The cast of Nickelodeon's "Hey Dude" reunited after 25 years
"Hey Dude" was Nickelodeon's first scripted show
It was the first time the group was together since the show wrapped in 1991
In the summer of 1989, Nickelodeon debuted its first scripted sitcom, which followed an Arizona dude ranch owner and the teens he employed for the summer. A lovably goofy concept even then, “Hey Dude” ran for 65 episodes and ultimately helped define Nick’s programming for the next 25 years. It’s since become a cult classic that would find new life on the Internet and on DVD, with reruns still getting airtime.
Cast and crew members of the beloved comedy reunited in honor of the show’s 25th anniversary in Austin, Texas, for the third annual ATX Television Festival. It marked the first time the group had sat down together since the show wrapped filming in 1991. The “Hey Dude” gang sat down with both fans and reporters for an afternoon of questions, anecdotes and memories.
David Lascher, who portrayed lovable troublemaker Ted McGriff, said he was taken aback when he saw his cast mates.
“It’s so nice to see everybody. It’s just a flood of amazing memories,” he says. “Everyone looks great, seems happy. I can’t believe it’s been so long.”
Christine Taylor, who played bubbly girl-next-door Melody Hanson, said her kids played in the same gym class as Lascher’s at one point, but it has been difficult to keep in contact with everyone.
“Some of us did stay in touch, but it was back in the day when we all left, and we didn’t have e-mail addresses,” she says. “If you moved and you weren’t responsible with your address book, you lost touch.”
Series writer Alan Goodman went on to write and produce 1990s Nick hits “Clarissa Explains It All” and “The Mystery Files of Shelby Woo,” and opens up about why “Hey Dude” remains close to the hearts of everyone involved.
“None of us had any experience at all before this,” Goodman said, “so it’s something we all do remember fondly.”
Taylor said some memories of the show’s aesthetics continue to make her cringe – especially when it comes to the wardrobe.
“I don’t even think that was cool then! I don’t remember pleated khaki shorts belted with a shirt and a bolero being cool – even for people who lived on a dude ranch,” she says.
But Debrah Kalman, who co-starred as ranch mother figure Lucy, said she took some of the costumes home after the show wrapped and wears them to this day.
The youngest star, Josh Tygiel, got the role of the skateboarding Buddy after responding to an open call notice in a local Tucson newspaper. Tygiel lived at home during the show’s filming, but as Taylor recalls, the rest of the cast were in much closer quarters.
“Being away from home, we bonded very quickly. We were at the Ramada Inn, and then we upgraded to the Radisson Suites.”
There were two major absences from the reunion: Kelly Brown, who portrayed strong-minded rich girl Brad Taylor, and Joe Torres, who played the easy-going Danny. Brown had to pull out at the last minute due to a family emergency – and no one in the group is still in contact with Torres or clued in to his whereabouts.
“We don’t really know,” Goodman said. “We just know the same rumors that everybody else knows that reads the Internet. There was a rumor he died, there was a rumor he was selling cars in New Jersey, but I don’t know if anybody has confirmed any of these things. He’s been hard to find.”
Taylor and Torres visited the former Bar None Dude Ranch set in Tucson together a year or two after the show wrapped. Although not as run-down as it appears in a recently uploaded fan visit, Taylor said it was depressing nonetheless.
“It was really sad. It was all still standing, but it just all looked decrepit. Pieces were taken, everything was stripped down.”
The cast members now have children of their own, and have had a variety of experiences introducing “Hey Dude” to a new generation.
“A few years ago, somebody contacted me and said they’re rerunning all the episodes, so I DVR’d them for my children,” says Lascher. “My oldest, who was probably like 8 at the time, really loved it. She totally was into it!”
It wasn’t quite the same positive reaction for Jonathan Galkin, who joined the show as series regular Jake Decker in Season 3.
“I bought the DVDs and showed them to my children, but their eyes glazed over,” recalls Galkin. “They did not think it was funny.”
The cast and crew are mostly in agreement a reboot of the series doesn’t sound like a good idea, with or without the original characters. For Taylor, “Hey Dude” worked so well in part because of the time it aired.
“Nowadays, a reboot would be so different. There’s something very simple about the show,” she says. “It was just these kids on a dude ranch navigating their way through these simple issues. I don’t think it would be cool to see Brad and Melody texting each other or Instagram-ing each other!”
Show writer Lisa Melamed says “Hey Dude” is still the most asked-about credit on her résumé, despite later work on critical favorites like “Party of Five” and “Sisters.”
“I’ve actually had people come up to me over the last few years … and say things like, ‘You shaped my childhood.’ It’s an amazing thing to hear!”
Of all the times people have recognized her from the show, Taylor said, one instance stands out.
“The year I was marrying my husband [actor/director Ben Stiller], we’re at a party, and this sort of L.A., blonde type comes up to me and says, ‘Oh my god! Melody from “Hey Dude”.’ And I said, ‘Oh my god, you know “Hey Dude”?’ And she said, ‘Yeah. I’m Paris Hilton.’ And that was the first time I met Paris Hilton.”