Aug 14, 2015

Parker Lewis Can't Lose

The 1980s was the era of the teen operator, the teenager who works behind the scenes, enraging tyrannical assistant principals and college deans.  He starred in virtually every TGIF sitcom, from Family Ties to Growing Pains; he used his stealth to save the day in Toy Soldiers; he ruled the school in Ferris Bueller's Day Off.

Parker Lewis Can't Lose (1990-93) was a late entry in the teen operator canon, a Ferris Bueller clone that aired on Fox on Sunday nights.

Parker (Corin Nemec, left) ruled the school with flashy costumes and surreal antics, along with his bud, the uber-cool Mikey Randall (Billy Jayne, previously Billy Jacoby, below), and their  nerdish protege Jerry Steiner (Troy W. Slaten).




They had several allies, including inarticulate man-mountain Kube (Abraham Benrubi) and Nick Comstock (Paul Johannson), manager of their diner hangout.

And several nemeses, including the cartoon-villain principal Grace Musso (Melanie Chartoff), who was obsessed with men with "big hands," and her vampiric crony, Lemmer (Taj Johnson), who could appear and disappear at will.

There was a lot of heterosexism; about half of the episodes involve somebody trying to get with a heterosexual crush.

But Parker and Mikey made a cute couple, with Jerry as their surrogate son, and later Kube found a soulmate in the obese Coach Kohler (John Pinette), in spite of their respective hetero-crushes.


In the third season, hunky bricklayer Brad Penny (Harold Pruett) became interested in Parker, and tried to win his "friendship."  When Parker rejected him, he got revenge by stealing Jerry, who dropped  out of school to join him in the career of bricklaying.











After Parker Lewis, Corin Nemec had a stable career, mostly playing sleazoids: two serial killers, an Adolph Hitler lookalike, and "himself" (in the webseries Star-Ving with buddy David Faustino).

He was the associate producer of the evangelical Christian film Hidden Secrets (2006), and starred as an ex-gay guy who can't accept God's forgiveness for his sinful past.  Yuck.

Billy Jayne had some acting and directing credits, but he's better known now as a commercial producer.

Troy Slaten is now an attorney.