You better watch out for those man-eating jackrabbits and that killer cacti. Heeeeeeey Duuuuuuuuuude.
This is the first time I had to watch the episode first before writing my "Memories" reaction, since I couldn't remember one thing based on episode title alone. The only thing in this episode that triggered my "ohhhhh yeah!" memory reaction was when Melody was nervous around the guy she liked and accidentally said "I'd love you" instead of "I'd love to."
Commenter annakelly gave me the idea that when I recap a show I previously haven't done yet, I should probably do a quick run-down of the major characters. I sometimes forget that if you don't have the episode sitting right there in front of you, it can be hard to remember the details. So here are Hey Dude's main characters, and when I repeat one of the three shows I've already done, I'll do quick character breakdowns for those too:
Mr. Ernst - The bumbling ranch owner
Brad Taylor - The rich-girl horse trainer
Ted McGriff - The troublemaking cute guy
Melody Hanson - The sweet, innocent all-American blonde
Danny Lightfoot - The Native American staffmember (a Hopi according to Wikipedia)
Buddy - Mr. Ernst's son, who at least in the beginning hates being taken out of the city to stay at the ranch
Lucy - The ranch hand who had minor parts in some episodes but is in the opening credits for some reason
People who show up later:
Jake Decker - Mr. Ernst's nephew, a sort of "Ted replacement" when Ted leaves the show if I remember correctly (it was a sad day for all when Ted left)
Kyle Chandler - Another "Ted replacement" sort of character, who according to Wikipedia was also Lucy's ex-boyfriend's son. Can't they just have a new staffmember who isn't somehow related to a preexisting character?
And now onto the recap:
Mr. Ernst shows off his new brilliant idea to the Bar None staff--original Bar None merchandise to sell at the ranch. Items include Bar None spaghetti sauce, pickles, mayonnaise, boot polish, and salad dressing. Best of all though is a new fashion accessory line of Bar None-branded items, including a bow tie, bowler hat, suspenders, and dress socks. Ted comments to Melody that at least they know it can't get any worse. Cue, of course, situation getting worse: Mr. Ernst expects the staff to wear the new items around the ranch.
Opening credits! I love this theme. Yippie-tai-yai-yay, etc.
A very ugly, very 80s-looking couple walks by. The lady has one of those 80s woman fro's that my mother so had back then and big round glasses, and the guy is wearing a polo shirt, cowboy hat, and porn mustache. 1989 was a special time. Melody is working at the front desk, and her eyes catch a boy that I think is supposed to be cute, except that I don't see anything particularly attractive about him. Yet she is so overcome by his mediocrity that she can't speak to him without tripping, stumbling, or clumsily knocking things over, just like that obnoxious Fergie song that I hate. Thank you for getting that stuck in my head, Melody. I can't believe you were my favorite character. Sweet, sensitive piano music plays as Melody meets eyes with the boy and then falls off her desk stool. Mediocre-guy walks over in a fluorescent orange t-shirt that looks like something I would've worn in first grade. He introduces himself as Bill, and Melody stupidly asks if he's there on vacation. He's with his parents and is bored out of his mind because it's his first summer away from college and he'd rather be boozing it up with some hot coeds instead of mingling with that ugly 80s couple in smelly horse stalls. After more awkward conversation, Melody makes a date with Bill to show him the lake later. This is when she gives her awkward, "Sure I'd love you--love to" response that is all I could recall from this episode.
Mr. Ernst is in his office trying on the bowler hat in the mirror and talking to himself. The bowler hat just isn't saying "Bar None" to him. Maybe that's because he should've picked a cowboy hat or something that at least somewhat calls to mind ranch life. He tries on a variety of other hats in the mirror, complete with comments in accents that go with the "personality" of each hat, which is I think supposed to be funny but really is just cringe inducing. He pulls on a ski cap, and I think he's trying to sound Canadian here, but it's really bad. As in "how 'bout that Wayne Gretzky, eh?" bad. Then he tries a sombrero and talks in a Mexican accent that is equally bad, as he tries to say "Beinvenido al Bar None" while trying several times to roll his tongue on the "r." Was Mr. Ernst always this annoying?
