I can still remember episodes - or at least parts of episodes - as if I'd watched them last week. It's remarkable to see the difference with children's programming these days - "Hey Dude" isn't going to win any awards for writing, but the writing was at least clever and cared to craft an engaging story, which is more than can be said with the bright, loud obnoxiousness that passes for a lot of tween programming these days.
"Hey Dude" begins as most pilots do with introductions - as the old and new staffers arrive at the Bar None Ranch, they start to get a feel for how their summer will go. Regulars Ted, Melody and Danny learn that the ranch was just taken over by Mr. Ernst (David Brisbin), who has a younger son, Buddy (Josh Tygiel) who'd rather be anywhere else. They also meet the newest addition to the staff, Brad, who arrived in a limo, but isn't quite what she seems. Ted is instantly taken with Brad, and throughout the series, tries to impress her, often falling short.
There are a lot of memorable episodes here (and thankfully all 13 from season one are include) such as "The Competition" where Melody and Brad want to be in charge of a camping trip, but in order to decide who gets the job they'll have to compete against one another. And worst still, Ted sets up the competition and is their judge. Another enjoyable episode is "Ted and Brad Get Handcuffed." Ted uses real handcuffs to attach himself to Brad (thinking they're one of Buddy's trick cuffs), which they unfortunately don't have the keys to. In "Employee of the Week," when Mr. Ernst announces he's going to elect an "employee of the week," Ted, Danny, Brad and Melody compete to win the title, especially Ted and Melody who end up making a bigger mess of things, especially with each other.
Sure, "Hey Dude" has some cliché episodes, a good amount of slapstick, some emotional moments, but it's also got a great deal of genuine charm. The actors all deliver classic, endearing performances that border on unseasoned and natural. The look of the series is certainly dated, and the quality leaves something to be desired, but it doesn't take away from the series. And if nothing else, watch "Hey Dude" for a nod to all things early 90's - especially the clothes.
So was "Hey Dude" great television? In the fundamental sense, not really. However, many who grew up with the series will likely find it a bit of comfort food. Fans who spent the early nineties watching the group at Bar None, and who memorized the opening theme song will likely be more than pleased with the ability to take a look back at the series. This DVD is great for fans familiar with the series, but it's worth a look for younger audiences looking for something to watch.
1-01 06/Aug/89 Day One at the Bar None
1-02 13/Aug/89 Battle of the Sexes
1-03 20/Aug/89 Goldilocks
1-04 27/Aug/89 Ted's Saddle
1-05 03/Sep/89 The Competition
1-06 10/Sep/89 Rehearsal for Romance
1-07 17/Sep/89 Perfect Father
1-08 24/Sep/89 The Good, the Bad and the Obnoxious
1-09 01/Oct/89 Rainmen
1-10 08/Oct/89 Ted and Brad Get Handcuffed
1-11 15/Oct/89 Suspicion
1-12 22/Oct/89 Employee of the Week
1-13 29/Oct/89 Pain in the Neck
VIDEO: The series is presented by Paramount Home Entertainment in 1.33:1 full-frame by the studio. Image quality is perfectly acceptable - sharpness and detail aren't remarkable, but at least the picture never appeared noticeably soft or hazy. Some minor wear is seen on the elements, but the picture otherwise looks clean, with no shimmer, edge enhancement or other concerns. Colors appear bright and warm, with very pleasing saturation and no smearing.
SOUND: The show's Dolby 2.0 soundtrack is perfectly pleasant, but understandably limited and dialogue-driven. Dialogue remained clean and clear throughout the shows.
EXTRAS: A 17 minute interview with Christine Taylor is included on the DVD. In the interview, Taylor shares a lot of information like how she originally auditioned for the Brad role, the auditioning process, as well as her priorities when she was filming the series. She also discusses filming locations, the filming schedule, some of the cast, directors, and more.
While it would have been nice to have additional features, the interview is definitely worth watching for fans new and old.
Final Thoughts: "Hey Dude" is goofy and occasionally cliched, but there's a charm to the performances and the writing is solid enough overall to create an engaging series that will likely delight fans both old and new. The price of $19.99 on the DVD is also reasonable.