Of all the things that STILL have not been released on DVD, "Parker Lewis Can't Lose" has always remained one of the biggest surprises. Finally, the series is being released by Shout Factory (next request: someone release "It's Like...You Know" on DVD) and it's remarkable to see the '90's show again after all these years. "Parker Lewis" was a moderately successful (cult) series that felt a great deal like a TV version of "Ferris Bueller", and while a comparison to "Ferris" is saying a lot, the series still managed to feel like its own creation and not a copy of the John Hughes film.
The series focused on Lewis, a bright high school student who hangs out with Mikey Randall (Billy Jayne) and the nerdy Jerry Steiner (Troy Slaten). The three of them always managed to come up with a plan to get out of trouble, often thanks to a plan from Jerry or an item from within Jerry's coat.
Still, they have a force against them, including Principal Grace Musso (Melanie Chartoff), who has made it her mission to finally catch Lewis in the act. There's also Parker's kid sister, Shelly (Maia Brewton), whose smarts are largely put to use trying to get her older brother in trouble. Finally, the three have a reason to fear Larry Kubiac (Abraham Benrubi), a giant fellow student with an fearsome past and a more-than-intimidating presence.
While the show's loud shirts now look more than a little dated, I was pleasantly shocked to find that I actually appreciated the show even more as an adult than I did as a teenager. The writing of the series is clever and witty in a way that shows targeted towards this age group certainly haven't been in years. The plots are smart and often richly funny, and the series manages to be a bit more creative with its visual style (and overall surreal feel) than most shows of the time frame. Above it all, the performances are also superb, as the ensemble is perfectly cast - both with the leads and the supporting players (Chartoff makes for a fantastic villain.) Overall, it's truly a treat to have this wonderful show finally available on DVD.
1. 1- 1 2 Sep 90 Pilot
2. 1- 2 9 Sep 90 Operation Kubiak
3. 1- 3 16 Sep 90 Power Play
4. 1- 4 23 Sep 90 Parker Lewis Must Lose
5. 1- 5 30 Sep 90 Close, But No Guitar
6. 1- 6 7 Oct 90 G.A.G. Dance
7. 1- 7 14 Oct 90 Love's a Beast
8. 1- 8 21 Oct 90 Saving Grace
9. 1- 9 28 Oct 90 Musso & Frank
10. 1-10 4 Nov 90 Deja Dudes
11. 1-11 11 Nov 90 Radio Free Flamingo
12. 1-12 18 Nov 90 Science Fair
13. 1-13 2 Dec 90 Teacher, Teacher
14. 1-14 16 Dec 90 Rent-a-Kube
15. 1-15 13 Jan 91 Heather the Class
16. 1-16 3 Feb 91 Jerry: Portrait of a Video Junkie
17. 1-17 10 Feb 91 Splendor in the Class
18. 1-18 17 Feb 91 The Human Grace
19. 1-19 24 Feb 91 Citizen Kube
20. 1-20 10 Mar 91 Randall Without a Cause
21. 1-21 24 Mar 91 Jerry's First Date
22. 1-22 7 Apr 91 Against the Norm
23. 1-23 28 Apr 91 King Kube
24. 1-24 5 May 91 Teens from a Mall
25. 1-25 12 May 91 My Fair Shelly
26. 1-26 19 May 91 Parker Lewis Can't Win
VIDEO: "Parker Lewis Can't Lose" is presented by Shout Factory in 1.33:1 full-frame. The show looks a little mixed at first, but seems to improve as the season goes on. Sharpness and detail vary, as while there are definitely stretches that look soft, some episodes - again, especially as the season goes on - look crisper. While no edge enhancement or pixelation is noticed, some mild wear on the elements is occasionally seen, as is some light-to-moderate grain. Colors generally looked bright and well-saturated, but on a few occasions could appear a tad smeary. While there were certainly a few issues with the presentation of the nearly 20-year-old series, the overall impression was pretty good.
SOUND: The show's stereo audio sounded great, with clear dialogue and full, crisp music.
EXTRAS: Commentaries are included on a number of episodes with cast and/or crew. "The History of Coolness" is offered on the fourth and final disc. "History" is a great, nearly 30-minute look back at the series, with the cast and crew discussing stories from the set, their thoughts on the reaction to the series, the characters, the show's visual style and quite a bit more. Several crew members are interviewed, as well as much of the main cast.
Final Thoughts: Deeply funny and better than I'd even remembered, "Parker Lewis Can't Lose" is highly recommended for both fans and newcomers alike. The DVD set offers fine audio/video quality, as well as a nice set of extras.