Thursday, July 5, 2012

Old School Lane's Nickelodeon Tribute: Hey Dude

The year is 1989. Batman, The Little Mermaid, All Dogs Go To Heaven, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, and Driving Miss Daisy were released in theaters. Baywatch, The Simpsons, and Chip and Dale: Rescue Rangers debuted on TV. The Cold War was slowly coming to an end and the 80's were coming to an end. Due to the popularity of sitcoms for teens such as Family Matters, Full House, and Degrassi, Nickelodeon decided to create one as well. On July 14, Nickelodeon debuted Hey Dude, their very first exclusive sitcom.

The show is about a man named Ben Ernst (played by David Brisbin), a New Jersey divorced man and father who purchased the Bar None Ranch in Arizona to escape from his stressful job as an accountant. He takes his son Buddy (played by Josh Tygeil) along with him to the Bar None Ranch, but doesn't like it at first. Then, other teenagers come to the ranch for the summer. They consisted of Brad Taylor (played by Kelly Brown) whose a horse trainer, Lucy (played by Debra Kalman) whose one of the ranch hands and the only other adult in the show next to Mr. Ernst, Ted McGriff (played by David Lascher) whose a senior staff member, Melody Hanson (played by Christine Taylor) whose a lifeguard and dance instructor, and Danny Lightfoot (played by Joe Torres), the Native American.

Throughout the rest of the show, we see these characters interact with one another while living in the Bar None Ranch. They have arguments with one another, everyday problems such as dating, and teaching lessons of friendship. While there was no cohesive story line for Hey Dude, there were some things that were constant in the show like Ted and Brad's on-and-off relationship, Mr. Ernst being a bumbling father, yet responsible ranch owner, and Danny doing something or say something to show off his Native American roots. In one episode, Ted doesn't think that Native American items are useful anymore. Danny bets him that he couldn't go for one week without using any Native American items. 

Throughout the rest of the seasons, Ted left the ranch to go to summer camp (eventually, he would come back a few episodes later) and was replaced by two more ranch hands: Jake Decker and Kyle Chandler. Jake (played by Jonathan Galken) was Mr. Ernst's nephew and was a laid back guy who loved playing the drums and Kyle (played by Geoffrey Coy) was Lucy's ex-boyfriend's son and a simple minded cowboy. They both fell in love with Brad and they fought hardly to win her affections. 

Each episode has our characters do some scheme for some reason or another that usually ends up going wrong. In one episode, Buddy pretends to be a magician and Ted swaps the trick cuffs with real handcuffs to get back at Brad. They both end up getting stuck.

Hey Dude was filmed near an actual ranch in Arizona called the Tanque Verde Guest Ranch. They used the property to build an actual ranch and stable from scratch to give it an old fashioned western look while the dressing rooms were doubled as the bunks. Some of the buildings are still there to this day, although it hasn't been maintained since they stopped filming episodes. The show lasted for three seasons ending its run on August 30, 1991.

After Hey Dude, some of the actors went on to other roles while others faded into obscurity.

David Brisbin had acted in other movies and TV shows like Forrest Gump, Erin Brockovich, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, ER, and Desperate Housewives. He's living with his wife and two kids.

Debra Kalman has acted in a few roles in The Visitation and Hangman's Curse before retiring from acting and becoming a teacher and a mom.

Kelly Brown quit acting and lives in New York with her husband and child.

David Lascher has acted in other roles in other TV shows such as Sabrina The Teenage Witch, Full House, Blossom, Step by Step, Clueless, Beverly Hills 90210, and Veronica's Closet. He's living in Beverly Hills with his wife and two children.

Jonathan Galkin quit acting after Hey Dude and became the co-founder/manager of DFA Records, in which the home of LCD Soundsystem. He lives in New York with his wife and son.

Joe Torres quit acting and currently lives in New Jersey as a Toyota car salesman.

The most famous out of all the cast members was Christine Taylor. She had appeared in other TV shows and movies like Ellen, Party Girl, The Wedding Singer, A Very Brady Sequel, Arrested Development, Dedication, License to Wed, Zoolander, Tropic Thunder, and Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story. She is married to Ben Stiller and has two children with him.

Overall, looking back at this show, I only have one word to describe this show: BORING!!!! This show is boring as hell. Nothing interesting happens on this show. It doesn't help that the show is very slow paced which helps make it even more boring. Don't get me wrong: I love slow paced moments. It gives people time to breath and enjoy the atmosphere or it gives you time to think until a big moment occurs. But this isn't that kind of show. We can only look at the bland ranch for so long. The scenery never changes. You're in a desert for crying out loud. Let us see more of it: the mountains, the animals, the plant life. The desert doesn't have to be bland if you do it right.

The story lines are pretty forgettable. Sure, they have schemes that go wrong, but they're not funny. Other shows that have the characters go through situations that go wrong are way better that Hey Dude and seeing this is just painful. Not to mention, the characters are stereotypical, bland, and not memorable. Everyone here sucks, especially Danny. Out of all the people in the show, I had high hopes for him. He was a Native American, the only diverse character in Hey Dude who isn't White. There isn't even an African American in the show. But he follows the stereotypical personality of a Native American: teaching the White men about their ways, doing a rain dance during a drought, and the episode that I just described earlier. 

Admittedly, I like the decision of having a Native American in the show since even today, you don't even see Native American actors, especially teenagers. But there's one problem: Joe Torres is NOT a Native American, he's Mexican. Why didn't they cast a real Native American? You lost on an opportunity to cast a good potential Native American actor, Hey Dude. Shame on you!

The acting is beyond God awful! I know that for most of the teenage actors, this was their first show, but you don't have to keep showing that in every episode. They really act like they never acted in any other show before: some of their lines were either rushed, slow, lacking emotion, over-the-top emotion, or flat. It's almost unwatchable.

It's a really nice concept that takes city kids into the country and would be a precursor to shows like Salute Your Shorts and Camp Lazlo, but the show has aged poorly. It's extremely cheesy, dull, and forgettable. I would not recommend Hey Dude to anyone.

That's all for now. Hope to see you around Old School Lane soon. Take care.


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