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"Hey Dude" Season 2 DVD Review

Hey Dude: Season 2 DVD cover art -- click to buy from Amazon.com Hey Dude: Season Two (1989-90)
Show & DVD Details

Creator: Dee LaDuke / Developers: Brown Johnson, Debby Beece, Geoffrey Darby

Executive Producer: Geoffrey Darby / Supervising Producers: Ross K. Bagwell, Sr., Ross K. Bagwell, Jr.

Writers: Alan Goodman (also story editor), Michael B. Kaplan, Judy Spencer, Graham Yost, Clifford Fagin, Lisa Melamed, Dean Young, David A. Litteral / Directors: Ross K. Bagwell, Jr., Fred K. Keller

Starring Cast: David Brisbin (Mr. Benjamin Ernst), Kelly Brown (Bradley Taylor), Debrah Kalman (Lucy), David Lascher (Ted Aloysius McGriff), Christine Taylor (Melody Hanson), Joe Torres (Danny Lightfoot), Josh Tygiel (Buddy Ernst), Cassie (Cassie)

Guest Stars: Lee Roberts (Coach Daniels), Stacy Linn Ramsower (Stacy the Little Girl, Noelle), Mark Lang ("Mr. Jones" the Pilot), Laura Innes (Ms. Annie Andrews), Charmaine Blakely (The Tourist), Paul Whitthorne (Bobby Rogers), Paul R. Secrest (The Special Guest), Carolyn Varga (Noelle's Sister), Timothy H. Burke (Kid 1), Kevin Joseph Berlat (Kid 2), F. Gary Bell (The Special Guest), Robert Barlow Ramsden (The Real Estate Agent), Michael Fleming (Surveyor 1), Rene Lopez (Surveyor 2), Larry Bennett (Boyd), David K. Young (Lester)

Running Time: 316 Minutes (13 episodes) / Rating: Not Rated
1.33:1 Fullscreen (Original Broadcast Ratio); Dolby Digital Stereo 2.0 (English)
Subtitles: None; Not Closed Captioned
Season 2 Airdates: October 13, 1989 - January 26, 1990
Suggested Retail Price: $19.93 / DVD Release Date: January 31, 2012
Two single-sided, dual-layered discs (DVD-9s) / Clear Keepcase
Also available on Amazon Instant Video

Buy Hey Dude from Amazon.com: Season 2 DVD Season 1 DVD / Instant Video: Season 1 Season 2 Season 3

When you think about it, the odds of an inactive TV show making it to DVD these days are pretty slim. First, it's got to have made it to the air, a challenge that few meet and even fewer with a pilot that is bought by a network. Then, it has to run.
It's got to meet ratings expectations and entertain viewers enough to have them coming back for more and recommending it. It does that and it gets renewed. But two seasons does not a lasting impression make. Generally, enough of the show would have to be produced to sell into syndication to further its reach and stoke fandom with daily airings. Typically, you need at least four seasons to do that.

Even so, with DVD sales in a slump of several years, plenty of sitcoms that ran for years and went into syndication have not been deemed popular enough to warrant the cost and effort of regular season releases. Even shows recent enough for their biggest fans to be in the most coveted and least frugal demographic fail this last test, as evidenced by the years that go by without subsequent seasons of "Happy Days", "Family Ties", "Growing Pains", "Mama's Family", "Evening Shade", "Benson", "Silver Spoons", and "King of the Hill."

When you consider all these tests and the fact that the TV-on-DVD market really peaked in the middle of last decade, it seems nothing short of a miracle for an old, nearly-forgotten series to make its way to stores and not have to settle for some lacking, uncompetitively priced manufactured on demand product. And yet, miracles seem to happen all the time over at Shout! Factory, a studio that somehow is able to make general retail releases occur for TV shows of moderate popularity whose own distributors can't be bothered to do the same. While unacceptable sales numbers, music licensing issues, and disc production costs keep many a favorite off of store shelves, Shout! churns out an incredible number of customer-satisfying season sets, even for shows that haven't been syndicated since last century.

The four teen workers of Bar None Ranch, from left to right: Brad (Kelly Brown), Danny (Joe Torres), Melody (Christine Taylor), and Ted (David Lascher). Mr. Ernst (David Brisbin) gets all wet, as he is wont to from time to time.

"Hey Dude", a Nickelodeon children's sitcom that ran for five short seasons at the turn of the '90s, actually has been rerun as recently as last fall. It did so in a most logical venue, TeenNick's late-nightly programming block "The '90s Are All That", a nostalgic paradise for twentysomethings. Alas, even the slight ratings demands of ad-free digital cable proved to be too much for "Hey Dude" to meet; the show was pulled on the Sunday before Thanksgiving, after just six weeks in the lineup.

"Hey Dude" fans are used to the show not being on the air. What they are probably still adjusting to is the show being available on DVD. Shout! released Season 1 in July, as part of their newly-formed partnership with Nickelodeon. And now, just six months later, we get Season 2.

