Monday, May 16, 2005

Stacked: A Nice Rack of Books

Stacked, the new sitcom on Fox is an unusual creation in the world of sitcoms - it deftly combines stock humorous situations with product placement for, of all things, books, and Pamela Anderson.

The episodes thus far have been delightful. The bookstore owner, Gavin, is played by Elon Gold after Tom Scott was scrubbed prior to the pilot airing. Elon is a talented comic who once portrayed Howard on the Howard Stern show, and is much at home in his persona of a somewhat disoriented bookstore owner, author of a B-list book, and having to cope with the overblown Skyler, excellently, some might say surprisingly, portrayed by Pamela Anderson, who drops into the bookstore one day and takes up a job as an assistant.

The supporting characters thus far are well-detailed, and filled in by talented actors, such as the kid-friendly Christopher Lloyd as an absent-minded professor, Marissa Winokur("Hairspray") as Katrina, the cynical bookstore barista, and Brian Scolaro as Gavin's brother.

The characterizations are similar in one sense - almost everyone on the show seems to be uncomfortable with their identities, except for Skyler. She discomforts them, in more ways than one. By the fourth episode, there is an uneasy sexual tension among the hitherto tranquil residents of the bookstore, almost as if the ideas engendered in the books around them were permeating, Pratchett-like, into their minds. Gavin has a sex dream about Skyler, who has one too. As it turns out, it is about the mild-mannered Professor Harold. The episode culminates with Stuart, Gavin's brother, waking from a dream within a dream, a vicarious sex dream, as it were, of Skyler and the Professor.

In each of these dreams, the dreamer dreams about the person he or she is not, most emphatically. Gavin, the bookish, urbane gentleman aspires for Skyler, the bodacious, vivacious blonde bombshell, who yearns for intellectual fulfilment and acceptance in the form of the Professor. Stuart, growing up sidelined by his brother, and feeling rejected, can only dream vicariously about what he feels he can never have. Inexplicably, Abraham Lincoln appears in Gavin's dream, intoning the weighty word "Score!"

Harper Collins plugs a number of their books prominently in the show, which is not such a bad thing really, and hopes to feature a couple of real-life authors in future episodes. The third episode, parodied the publishing industry and book tours as similar to rock tours, with lusting groupies replaced by author-stalkers and groupies, who get handed down to the publicist when the author has had her way.

The show was signed for a six-episode run, but indications are that Fox will renew it. It is slowly getting into its groove, and good stuff lies among the racks - of books, I mean.

Playboy - The Ultimate Pamela Anderson (Body Shot Cover) Star : A Novel/Pamela Anderson The Comedy Bible : From Stand-up to Sitcom--The Comedy Writer's Ultimate Writing Television Comedy/Jerry Rannow Bookstore Tourism: The Book Addict's Guide To Planning & Promoting Bookstore Road Trips For Bibliophiles & Other Bookshop Junkies/Larry Portzline Shelf Life : Romance, Mystery, Drama. and Other Page-Turning Adventures from a Year in a Bookstore/Suzanne Strempek Shea

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Time traveler, world traveler, book reader