As a child of the 80's, I was lucky enough that my parents subscribed to cable television. Not only did I get to watch R-rated films on HBO when no one was around, but I also caught all the popular programming on Nickelodeon. I was regular viewer of kids' shows like "You Can't Do That on Television," "Pinwheel," and "Today's Special." In the early-90's, Nickelodeon ushered in a new era of live-action series aimed at pre-teens and younger audiences. Somewhere in between was "Hey Dude," which debuted in the fall of 1989 and acted as a precursor to shows like "Salute Your Shorts," "The Adventures of Pete & Pete," and "Clarissa Explains It All." Whereas "Today's Special" and "You Can't Do That on Television" were Canadian produced programs aired in the States by Nick, "Hey Dude" was an original series, only their second behind "Out of Control."
"Hey Dude" took place on the Bar None Dude Ranch just outside of Tempe, Arizona. The lead characters were four teenagers, who worked on staff during the summer season. They were Ted (David Lascher), a cocky young man constantly cooking up wacky schemes; Danny (Joe Torres), a Hopi Indian and Ted's sensible best friend; Melody (Christine Taylor), the ranch's perky level-headed lifeguard; and Brad (Kelly Brown), a rich girl from the Midwest. At the start of the show, the Bar None has been bought by a new owner in Benjamin Ernst (David Brisbin), a nebbish accountant from New York City. He's the proverbial fish out of water and his attempts at playing cowboy are a constant source of embarrassment to his son, Buddy (Josh Tygiel). There's also the recurring character of Lucy (Debrah Kalman), a veteran ranch hand who is the most level-headed of the bunch.
Of all the original cast members, the one who went on to the most fame is Christine Taylor. Currently married to Ben Stiller, Taylor went on to play Marcia Brady in "The Brady Bunch Movie" along with roles in films like "The Wedding Singer," "Dodgeball," and the much-beloved series "Arrested Development."
Season three saw some big changes to the line-up, including Josh Tygiel being almost unrecognizable after hitting a growth spurt in between production. Ted leaves the Bar None behind to go to summer school. In his place is the loquacious Jake Decker (Jonathan Galkin), Mr. Ernst's nephew from Los Angeles. He's more interested in playing his drums than ranch work, but comes around due to the tight knit nature of the staff. By season's end, the gang is introduced to Kyle Chandler (Geoffrey Coy), a handsome, young cowboy born and bred for the Bar None.
Shout Factory has released season three of "Hey Dude" on this new two-disc set. The episodes included are:
- "Inmates Run the Asylum" – Mr. Ernst goes shopping for horses and makes the mistake of leaving Ted in charge of the ranch.
- "Hey Cinderella" – Melody pretends to be a rich girl like Brad in order to impress a wealthy and handsome new guest.
- "Date Nite" – Ted must leave the dude ranch to attend summer school and asks Brad for a farewell date.
- "New Kid on the Block" – Mr. Ernst's nephew, Jake, is sent to the Bar None to learn a little responsibility.
- "Sewn at the Hip" – Melody is reunited with her childhood best friend, but finds that time has changed them both.
- "Superstition" – Jake's superstitious nature stymies his chance to try out for a game show.
- "Dueling Ranches" – The nearby Snake Eyes Ranch challenges the Bar None to a baseball game for the rights to a water source.
- "Ex-Static" – When his mom comes for a visit, Buddy sees the opportunity to get his parents back together.
- "No More Mr. Nice Guy" – Melody goes on strike when she feels everyone has been taken advantage of her good nature.
- "Killer Ernst" – What'cha gonna do when Mr. Ernst dons spandex tights to take on Capt. Lou Albano in a wrestling match.
- "Melody's Brother" – Melody is extremely excited to see her older brother, Billy, until she discovers he has a drinking problem.
- "Bad Seed" – Buddy is at his wit's end after he is placed in charge of a troublemaking young guest.
- "Stick Around" – An old flame of Lucy's arrives at the ranch with his son, Kyle, who takes an instant liking to Brad.
The video is presented in its original fullscreen aspect ratio. "Hey Dude" was filmed on video so the picture isn't of the highest quality. The transfer is clean overall, but the colors are faded and the picture can be a bit fuzzy. It should be noted that the episode, "Melody's Brother," is in terrible shape having been mastered from its only known source, which looks like a poor VHS tape.
The audio is presented in Dolby Digital Stereo 2.0. Don't expect anything fancy. The sound is even and flat with dialogue coming in clearly with a minute amount of tininess. Again, "Melody's Brother" fares badly here as the audio sounds muffled.
"Hey Dude" isn't exactly sophisticated entertainment. The scripts are simple, the production values are low, and the jokes are corny. However, those same traits are part of its appeal. There's a palpable likeability to the show because you can tell how much fun the actors are having. Those of you who grew up on Nickelodeon and "Hey Dude" will want to corral these DVDs into their collection.