Parker Lewis Can't Lose

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Parker Lewis Can't Lose
Parkerlewis.jpg
Season Three cast of Parker Lewis Can't Lose
Also known as Parker Lewis
Genre Teen sitcom
Created by Clyde Phillips
Lon Diamond
Starring Corin Nemec
Troy Slaten
Billy Jayne
Melanie Chartoff
Taj Johnson
Abraham Benrubi
Maia Brewton
John Pinette
Composer(s) Dennis McCarthy
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
No. of seasons 3
No. of episodes 73 (list of episodes)
Production
Executive producer(s) Clyde Phillips
Producer(s) Alan Cross
Russell Marcus
Larry Phillips
Larry Shaw
Bryan Spicer
John Ziffren
Camera setup Single-camera
Running time 30 minutes
Production company(s) Clyde Phillips Productions
Columbia Pictures Television
Distributor Columbia TriStar Television
Sony Pictures Television
Release
Original network Fox
Original release September 2, 1990 (1990-09-02) – June 13, 1993 (1993-06-13)

Parker Lewis Can't Lose is an American teen sitcom that originally aired on FOX from September 1990 to June 1993. During the last season, the series sported the simpler title Parker Lewis. The series was produced by Columbia Pictures Television and was strongly influenced by the feature film Ferris Bueller's Day Off. In competition, NBC debuted the film's TV spinoff Ferris Bueller, but it only lasted 13 episodes, even though it aired during the same month as Parker Lewis.

Premise[edit]

The series depicts the tribulations of the title character Parker Lewis, a Santo Domingo High School student, for whom nothing is impossible. Parker often narrates in shows. Just like his best friends Jerry Steiner and Mikey Randall and (in the second half of the series) Parker's girlfriend Annie Sloan, his prime concern is achieving and maintaining coolness.

However, their efforts are often thwarted by Parker's little sister Shelly and principal Grace Musso. Apart from various aspects of teenage life, embedded in a surreal, living-cartoon-like quality and the clever camera angles and filming techniques (dissolves from one scene to the next were done by ever larger pixels), an episode regularly contains more or less subtle references to movies, politics, and celebrities. The surrealism was toned down in the series' final season, with even Parker acknowledging this fact by breaking the 4th wall and 'canceling' a dissolving pixel scene. The 3,100 students at Santo Domingo High School are called Flamingos, after their school mascot, and the school motto is "E Pluribus Flamingus", clearly mimicking the famous USA's motto E Pluribus Unum.

Episodes[edit]

Season Episodes First aired Last aired
1 26 September 2, 1990 May 19, 1991
2 25 August 11, 1991 May 17, 1992
3 22 July 16, 1992 June 13, 1993

Characters[edit]

Main[edit]

