Sunday, January 25, 2015

Nostalgia Theater: Parker Lewis Can't Lose -- The REAL Ferris Bueller Series

Last week I discussed the here-and-gone Ferris Bueller TV series that NBC briefly aired from fall of '90 to...slightly later in fall of '90. In a weird coincidence, the same month Ferris began its brief TV run, the Fox network (still in its infancy back then) began airing their own show that pretty shamelessly borrowed the style and approach of the beloved John Hughes film, and managed to last substantially longer not only during its initial run, but also in the collective consciousness. I'm talking about Parker Lewis Can't Lose. Here's the intro:

The title character was played by actor Corin Nemec. Like Ferris, Parker was the coolest kid at school, like Ferris he used his considerable charisma to get into and out of trouble, and like Ferris he used to clue us in via to-the-camera monologues directed at the audience. In point of fact, it was Ferris Bueller in all but name, and so it's kind of surprising that it worked as well as it did. Part of that was the fact that Nemec was a genuinely likable guy heading up a likable ensemble, and part of it was the clever writing that didn't talk down to its audience.

Along with The Simpsons and Married...With Children, Parker got off to a hot start, and its success proved an early feather in the cap for Fox, which was able to position itself as a home to hip, edgy comedy fare that contrasted with the laffers on the traditional nets. However, by the third year, ratings started to soften, the show's title was shortened to the less-memorable Parker Lewis (presumably he could lose now), and some of the buzz began to wear off. After seventy-three eps, Parker quietly ended in June of '93.

Despite the fact that it pretty much disappeared from the airwaves without enough episodes to syndicate, Parker Lewis Can't Lose has remained fairly beloved by the demo that grew up with it. After many years of delay, the first two seasons came to DVD in '09 (though not the third as of yet), and I was genuinely surprised by how well it held up. I mean, in terms of fashion sensibilities and pop culture references, it was dated pretty much instantly, but the storylines and overall humor, they still work. Check out the complete first episode below, and let the nostalgia flow:

One Year Ago in Nostalgia Theater: No Happy Days for Cartoon Fonzie

Two Years Ago in Nostalgia Theater: RoboCop Action Figures -- Part Man, Part Machine, All Inappropriate!

Three Years Ago in Nostalgia Theater: G.I. Joe Extreme

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