DVD Review: Hey Dude (The Complete Series)

Once upon a time there was a cable channel called Nickelodeon who realized that after 9 o’clock their intended audience of children had gone to bed. Thus they created Nick at Nite in 1985. This after dark time slot revived TV shows that grown ups remembered from their childhood. The good news is that now some of Nickelodeon’s daylight shows are finally ready to be part of your Nick at Nite viewing. It’s been over 25 years since Hey Dude aired as Nickelodeon’s first tween series before the network even realized tweens existed in 1989. If you were a tween when Hey Dude first aired, you’re now old enough to legally participate in a drinking game involving Mr. Ernst’s hat.

“Day One at the Bar None” sets up the series properly. Ben Ernst (David Brisbin) is a man who wants to recreate himself. He’s sick of working as an accountant in New York City. He’s dealing with a divorce. He wants to reconnect with real life and his son Buddy(Josh Tygiel). Ben reaches out for his childhood dream of being a cowboy. He buys the Bar None dude ranch and a ten gallon hat. Little does he know that there’s nothing relaxing about running the Bar None. Plus his son isn’t too happy about being away from Manhattan. At least he’ll get to make new friends with the summer staff. Ted McGriff (David Lascher) is the cocky senior staffer. He keeps flirting with Brad Taylor (Kelly Brown) as a guest. Brad is really the new riding instructor. Melody Hanson (Zoolander‘s Christine Taylor) is the swim instructor. Danny Lightfoot (Joe Torres) is the calming influence among the semi-troubling teens. Lucy (Debra Kalman) is the senior ranch hand who keeps the place orderly since Ernst isn’t quite ready to tall in the saddle.

The episodes deal with all the aspects of the show. Ernst’s finally getting a chance to live his cowboy dream. The relationship between Ernst and his son in their new world. Buddy feeling stuck in a dusty outpost of humanity. The staff coming into their own as teenagers. Their responsibilities as employees with people they need to watch and assist. They can’t let the customers drown or get bucked off the horses.

Hey Dude was the first true hit produced for Nickelodeon lasting.The series lasted three years and 65 episodes. It opened up the channel to produce more original shows aimed at teens instead of just rerunning episodes of Danger Mouse (which were cool). Rewatching the show gives a strong nostalgic buzz. Perhaps a fan in Manhattan will pick up Hey Dude: The Complete Series, quit their Wall Street job and buy a dude ranch to live Ernst’s dream?

The video is 1.33:1. The show was shot on standard definition video. The image looks fine for ’89 video. The audio is Dolby Digital mono. You’ll hear the horses clearly.

Interview with Christine Taylor (17:05) lets her recount her time in Tucson. Her original audition was for Brad. She’s now married to Ben Stiller.

Hey Dude: The Complete Series brings back the Bar None joy. This collection is a Walmart exclusive.

Shout! Factory presents Hey Dude: The Complete Series. Starring: David Brisbin, Kelly Brown, Geoffrey Coy, Jonathan Galkin, Debra Kalman, David Lascher & Christine Taylor. Contents: 65 episodes on 10 DVDs. Released: March 10, 2015.