  • Parker Lloyd Lewis (played by Corin Nemec) – A smart guy with a penchant for garish shirts and cutting classes, Parker usually has a plan up his sleeve, and in turn it usually involves outsmarting someone else. Plans put into effect begin with the command: "Synchronize Swatches." Parker is famous for his catch phrase, "Not a problem," which he often says when faced with trouble. He and his two "buds" have their high-tech headquarters hidden above the gym. In the final season, Parker finally settles down with one girl, Annie, and appears more mature and less reliant on his "Not a problem" attitude.
  • Michael Patrick "Mikey" Randall (played by Billy Jayne) – A rock and roll rebel without a cause and by far the most emotionally driven of the trio, he often quotes or paraphrases famous songs (for example, "To quote Don Henley, this is 'The End of the Innocence'" (episode two), or suggesting to "Paint It, Black" when Jerry betrays the group's trust). Mikey at one point considered dropping out of school at Santo Domingo HS when a prank by Shelly causes Mikey to unknowingly play a love song he composed for a girl for whom he had feelings to be broadcast before the entire school, resulting in embarrassment for him.
  • Jerry Steiner (played by Troy Slaten) – A stereotypical nerd, in the first two seasons, he wears a trench coat (said to be made by NASA) from which he produces almost any object imaginable, apparently fixed inside with Velcro. He addresses everyone formally by last name, e.g., "Mr. Lewis", "Mr. Randall", and even "Mr. Kubiac", or collectively as "sirs". At the end of the credits of the pilot episode, Jerry hid in the locker next to Parker's, talking endlessly to Parker through the door, not knowing that he had left, causing him to plaintively call out: "Mr. Lewis? Mr. Randall? Mr. Phillips? (Clyde Phillips, the series' creator and executive producer) Hello?" Jerry is also known to sometimes utter eek! like a mouse when in danger. One notable episode dealt with Parker and Mikey confiscating Jerry's trench coat for him to stop hiding and get to know a female nerd as a potential girlfriend.
  • Grace Musso (played by Melanie Chartoff) – Principal of Santo Domingo High, she is Parker's arch-nemesis; at five foot five, she is said to be in her mid-thirties, but is actually older. She wants to get Parker expelled. Often, she breaks the glass on her office door when she makes her distinctive "thumb swoosh" gesture. She has a racy side which is sometimes exposed; her turn-ons include beards and large hands. She was portrayed as a spinster at first, but seemed to have a skill in men, one time having dated an officer of each of the armed forces. She has many secrets which she would rather be kept quiet, such as living in a $600,000 house on a $38,000 a year salary (episode six), which Parker uses as the necessity arises. However, Parker's blackmail ideas have sometimes backfired on him; one of his actions resulted in Musso's suspension. When a tougher principal is brought in to replace her, Parker cannot handle it going "from bad to worse", and works to get Musso reinstated.
  • Shelly Ann Lewis (played by Maia Brewton) – Parker's other nemesis, she is his little sister, who attends the same school as a freshman. She likes to manipulate teachers and parents to her benefit and tries to get Parker into trouble. Shelly also teams up with Musso if she sees a chance to ruin Parker. Most of the time, she is on friendly terms with Jerry and the two seem to end up in a constant relationship at the end of the series. Her favorite saying is: "My brother is a dead man!" whenever she finds an opportunity to bring Parker into an embarrassing situation. She has a tendency to call out "Mom!" when Parker gets one over on her, as seen at the start or end of various programs.
  • Martin Lloyd "Marty" Lewis (played by Timothy Stack) – Parker's father, he owns a video rental store called Mondo Video with his wife, and is helped by Parker and Shelly on weekends. He tries hard to keep some of the coolness that he had in his own school days when he was a self-described "young hoodlum". It is shown that he graduated from Santo Domingo High School, as well, and had two friends who were similar to Jerry and Mikey. Martin also had played mean pranks on Grace Musso, who had been a classmate of his at Santo Domingo, hence explaining Musso's resentment of Parker. The role of Mr. Lewis was played by Sherman Howard in the pilot episode.
  • Judy Lewis (played by Anne Bloom in season one and Mary Ellen Trainor in the pilot episode and seasons two and three) – Parker's mother, she can be loving and gentle, but if her family is threatened, she is ready for battle.
  • Francis Lawrence "Larry" Kubiac III (played by Abraham Benrubi) – Known as "Kube", at 6 ft 7 ins tall and 270 lb in weight, he is built like a dinosaur with a brain to match, yet with a surprisingly sweet disposition. While walking, Kubiac causes earth tremors. His favorite line is, "Eat now?" In the series' beginning, he was initially introduced as a pure bully, aggressive and hostile towards other characters, but within a few episodes, his character was quickly changed into a more benign and friendly one – a "gentle giant", and he quickly became a helpful character who would often help Parker and his friends in their schemes. Later, it becomes revealed in a moment of confidence with Parker that Larry is more intelligent than he appears and his dim-witted persona is merely an act.
  • Franklin "Frank" Lemmer (played by Taj Johnson) – Principal Musso's ultra-conservative sidekick and "lapdog" with vampiric tendencies, he has been in school 16 years (episode nine), wears black, and seems to have a telepathic connection to the principal and is obsessed with war, strategy, and politics. Musso can summon him with a dog whistle. He is able to teleport at will. Despite him largely being an adversary to Parker, at one time Parker actually agreed to help Frank Lemmer win over a girl named Denise (Andrea Elson), who suddenly turns out to be a blood relative of Grace Musso's. He was absent in the show's final season.
  • Annie Faith Sloan (played by Jennifer Guthrie) – She is Parker's love interest from the middle of the second season to the show's end.

