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.
Season one opened at the Bar None Ranch with the returning staff discovering that the ranch was just taken over by Mr. Ernst (David Brisbin). Not only is Mr. Ernst the new owner, he also has a younger son, Buddy (Josh Tygiel) who'd rather be anywhere else. Newcomer Brad, who arrived in a limo, set out to prove she wasn't the girl everyone thought. And Ted was instantly taken with her, trying to impress her and often falling short. The first season was pleasant and fun with lots of memorable moments that followed the gang as they experienced another adventurous summer on the ranch.
Fans will be happy to know that season two was just released, and with that comes a whole new collection of memorable episodes. The majority of season two - much like season one - focuses on the group in some sort-of competition, or as individuals facing a personal challenge. Much like the season one DVD, season two offers thirteen episodes. Unfortunately there are no additional features with this DVD. It would have been fun to have some commentaries or more interviews, but fans may appreciate having the episodes, with or without any additional features.
"Battle of a Hundred Bucks," is a fun episode that starts with a note from a guest stating he's leaving a hundred dollars for the two staffers who made his stay so nice. The only problem is, Danny and Ted are convinced it's for them, whereas Melody and Brad are certain it's for them. In order to solve their problem, they decide to make a bet: whoever can come up with the most fun way to spend the money, gets to keep it. It's episodes like this that really set the tone for "Hey Dude." This isn't a series that is heavy handed, smoothly steering the episodes towards tying everything up with a solution and a lesson or two.
There are some episodes that have minor teenage drama like "Bunkmate Battles" where Brad moves out of their bunk after fighting with Melody about their different habits (Brad is clean and wants to read, Melody is messy and makes noise) and "Loose Lips" where Melody tells Ted one of Brad's secrets, which leads to more secrets getting revealed, as well as everyone's trust being put to the test.
Of course, there are also episodes that reach slightly beyond teenage dilemmas, like "Our Little Champion," where Mr. Ernst and Ted try to make money off of Melody's training for the Olympics. Also, "Ghost Stories" where Ted scares everyone, but no one can seem to scare him. From episodes testing friendships, to Mr. Ernst thinking of selling the ranch ("Cowboy Ernst") to Buddy thinking he sees an alien at Bar None ("Take Me To Your Leader"), "Hey Dude" is always entertaining.
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.
2-01 13/Oct/89 Loose Lips
2-02 20/Oct/89 Battle of a Hundred Bucks
2-03 27/Oct/89 Our Little Champion
2-04 03/Nov/89 Bunkmate Battles
2-05 10/Nov/89 Crash Landing
2-06 17/Nov/89 Ghost Stories
2-07 01/Dec/89 Teacher's Pest
2-08 08/Dec/89 Treasure Teens
2-09 15/Dec/89 Dan The Man
2-10 05/Jan/90 Superstar
2-11 12/Jan/90 Bar None Babysitter
2-12 19/Jan/90 Cowboy Ernst
2-13 26/Jan/90 Take Me to Your Leader
VIDEO: The series is presented by Shout Factory 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.
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.