Sunday, June 30, 2013

TV on DVD Review: Hey Dude - Season 2

Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Fun stories with great characters
Cons: 80's, low budget production, poor acting
The Bottom Line
A trip back in time
With a show that's lots of fun
If a little dated




"Why Do You Automatically Assume that I'm Involved?"  "Ted, You're Always Involved."

If you grew up in the 80’s, Nickelodeon was part of your everyday life.  Even I, who didn’t watch a lot of TV growing up, knew about some of their shows.  And one I always enjoyed if I caught it was Hey Dude.  Watching season two on DVD has reminded me just why.

The show is set on the Bar None Dude Ranch and follows the misadventures of the teenage staff.  There’s senior staff member (and most likely to goof off) Ted (David Lascher), Native American Danny (Joe Torres), horse riding instructor Brad (Kelly Brown), and life guard Melody (Christine Taylor).  Overseeing all of them is ranch hand Lucy (Debrah Kalman) and the owner Benjamin Ernst (David Brisbin).  Rounding out the cast is Buddy (Josh Tygiel), Mr. E.’s son.

The thirteen episodes here are rather typical of the series, which was a single camera comedy before the current craze in the genre took off.  There are some battle of the sexes stories, most noticeably when the guys and girls try to decide how to spend a $100 tip that was left.  Melody gets a chance to train for the Olympic swim team.  Danny deals with making a huge mistake.  After Ted tells a ghost story that scares the rest of the teens, they try to get him back.  A bank robber crash lands on ranch property.  And Mr. E. decides to sell the ranch, but the reason just might surprise you.

While the setting is a guest ranch, most of the storylines are relatable to kids, so that helps explain the popularity then and the fond memories now.  Plus the characters are great.  You feel like they are real and can’t help but like all of them, even Ted whose ego could always be knocked down a peg or two.  The comedy comes from the characters and situations, although occasionally they really do go overboard and descend into farce.  Really, the best example of that is the final episode on this set, which features a panic as the gang things aliens have landed near the ranch.

The exception to that is Mr. E.  He’s almost always over the top with some new scheme that is crazy.  He’s not a good example of a responsible adult (we’ve got Lucy for that), although when he does need to get serious with the kids, he does.  Even so, they do respect him as an authority even if they don’t always respect his ideas.

The show does scream 80’s.  It’s most noticeable in the clothes and hair styles.  But why wouldn’t it?  These particular episodes were all released in 1989.

It was also low budget, which is noticeable at times in the production.  No, I don’t spot mikes or anything like that, but the sound level can often be uneven, especially on the outdoor scenes.

The acting, too, isn’t always the best.  It does seem like the actors have settled a bit more into their roles, although Christine Taylor continues to be the shining star in the acting department, and this is coming from the guy who had a crush on the beautiful Kelly Brown.  The acting is good enough to allow you to enjoy the episodes, so that’s all that really matters.

The thirteen episodes included here are on two discs.  They’re presented in their native full frame picture and stereo sound.  And…that’s it.  Unlike season one, which included a short interview with Christine Taylor, this season has nothing in the way of bonus features.

Hey Dude is probably best viewed through the lens of nostalgia, but those who remember the show will have a blast revisiting the characters in season two.

Season 2 Episodes:
1. Loose Lips
2.Battleof a Hundred Bucks
3. Our Little Champion
4. Bunkmate Battles
5. Crash Landing
6. Ghost Stories
7. Teacher’s Pest
8. Treasure Teens
9. Dan the Man
10. Superstar
11. Bar None Babysitter
12. Cowboy Ernst
13. Take Me to Your Leader

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