Judge Dawn Hunt greets more people with "Hey Dude!" than you'd expect.
"Start your horse and come along but you can't get a ride if you can't hold on."
Hey Dude is the misadventures of a group of staffers at a touristy dude ranch in Arizona. Come and get to know LL Cool Bean and the gang.
Facts of the Case
Here's how the Season One discs break down:
• "Battle of The Sexes"—Brad and Ted get caught up in a case of one-upmanship as they try to prove their sex is superior. But their rivalry threatens to eclipse everything including Danny's birthday. Will they be able to settle their differences in time to surprise their friend?
• "Goldilocks"—Buddy's having a hard time adjusting to life on the ranch. When he learns the one thing he loves, a pony named Goldilocks, has been sold, he decides to run away back to New Jersey with the horse in tow.
• "Ted's Saddle"—Ted becomes obsessed with earning enough extra money to buy a saddle. But when he pushes off his regular work on his friends he risks ruining all the friendships he has.
• "The Competition"—Melody and Brad are up for the same promotion and when they are put into competition with one another their friendship suffers. But when Melody is hurt only Brad is around to help her.
• "Rehearsal For Romance"—Mr. Ernst gets the staff to help him hock Bar None merchandise while Melody has a date with an older guy. But when she gets differing advice will she listen to Ted or Danny and Brad?
• "Perfect Father"—When a guest to the ranch starts spending time with Buddy Mr. Ernst regrets not spending more time with his son himself. And when an expensive watch goes missing from an obnoxious guest it turns into a challenge to determine who the culprit is…and it gets worse when Danny is the prime suspect.
• "Rainmen"—There's a drought in effect and when Ted is made Water Marshall the power corrupts him. Mr. Ernst's haggling with the Native American who comes out to drill the new well offends the man and Danny wonders if he could possibly make amends on Mr. Ernst's behalf.
• "Ted & Brad Get Handcuffed"—Thinking they're trick handcuffs Ted and Brad are dismayed to learn they must spend an entire day linked together until the key arrives. Things progressively go from bad to worse until the rest of the gang is left to wonder if Ted and Brad will even be friends once they're free.
• "Suspicion" When a man calls wanting to book the entire ranch Ted is immediately suspicious of his motives. And when the mystery guest arrives Ted convinces Melody and Buddy to help him spy and determine whether or not they have a Mafia hit man on their hands.
• "Employee of the Week"—Mr. Ernst's plan to increase productivity by initiating an employee of the week contest backfires spectacularly. His increasingly embarrassing accoutrements to the award turn off Brad and Danny, leaving Ted and Melody to duke it out. But winning the contest threatens to end their friendship for good.
• "Pain in the Neck"—Danny gets hurt by Ted's negligence and must wear a neck brace. He takes the opportunity to run a guilty Ted ragged in retaliation.
Bonus Feature—An interview with star Christine Taylor.
Hey Dude is the story of the staff of the Bar None Ranch in Arizona. There's Ted McGriff (David Lascher, Sabrina, The Teenage Witch), Danny Lightfoot (Joe Torres), swimming coach Melody Hanson (Christine Taylor, Tropic Thunder), riding instructor Brad Taylor (Kelly Brown), new owner Mr. Benjamin Ernst (David Brisbin E.R.), ranch hand Lucy (Debrah Kalman), and Mr. Ernst's son Buddy (Josh Tygiel.)
From a time when a character still had to sheepishly confess his parents were divorced, this is a little gem of a series. While there are definite elements of slapstick, most of the time the cast manages to hold on to the edge just enough to keep from tipping over into outright silliness. As with many sitcoms, a number of the plots revolve around lying, specifically a little lie which snowballs until the characters are forced to tell the truth and then hugs are doled out.
One of the things that really struck me was how the teenagers all interacted with Buddy. I was really surprised they were so patient with him, going out of their way to make sure he was listened to and included. I understand that's how it was written but it's a dynamic that's rarely present nowadays. Any show that has teenagers and middle-schoolers together more often than not has tension between those characters. Usually it's the younger kids wanting attention and the older kids not wanting to be anywhere near the brats.
Another thing which stood out was the careful editing. It's like a neon sign now but back then I didn't know Brad wasn't riding that galloping horse, or Ted wasn't really in danger of being kicked by a stallion. It is very much a product of its time and I like that about it. I enjoy watching for those moments and seeing how they were made to convince an untrained eye what was occurring on screen.
This series has found its way into a lot of people's hearts, and I believe one of the reasons for that is more than half of the cast never went on to do anything else. Thus, there is no getting a fix for any of the actors. They're trapped in celluloid forever for fans here but nowhere else.
The only extra is an interview with series star Christine Taylor (17 min.) She goes into great detail about her experience filming the series, which was 65 episodes over two years. She was only 17 when she got the job so it was interesting to hear her perspective on how she perceived the process. Back then she was equally concerned with whether or not she was going to get to go to prom and graduate at home in Pennsylvania. A lot of what she learned about acting from the show she still carries with her. One of the most amusing elements of her interview is hearing her describe meeting Paris Hilton.
As far as the video goes, I was just happy to see this outside of a VHS tape so it didn't bother me. But yeah, it's rough. And it's fullscreen, so if you can watch it on a smaller screen you're better off. Same thing goes for the audio. It's nothing fantastic but it's not static-laden or grating.
Give the series credit for being shot on location, though, instead of on a soundstage. Those are real horses walking around. In fact you can go see the actual location. It's outside of Tucson and is called Tanque Verde Ranch.
Those of us who were fans of Hey Dude when it first came out have been waiting for this release since it went off the air. And while it is skimpy on extras it's big on nostalgia and fun. Unless you're willing to wait and see if there's a box set coming, I'd go ahead and pick this up.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Shout! Factory
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