Canned TV Show #7: Stacked
Pamela Anderson is very attractive. Yes, legion of followers, it’s true. She’s a pretty woman and she has large breasts. One might even say she’s…stacked? Oh ho ho I crack myself up. But I can’t take credit for that one unfortunately; the creators of Stacked already beat me to it. In fact, that crappy joke pretty much sums up any reason anyone would want to watch this “Pamela Anderson in a bookstore sitcom” (wow, I never thought I’d say that phrase), since its worth otherwise is pretty limited. It’s all standard sitcom silliness, but hampered by a lead actress who possesses very little in the way of comedic talent.
Ok, I’m getting ahead of myself. Created by Stephen Levitan (who co-created this year’s hilarious Modern Family, quite the jump in quality there), Stacked is a standard fish-out-of-water, workplace situation comedy that happens to take place in a bookstore. The fish in this case is Skylar (Anderson), fresh out of the sex and booze fueled waters of dating rock stars and partying every night. She comes into a bookstore conveniently called Stacked, looking for a book on relationships in order to dump her cheating rock star boyfriend. The store is run by brothers Gavin (Elon Gold) and Stuart (Brian Scolaro), two hopeless dorks who’ve never even been near a woman of Skylar’s staggering beauty. Gavin’s a failed writer stuck selling other people’s books, after a divorce from his she-devil of an ex (Paget Brewster). Stuart’s a tad less well rounded (if you can consider Gavin well rounded), and is mostly just a stereotypical nerd who can’t find a girl. Also populating the bookstore is barista Katrina (Marissa Jaret Winokur), a frumpy tomboy who also can’t find a mate, and Stuart (Christopher Lloyd, yes it’s the one you’re thinking of), a retired professor who apparently has nothing better to do than hang out there spouting one-liners all day. Together, they get into all sorts of generic sitcom mishaps, but somehow everything works out in the end
And there you have it, that’s the general outline of the show, and you can insert your own lame plotlines and chances are the show will use them at least once. I really don’t blame the cast for this (except Anderson), they’re all pretty solid comedic actors (except Anderson), it’s just that their characters are all pretty lame and don’t have much to make them interesting. Lloyd is as funny as the show gets; his delivery is worth a chuckle here and there, but it’s not enough to salvage it. Since I can’t seem to figure out how to embed clips from hulu, here’s a link to one that pretty much sums up the humor.
So as you can see, it’s all pretty lame banter, and considering they run a bookstore it certainly seems like an easy job, given the amount of time they have to deal with personal stuff. In fact, the fact that the show is set in a bookstore doesn’t amount to much; they could pretty much set it anywhere and it’d be about the same. I’m not asking for literary humor, God forbid, but it just seems like a lame excuse to have that silly play on words in the title. Anderson would pretty much be out of place anywhere that wasn’t a rock star’s bedroom, so the setting is pretty irrelevant.
Despite it’s brief run time, the show managed to rope in some pretty funny actors for guest appearances here and there, including Arrested Development‘s Tony Hale, Reno 911‘s Thomas Lennon, and Freaks and Geeks‘ John Francis Daley, who can’t seem to find steady work these days. There’s also appearances from Jenny McCarthy, Carmen Electra, and Anderson’s real-life ex-hubby Kid Rock, who’s actually kind of funny as a creepy UPS guy. What was it that drew them to this show? Hale was still on Development at the time, and I’m sure many of the others had careers of their own they could’ve been focusing on. Maybe it was the chance to work with Pamela Anderson? I guess that must be it.
That could be one of my biggest issues with Stacked, it feels like it exists solely as a showcase for Anderson’s non-existent talent. We know she can’t carry a movie, Barb Wire proved that, so what made them think she could carry a whole TV series? Admittedly, she’s not as terrible here as she was in the aforementioned film, but she doesn’t have the timing to headline a series. A lot of comedians work for years to have the chance to star in a series, and the fact that Anderson produced a show that she could star in rings pretty hollow. Also, maybe it’s the fact that laugh tracks usually have an opposite effect on me, but the one for this show feels copious even for a series with real laughs. And do laugh tracks really make home viewers laugh more? To me they’re just distracting; I find myself thinking: why are they laughing so hard at this? At most it gets a chuckle, that’s about it. The funniest ones are ones where Anderson, surprisingly, takes a backseat to a story about one of the other characters, or offers some input in a plot that does not belong to her. If the series was more willing to do that more often, it might not have been so bad. But then again, Anderson is really the only reason anyone watched the show in the first place. It certainly wasn’t Elon Gold, who looks like a geekier version of Glenn Howerton from It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Though he’s not a bad comedic actor.
One of the other sad aspects of the show is that no one, not even the funnier actors, has done much after the show ended. Winokur was on Dancing with the Stars one time, but didn’t win. Gold and Scolaro have had guest appearances in stuff, but nothing too solid. The fact that Scolaro went on to play a bit part in The Brothers Solomon is beyond depressing. Lloyd was recently in a video on funny or die that was pretty hilarious, but something tells me Stacked was his last real meaty live-action role. It’s a real shame, given that Lloyd is a legend for playing Doc Brown and Uncle Fester, but at least he has those to add to his legacy, hopefully to blot out this, Fly me to the Moon, Flakes, and a handful of other bad late career decisions.
So, should it be back on the air? Heavens no. I think nineteen episodes was plenty long for this vanity project to go on. The series ends on a really sour note that I won’t go into (if, for some strange reason you feel possessed to watch it), but it’s certainly not closure, especially considering the show introduced a couple possible romances for the future. Honestly though, I could care less.
If you feel compelled to see it, you can watch the whole thing, courtesy of our friends at hulu here: http://www.hulu.com/stacked
Come back next time, when I’ll be reviewing the recent canned series Aliens in America! I’ve heard good things, but we’ll see if it holds up to my scrutiny.