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 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.
Cast and characters
Parker Lloyd Lewis (played by Corin Nemec) - Smart guy with a penchant for garish shirts and cutting classes. Parker usually has a plan up his sleeve, and they in turn usually involve outsmarting someone else. Plans put into effect begin with the command: "Synchronise 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 settled down with one girl, Annie, and appearing more mature and less reliant on his "not a problem" attitude.
Michael Patrick "Mikey" Randall (played by Billy Jayne) - Rock and roll rebel without a cause. 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 2), 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 he had feelings for to be broadcast before the entire school, resulting in embarrassment for him.
Jerry Steiner (played by Troy Slaten) - 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 in order 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; Parker's arch-nemesis, five foot five, said to be in her mid thirties but actually older. Wants to get Parker expelled. Often 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 (ep 6), 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: 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 will also team 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, in his own words: "young hoodlum". It is shown that he graduated from Santo Domingo High School as well and had two friends that 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 1 and Mary Ellen Trainor in the pilot episode and seasons 2-3) - 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) - a.k.a. "Kube". 6 ft 7 ins and 270 lbs, he is built like a dinosaur with a brain to match, yet with a surprisingly sweet disposition. While walking, Kubiac causes earth tremors. His favourite 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 à la "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 (ep 9), wears black and seems to have a telepathic connection to the principal. 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). Parker's love interest from the middle of the second season to the show's end.
Dr. Norman Pankow (played by Gerrit Graham) - The principal of El Corrado High School with a doctorate in penology. 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. Seasons 1 & 2.
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) - Appeared in the show's final season. He works as a bricklayer, 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.
On June 30, 2009, Shout! Factory released the complete first season of Parker Lewis Can't Lose on DVD in Region 1. 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. 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.
In Spain, the show aired on Canal Sur, Telemadrid, ETB 1 (in Basque), TV3 (as L'imperdible Parker Lewis (The unmissable Parker Lewis)), Canal 9 as Parker Lewis Nunca Pierde (Parker Lewis Never Loses). It was much later rerun in Cuatro.
In Sweden, the show aired on SVT, as 'Parker Lewis'