Brad enters the girl bunk in full Bar None-branded getup, commenting that the new accessories are a fashion-conscious person's worst nightmare. Melody tells her about how she acted like a stammering dumbass around Mr. Mediocrity and how she has a date with him tonight that she's so nervous about. The way Melody says, "Then he asked me... to show him the lake" with a weird pause in the middle like that makes it sound like she forgot her line for a second but they just kept filming anyway. It was just weird delivery. She's nervous because he's an older guy and she wants to impress him. Brad, instead of telling her to just whore it up, says it's too bad there's not a guy around here she could talk to about these things, and Melody says that Ted is "kind of a guy." Brad thinks asking Ted for advice is a big mistake and that Melody should just be herself, but then we'd have no story. Melody is apparently an idiot and decides to talk to Ted, and hilarity is sure to ensue.
Ted's not wearing his bowler hat, and he says that Mr. Ernst has no authority over him to make him wear it. Except that, he kinda does, 'cause he's the boss and all. I for one though am happy that Ted is not wearing the bowler hat, because the black cowboy hat he's sporting makes him look much cuter. Melody, on the other hand, is of course wearing her bowler hat like the sweet obedient girl she is, along with some really high-waisted 80s shorts and a tucked-in baggy shirt. nice. Ted (who, by the way, is David Lascher, who later appeared with Melissa Joan Hart on Sabrina and was also on an episode of Full House for two seconds) offers to help Melody through the "Ted School of Romance." He just wants to get Melody in a sexy schoolgirl outfit is what I'm thinking. Melody ponders that maybe Brad is right and she should just be herself, but she is too stupid to do so and decides to take Ted's help. Ted says that in order to prepare for her date with Bill, she needs to first go on a "practice date" with Ted where he will teach her how to act on a real date. Why the hell didn't Melody just ask Danny for advice? Wasn't he the sensitive "full of wisdom" type? I seriously don't remember her being this stupid when I was a kid. Mr. Ernst comes over and Ted pulls off his cute cowboy hat to reveal his bowler hat underneath. Conformer! Melody tells Mr. Ernst that she just doesn't think the bowler hat is working for her, so he gives her a new Bar None top hat to wear. And because Melody is a freaking idiot, she wears the top hat around instead of just sticking with the bowler hat. Or growing a pair and telling Mr. Ernst that the hats look ridiculous and are not ranch-related at all.
At the boys' bunk, Danny complains to Ted that the new bowler hats are not only hideous, but also give you a terrible case of hat-head. I am now reminded of that bully from the Pete and Pete shorts. Anyway, so Danny takes off his hat to illustrate the concept of "hat-head" to Ted, but honestly his hair doesn't look much different from usual. A top-hatted Melody with Brad arrives for Melody's fake date, which Danny and Brad are apparently sitting in on. Ted says that rule #1 is that no matter what the guy says, Melody should respond that it is the most interesting thing she's ever heard. Melody doesn't have a brain, so she goes along with this. Brad thinks this is the stupidest thing she's ever heard. Ted says that guys also love it when a girl talks about sports. Melody says that she loves to watch figure skating. Of course she does. Ted says that she'll need to talk about "guy sports" such as football, boxing, or hockey, and basketball and baseball are OK but not quite as impressive. Football I'll give him, but how many boxing enthusiasts do you meet out there? And hockey? The only places where hockey has a chance at being bigger than either baseball or basketball are Canada and some parts of the northern US. But maybe that just feels that way now to me since my baseball and basketball teams just had banner years while my poor hapless Bruins have sucked since about the time this show was on the air. Ted tells Melody to bring up the subject of sports and just agree with whatever the guy says. And to once in awhile throw in a line like, "I caught a puck at a hockey game once!" because it makes her seem like a fan without actually requiring her to know anything. Melody today would so be one of those "pink hat" Red Sox fans that I despise.
The date proceeds outside to the lake, with Brad and Danny still following and laughing. Ted tells Melody to try to "accidentally" brush up against a guy while walking next to him, and he demonstrates this in a really adorable exaggerated way. Melody tries and nearly pushes Ted off the path. Then they find a rock by the lake, and Ted says that on her real date, she should sit down and ask Bill to sit with her, and since the rock is so small they'll have to sit really close together. Danny points out the tackiness of all these date tactics, and of course, because everyone on this show is a stereotype, he is reminded of an old Indian folktale: a fox wants to catch a deer but doesn't know how, and he sees the deer step on a turtle and slip and fall on the turtle's hard shell. The fox has an idea--"I will lay in the ground, and when the deer steps on me it will fall, and I will pounce on it." Because apparently just like small children in Baby-Sitters Club books, characters in old Indian folktales do not use contractions. But when the deer steps on the fox, the fox is badly hurt because he doesn't have a hard shell like the turtle. The moral is, of course, "if you're a fox, don't try to be a turtle." And Oh. My. God. Did Ted just say what I think he said? Yes, yes he did. Ted just said that no, the moral of the story actually is "don't listen to silly fables told by a red man in a bowler hat." wow. That so would not fly on children's TV nowadays. It's so weird how no one thought twice about this back in '89, but now I had to pause and rewind to make sure I heard him correctly. Anyway, back to the episode. Melody decides to try to think of a few ideas of her own, such as skipping rocks on the lake. Ted tells her that she needs to act like a mature woman with this older guy, not be skipping rocks like a little girl. Ted so wants to teach her how to skinnydip in that lake.
