thinks they have a connection, until she turns out to be "the help" and not another well-off guest.
  • No Social Skills: Lucy the ranch hand is tough and competent but also blunt as a post, with a tendency toward Brutal Honesty.
  • Not-So-Forgotten Birthday: Danny spends a good bit of time in "Battle of the Sexes" dropping hints about his upcoming birthday. Ted convinces the others to feign ignorance, as he's planning a small surprise party for him.
  • One-Book Author: The actors who played Brad, Danny, Lucy, Kyle, and Buddy never had any acting jobs outside of this series. They all debuted on the show and never acted again after it ended.
  • Parent with New Paramour: In "Teacher's Pet," one of Ted's teachers visits and shows interest in Mr. Ernst, who is receptive. Both he and Buddy are confused by the idea of teachers and parents dating and resort to hilarious sabotage to break up the couple.
  • Pie in the Face: Happens to Mr. Ernst in the episode "Murder, He Wrote." Melody and Ted overhear Brad and Kyle scheming to kill Mr. Ernst by having him eat a coconut cream pie laced with arsenic, unaware that the whole thing is staged for a murder mystery weekend. When Brad walks up to Mr. Ernst holding the pie, Ted (hiding under a table) grabs her leg and she trips, sending the pie flying into Mr. Ernst's face.
  • Pro Wrestling Episode: "Killer Ernst", with guest star Captain Lou Albano As Himself
  • Put on a Bus: In Season 3, it's discovered that Ted didn't pass all his classes the previous school year, so he has to leave the ranch for summer school. He makes a later guest appearance in Season 4 (in which he sneaks back to the ranch because he missed everyone). He returns for good a little while later during the same season, assuring his friends that he passed summer school with flying colors.
  • Real After All: "The Legend of Jed"
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Mr. Ernst is usually patient and friendly with his staff.
  • Shout-Out: In the episode, "Baby", when dealing with a crying baby that was accidentally left behind, Mr. Ernst briefly tries to entertain him with what is clearly a Buster Bunny doll.
  • Slap-Slap-Kiss: Brad and Ted.
  • Small Name, Big Ego: They even called him Ted!
  • Spoiler Opening: David Lascher is re-added to the opening titles (specifically Kyle's first episode, season 3's "Stick Around") long before his character Ted actually returns to the show. Most likely because the show didn't want to go to the trouble of creating two sets of credits, one when Geoffrey Coy joined the show and another for Lascher's official return.
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute: A subversion. Jake joins the cast to fill the temporary vacancy left by Ted, but even after Ted's return, Jake stayed on the show.
    • Not to mention Kyle, who joins even later in the series. Since Jake and Brad don't have the same will-they-or-won't-they relationship that Ted and Brad did, Kyle was brought in to fill the void.
  • Take Our Word for It: Due to budget constraints, if there was a giant mural painted on a barn wall or a big rock display that depicted a man on a pig... er, horse, the show couldn't actually show it.
  • Token Minority: Danny. Played a bit more respectfully than a lot of other examples, though.
  • Tomboy: Brad.
  • Tomboy and Girly Girl: Brad and Melody.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: Ted with, well, everyone but Mr. Ernst. In the episode where he and Brad are handcuffed, Lucy notes that Ted has a habit of provoking others and is a good sport about receiving insults since it's never personal.
  • Wholesome Crossdresser: Ted during his one scene as the birthday fairy.
  • Will They or Won't They?: Between Brad and Ted. Although she usually thinks he's childish, there are lots of hints that she really likes him. Ted succeeds in getting her to date him once, or maybe twice, during the series, and when he leaves for his school-related hiatus, she's in tears and kisses him on the cheek. Kyle fills in when Ted leaves the show.
  • Women Are Wiser: Played with a bit most of the time. While the girls are generally closer to Earth than most of the guys, Brad is only slightly closer, and Danny is typically closer than either girl (probably because he's a Native American). Played straight in the Battle of the Sexes episode, where the guys are suddenly incompetent. It's also played straight with the adults: Lucy the ranch hand has more common sense and knows a lot more about ranch life than Mr. Ernst who, to be fair, is very good at keeping the ranch financially stable as a former accountant.
  • Write Who You Know: In-universe: Danny starts a comic called "The Dud Ranch," using thinly-veiled expies of his friends, and plays up the worst of their personalities for humor. It's a hit with the readers, but Danny eventually realizes the friction in his personal relationships isn't worth it.