That swift turnaround time hopefully indicates that sales figures were in line with whatever was Shout! was expecting. After all, perplexing pain lingers six years after the final season of Nickelodeon's "The Adventures of Pete & Pete" was inexplicably cancelled a month before its scheduled release. That was a show whose first two season sets (handled by Nick's usual partner and fellow Viacom branch Paramount) cracked Amazon's 100 Top Sellers chart. "Hey Dude" doesn't have the cult status or critical reputation of that quirky sibling comedy, but it also doesn't have the insignificance it would being factored into a powerhouse home entertainment division's books. This is Shout! Factory, who candidly communicate with fans on their message board, often make the effort to track down and clear pertinent bonus features, and have managed to squeeze profit out of all seven seasons of something as relatively obscure as "Adam-12."

Hopefully, "Hey Dude" can be released to disc in its entirety. The first three of its seasons have been made on iTunes and Amazon Instant Video (minus one curious Season 3 episode omission). But there's something to be said for tangible ownership that you don't need your computer or your home to enjoy.

And "Hey Dude" is extremely easy to enjoy, even if it's not an exceptionally well-made, creative, or challenging show. Those are things adults demand of modern shows and increasingly get in today's cable dramas. For an '80s/'90s kids' show, all you need is fun and "Hey Dude" delivers that in spades.

Though they have their differences, bunkmates Melody (Christine Taylor) and Brad (Kelly Brown) are best friends. Buddy Ernst (Josh Tygiel) drives a hard bargain, demanding seven candy bars in exchange for helping Danny and Ted.

Nothing has changed since our first season at Arizona's Bar None Ranch.
This so-called second season began airing the week after the first ended and one assumes from the cast's consistent appearances that they were likewise shot without a hiatus. I guess that makes it the same summer, and the same four teens are still having plenty of fun at work. To refresh you, the cast is as follows: Mike Seaver-type schemer Ted (David Lascher), whose middle name we discover is Aloysius; his wise Native American buddy Danny (Joe Torres); sporty lifeguard Melody (Christine Taylor, '90s movie Marcia Brady and future Mrs. Ben Stiller); and Brad (Kelly Brown), a girl who you might not remember is a rich equestrian.

The teens' boss is the bumbling Moranisian Mr. Ernst (David Brisbin), a New Jersey city slicker often given wacky B storylines, which in Season 2 involve a loudspeaker, fire preparedness, and an automatic sprinkler system. Rounding out the regulars are Ernst's pre-teen son Buddy (Josh Tygiel), his heavy-breathing pet dog Cassie, and, lone other employee of importance, sassy ranch hand Lucy (Debra Kalman).

It's interesting. "Hey Dude" was shot on a real ranch (Tucson's Tanque Verde) with no studio audience or laugh track. There are real horses and dogs, and there is a concerted (but easily questioned) effort to display realistic guest/staff walking in the backgrounds. And yet all these attempts at realism are undermined by clunky acting and writing. Lascher is the only young cast member who regularly speaks without sounding like an actor who's memorized a line. There are slight verbal fumbles, it feels like giggles could break out at any time, and dramatic scenes really throw the cast for a loop.

I can't in good faith endorse this series artistically. But who in the world watches a show called "Hey Dude" for art? Yes, I am reviewing it and in between serious Oscar-winning films. You won't, though, and when I watch it, work obligations fade and I am able to simply enjoy the show for the fun that it is. And it is fun. Unpolished, broad, plenty dated and predictable, but a lot of fun all the same.

As on its predecessor, Shout! distributes the thirteen episodes of Season 2 across two discs as close to evenly as possible and presents them in original airdate order.

Danny (Joe Torres) and Ted (David Lascher) pose in togas to be painted in "Battle of a Hundred Bucks." Mr. Ernst (David Brisbin) drives Melody (Christine Taylor) hard in her quest to make the Olympic swim team in "Our Little Champion."

Disc 1

1. Loose Lips (24:20) (Originally aired October 13, 1989)
Brad and Danny get mad at Melody and Ted for spilling their respective embarrassing secrets.

2. Battle of a Hundred Bucks (24:20) (Originally aired October 20, 1989)
The boys and girls square off in a contest to figure out the most fun way to spend a $100 guest tip, with the winner getting the ambiguous tip.

3. Our Little Champion (24:19) (Originally aired October 27, 1989)
After an Olympic swim coach (Lee Roberts) spots Melody, Mr. Ernst and fellow ranchers train her hard. Scrounging to come up with money for a double date, Ted and Danny make merchandise to prosper off Bar None's Olympic hopeful.

4. Bunktime Battles (24:19) (Originally aired November 3, 1989)
Brad and Melody bicker over sharing their bunk. Danny bets Ted can't live easily without using things grown or created by Native Americans.

The unflappable Ted (David Lascher) gets scared in the dark. Real-life wife and husband Laura Innes and David Brisbin play love interests in "Teacher's Pest."

