“It’s a little wild and a little strange, when you make your home out on the range…” Do you remember Hey Dude, a show that aired on Nickelodeon from 1989 to 1991? I used to watch it every afternoon after school, and I’ve enjoyed reminiscing about it today. If you have a few minutes, join me for a memory walk down the dusty road to the Bar None Ranch.
Hey Dude was Nickelodeon’s first original live action television series, and aired as part of its teen-oriented afternoon lineup, which as I recall also included Salute Your Shorts and Nick Rocks. Hey Dude was entertaining, and more importantly for a tween girl, had a few cute guys in the cast. Its characters and some of the plots seem awfully familiar to Saved by the Bell, but the cast of that more popular show was actually much younger at the time this one began. That being said, perhaps there is just a lot of common ground on any teen sitcom: a goofy authority figure, an arrogant but popular cute guy, a beautiful rich girl, a dorky dweeb, etc.
- The Plot: Mr. Ernst, a former accountant, buys the Bar None Ranch and moves there from New York City with his son Buddy, in an attempt to escape big city life and the pressures of his job. He hires a handful of teenagers for the summers, and they have various adventures, disagreements, and romances during their time on the staff. I came across this interesting website today that gives a “then and now” photo tour of the show’s set. (It was filmed on location on the grounds of a real dude ranch outside Tucson, Arizona named the Tanque Verde Guest Ranch.)
- The Characters
- Mr. Ernst – This bumbling, balding, bespectacled boss man was the closest thing to an authority figure at the ranch. I just remember him being a big dork. The actor who played him, David Brisbin, has had the most successful post-Hey Dude acting career of any of the cast. Over the past 18 years he has appeared on several tv shows, including The X-Files, Bones, ER, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and Brothers and Sisters.
- Lucy – She was the only other adult working at the ranch, and she supposedly appeared in all but one episode (I don’t remember her that well, but I guess a grownup lady wouldn’t have been on my radar). Debrah Kalman, the actress who played Lucy, never did any other major acting work, something that is true of most of the cast.
- Buddy – If Mr. Ernst was this show’s Mr. Belding, then Buddy is the dude ranch’s Screech. He was annoyingly dorky, and in the early episodes always had his trusty dog Cassie by his side (I hated the shot of Buddy and his dog in the opening credits – it was so cheesy). I suppose Buddy was supposed to be the pre-teen boy who aspired to be like the cool older kids who worked for his dad. The actor, Josh Tygiel, didn’t do any acting beyond this show.
- Danny – Like Lucy, I don’t remember Danny very well at all. He was an easygoing (read: boring) Hopi Indian who also appeared in all but one episode. I must have been totally fixated on the cute guys! Joe Torres, who played Danny, has only appeared in one movie since his role on Hey Dude – he was in a movie called Groove, released in 2000, about a giant rave in San Francisco. Sounds more exciting than his role on this show!
- Ted – Ted was my favorite character. He was the flirtatious troublemaker who had an on again, off again romance with Brad. I was disappointed when he had to leave the dude ranch to attend summer school, but he eventually returned. Of the teen cast, David Lascher has had arguably the most successful acting career. He played Josh on the tv show Clueless, another Josh on the longer running Sabrina the Teenage Witch, a boyfriend on Blossom, and one of the many cute guys in the movie White Squall.
- Brad – I’ve never heard of another girl named Brad besides this character. She was the stereotypical spoiled little rich girl, who just so happened to be an excellent horse trainer. I always wondered why the guys were more interested in her than in sweet and cute Melody. Actress Kelly Brown left acting after Hey Dude to focus on starting a family. According to Wikipedia, she remains good friends with the actress who played Lucy.
- Melody – Earlier, I said that David Lascher has had arguably the most successful career, because Christine Taylor is right there with him in terms of her movie and tv credits. But she is probably more well known for being married to Ben Stiller than for her roles in Friends, The Wedding Singer, Zoolander, Arrested Development, etc. Her most memorable movie role was as Marcia Brady in The Brady Bunch Movie and A Very Brady Sequel. She was a fantastic and hilarious Marcia. Back on her breakout role as Melody, she was the sweet, down to earth Melody, who worked as a lifeguard at the dude ranch.
- Jake – Jake is described on Wikipedia as Mr. Ernst’s nephew, “an eccentric slacker who likes to play the drums.” I don’t remember that about him, but I do remember that he was Ted’s replacement. Actor Jonathan Galkin never did any other notable acting work, but he has found success as the label manager for DFA Records.
- Kyle – Kyle was the tall, skinny cowboy who showed up in later episodes, and he became a romantic rival of Ted’s, as they were both interested in Brad.
- The Theme Song – I used to belt out this theme song at the beginning of every show, right down to the ridiculous voice over about “man-eating jackrabbits and killer cacti.” Do you remember all the words? Click here to listen.
- It’s a little wild and a little strange…
when you make your home out on the range.
So, start your horse and come along.
‘Cause you can’t get a ride if you can’t hold on.
Singin’ yippee kai aie ay. (Yippee kai aie what?)
Like the cowboys say. (Sing it again now.)
Yippee kai aie ay.
‘Till the break of day.
(You’d better watch out for those man-eating jackrabbits… And that killer cacti!)
- It’s a little wild and a little strange…
Since I couldn’t find the theme song and opening credits on YouTube, I’ll leave you with this “tribute” of sorts to the show, which is sung to the tune of “Hey Jude.” I appreciated the short clips from the show, as well as the references to other Nickelodeon shows. This is definitely a video that will only be appreciated by others who grew up watching these shows. Enjoy! To those who weren’t there, I apologize. On this video, the guy asks if anyone can remember a single plot from the show, and I actually do. Well, in bits and pieces. I remember an episode where Brad and Ted ended up handcuffed to each other for some reason, and another one where Brad, Ted, and Kyle all played miniature golf together. That’s all I’ve got. What do you remember about the show?