On September 2 1990, just in time for the beginning of my junior year of high school, Fox debuted a new show called Parker Lewis Can’t Lose. With cautious optimism I, along with millions of other American teenage girls, watched and calculated whether or not we’d have to make room on our walls next to Corey Haim and Jason Bateman for a Corin Nemic “Tiger Beat” poster. The next day, pushpins in hand, I started making new holes in that wall.
With Ferris Buehler still fresh in our minds, and starving for some teen comedy after years of The Golden Girls, Roseanne and Cheers, Parker Lewis showed up just in time to offer some blatant silliness with memorable characters, timely jokes and creative effects. Taking place at Santo Domingo High School, Parker (Corin Nemec) who narrates the show, and his two partners in crime, Mikey (Billy Jayne, better known as Billy Jacoby) and freshman Jerry (Troy W. Slaten) use their individual talents for troublemaking in their quest for coolness, while dodging the ever watchful school principal, Grace Musso (Melanie Chartoff) and her figurative lap dog, Frank. Yes, that’s right, Musso and Frank.
Also trying to thwart Parker and company is little sister Shelly Lewis (Maia Brewton) and her eyebrows, which did not receive separate credit. Perhaps one of the best loved characters from the series is Larry Kubiac (Abraham Benrubi) as the gentle giant who may have spent a little longer in high school than the rest of them. With great catchphrases like “not a problem,” “synchronize swatches,” and “coolness,” Parker Lewis and his hideous rayon printed dress shirts became a television staple for the younger demographic in the early 90’s.
My feelings about this long overdue 4 disc/ 26 episode DVD release are mixed. Finally, all of the first season episodes are available and I can re-live my 21 Jump Street inspired teen years with inappropriate fantasies of Corin Nemec and his contemporaries. Here’s the thing though, that’s really about all there is in this DVD set. Sure, there are a few episodes with commentaries, and there’s a bonus featurette, The History of Coolness: A look at “Parker Lewis Can’t Lose” but that’s it.
Where are the deleted scenes, the gag reel, the cast interviews and the screensaver? C’mon! I’ve been waiting for 20 years for this? I’ve had an Amazon.com alert set up for over five years and when I finally get the “Parker Lewis is available on DVD email” this is what they bring me? Well, I suppose I should just be happy with finally having the first season episodes at my fingertips, but I’m still a little disappointed. If you’ve never seen this show and you appreciate goofy, adolescent comedy with ridiculous special effects like Frank “beaming” in and out of a scene Star Trek style, then give it a shot.
Young kids will love the antics and humor while those of us who remember Vanilla Ice and most of the punch lines associated with his moniker will dig the references to 90’s politics and celebrities. Overall, a great show with an endearing cast and even a lesson or two thrown in for good measure. In a word, “coolness.”