5. Crash Landings (24:19) (Originally aired November 10, 1989)
Ted, Buddy, and Mr. Ernst help a crashed pilot (Mark Lang), who turns out to be a robber and holds them captive in a mine shaft.

6. Ghost Stories (24:19) (Originally aired November 17, 1989)
After Ted scares the jaded Brad with a spooky story on a stormy night, she and the others try to frighten him in return.

7. Teacher's Pest (24:19) (Originally aired December 1, 1989)
Ted's English teacher Ms. Anderson ("ER"'s Laura Innes, Brisbin's wife) visits and takes romantic interest in Mr. Ernst, prompting Ted and Buddy to plot her demise.

Ted (David Lascher) makes a golden breakthrough in his treasure hunt. Brad (Kelly Brown) teaches teen heartthrob Bobby Rogers (Paul Whitthorne) how to ride horses.

Disc 2

8. Treasure Teens (24:19) (Originally aired December 1, 1989)
In the garbage, Ted finds a sheet of clues pointing him and friends to hidden treasure of the unexpected variety.

9. Dan the Man (24:19) (Originally aired December 1, 1989)
The gang helps Mr. Ernst diet. Danny feels responsible for Uncle Albert the horse getting strangles.

10. Superstar (24:19) (Originally aired December 1, 1989)
Dreamy teenaged TV star Bobby Rogers (Paul Whitthorne) visits Bar None and gets riding lessons from Brad. Mr. Ernst worries about a possible visit by a critic from the Southwest Dude Ranch Guide.

As The Answer Man, Danny (Joe Torres) can answer any questions, except for the names of all seven "Snow White" dwarfs. Aliens appear in the Tucson desert, unless "Take Me to Your Leader" can summon another explanation.

11. Bar None Babysitter (24:19) (Originally aired December 1, 1990)
Ted reluctantly babysits Noelle (Stacy Linn Ramsower in her second role of the season), a young girl who goes missing. To add to Bar None's services offered, Brad and Melody write postcards for guests and Danny answers questions as The Answer Man.

12. Cowboy Ernst (24:18) (Originally aired December 1, 1990)
Mr. Ernst plans to sell Bar None to open a desert sod business. To make him reconsider, the staff tries to turn him into a real cowboy.

13. Take Me to Your Leader (24:18) (Originally aired January 26, 1990)
Everyone doubts Buddy's claims he saw a giant alien creature, until they each start seeing them too. They try to trap the elusive enigma.

Danger comes to the Bar None Ranch in the form of armed robber "Mr. Jones" (Mark Lang). The gang gives Mr. Ernst (David Brisbin) a lassoing lesson.

VIDEO and AUDIO

No doubt limited by its modest original production methods, "Hey Dude" doesn't look or sound the best on DVD. The 1.33:1 picture is fuzzy. The Dolby 2.0 stereo sound is loud, dull, and kind of shrill. Typical for Shout!, neither closed captions nor subtitles are offered, which is less a big deal than it is on their older shows whose viewers are more likely to be hearing impaired. Specific and momentary concerns are non-existent. Fans have no choice but to accept the fact that this show wasn't something created with DVD and the future in mind.

Each DVD's main menu applies just a little bit of animation around the Season 2 cover art cast shot. There are no bonus features or set up menus, but at least you get these episode lists, which presumably correct some online episode guide title errors.

BONUS FEATURES, MENUS, PACKAGING, and DESIGN

Sadly, no bonus features are included here. Season 1 offered a dynamite interview with Christine Taylor and I hoped future seasons might catch up with other cast members, but we have no such luck here.
Most of the cast had no further film or television credits, but I suspect at least some of them would be up for reflecting on their biggest claim to fame and fans would certainly enjoy seeing what they look like twenty years after the show wrapped. For that, this nearly worthless "Where are They Now?" gallery will have to do.

The 16:9 main menu plays the instrumental end credits version of the theme song over the cover art's young cast shot. The only other menu is a straightforward list of episodes, which is silent after some transitional audio. The episode screens lack photos or synopses, but the latter are found on the inside of the clear keepcase. Each episode is divided into an appropriate four chapter stops, timed to act/commercial breaks.

The young employees of Bar None Ranch share a laugh. From a distance, Mr. E (David Brisbin) is watching us.

CLOSING THOUGHTS

Shout! Factory's "Hey Dude" Season 2 DVD is a barebones presentation, but it is still by far the best way to see or revisit this fun Nickelodeon series. Picture, sound, and the lack of subtitles and extras all leave room for improvement, but it's decent entertainment at a low price, perfect for nostalgic young adults who grew up on this or shows like it.

Support this site when you buy Hey Dude: Season 2 now from Amazon.com: DVD / Instant Video

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Reviewed January 29, 2012.



Text copyright 2012 DVDizzy.com. Images copyright 1989-90 Cinetel Productions, MTV Networks, and 2012 Shout! Factory. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.