The last season of Nickelodeon’s comedy Hey Dude! included some cast changes as one of the cast members left and two more were written in to take his place. While I never quite warm to the new characters the way I do the original, I was surprised to find just how fun season 4 is.
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The action takes place on the Bar None, a dude ranch in Arizona. The ranch is owned by Benjamin Ernst, aka Mr. E. (David Brisbin). The only other regular adult on the show is Lucy (Debrah Kalman) who is in charge of the stables. The rest of the cast are the teenagers who are on staff. There’s Danny the Native American (Joe Torres), Jake who just happens to be Mr. E’s nephew (Jonathan Galkin), Kyle (Geoffrey Coy), Brad who is an expert at horses (Kelly Brown), and Melody the lifeguard (Christine Taylor). Rounding out the cast is Buddy (Josh Tygiel), Mr. E’s son who is just a little younger than the rest of the cast but is treated as an equal most of the time.
So what is the cast up to in these thirteen episodes? Brad finds her heart softening when she visits a neighboring ranch that caters to those with disabilities. Kyle and Brad lead some young kids into the desert for an over night but wind up lost instead Danny creates a comic strip based on life at the Bar None, and his friends don’t take kindly to their characters. We meet another neighboring ranch on a couple of different occasions when the Vlecks come to stay with disastrous results. And Jake and Buddy try to track down the monster in the lake on the ranch.
Then there’s Ted (David Lascher). He was written out in the middle of the last season when the actor got a part on a different show. But the show was canceled so he winds up back for three of these episodes. Of these, the best is easily the season finale with finds Ted and Melody returning from the local infirmary to find everyone on the ranch plotting to kill Mr. E. What they don’t realize is it is part of a dinner theater. The results are hilarious.
And, frankly, fun is the name of the game here. The multi-camera no laugh track format predates the popular sitcoms of today. The antics of the characters are always funny, and I can’t help but smile if not laugh the entire time I’m watching. There is plenty of slapstick humor as well as witty lines as the characters tease each other.
All of this is served with a healthy dose of cheese. These episodes premiered in 1990, but the late 80’s influence is still strong. You’ve got to be in the right mood to enjoy the episodes, but if you are, you’ll enjoy them.
That also applies to the acting. It’s a bit over the top and broad, but somehow it fits the show and audience perfectly. I really can’t imagine this show acted in a more serious way and working as well.
Mr. E. has always been a bit of a goofy character. If it weren’t for Lucy (who is only in about half the episodes), there would be no serious adult role models. And yet, I found myself impressed here with several times where they went out of their way to show us that Mr. E. isn’t quite as stupid as he always appears. He’s still a goof most of the time, but it may be more for show than anything else.
The seasons of this show were super short, so the set consists of thirteen half hour episodes spread out over two discs. The picture quality and sound are fine. Yes, it could be sharper and clearer, but it works to give us the show. Only die hard home theater people will be complaining. Like the last couple of seasons, there are no extras here.
This show is definitely an acquired taste, but I was just at the age to fall in love with it the few times I watched it with friends as a kid. So I was very happy to travel back to the Bar None with Hey Dude! – Season 4.
Since the characters celebrate Christmas in July in one episode, I have to include it in the Sixth Annual Christmas in July Write-Off.
Season 4 Episodes:
1. They're Back
2. Ride, She Said
3. Magnum Ernest
6. Secret Admirer
7. Lost in the Desert
8. Return of Ted
9. Do the Right Thing
10. Doghouse Blues
11. Some Like It Hot
12. Mr. Moneybags
13. Murder, He Wrote
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