hee! On her date, Melody wears white Keds with light-purple socks (a combo I so would've sported in the 80s), a white skirt with bluish-purple flowers on it, and a light-purple sleeveless blouse. The matchy-matchy-ness of the socks with the blouse makes it seem like my mother picked out her outfit and is giving me horrid flashbacks to my youth. And her hair is pulled to one side with a big banana clip, combining the 80s trends of the side ponytail and the banana clip when it's really best that both be forgotten. Bill is wearing jeans that look like they may be acid washed, but it's hard to tell for sure with the quality of this video.
Melody asks if courses in college are a lot harder than in high school, and Bill says that there's more reading and papers, and it's kind of like high school only moreso. Does that even make any sense? It's more like high school than high school itself? Maybe this guy deserves brain-dead Melody as his date. Melody replies that that's the most interesting thing she's ever heard, but Bill says he actually thought it was pretty boring. Melody lamely responds that she meant that it's interesting how boring it is. She tries Ted's accidental-arm-brush trick, but Bill has chosen that exact moment to tie his shoe and she falls right over him. They reach the lake, and Melody asks if Bill would like to sit on that small rock. She awkwardly tries to find a spot next to him, and clueless Bill says, "Did you wanna sit here???" like he was expecting her to sit in the dirt in a white skirt or something. Melody tries to fit next to him and knocks him on the ground, but Bill says it's OK because the ground is softer. Melody can't think of anything to say other than "yeah, ground is great that way." I am reminded of the Friends episode where Chandler awkwardly says "gum would be perfection" while on a date. I didn't even watch Friends that often yet that scene sticks out to me for some reason. Then stupid dumbass Melody says that she "caught a puck at a baseball game once," because, you know, girls are so stupid that they don't even know the most basic things about sports. Bill laughs at her, and Melody apologizes. She picks up a rock and fiddles nervously with it. Bill says it looks like a pretty good skipping stone, and no, it doesn't. It's round and bumpy, you idiot. Melody (cue happy moral of finally learning to be yourself) offers to teach him how to skip rocks but says they'll first need a better stone (see, I told you). Sappy "ranch"-sounding music plays, and Danny voices-over the line about "if you're a fox,don't try to be a turtle." We are left to assume that the date went well and that Bill got himself some action in the hayloft that night.
Flash forward to Bill's last day at the ranch. He's wearing a really hideous neon orange button-down shirt with, like, black splotches all over it. I can't tell you how lucky I feel to have been too young to date in the 80s. Bill and Melody are exchanging addresses and promising to write all the time. I can just see pathetic little Melody writing him ten-page love letters and sending them to Bill's dorm where he has a different girl over every night and uses the letters as beer can coasters. Bill loved the story Melody told him about the fox and the turtle and tells her kind of condescendingly to be sure to send him any more of those if she comes up with them. If only he knew that story came from a "red man in a bowler hat." Mr. Ernst interrupts their goodbye, saying that his Bar None merchandise just wasn't selling, so as of today they will be selling merchandise more appropriate for a Western ranch. But because Mr. Ernst doesn't have any brain cells, he has now decked the staff out in those giant brightly colored foam cowboy hats. Bill jokes to the staff that they look great in their new hats, and we fade to the closing credits.
-Wikipedia tells me that some of the on-location ranch in Tucson, Arizona, where this was filmed, is still standing, although dilapidated. That's kind of cool in a sad way. That also means that this show pre-dated Nickelodeon Studios.
-Every time I typed "Bill and Melody" I'd think of Bill and Melody Korman of the Baby-Sitters Club series.
-I used to love the coyote howl at the very end of the closing credits.
-Since this show's a couple years older than most of the shows I've covered so far, it was weird to see how much less I remembered from it as opposed to the shows I first saw when I was nine or ten instead of seven. I still remembered all the characters, and I remember a few key episodes, but the show as a whole is fuzzier in my mind than Salute Your Shorts and Pete and Pete.