Hey Dude is an American Western comedy series that aired from 1989 to 1991, with reruns continuing to air until early 1999 (though it briefly returned in June 2004 for a short time). It was Nickelodeon's second original live action television series, following the 1984 series Out of Control. The series was set on the fictional "Bar None Dude Ranch" near the city of Tucson, Arizona. It portrayed the lives of the ranch's owner, his son, a female ranch hand, and four teenage summer employees. Hey Dude was a comedy geared towards a teenage audience.
Ben Ernst is a divorced, good-natured, somewhat bumbling father from New Jersey, with glasses, a slight build, and a receding hairline. He bought the Bar None Dude Ranch seeking escape from his high-pressure job as a New York City accountant. His son, Buddy, was displeased with the change of locale, primarily because he couldn't skateboard on desert sand. Buddy had a pet dog named Cassie. Featured early in the series, Cassie disappeared after the first season.
The staff originally consisted of two boys and two girls. The boys were Ted, an enterprising troublemaker, and Danny, an easy-going Hopi Native American. The girls were girl-next-door Melody and rich girl Brad, from Grosse Pointe, Michigan, who often wore dressy designer outfits at work, but was a very competent horse-rider.
Her love-hate relationship with Ted was a plot thread during the first half of the series.
Ted later left the show for a time and was replaced by Ernst's nephew Jake, an eccentric slacker who liked to play the drums. Not long after, Kyle, a dim but handsome cowboy type, joined the cast.
Soon after that, Ted came back from summer school, and he and Kyle became romantic rivals for Brad. The show's only other featured adult was Lucy, a tough, authoritarian ranch hand. She is sometimes looked upon as a mother figure and the teens often asked her advice.
- David Brisbin as Benjamin Ernst, Sr., ranch owner who is also successful accountant in New Jersey.
- Kelly Brown as Bradley "Brad" Taylor, a riding instructor from a rich Grosse Pointe, Michigan family
- Debra Kalman as Lucy, ranch hand foreman and supervisor
- David Lascher as Ted McGriff, senior staff
- Christine Taylor as Melody Hanson, lifeguard and dance instructor from Allentown, Pennsylvania
- Joe Torres as Danny Lightfoot, a Hopi Indian. Torres was cast after auditioning in Tucson for the role.
- Geoffrey Coy as Kyle Chandler, Lucy's ex-boyfriend's son
- Jonathan Galkin as Jake Decker, Mr. Ernst's nephew from Los Angeles, California
- Josh Tygiel as Benjamin "Buddy" Ernst, Jr., Mr. Ernst's son who is spending the summer with his father in the ranch. Tygiel was one of 120 Tucson-area boys who auditioned for the series.
David Lascher and Joe Torres were nominated for a 1991 Young Artist Award in the Best Youth Variety or Game Show category for their roles on Hey Dude.
Hey Dude was videotaped on location at the Tanque Verde Guest Ranch near Tucson, Arizona. The show was produced by CineTel Films. Casting began in 1988 with local auditions held in Tucson. While most of the show was technically shot on the property of the Tanque Verde Guest Ranch, the familiar "ranch" that was known to television viewers was actually built from scratch, roughly a mile away from the main public areas. This was done so ranch guests would not be bothered by the production and to create buildings with a more "western" look, which was not offered by the relatively modern and luxurious Tanque Verde. The main lodge, boys/girls bunks, guest lodge (which doubled as cast dressing rooms) and the stable were all built specifically for the production. After the show wrapped physical production, the buildings were abandoned and several are still standing to this day, albeit in much disrepair. The exception to this, however, is the swimming pool that was frequently used on the show, which is actually the main pool for the Tanque Verde Guest Ranch and is still in use by guests.
- Nickelodeon (original run, July 14, 1989-August 30, 1991; reruns, August 31, 1991-January 23, 1999, June 4, 2004)
- The N/TeenNick (2002-2003, October 8, 2011-October 28, 2015)
- → Main article: Hey Dude episode list
The series produced 65 30-minute episodes in three years from 1989 to 1991. The episodes take place over the course of several consecutive summers, with cast members often recalling past pranks, years, staff members, that had roles in earlier summers.
|First aired||Last aired|
|1||13||July 14, 1989||October 6, 1989|
|2||13||October 13, 1989||January 26, 1990|
|3||13||April 6, 1990||June 29, 1990|
|4||13||September 7, 1990||December 14, 1990|
|5||13||June 6, 1991||August 30, 1991|
- → Main article: Hey Dude videography
The episode "Crush" was made available on the Nickelodeon Mushfest VHS in 1994. It was the only Hey Dude episode to ever be released on that format.
The first season of Hey Dude became available for download from the iTunes Store on July 29, 2008. The second season became available on August 2010, and the third season became available for download on November 29, 2011 (but was missing an episode).
In 2011, Hey Dude was one of several Nickelodeon shows licensed to Shout! Factory for DVD release; notably, it was the only live-action Nickelodeon show they got the license for, and also the only one that had not previously been released in manufacture-on-demand DVDs on Amazon.com. Shout! released the first season, including a new interview with Christine Taylor, on DVD on July 19th. The second season was released on DVD on January 31, 2012, and the third season followed on June 19th of the same year. In 2013, the fourth and fifth seasons were released as Shout! Select titles (available for purchase only from Shout! Factory's website) on April 9th and July 16th, respectively. The season sets were repackaged as a Complete Series set, initially sold as a Walmart exclusive, on March 10, 2015.