Recurring[edit]

  • Dr. Norman Pankow (played by Gerrit Graham in seasons one and two) – The principal of El Corrado High School with a doctorate in penology, he is Musso's primary adult rival and a devotee of the sculpting of bonsai trees. As tough as Musso is, Pankow is regarded as far, far worse.
  • Nick Comstock (played by Paul Johansson) – Manager of the Atlas Diner during the second season, he is very attractive and possesses a supernatural ability to help people with their problems, often dishing out sage advice to Parker.
  • Bradley 'Brad' Penny (played by Harold Pruett) – He appeared in the show's final season. He works as a bricklayer, and is athletic and good-looking. Parker sees him as an nemesis, but Brad often only wants to be friends, though misunderstandings come between them. Shelly is intrigued by him.
  • Coach Hank Kohler (played by John Pinette). Joining during the show's final season, Hank Kohler served as a father figure for Larry Kubiac and the new owner of the Atlas Diner, which he finally loses in the show's final episode, "The Last Supper". He is obsessed with Grace Musso, who is completely repulsed by him.

Broadcast and syndication[edit]

The show premiered in syndication on September 14, 1993 on the USA Network.[1] As of February 2009, minisodes are available on Crackle. In late 2015 the show is airing in syndication on the Family Network on Saturday mornings.

DVD releases[edit]

On June 30, 2009, Shout! Factory released the complete first season of Parker Lewis Can't Lose on DVD in Region 1.[2] The 4-DVD set includes special features including exclusive interviews with the cast, crew, and creators. Although the cast and crew discuss both Melanie Chartoff and her character, Grace Musso, Chartoff herself does not appear in any of the supplementary materials. Shout! Factory released Season 2 on January 26, 2010.[3] Supplementary materials were fewer, and Chartoff also declined to participate. Shout! has said that they currently have no plans to release the final season on DVD in the US, citing the expense of music clearances and the disappointing sales of the second season. However, season 3 was released for the German market in April 2011 by German company Turbine Medien.

A German market Blu-Ray was released in 2015, but the show is not presented in HD, but rather in SD resolution.

DVD Name Ep # Release Date
The Complete First Season 26 June 30, 2009
The Complete Second Season 25 January 26, 2010

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Award Category Recipient Result
1991 Young Artist Award Best New Family Television Comedy Series Parker Lewis Can't Lose Nominated
Best Young Actress Starring in a New Television Series Maia Brewton Nominated
Best Young Actor Supporting or Re-Occurring Role for a TV Series Troy W. Slaten Nominated
1992 Young Artist Award Best Young Actor Starring in a Television Series Corin Nemec Nominated
Best Young Actress Starring in a Television Series Maia Brewton Nominated
1993 Young Artist Award Outstanding Young Comedian in a Television Series Corin Nemec Nominated
Best Young Actress Co-starring in a Television Series Maia Brewton Nominated
Best Young Actor Co-starring in a Television Series Troy W. Slaten Nominated

Internet support[edit]

Parker Lewis was one of the first shows with fan support on the Internet. It was done through an email list called The Flamingo Digest.[4] Several people from the list were invited to the set.[5]

Legacy[edit]

Several sitcoms that debuted in the beginning of the 21st century—such as Malcolm in the Middle, Ally McBeal, and Scrubs—were strongly influenced by Parker Lewis Can't Lose.[6]

Fall Out Boy released a song called "Parker Lewis Can't Lose (But I'm Going To Give It My Best Shot)" on their album Fall Out Boy's Evening Out with Your Girlfriend.

On SWV's 1992 debut album It's About Time, there is a song called "Blak Puddin'" which includes the line "Parker Lewis can't Lose in Santa Domingo."

References[edit]

  1. ^ "USA buys 'Facts,' 'Parker,' films. (USA Network; Columbia Pictures Television's shows 'Facts of Life' and 'Parker Lewis')". Multichannel News. Retrieved 2009-02-17. 
  2. ^ Lambert, David (February 16, 2009). "Parker Lewis Can't Lose Release Date, etc". tvshowsondvd.com. Retrieved 2009-04-18. 
  3. ^ http://tvshowsondvd.com/news/Parker-Lewis-Lose-Season-2/12788
  4. ^ "Publicly Accessible Mailing Lists". www.sen.ca.gov. December 18, 1993. Retrieved 2009-09-26. 
  5. ^ Troy Slaten (actor), Timothy Stack (actor). Parker Lewis Can't Lose, Season 1, Disc 2, Deja Dudes (commentary track) (DVD). Shout! Factory. Event occurs at 7:10. 
  6. ^ Justin (March 29, 2002). "Spawn of the Screen: Ferris Bueller's Day Off". Mutant Reviewers from Hell. Retrieved July 1, 2012. 

Similar shows[edit]

External links[edit]